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Deworming & Fly Control in Cattle (beef & dairy)?

Brendan Getchel


Joined: Mar 26, 2012
Posts: 23
Location: North Alabama
We have a handful of cattle, about 10 head total, for personal beef and milk consumption. We've been using the Ivomec Pour-On for worm control, which claims to have zero milk/beef withholding time. It's also great (for a week or so) at controlling Horn Flies, which are oppressive during the hot summers down here in Alabama.

Our small herd is due for another application, and we did buy a new supply yesterday, but I would like to know if there is/are a *proven* natural alternative that can be readily acquired -- i.e. we won't have to *plant* anything and wait for it to mature, etc.

Also, we want to proactively control Horn Flies and other pests (Deer Flies, etc) which will require something like a hanging bag filled with some form of pesticide or repellent, or a frequent spray-on application, and this might be more important to pursue a natural alternative, since they will be "dosed" far more frequently. Many local farmers (remember, it's the Deep South) spray their livestock with Permethrin / Pyrethrin or even more potent chemicals.

I'm not sure DE is practical, as the flies will migrate to where there is no powder, and the cows aren't exactly excited to be covered in fine powder -- that and I don't think it would last more than 2-3 days per application.

I used the forum search tool, but found nothing helpful, and then the tool shut me down for making too many searches(!).


I only know what I know, and don't know what I don't. So if I sound ignorant, trust your instincts.
Amedean Messan
pollinator

Joined: Nov 11, 2010
Posts: 837
Location: Burlington, NC, USA - Woodland, Clay - Zone 7
    
  26
I made a thread a while back that may be good for you. As for flies, they can be a blessing if you apply them permaculture wise.

http://www.permies.com/t/9650/permaculture/Grazing-plants-deworming-livestock

Those who hammer their swords into plows will plow for those who don't!
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6583
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
135
If you let chickens free range in the cattle's pasture, they will break apart the cow pies and eat the larva...
less flies in the future, plus they help spread the manure at the same time. Free protein for the hens. Win/Win.
gani et se


Joined: Apr 24, 2011
Posts: 214
Location: Douglas County OR
    
    1
Are you aware of Greg Judy in Missouri. He mentions that he uses no ivermec/wormer.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6HGKSvjk5Q


Intermountain (Cascades and Coast range) oak savannah, 550 - 600 ft elevation. USDA zone 7a. Arid summers, soggy winters
Brendan Getchel


Joined: Mar 26, 2012
Posts: 23
Location: North Alabama
gani et se wrote:Are you aware of Greg Judy in Missouri. He mentions that he uses no ivermec/wormer.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6HGKSvjk5Q


WOW! No, never heard of him, until your post. That is incredible, actionable information.

Dung beetles, here we come!
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6583
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
135
I think Greg Judy's video should be required viewing for anybody considering pasturing large animals.

He is building pasture. He is building soil.

I wish he would write a 'nuts-and-bolts' book on what/how he is doing it.
I believe he could change for the better how America raises meat, while improving the land.

Taylor Stewart


Joined: Feb 15, 2012
Posts: 45
    
    2
I work on an operation very similar to Greg Judy's, and we also do not use any wormers or chemical fly control on our cattle. I have not seen Greg's videos but I did visit with him after his presentation at this year's Nebraska grazing conference. The key is to manage for the whole and not to treat the symptoms. Culling problems is very important, but starting with the right genetics can save lots of time.

When you use wormers and pour-ons (or sprays), the cattle tend to lose their ability to repel flies and parasites on their own. Parasites become resistant, the soil does not break down manure that has ivomec in it very well, the ivomec has an impact on dung beetles and soil health, etc. The best thing you can do for internal parasite pressure is lots of paddock shifts.

We run chickens behind the cattle in a mobile coop. Last year we ran 300 hens behind about 100 cow calf pairs, fly pressure was a non-issue. If you keep the hens within a couple days of the cattle the larvae don't have time to develop before they're consumed and the patties dry out.

If you have more questions, just post!
Brendan Getchel


Joined: Mar 26, 2012
Posts: 23
Location: North Alabama
Our problem is that we do not have the resources to "manage" our cows like Greg and others do. We have full-time jobs, and our pasture situation doesn't readily lend itself to having multiple "paddocks." We have chickens, but they'll only be able to get to 1/2 of the pasturage, since a stream nearly bisects it. The cows can navigate across it (except during heavy rains), but the chickens simply can't, and their roosts are over here.

