20 September 2021
Coccidia parasites are hidden productivity thieves
02 August 2021
Tiny coccidia parasites can be found everywhere, and they are insidious productivity thieves. The biggest risk time is after weaning calves from meal, as coccidia damage calves’ guts, impact on calf welfare, and reduce calf growth rates.
New Zealand calf meal (and pellets) should contain a coccidiostat, however this will only keep the number of coccidia parasites low rather than completely eliminating infection. In New Zealand conditions calves can be very susceptible to coccidiosis when meal feeding ceases and the parasite numbers rapidly multiply. In many cases this coincides with other stressors such as trucking calves to a grazing property, and associated feed and social structure change.
Early results from a large-scale controlled study across 75 North Island heifer grazing mobs, showed calves that received a drench of Toltrox on entering a grazing farm grew significantly faster in the first 6 weeks, compared with their untreated herd-mates. The calves were grazed together and had identical management in all respects except for a single dose of Toltrox. There were over 4,000 grazing calves involved in the Study, and these heifers will duly be tracked to their first calving.
The superior growth rate results in this large Study reinforced results from three Massey University Studies several years ago that showed calves that were treated at weaning grew faster in the six weeks after treatment, compared with calves not drenched with the liquid coccidiocide. The treated calves had a significant 5 kg weight advantage 6 weeks after weaning.
Anecdotally the vets overseeing the calf rearing operations also reported reduced incidence of disease in the reared calves, so fewer antibiotic treatments were required.
Coccidiosis in calves is an important disease that has a damaging effect on the gastrointestinal tract. Animals generally eventually develop immunity to the parasite but there is a significant cost from infection that affects gut health and productivity of the young, growing animal. Use of Toltrox following weaning from meal kills all stages of the coccidia lifecycle, prevents disease, and maintains calf health and productivity over this important period.
Be particularly alert for signs of straining or blood in the faeces, especially in calves aged one to five months old, and/or on farms with historical issues of calves not thriving after weaning from meal.
Toltrox is available over the counter at your vet clinic, in two convenient sizes 1L (treats 33 calves) and 5L (treats 166 calves) backpacks with drench guns also available.
To find out more about Toltrox - click here