Posted By: Bibby - Farm Vet

Lungworm in cattle

2023 was the 11th wettest year since 1836, it seem only now that our pastures are recovering! It won’t be long before its time to start thinking and planning your lung worm control for the season ahead. 

We typically think of lungworm as an infection that affects first grazing season animals, However, due to changes in worming practices and different climatic conditions, the disease is becoming more difficult to predict. APHA Scotland not only reported the highest number of diagnosed cases in 2023 but also diagnosed twice as many cases in older animals. 

Lung worm, is a parasite picked up by grazing cattle. Clinical signs vary but typically include signs of coughing, difficulty breathing and an increased breathing rate, loss of condition, reduced appetite and reduced milk yield. 

As you can imaging all of these consequences of disease have significant financial implications. Typically, the cost of infection in an adult dairy cow is £140, with average milk losses of 4kg/cow/day. In beef cattle losses have been calculated between £50-£100 per animal. 

Control of lungworm recently has relied heavily on using topical wormers, such as ivermectin. Although these wormers are effective at killing mature and larval stages of lungworm; there are few reported cases of resistance. Regular treatment with wormers, does not allow our cattle to develop sufficient immunity to lungworm.  

As we move towards a more “Sustainable” future, we are also trying to move away from routine treatment of cattle with wormers. So, what is the best way of preventing clinical signs. You may have heard of the vaccine for lungworm, called Huskvac. It’s contains between 1000-2000 irradiated 3rd 

stage lungworm larvae. The vaccine requires two doses, 4 weeks apart, maximum immunity is achieved two weeks after the vaccine course is completed. 

Deciding how best to implement a lungworm vaccination strategy into your farm, can be complicated, because it depends on how you are controlling other parasites. Huskvac is an excellent vaccine for ensuring consistent immunity in youngstock. However, other worms, for example those that cause parasitic gastro enteritis also need to be considered. The table below shows how different gut worm control strategies and Huskvac can be incorporated to ensure you best utilize all products available. 

To ensure you are utilizing the most effective parasite control plan, please discuss this with your routine vet, who will understand the specific requirements for your grazing. Please speak with Vin in the dispensary to order your vaccines in anticipation for grazing 2024! 

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