Winter housing is an ideal time to get on top of parasites in youngstock and dry cattle.

The main parasites that need to be dealt with are stomach worms, lungworms and fluke.

For milking cows, it’s better to wait until they are dry before treating for these parasites as in most situations there are withdrawal periods for milk after dosing.

Animals that are housed cannot pick up new parasite infections over the winter, so dosing at housing is a good opportunity to prevent parasites from affecting performance.

Most animals will have been exposed to stomach worms at grazing but to check the level of exposure it’s a good idea to take faecal egg samples and get these analysed.

It’s also a good idea to take samples a few weeks after dosing to see how effective the treatment was.

Animal Health Ireland issued the following advice in relation to dosing youngstock for worms: “Stomach worm larvae that have been picked up at pasture can become dormant over the winter and emerge in large numbers in the spring (Type II ostertagiosis), causing severe disease.

“Products containing a yellow drench (levamisole) are not effective against these dormant larvae, rather use a product from the clear drenches (macrocyclic lactones) or certain white drenches (benzimidazoles).

“Lungworm (hoose) may still be a possibility within the first few weeks after housing if an infection was picked up at the end of the grazing period, but other respiratory conditions should be considered if animals are showing clinical signs such as coughing or breathing difficulties.”

See this week’s Irish Farmers Journal for more advice on winter dosing requirements.