I'd love to pick someone's brain, since we only have 10 head of cattle -- both dairy and beef -- four piggies, and about 100 or so chickens (increasing daily). We do this for ourselves and not as a source of revenue (I went into more detail in my introduction post last month). I'm looking for a solution that fits our situation. I am having great difficulty figuring our how to implement anything remotely like what Greg Judy and others so -- as much as I would like.

Chris Stelzer
Author


Joined: Feb 17, 2011
Posts: 118
    
    1
I can help answer some of your questions. I'm currently an intern at Greg Judy's farms.

Using a wormer is providing a crutch for your cattle. The more you worm them, the more they need to be wormed. The key to to rotate your cattle through different paddocks, this will dramatically cut down on parasite issues. Second, you need cattle that have the correct phenotype to perform on grass. That means that the cattle should be short (lower to the ground), and wide, you want to see them with a BIG gut. They should look like a whiskey barrel with sticks for legs (basically). Ivomec is some of the nastiest shit out there. You are not only treating your cattle, you are vicariously putting down ivomec on your soils. This kills all of your soil life, and generally it's just toxic shit. There are some ways to control flys that were already mentioned by the folks above. Greg also have 350 bird houses throughout his farms. These attract tree swallows, which can eat 3000 flys a day. I also think chickens would be great too, but then you have to feed and manage the chickens etc.

Going back to you comment on not having the "resources" to do this. This comes down to you. Greg built his operation by working his ass off. He had a 40 hour a week job in town, and he was managing his cattle everyday, after work. Then he would build fence on weekends and after work. So for you to say that you don't have the "resources" comes down to your attitude. If you think you can do it, you can. If you don't think you can do it, you can't. All you would need to do is put in 5-7 days worth of paddocks on the weekend, and when you get home from work, roll up a reel of polybraid. It's that easy. Then move the water tank every few days.

If you have any other questions I'd be happy to answer them for you.


Agricultural Insights Daily Podcast/Blog about Sustainable Agriculture with a focus on livestock and grazing.
The Grazing Book
Brendan Getchel


Joined: Mar 26, 2012
Posts: 23
Location: North Alabama
Chris Stelzer wrote:I can help answer some of your questions. I'm currently an intern at Greg Judy's farms.

Using a wormer is providing a crutch for your cattle. The more you worm them, the more they need to be wormed. The key to to rotate your cattle through different paddocks, this will dramatically cut down on parasite issues. Second, you need cattle that have the correct phenotype to perform on grass. That means that the cattle should be short (lower to the ground), and wide, you want to see them with a BIG gut. They should look like a whiskey barrel with sticks for legs (basically). Ivomec is some of the nastiest shit out there. You are not only treating your cattle, you are vicariously putting down ivomec on your soils. This kills all of your soil life, and generally it's just toxic shit. There are some ways to control flys that were already mentioned by the folks above. Greg also have 350 bird houses throughout his farms. These attract tree swallows, which can eat 3000 flys a day. I also think chickens would be great too, but then you have to feed and manage the chickens etc.

Going back to you comment on not having the "resources" to do this. This comes down to you. Greg built his operation by working his ass off. He had a 40 hour a week job in town, and he was managing his cattle everyday, after work. Then he would build fence on weekends and after work. So for you to say that you don't have the "resources" comes down to your attitude. If you think you can do it, you can. If you don't think you can do it, you can't. All you would need to do is put in 5-7 days worth of paddocks on the weekend, and when you get home from work, roll up a reel of polybraid. It's that easy. Then move the water tank every few days.

If you have any other questions I'd be happy to answer them for you.


Hi Chris! Thanks for taking the time to reply. I wish I were a little closer to PA, as I'd love to "intern" and learn by doing.

After watching the video of Greg (linked above) I got most of what you're saying -- although it didn't require much intuition to know applying synthetic chemicals to your cattle isn't a desirable solution.

By "resources" I was really talking about time so much as I was having a difficult time figuring out how to apply this to just ~10 head of cattle, half of which are dairy (Jersey, Guernsey, Holstein), which I'm not sure if they fit the phenotype you're talking about, but our Angus sure do -- they're squat porkers

We have chickens, and that won't change, and they do scatter *some* of the manure patties, but there's no practical way to provide them access to most of the manure. We also have dung beetles, but they seem to be a smaller type, with the holes beneath the patties being about the size of a small pea. I was thinking of "importing" a larger, more robust species and manually introducing them to fresh patties.

