Arrabawn | How Faecal Egg Counts Can Save You Money!
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How Faecal Egg Counts Can Save You Money!

What is a FEC:  Faecal Egg Counts are a very beneficial, simple test which involves studying a dung sample under a microscope. The dung is diluted in water, placed on a specialised grid and viewed under a microscope. The parasitologist looks at each egg and differentiate between various worms, flukes, coccidia or cyrtpo.

Results: Information about the types and amounts of eggs in the sample to give guidance on the type of dose that may be needed.

                                                                                             View of sample under the microscope

Benefits:  There are numerous benefits of submitting a sample for FEC. You know exactly what parasites are present in your herd. You can then pick the best suited worm/fluke dose to hit those parasites and give the best results. It may also tell you the worm burden is low and a dose is not needed. This will save you money as you are not purchasing a worm dose that’s not needed, saving on time and labour too. Your cattle will thrive better when the best suited worm dose is used. A FEC cost around €10-15, it may tell you a dose is not needed due to low egg burden, and a bottle of worming products can cost from €30+. It may not be of any use to the animal if worm burdens are low.

How to collect a sample: Dung sample bottles are available from your local Co-Op Store, Rep or any veterinary clinic. Using gloves and the spoon attached to the sample pot lid, collect some fresh dung, ¾ fill the pot, securely close and label with the date, animal number/group and your details. If possible, get the sample delivered to the lab that day or the latest within 24 hours.

Many young calves have been out on grass for a couple weeks now and are at risk of worm burdens increasing. These young animal have zero immunity to parasites and can hit their systems hard, stopping thrive.  Regularly monitor their worm burdens by taking a dung sample.  A single pooled sample (5/6 animals in one pot), can give a good indication how the group are doing. Regular testing will ensure you allow enough exposure to gain immunity, without high burdens causing damage.  You can hit the worms with a dose just as egg counts increase.

Regular monitoring + appropriate dose = more control of thrive

= healthier, more profitable calves.

How to plan your dosing regime.

Using the information gathered from the FEC, type of land (wet/dry), previous grazing history, labour and time available you can roughly plan in advance. The dosing interval should allow for at least 3 weeks exposure plus the persistency/ residual action.

The white (1-BZ) doses have no residual activity, they kill what is present in the animal at that time. Won’t kill any larvae consumed hours later, however these are good doses to clean out a calf. Yellow doses (2-LV) are similar to the white doses, no residual activity.

The clear injectables or pour ons (3-ML) have residual action ranging from 2-8 weeks, depending on active ingredient used. All larvae/eggs consumed in this 2-8 week period will be killed by the drug. This would suit a farm which has less labour available as calves could possibly go 11 weeks (3 week exposure + 8 week residual action) without a dose.

Pasture Management

Clever pasture management can also be used to decrease the need for dosing. If young calves remain on clean pastures or silage after grass this will further decrease the need for dosing. If the animals are not picking up worms from the grass or grazing too tightly the exposure will be low.  Low exposures allow the animals to slowly build immunity and continue to thrive with no set backs.  If calves are on aftergrass most of the summer, they may not need a dose for several weeks.  However, regular FEC testing is recommended to monitor the animals exposure and worm burden to dose when appropriate.

Dose and Move or Stay?

It is recommended to return animals to the same paddock after dosing. The worm dose will kill off all susceptible worms but a few resistant worms my remain. These resistant worms will lay resistant eggs and create havoc for out animals.  If you return to the old pasture, the new resistant eggs will be in competition with the old susceptible eggs on the ground.  Natural competition between the two eggs will decrease the volume of resistant eggs.  If moved to a fresh, clean paddock the resistant eggs will take over the pasture.  These resistant eggs will damage the animals health greatly as no wormer will kill them. When a mixture of some resistant and sensitive worms are present the wormers will have an effect and reduce resistance growing on the farm.

                                                               There is no one plan fits all, and must be adjusted to your farms need.