Yesterday we did our spring workups of our cattle herd. This entails bringing every cow, both bull and baby, into the corral and then one by one into the head gate. There they are inspected, ear tags checked, weighed, and if needed dewormed. All total we have 56 cows between the beef herd and the milking herd.
We used to deworm all the cows routinely when I was growing up. That was just a normal part of having cattle. Then I started managed intensive grazing and found that the professed elimination of deworming was nearly correct. When the cows are out on pasture, moving to fresh grass every day, they simply do not need to be dewormed. Cows gain weight, their coats look good, and overall they are much healthier.
But when we switch to winter time feeding, even if we move them around, they still spend too much time in one place. And therefore by the end of winter some of the cows are showing too much sign of a parasite load. What we’ve found best is one time during the late winter, we bring the cows in and inspect them one by one. For the ones that are needing some help, we deworm them. For the majority, we do nothing. Everyone hits fresh spring pasture in good shape and they spend the rest of the year in a natural cycle. For any cows that we are planning on eating in the next few months, we make sure that they do not get any deworming. If they needed deworming, we would give it to them, but they’d be pushed back to later in the year for their appointment at the processor.
The last thing we do is to publicly show what it is we are doing. To show who got what treatment, how much, etc. Not listed in this list of cows is our two milk cows, their two calves, and Lil’ Bit the belted galloway and the one cow that is in time out for being greedy, #79. All those cows don’t need any deworming or weights (we aren’t eating them), at least right now. Here is our spreadsheet of cows, weights, and what we did on February 28th.