Improving the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal round worms in cattle

This project involved three dairy farmers in Ceredigion who noticed that roundworm 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. Through this EIP Wales project the three farmers were able to work closely with experts to adopt a more targeted approach to their roundworm control programmes.

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 aimed 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.


Project Outcomes:

  • Regular monitoring of FEC and growth rates enabled the better targeting of wormer treatments on each farm meaning wormers were administered when required rather than on a regular set treatment regime.
  • The number of wormer treatments for R2 Cattle (2nd season grazers / yearlings) was significantly reduced on each farm.
  • One of the three farmers also reduced treatments of R1 cattle (1st season grazers / calves), and changes to timing of treatments were seen on the other two farms.
  • Treatment failures were detected on multiple occasions when the Group 3ML (clear) wormers were used. Both Group 1BZ (benzimidazole / White) and 2LV (levamisole / Yellow) were fully effective. 
  • The results of efficacy testing meant each farmer changed from relying solely on 3ML wormers to alternating between the three wormer classes.  
  • The changes to treatment strategy did not result in a negative impact on performance (growth and condition)
  • Changing farmer behaviour is challenging – but this project has demonstrated that with the correct support, significant changes are possible to achieve

This project has demonstrated that we can reliably use FEC, alongside growth rate data and calf condition, as a means of monitoring infection during the grazing season and only treat when the animals actually need it rather than dosing by calendar date