Am I correct in saying that Greg's crux is all about DENSITY? How many "paddocks" would I have to build to gain sufficient density for 10 cows? Also, our cows don't know about the deleterious effects of electric fencing, so they wouldn't even know how to fall for the "is that wire hot" trick. Is that a prerequisite to using "polybraid"? Lastly, we do not have a tractor with a front-end loader (or even a large water tank), so what would you recommend for water access? In all honesty, our cows are as much pets as they are livestock. They've had free-range throughout the entire pasture since birth. While we address the practical issues, there's an emotional investment for us here too, so some decisions on what we do will, of necessity, be affected by that. We're not in it for the money (or the loss thereof), but if we can take steps to mitigate expenses such as fertilizer, medications, feed, hay, etc then we certainly want to, at the very least, move in that direction -- even if it results in some hybrid form of using some of Greg's tactics and implementing others or making up some of our own.

Thanks again, and I really do appreciate your time!
Anne Flatmo


Joined: Apr 04, 2012
Posts: 10
I have found that if I mix the DE in with the animals grains it
kills off the flies as they hatch and you will not have a horrible
problem
This is a list of the animals that "I" feed DE to with no health
problems.
Chickens (mix in grain for all the animals listed and moisten slightly and mix in)
LLamas
Sheep
Horse (I treat with Hoegers goat wormer and DE for five days
in the spring along with some molasses and grain so it does not
become a breathing hazard. My horse is 1200 pounds and I
use 3 T of the goat wormer then 2 T DE mixed with grain for 5
days) Then I do the same thing once a week (I use Mondays)
to creat an inhospitable environment for the worms and newly
hatched eggs. They do not like it so they leave.
The DE works best if you give your horse some grain each
day to cut down on the flies.
Be fore I do any worming I do a fecal test to see that they
have and how bad it is. If I have to I will use horse wormer
for her.
If I see that she has a lot of worms I will step up the herbal
wormer to twice a week. Hope this helps.
Ducks
Geese
Turkeys
Goats
Chris Stelzer
Author


Joined: Feb 17, 2011
Posts: 118
    
    1
Brendan,

You can still mob graze/rotationally graze your dairy cattle. Many grass-fed dairies do this, even though the phenotype of the cattle is not necessarily like a beef cattle. Yes, you are right that dairy cattle have a different phenotype, but just mob graze all of your cattle together, in one herd. This is key, as it will significantly reduce your labor.

Greg has selected, over the course of years, and proper breeds, for animals that don't need to be wormed. Even worming with something non-toxic like DE is still an input that you are having to provide for that animal. This costs money, time and labor. Greg has sheep that are hard as nails. We see the sheep once a week when we move them to a new paddock. That's it. He never worms, vaccinates, pours, docks tails or clips their hooves. He just lets the sheep be sheep. So, I guess my point is that you need to select animals within good parasite resistant breeds to build your herd on, no matter how big or small your herd may be. This will save you time, stress and if you are doing it to make money, lots of it. In the end, this is also more humane for an "animal rights" standpoint, and more socially and ecologically "sustainable" (whatever that means these days).

I wouldn't worry about importuning dung beetles. Once you start mob grazing, you'll get more. This is a good sign that you already have some. You'll also get more soil life because you are trampling forage onto the ground which feeds worms, beetles, spiders, voles, coyotes, up to the top of the food chain.

I would say density is a big part of mob grazing, but the most important factor is recovery period. How long you let the grass recover. You can overgraze any grass plant and it will be healthy. It just comes down to how long that plant has to recover. If you allow your cattle to graze a grass plant into the dirt, then your gonna need a hell of a recovery period. However, if you let the cattle just take the "tips" of the plant or one bite, then that grass plant can recover much more quickly. This is what we are doing on Greg's farms right now. The cows have very high nutritional requirements because they are about to have their cavles, so we are just taking the "tips" of the grass plants, and moving on to the next paddock. Since you are just starting, shoot for 60% eaten, 30% grass trampled on the ground, and 10% left standing. I can't tell you how big to make your paddocks, so the 60,30,10 rule is a good place to start. Also, you will know your grass plants are fully recovered when you can find 4 leaves on a plant.

As far as electric fence. Put up an electric fence that they will run into when they go to water or something. This will train them. Then you can use it to create paddocks. Also, buy polybraid, NOT polywire from Powerflex Fence Company. I don't know what the "hot wire trick" is, sorry.

Greg doesn't have a tractor, or any heavy machinery. He has a 4 wheeler, mule and pickup truck. We use a 100 gallon water tank to water 250 head of cattle this late fall, winter and spring. Once it gets above 85 degrees, Greg likes to use his ponds, or larger water tanks. He also has AWESOME pressure, that's why we can get away with a 100 gallon tank for 250 head. Since you have 10 head, you would be fine with a 100 gallon tank if you had even 30 PSI I'm guessing.

