Fluke dosing is an important part of managing cattle health following winter housing. Outlined are five things to keep in mind when treating cattle for fluke.

Don’t just look for the cheapest product available

There are numerous fluke products on the market, with a big range in price. Don’t just go for the cheapest product on the shelf.

Take a look at the dosing rate. Then work out how many cattle the product will treat and roughly what it will cost per head.

Some cheaper products require a large dosing rate, so multiple bottles will be needed. Often, the initial savings are then lost.

Other products that initially appear expensive can cover more cattle, as the dose rate is lower and may work out just as cost effective.

Choosing the right product

Products have different brand names, but often contain the same active ingredient.

So if you are thinking of trying a new dosing product to reduce parasites developing resistance, you need to choose something with a different active ingredient.

The active ingredient (for example triclabendazole or closantel) will normally be listed on the label under the brand name. Often, brand names are similar sounding to the active ingredient in the product.

Timing the treatment

The reason for paying attention to the active ingredient is because they behave differently.

Some products are much more effective at killing fluke by targeting the parasite at the early immature stage. This means fluking cattle around two to three weeks after housing.

Other products are specifically designed to kill mature fluke, so treatment should be left until around eight to 10 weeks post-housing.

Using a product too soon, or too late, will be a waste of time and money. Cattle will also need treating again.

Dosing guns and applicators

Pour-on and oral drenches are popular, as they can be administered to large numbers of cattle in a handling race quickly.

But they have drawbacks. With an oral dose, use a long-reach hook drenching gun to get it down the animal’s throat accurately.

Otherwise cattle will spit most of the dose out. A head scoop is also recommended and makes the task easier.

With pour-on drenches, it is not about how quickly you can dose animals. A rushed job leads to poor application and ineffective treatment.

Make sure cattle are static in a race before slowly discharging the applicator along the animal’s back.

Make sure applicators are cleaned thoroughly after use. Check the calibration regularly by filling with water and discharging into a bottle.

Using the right dosing rate

Ideally, cattle will be weighed to allow for an accurate dosing rate. But this is not always an option. So the next best thing is to group cattle of similar size, age and type in the race on each pass.

Set the dosing gun to the heaviest animal in each pass and treat. With an injected fluke product, it is easier to alter dosing rate between each animal. Again, group cattle as evenly as possible on size.

Finally, when injecting animals, read the instructions to see whether the dose goes under the skin or into the muscle and use the correct gauge of needle.

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