Make lungworm control a priority this spring
1 March 2017
Lungworm infection is unpredictable by nature, and
poses a significant threat to young calves, potentially reducing growth
rates by over 20% and costing £50 to £100 per head.
Mary Vickers, COWS representative and AHDB Beef and
Lamb Senior Scientist explains that incidences of lungworm are hard to
predict and have been consistently reported across the country in recent
“As producers look ahead to spring grazing, control
of the parasite should be a key consideration,” says Dr Vickers.
“Planning ahead, and speaking to your vet, SQP, farm
adviser or veterinary pharmacist to implement a bespoke parasite control
plan, that considers an integrated approach to parasite control, is a
good starting point.
“For lungworm specifically, incorporating vaccination
into your parasite control plan will help reduce the risk of any
performance setbacks as a result of potential worm burdens.”
She explains that lungworm outbreaks are most
commonly seen in first-year grazing calves exposed to the parasite for
the first time, when they have no immunity and are therefore completely
But, occasionally outbreaks are seen in non-immune
adult cattle that have had little, or no, previous exposure.
“The key factor is to build up immunity, which is
best achieved by vaccinating calves, particularly on farms with a
history of lungworm disease.
“Vaccinating young stock against lungworm should
ideally be done prior to grazing. Two doses of the vaccination should be
given four weeks apart, and to calves over eight weeks of age, to allow
a high level of immunity to develop.
“There needs to be a period of up to two weeks after
vaccination where calves must not be exposed to potential lungworm
threats. It’s therefore important to plan in advance the purchase of
vaccines and consider the correct time for administration, so calves are
protected when they’re first exposed to the parasite.
“When beef farmers are dependent on consistent growth
rates, and dairy farmers are relying on rearing healthy, productive
heifers, controlling lungworm infection is key to ensure productivity
and clinical well-being is not detrimentally affected.”
For more information on the sustainable control of
cattle parasites, please visit the COWS website at
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