April and May are ideal months to deworm your beef cattle herd in southwest Arkansas, according to Joe Vestal, Lafayette County staff chair with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

He said warm, moist conditions signal the brown stomach worm to become more active in cattle. It’s much easier to kill the worm in this stage, so deworming becomes more effective.

“Internal parasites are a constant cause of lost productivity because nearly all cattle and most pastures are infected,” Vestal said. “Of the nine internal parasites that infest cattle, the brown stomach worm is the most important. It’s the most damaging internal parasite of cattle throughout Arkansas and the mid-South.”

He said demonstrations by the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service found that dewormed calves were 35 pounds heavier at weaning than control animals. In other research studies, where cattle were being finished, the gain differences were even greater.

“Because young cattle are especially vulnerable to parasites, they should be dewormed whether or not any other animals are treated,” Vestal said. “They’ll respond better and become more productive with a regular de-worming program.”

The county agent said it’s not possible to eliminate all parasites in cattle, but

it’s possible to keep parasite populations manageable with good pasture management and a treatment program.

Treating beef cattle in April and again in September has worked well in southwest Arkansas, which has a sizeable number of beef cattle, he noted.

“Rotation of cattle between pastures will also help. There are no parasite-free pastures, but rotating pastures helps lower parasite loads in cattle.”

Keep cattle off these pastures for three to four weeks, he advised.

Vestal said many excellent dewormers are available on the market. He said producers have a good selection of safe and effective anthelmintics from which to choose. Using them properly with better timing will go a long way toward increasing the herd’s productivity, he added.

e-mail: ljames@uaex.edu