Since your livestock are pets, it will be difficult for you to make some decisions, like if you get into a drought. In this situation you have two options, sell animals or buy hay. One makes money and one costs money. You'll have to decide which one you want to do. However, if you start mob grazing, and giving your grass plants more time to recover, you will significantly improve the production of your land, and you can possibly even stockpile grass for the wintertime, which would eliminate the need to buy hay.

In conclusion it call comes down to management. The more time your grass can recover, the better (to a certain extent). You'll be happier, and so will your animals. Not to mention the food the produce for you will be of higher quality.

I'd highly recommend you read both of Greg's books. You can find them at www.greenpasturesfarm.net
Brendan Getchel


Joined: Mar 26, 2012
Posts: 23
Location: North Alabama
Chris Stelzer wrote:

I would say density is a big part of mob grazing, but the most important factor is recovery period. How long you let the grass recover. You can overgraze any grass plant and it will be healthy. It just comes down to how long that plant has to recover. If you allow your cattle to graze a grass plant into the dirt, then your gonna need a hell of a recovery period. However, if you let the cattle just take the "tips" of the plant or one bite, then that grass plant can recover much more quickly. This is what we are doing on Greg's farms right now. The cows have very high nutritional requirements because they are about to have their cavles, so we are just taking the "tips" of the grass plants, and moving on to the next paddock. Since you are just starting, shoot for 60% eaten, 30% grass trampled on the ground, and 10% left standing. I can't tell you how big to make your paddocks, so the 60,30,10 rule is a good place to start. Also, you will know your grass plants are fully recovered when you can find 4 leaves on a plant.

As far as electric fence. Put up an electric fence that they will run into when they go to water or something. This will train them. Then you can use it to create paddocks. Also, buy polybraid, NOT polywire from Powerflex Fence Company. I don't know what the "hot wire trick" is, sorry.

Greg doesn't have a tractor, or any heavy machinery. He has a 4 wheeler, mule and pickup truck. We use a 100 gallon water tank to water 250 head of cattle this late fall, winter and spring. Once it gets above 85 degrees, Greg likes to use his ponds, or larger water tanks. He also has AWESOME pressure, that's why we can get away with a 100 gallon tank for 250 head. Since you have 10 head, you would be fine with a 100 gallon tank if you had even 30 PSI I'm guessing.

In conclusion it call comes down to management. The more time your grass can recover, the better (to a certain extent). You'll be happier, and so will your animals. Not to mention the food the produce for you will be of higher quality.

I'd highly recommend you read both of Greg's books. You can find them at www.greenpasturesfarm.net


Chris, thanks again. It's not often a young punk has something so valuable to offer we old-timers

I'll certainly be acquiring Greg's books.

I do have a few specific questions: (1) What size / area paddocks should I create for ~10 head (including 3-4 calves)? (2) The results obviously aren't something that happens overnight, so during the "transition" should we seed and fertilize (I use organic fertilizer), and continue to SPOT-treat with Grazon? We do NOT broadcast Grazon, nor do we use chemical fertilizers. Our grass is decent, but there it little variety. We have a few (literally) NASTY types of weeds that are VERY prolific if we don't stay on top of them I walk around my pasture with a 5-gallon backpack sprayer hunting new sprouts down. We keep the flowers, clover, and many other "weeds", but these 2-3 special ones need to DIE! DIE! DIE! They are very invasive and are root-replicating, so pulling them is useless, and goats and sheep stay far away from them (and cows too, obviously).

I was planning to seed with an large variety of organic grasses, clovers, etc with some Nitrocoated stuff to accelerate natural nitrogen infusion into the soil. Wouldn't this accelerate the introduction of good forage?

Lastly, what does Greg do about Fire Ants? I never heard him mention them in his video, so I assume you don't have to deal with them? They MUST be managed effectively, and I have yet to find any organic or other home-baked remedy that works.

I probably have some more questions, but we need to implement some of these things. Remember, we've only just been exposed to Greg's video a few days ago. Before that, we were thinking traditionally, so it's a radical change in a radically short period of time.

Thanks again. I really appreciate your time.

Also, I'm checking out your site


Chris Stelzer
Author


Joined: Feb 17, 2011
Posts: 118
    
    1
Well, I already told you that I can't give you specific directions on how much area to give your cattle. This is why I mentioned the 60,30,10 rule and the 4 leaf rule.

As far as your second question, no. Don't spray anything, apply anything or do anything about the weeds. This (in my opinion) is a waste of time and money. Concentrate on the grazing management. I can't emphasize this enough. Don't use ANY fertilizer or spray anything, EVER. If you keep trying to fight weeds, that's all you'll be doing. If that's what you want to do, fine. I personally, don't. Like I mentioned before, take the TIPS of the grass plants, they will recover more quickly and won't allow the "weeds" to get any sunlight, therefore they will probably die in a few years.

