May 15, 2017

(Dr. Dan Thomson) Hey folks, thanks for joining us today on the show here on DocTalk. As you can see with some of our guests…Dr. Nora Schrag is here and we’re going to talk about these little worms and germs and parasites and how we can prevent them in the cowherd and working with your veterinarian to design a plan for parasite control; some of the symptoms; many different things. We’re lucky to have Dr. Schrag on the show, so stay tuned.

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(Dr. Dan) Welcome to the show. (Dr. Nora Schrag) Thank you. (Dr. Dan) Folks, Dr. Nora Schrag. She’s a veterinarian here at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. A friend, a colleague and someone who spends a lot of time working with cattle. We’re going to talk today about parasites and controlling parasites and some of the things that maybe we know, maybe we don’t know. We’ve got some heebie geebies here on the set. They’re dead, formalin-fixed. But let’s talk about the parasites and some of the symptoms. (Dr. Nora) We always think about one of the common things we do when we work cattle is to give them a dewormer of some sort and we’re really used to routinely doing it. When you think about it, we’ve really only had good safe drugs to deworm cattle for 50, maybe 70 years. We’ve really got in the habit of using it and maybe we’re not as used to watching for the symptoms and/or we don’t see the symptoms in cattle as often. So one thing we can see is that they can get really anemic, which might not present as diarrhea, it’s just that their membranes get really white. One way to see that is if you pull their eyelid down a little bit, you can see that whiteness there. That’s one thing that sometimes we don’t think about first thing, for a parasite, but that is certainly one thing it can do. (Dr. Dan) Absolutely. When we get to that anemia that means we’re in pretty big trouble. (Dr. Nora) Yes. Absolutely and also, when we start seeing diarrhea, that means we’re in pretty big trouble. Those are the extremes, we really don’t want to get there which is why we give them drugs and routinely deworm them. But some of the things we can get before that are decreased weight gain and decreased immunity. Those are really hard to see, it’s really hard to tell that that’s affecting your cattle. (Dr. Dan) I think that we’ve been going through some different stuff on clinical diagnostics. We seem to get ourselves pigeon-holed in this pattern recognition, “Okay, I’ve seen this. It’s calf diarrhea, or it’s–” And we just automatically blow over the top of parasites. (Dr. Nora) Yes. I think we’re really used to being able to use a drug, have it not be a problem. We’re maybe reaching the point where that’s going to be not true in some situations. I know we had a group of two-month-old calves that when we gave them their dewormer going to grass, they actually visibly saw some worms come out of those calves, which is real unusual. We’re not used to seeing that. (Dr. Dan) Subtle effects are going to be decreased performance, maybe some decreased conception rates, things that are going to be typically normal things that we measure, just might be a little bit lacking or a little bit off and then as you get to the more dramatic – (Dr. Nora) If you were really paying attention to weight gain and really managing that, maybe measuring once a month, you might notice a weight gain difference with a real minimal load, but until you get that extreme load of parasites, you’re not going to notice those skinny cattle or those rough hair clothes or diarrheas. (Dr. Dan) Okay. Well, obviously, when the next thing is, is to talk about the different worms. We’re going to take a break here but, just as we got about 20, 30 seconds. It’s really important to work with your veterinarian and talk about these parasite programs isn’t it? (Dr. Nora) Absolutely. You, working with your veterinarian is one of the most important things because you see what’s happening in the cattle and you can communicate that to them and they can help you out. (Dr. Dan) Great. We’re going to take a break. When we come back, we’re going to talk about some of these parasites, worms and germs that can cause some issues with your cows. More with Dr. Nora Schrag after these messages.

