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MOO TESTS SHOW FOUR OUT OF FIVE DAIRY HERDS AFFECTED BY GUTWORM


The latest MOO Test figures from Merial Animal Health suggest the productivity of four out of five UK dairy herds is compromised by high levels of gutworm.


erial Animal Health has been helping dairy farmers to assess the level of gutworm challenge in their herds since 2009 by supporting and promoting MOO tests. The test measures the level of antibody to gutworm (Ostertagia ostertagi) that is present in a bulk milk sample and can determine whether the herd has been exposed to low, medium or high challenge.


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affected will suffer from the negative impact of a parasite burden on productivity and fertility.


Data from five years of MOO


Tests shows that while there was a steady reduction in the number of herds with a high challenge between 2009 and 2013, the figure rose in 2014. In 2009, 93% of herds tested high and by 2013 this had fallen to 71%, but this rose again to 88% last year.


While these figures show an overall reduction in challenge since 2009, levels of gutworm across the UK dairy herd are still high and those animals


Between 2009 and 2014 nearly 900 dairy herds across the UK were tested with several counties showing significant numbers of herds with high gutworm challenge results. This included Cheshire (85%), Cornwall (93%), Cumbria (91%), Dyfed (92%), Lancashire (90%), North Yorkshire (83%), Shropshire (86%) Somerset (86%) and Staffordshire (83%). Gutworm can significantly reduce the productivity of a herd. Although adult dairy cows develop immunity to gutworm that makes them resilient to outward clinical signs of infection, it does not prevent them from becoming infected with Ostertagia ostertagi. This parasite burden can reduce milk yield by as much as 2.6 litres per cow per day. A negative impact on fertility may also be caused by gutworm. Removing damaging gutworms from dairy cows may improve their fertility and has been linked to reduced calving to conception intervals and improved conception rates to levels comparable with animals without a gutworm burden. Calving is another key


period in the production cycle. Optimising cow and heifer management during this period is critical to the animal’s health and productivity throughout the subsequent lactation. Cows treated for gutworms around the time of calving have been shown to increase their grazing time by almost an hour compared to untreated cows. Improved appetite and higher dry matter intake helps cows to bridge the energy gap, therefore, maximising their production and reducing the time it takes to get them back into calf. The MOO Test figures show that the UK dairy herd continues to be affected by high levels of gutworm challenge. At a time when maximising productivity is vital to dairy business success, farmers should seriously consider testing their herd this autumn and develop a treatment plan with their vet or animal health adviser based on the results.


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