Don’t Doubt Your Dewormer: Five Tips to Ensure Accurate FECRT Results
DULUTH, Ga. (July 7, 2020) — A fecal egg count reduction test, or FECRT, is a standardized diagnostic tool that can help evaluate the efficacy of your deworming products. While this tool offers valuable insights for producers, test results may be misleading if samples are not properly collected and results interpreted carefully.
“Fecal egg count reduction tests are a way to monitor if your deworming products are working correctly,” said DL Step, DVM, Boehringer Ingelheim. “Typically, a 90 percent or greater reduction in the fecal egg count indicates that your dewormer is performing the way it’s supposed to.”
Using accurate data makes it easier to evaluate the efficacy of products and adjust your deworming protocols effectively. To collect samples that are most indicative of your herd’s parasite load and ensure conclusive test results, Dr. Step provides five recommendations:
1) Identify individual animals and collect samples per rectum.
Evaluation of fecal samples collected off the ground may not accurately indicate the prevalence of certain parasites.1 Ideally, animals should be restrained and samples taken via the rectum.
“Collecting samples per rectum prevents producers from grabbing eggs that may not accurately represent the parasite load or species infecting the group of cattle,” explained Dr. Step.
The class of dewormer you administer will determine how many days after treatment samples should be collected. For best results, collect 15 to 20 individual fecal samples pre-treatment, and the same number of fecal samples from the same individually identified animals after treatment. Once an individual sample is collected and placed within the bag or specimen container, identify it by clearly marking the date collected, individual identification number and the animal group it was collected from.
2) Collect samples from similar groups of cattle.
It’s important to collect samples from the same age and management group, as parasite species and loads can vary. Remember to keep sample groups separated if testing more than one group of cattle in your herd.
3) Administer deworming products according to label directions.
“It’s difficult to know for sure if the deworming product is doing its job if it’s not administered correctly,” emphasized Dr. Step. “Be certain the product is stored correctly, the dose you’re administering is accurate for the weight of animal you’re treating, and that your equipment is properly functioning prior to treating the animals.”
A common practice is to dose dewormers according to the average weight of the herd. While convenient, this can over- or under-dose a significant number of the cattle, and diminish the effectiveness of the drug. Investing in a scale for your herd and administering a low-dose dewormer provide more accurate dosing and reduces product waste.
4) Perform a coproculture at the same time.
Each class of dewormers has its own strengths and weaknesses, and certain classes are more effective against specific parasites. A coproculture can help determine the species of parasites most prevalent within your herd, so you can implement a targeted approach to parasite control.
5) Work with a local veterinarian to find a diagnostic laboratory, review test results and adjust deworming protocols.
When it comes to deworming, correct dosing, choosing the right animals to deworm, and parasite monitoring will benefit your cattle herd and the future of the industry. No two herds or operations are the same, and neither are their parasite burdens.
Be sure to consult a local veterinarian to determine if using a different class of anthelmintic or implementing concomitant therapy (using two or more dewormers of different classes) could boost the efficacy of your deworming program. Your grazing season time frame, the age and category of your animals, your operation type and grazing history of the pasture are all considerations to discuss.
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