(Dr. Dan) Hey, folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Nora Schrag. We’re veterinarians here at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. We work with beef cattle. Today we’re talking about worms, we’re talking about parasites that affect your herd, how we control them, which ones they are and you have brought some things for show-and-tell. (Dr. Nora) Yes. Absolutely. These parasites are pretty fun to look at. The one thing about parasites is that they’re all really different. There’s a bunch of different types of them. These are actually what we would commonly call tapeworms. They’re moniezias and they generally don’t cause us too much trouble in cattle and especially in older cattle. But if we got a whole bunch of them, they sure could cause some trouble. The ones we commonly see cause problems in cattle we call hot complex. They’re actually really tiny worms. We’ll get a close up of these later, but you got to look pretty close to see them. If you imagine these being in intestinal contents, if you had one die and you opened it, you really have to look closely. They look about like little hairs and so it’s easy to miss them. Especially if that animal has been dead for even a couple hours, instead of being attached to the inside of intestines, these worms will let go and they will just be floating. It’s almost impossible to find them. (Dr. Dan) What are some of the different types of worms that we have? (Dr. Nora) We’re talking mostly about what we call worms today, which are in a broader category called nematodes. That’s where we get most of our problems in cattle. But remember that a lot our drugs we get to deworm cattle also work on the insects or the arthropods like ticks and flies. Then we also had some protozoans like Coccidia is the one we’d be familiar with. We don’t have time to talk about all those today. But these are the ones that resemble worms and just remember in cattle, the real tiny ones are the ones that cause the biggest trouble for us. (Dr. Dan) These would be Haemonchus and Ostertagia. (Dr. Nora) Yes. Haemonchus, Ostertagia and Trichostrongylus. These are actually Haemonchus. It’s hard to tell in these fixed ones, but if you see this fresh, they’re called the barber pole worm. They’re actually you can see they’re intertwined or white strand and a red strand. They’re actually kind of pretty if you don’t think about what they’re doing to your cattle. (Dr. Dan) Tell me what these are going to do when they, obviously, we go through the life-cycle, but, tell me about the adult worms, where we’re going to find them, what kind of damage do they do. (Dr. Nora) Most of the time, we’re going to find them in the abomasum. Although, it depends on a little bit on the type of the worm. Some of them, you will find them further – (Dr. Dan) Hold on. The abomasum is the true stomach of the cow. When you think about the four chambers, we have the rumen, the reticulum the omasum and the abomasum. The abomasum would be like our stomach, a hog’s stomach or that. It’s not the rumen and not in the reticulum, it’s going be – I just want to get us there. All right. (Dr. Nora) That’s a good point to bring up. A lot of times, they do damaged by burrowing into that mucosa and so they can either suck blood and make them anemic, like we’re talking about. They turn pale and white or they can just damage that mucosa so that it can’t absorb nutrients. That’s where we get some of that the loss of weight gain and that type of thing. Also, the diarrhea can come from that. (Dr. Dan) They burrow in there and they can stay in there. (Dr. Nora) They can stay in there a long time. They have some mechanisms for doing that and they can stay for at least a year, it just depends on whether they’ll come out or not. (Dr. Dan) I think that when we think about parasites, folks, we think more about, “Okay, our calf defecates something that looks like this and if they don’t then they don’t have worms.” (Dr. Nora) Yes, and that’s not at all true. (Dr. Dan) We can have different levels of infestation. But we’ll get some close-ups of these but it will be very difficult to see those. (Dr. Nora) Yes, these are never by the time they make it to the back of that animal, they’re all digested up, you’re never going to see these unless you open them actually up. (Dr. Dan) All right. We’ll take a break. When we come back, Dr. Schrag is going to start to pull out some of the big guns that can take care of these and treat your cow’s parasites.

(Dr. Dan) Hey, folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Nora Schrag. You can see I’m getting older. I got to use this now to see things that we write or especially to pick up some of these little buggers and see them. We’re talking about parasites and we’ve got the symptoms, we’ve isolated the problems. Now, let’s talk about some of the tools that we have to control or treat. (Dr. Nora) Sure. When we’re talking about the worm or parasites, we basically only have three different classes of drugs to treat those. One of maybe the most common one is macrocytic lactones that would be what we commonly think of his Ivermectin or Ivermec. But there are several different versions of that drug but they’re all the same class, they all work real similarly. Then we also have what we call the white wormers, which those are really literally white. They’re the ones you give orally. There’s three main ones that we talk about or that we have available to us here. That’d be like Panacur or Senatic or Valbazen. They can be real handy and they kill the worms pretty quickly but you have to give them orally. Some people think that’s a little frustrating. Then the last class we have, really we only have one drug available to us in it and that’s Levamisole and it has been on and off the market. (Dr. Dan) When we’re thinking about control, Levamisole, but really, it’s down to two that we’re using the most of. We’re using the macrocytic lactones, which it’s really hard for me to say macrocytic lactones; I just say the Ivermectins or Avermectins. Then the white dewormers are thiabendazole, albendazoles, right? (Dr. Nora) Yes. The white dewormers, we only go orally. But if you think about the Avermectins, most of those have an injectable form and a pour-on form. The pour-on is really convenient and gets used really commonly. It also has some advantages in that if you’re going for some of those ectoparasites or the ticks and flies and things that live on the outside of the cow, pouring on sometimes is better for those. But if we’re really thinking about these little worms that live inside, we get a big fluctuation in dose and it’s hard to get enough consistently in a cow when you’re pouring it on, sometimes, to go after these little guys. (Dr. Dan) Yes. I almost exclusively, unless somebody has a pretty good reason for ectoparasites, I’ll use the injectable form to get the internal parasites. (Dr. Nora) Absolutely. (Dr. Dan) We have some people out there too on feeder cattle and things that will prescribe to dual therapy, right? (Dr. Nora) Absolutely. (Dr. Dan) They’re injectable and the white dewormers. (Dr. Nora) Yes, and so one of our challenges coming up is we’re finding some more resistance to these. We’ve done a lot of research and for a while, we thought, “Well, if we use two drugs at once, then we’re going to build a resistance faster.” Actually, that’s not the case. We found if we rotate drugs, so if we use one and then we use the other one and then we use another one, we build resistance really quickly. But if we actually use a combination at the right time and at the right dose, we can actually decrease the rate of that resistance if we use it in conjunction with some other strategies. We can, maybe, talk about those later but– (Dr. Dan) You bet. Well, hey, whenever we’re talking about these, work with your local veterinarian. (Dr. Nora) Absolutely. (Dr. Dan) They’re going to know the more prevalent parasites; they’re going to know if there is a resistance pattern. But, again, if there is a resistance pattern remember this, we only got two products for it. (Dr. Nora) Right, yes. Something else we didn’t talk about and a reason to really engage your veterinarian is a lot of factors can change how these drugs work. Your animal’s age is going to determine their resistance to it, the genetics are going to play a role and so there’s a lot of different things that you have to take an account when choosing a drug. (Dr. Dan) You bet. When we come back, we’ll wrap up on putting it all together on parasite control with Dr. Nora Schrag.