I guess you could, if you wanted to, put down some grass seed, but mob grazing will be the best thing you can do for your land, in your situation.

Greg does nothing about fire ants, I wouldn't worry about them.

When you are thinking about problems, observe nature, and then mimic nature. This is always the easiest solution.

Good luck
Taylor Stewart


Joined: Feb 15, 2012
Posts: 45
    
    2
Brenda, what are the 3 weed species that you want to control? Many weeds have very high feed values at specific stages (leafy spurge can be as nutritious as alfalfa). If you mob your cattle, they will eventually try the weeds and transfer the knowledge to their offspring (as well as other adults).

Chris is dead on about spraying. It's a real no-no. Weeds are nature's way of healing bare dirt. When you manage for your soil, the plant communities will respond. If you are looking to add non-native species, then some over-seeding can help. However if you have a native pasture, I wouldn't mess with it too much. If you have a recent seeding of old crop ground that didn't fill in too well, some seeding may help fill it in. You could frost seed or spread seed in front of the cows and let them press it in. You can quit fertilizing when you mob graze, there is no reason to fertilize when the cows can increase soil organic matter at no cost.

The trick with mob grazing is not to use a certain area per cow, but matching the cow to the grass (hence the rule Chris stated). Some people move 6 times a day, some people move once every 2 days. It all depends on your density. Start slow until you figure out what works for you. You may consider providing a complete mineral that does not include any DDG's of other nasty stuff, Redmond makes a good product.
J D Horn


Joined: Jan 23, 2012
Posts: 154
    
    2
Brendan,

Understanding that you will need to transition to non-chemical treatment, maybe natural methods can provide a bridge.

This video on Kingbird Farms talks about using herbs as wormers for cattle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vJfW9YeEJA

Here's their paper on pigs and parasites.
http://www.kingbirdfarm.com/PreventingTreatingParasitesHogs.pdf

Here's their paper on alternative animal healthcare.
http://www.kingbirdfarm.com/AlthealthcarePASA08.pdf

You could also look into another poultry like guineas for areas that the chickens cannot conveniently access
Brendan Getchel


Joined: Mar 26, 2012
Posts: 23
Location: North Alabama
J D Horn wrote:Brendan,

Understanding that you will need to transition to non-chemical treatment, maybe natural methods can provide a bridge.


Thanks JD! I'll check them all out. I could be wrong, but I don't really see an "overnight" transition into the "Judy Method" without somewhat of a staggered plan of attack. Also, even though the terminus is the same, we're hobby farmers who have a variety of livestock and our cows are also our pets. We don't look at this in terms of dollars and sense (pun)

If we can, over a reasonable time, get to "none of the above" on the conventional farming wisdom checklist, that's great. If we adopt some things and not others, and it works for us, that's great too.

If I had a commercial operation and profit was my motive then it would be different. As I see it, if you're putting in your hours controlling the cows or doing "other" things, it's all the same hours. The end result is what matters, IMHO.
Chris Stelzer
Author


Joined: Feb 17, 2011
Posts: 118
    
    1
Get some South Poll cattle from Teddy Gentry. The problem will be greatly reduced. Genetics are very important, and Teddy has done a great job at developing a good breed that has parasite resistance. Ivomec is extremely toxic, and you are killing your soil life by using it. I'm not trying to insult you or your farming practices, I'm just saying.
Kelly Smitherson


Joined: Sep 19, 2012
Posts: 46
also getting rid of any fly traps you may have purchased, most have attractant in them to bring flies to them
and love love love those fly predator populations that may take up camp - some species of flies can be your allies

I had not seen these videos or web pages, but thank you for the links, I am checking them out
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6583
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
135
If you want a natural 'medication', try this:
http://www.verm-xusa.com/index.php

They have formulas for different species
Here is the 'cow recipe':
Ingredients include:

* Urtica Dioica (Nettle)
* Allium Sativum (Garlic)
* Cinnamomum Zelandicum (Cinnamon)
* Gallium Aperine (Cleavers)
* Ulmus Fulva (Slippery Elm
* Capsicum Minimum (Cayenne)
* Thymus Vulgaris (Common Thyme)
* Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel)
* Picrasma Excelsa (Quassia)
* Mentha Piperits (Peppermint)
* seaweed meal
* sunflower oil
* micronised sugar beet pulp
* dicalcium phosphate
* limestone
* flour

If you farm 'by the moon', it is recommended to deworm with the new moon, when worms are most active.
Stands to reason that that would also be the best time to test for worms.

 
 
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