Improving the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal round worms in cattle

The project will work with three dairy farmers in Ceredigion. Each of the farmers will work with up to four groups of young stock (<24months). Over the last years the farmers in the project have noticed that parasite burdens in their youngstock were affecting growth rates and performance. Concerns were raised over the efficacy of the wormers being used and whether certain species of parasites were developing resistance to treatments.

The use of Faecal Egg Count (FEC) sampling is much less common in cattle-based systems compared to sheep and is vital for the effective management of the problem. This project aims to assess how using a combination of FEC testing, by using FECPAKG2 technology, resistance testing, speciation testing, and predictive models can improve the management of roundworms in dairy youngstock by:

  • Improving detection, especially at subclinical level, of roundworms in young stock
  • Determine the current Anthelmintic (wormer) resistance / efficacy status on each of the 3 farms
  • Improved targeting of anthelmintic treatments
  • Determining the species composition of parasite burdens and the most appropriate speciation methodology
  • Slowing down the development of anthelmintic resistance in roundworm populations.
  • Validating a model that predicts which fields worm burden is highest.
  • Informing the development of strategies to manage roundworms on farm
  • Improving the health of youngstock and increase live weight gains

By learning what species of worms are present within stock it will be possible to target them specifically rather than a blanket approach. This will hopefully reduce anthelmintic use and also potentially slow down any resistance development within different worm species. This project will help to monitor the development of resistance in roundworms and provide clear and practical guidance on the contribution beef and dairy farmers can make to mitigating the risk.