(Dr. Dan) Hey, folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Nora Schrag, she’s a friend and colleague. We’re veterinarians here at K-State’s College of Vet Med, having a great conversation about parasites. When we think about the symptoms, the big thing is to make sure you deworm your cows. Make sure that you deworm your calves at weaning and that you’re using products and paying attention. It’s a lot of times when people brand or they run cattle through before turnout and we decide not to deworm. That is something, I think, is a major mistake and you need to make sure you deworm your cows. (Dr. Nora) It can sure really affect your bottom line. As much as deworm your cows, maybe talk with your veterinarian about exactly when and how. Because getting the timing right, depending on your geographic location and the weather patterns in that area, can really make a big difference on how effective that drug is going to be and controlling it. (Dr. Dan) Walk me through some of the things you as a veterinarian; yes, I got some cows that are going to turn out, what are some things that are going through your mind? (Dr. Nora) Sure. I’m going to think about where they’re going to get turned out. Are they going to get turned out on low river bottom ground, because the worm burden there might be really different than if they’re going to get turned out on a hilltop, where we’ve got lots of good drainage, things like that. The other thing that makes a huge difference with worm load is stocking density. If we have a worm problem, we can deworm all we want if our stocking density for that pasture is not appropriate, we’re going to build resistance really quickly that dewormers, we’re not going to get as much return out of that investment on dewormer and just we can create a lot of trouble for ourselves. But if we really manage our pasture appropriately and manage that stocking density, then it can really help us. (Dr. Dan) I think that’s the reason why we see this in our small ruminant friends, because we overgraze and we never rotate pastures. Well, not never but it’s intensive grazing and they’re always in the same area on small paddocks and we just constantly reinfect the ground. (Dr. Nora) Sure, sometimes we get that. With our small ruminant friends we certainly have a resistance problem. Even if you perfectly manage the pastures and they’ve done some studies where we let that pasture sit or rotate and even let it sit for six months, we can still have a problem. (Dr. Dan) Being careful not to overgraze. (Dr. Nora) Being careful to just keep ahead of that. We don’t get to that point where no drugs work. (Dr. Dan) What types of drugs, combinations, things that people should be thinking about? (Dr. Nora) When you’re talking with your veterinarian, it’s important to tell them where these cattle are going, when is the next time you’re going to catch them. We’re going to deworm based on when the worms are there, but, sometimes the ideal time to deworm isn’t when we have access to those cattle. We’ll just communicate what’s going to happen in our production system. Then your veterinarian might say, “Oh, if we shift this by a couple of weeks, it’s going to change it.” Or we might say, “Well, this is the best we can do.” We’re going to take that into account. Nobody does this but the ideal time to kill these parasites and decrease pasture load is six weeks after turnout. (Dr. Dan) You can work with your veterinarian too to take some fecal floats or take some fecal samples. (Dr. Nora) Absolutely, that’s one of the things can really tell us are we using the right drug, is it working the way we think it should be working, do we need to add another one. We’ve gotten a lot more efficient. It used to be pretty expensive. We had to run 15 samples and then come back in two weeks and then run 15 again. We found that we can take 15 samples and combine them into four and run that and run that and run four again, it’s a lot easier and cheaper. (Dr. Dan) Thanks for being on the show. Great information, folks. Managing parasites in your cowherd. Remember to always work with your local veterinarian. If you want to find out what we do here on DocTalk, you can find us on the web at I’m Dan Thomson, here with Dr. Nora Schrag. Thanks for watching us today on DocTalk. We’ll see you down the road.

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