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Brown stomach worm in cattle

Beef and dairy cattle on pasture run the risk of being infected by a brown stomach worm. It’s estimated to cost the U.S. cattle industry two billion dollars per year due to lost productivity and operating expenses. Unlike other stomach worms, this parasite will penetrate the lining and become dormant so it can survive when the weather’s too cold or too hot. When conditions improve, the larvae can emerge all at once, causing severe inflammation and irritation.

Stephen Foulke is a veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim. He says symptoms of a wormy animal will vary. They include reduced appetite and feed intake, weight loss, loose stools and rough hair coats. However, there are other issues producers should be aware of.

"Because what we’re learning now is, even if they’re not that severely affected, we do know that their feed efficiencies, their average daily gains, the way they can actually digest food gets impacted. They’re not as efficient so they won’t gain as well," says Foulke. "There’s lost production, they won’t make as much milk because they can’t process their feed as well and things like that."

He says 90% of the parasites are out on the pasture so talk to your veterinarian for advice on when you should be de-worming. Prevention and control depend on where you live, the climate and your grazing management.

"The more confined, the more they’re having to eat short grass. Remember, I said that 90% of the parasites are out on the pasture. Well, we also know 90% of those on pasture are in the lower 4” so if they’re having to graze really close to the ground, guess what, that’s going to play a role in when you have to do it," says Foulke.