While worming the calves is the highest priority this fall, Kesterson and Stokka both agree cattlemen shouldn’t forget their cows.

“The calves, because of their age and because of what you want them to do, will undoubtedly give you the greatest return,” Stokka says. “The last thing we want to happen to that calf is that he eats less and might be under some kind of immunosuppression at a time when we’re trying to keep him healthy and wean him off the cow.”

Research Review: Boosting Gain Through Parasite Control

But the second priority is the cows. “Their nutrient requirements drop considerably (after the calf is weaned) but we want to clear up those internal parasites for the upcoming months,” Stokka says. “We want those cows back in a good body condition score so we can maintain them over winter with less feed.”

Beyond worming both calves and cows, Kesterson encourages cattlemen to take their worming program another step and consider doing a fecal egg count. It’s not an absolute detection tool, he says, but it still has some diagnostic value.

He ran some fecal egg count tests on his own cows when he preg-checked them in early August. He wormed them last spring and wanted to see what kind of parasite load they were carrying through the summer.

The counts came back zero. “I don’t believe that the cattle are parasite free,” he says. “I think it’s highly unlikely that we get rid of (the parasites) completely.” But he did use the results to plan his late summer and fall management options. Based on the results, he didn’t worm his cows at preg check, choosing instead to wait.

“We’ll come back this fall and make sure we not only drench the internal parasites, but have something to control lice and grubs. If you don’t address grubs, they will resurface. We’ll clean the cows out so we aren’t feeding those parasites during our most expensive feeding time, which is the winter feeding period.”