Drenching young stock, dos and don'ts!

Abamectin is widely used in cattle and sheep for parasite control - either alone or in combination in a range of oral, injectable and pour-on products.

More reports of abamectin toxicity in calves is an important reminder that drenching of young stock must be undertaken with caution. Avoid the use of pour-on preparations in very young calves.

The use of pour-ons in young stock under 100kg is not recommended. Published data indicate variable performance of pour-on products. Greater uptake of drug can occur in warm weather and this can affect both product performance and potential toxicity. Calves are at further risk if they lick pour-on treated calves. In one study, calves that licked treated calves had almost 20 times higher drench levels than calves that did not lick.

Don't use abamectin-containing products in calves under 100kg or 4 months of age 

Get advice on choosing the right drench for your stock. It is also worth investing in regular checks of drench performance.

Don't drench calves when they are feeding from the calfeteria and don't mix drench in milk.

Drenching calves at the calfeteria may be more common practice than thought. It may be easy but it is also easy to cause toxicity. Giving an oral drench with the milk (either in the milk or with a drench gun at the same time as the calves are feeding) bypasses the rumen and can be absorbed more quickly giving higher more lethal blood levels.

Don't swap drench containers

Do not mix products. Clearly label decanted products. Thoroughly rinse drench equipment between different products. Double check the product being used.

Always regularly check your drench gun is accurate and that the dose is correct.

Dosing to the heaviest animal in the mob should not be applied to young animals. Weigh enough animals to get an accurate weight and split mobs if necessary to reduce dose variation.

Please note that we still recommend drenching all bought-in calves over 100kg with a triple combination drench containing abamectin.  Further information or advice on drenching your calves is available from Totally Vets - just give us a ring.