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Choosing and Using Products

Choosing a Product

Choice of product for treatment of cattle worms requires consideration of the below five factors (click to expand each section):

1. Roundworms or fluke

First determine whether it is roundworms or flukes that you wish to control. Roundworms in cattle are Australia wide. Liver fluke is common throughout Australia with the exception of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and parts of South Australia and Queensland. However, even on infected properties, transmission of liver fluke among stock is confined to areas of moisture where the intermediate freshwater host snails occur, and larval stages of the parasite can develop and survive (see the fluke life cycle).

Refer to your relevant regional Annual Program for Cattle. Search for drenches based on the species to be treated, worms or other parasites targeted, drench group or active and product name, using the Paraboss Products Search Tool.

2. Impact on other parasites

Consider other parasites when treating

The active ingredient(s) within an anthelmintic may have activity against parasites for which the treatment is not primarily intended. For example, it is preferable that worm control treatments in cattle be considered as a separate treatment to lice or tick control because individual treatments are likely to be needed at different times of the year. Where possible, choose a product to address only the parasites of concern at the time of treatment, to reduce the risk of resistance developing from unnecessary treatments of non-target species.


  • In cases where a herd is severely affected by lice, a treatment may be required for all groups of cattle in the herd, a strategy that is not recommended for worm control in all classes of cattle.
  • While macrocyclic lactone (ML) products will suitably check a lice or tick population, cattle may not need the drench effect on worms. It is better to select a topical spray-on ‘lice only’ treatment or specific tick treatment.
  • In cases where a drench and a lice treatment are needed, then a dual-purpose product should be used.
  • If a ‘lice only’ treatment is required, then a topical spray-on ‘lice only’ treatment is recommended.

3. Chemical resistance

Drench resistance

Drench resistance to different chemical actives has been reported in different roundworm and fluke species Australia-wide. Liver fluke has been confirmed as resistant to the active triclabendazole. There is likely to be varying resistance in small intestinal worm (Cooperia species) to the ML group, with the most widespread resistance being to the older and most used drug versions (e.g. ivermectin). Although resistance has recently been reported in Victoria, on the great majority of properties ML’s still appear to be fully effective against small brown stomach worm (Ostertagia ostertagi). Established resistance does exist in small brown stomach worm to benzimidazole (white) and levamisole (clear) groups. Choosing a drench product with a combination of active ingredients may be needed to bring full effectiveness against these species.

4. Short- vs long-acting products

Short versus long-acting drenches

Short-acting formulations available for cattle include the orals, injectables and the 14 to 28 day persistency pour-ons. Longer acting agents include greater length persistency pour-ons.

Indiscriminate use of long-acting products can increase the risk of developing resistance through unnecessary exposure of worm populations to a particular class of chemical. In general, orals, injectables or the short-acting pour-ons are preferred, with persistent products reserved for specific purposes where there are no other efficient management options.

Persistent products provide a long time during which ingested resistant larvae can survive and reproduce. There is little need to use mid-length or long-acting treatments in cattle older than 15 to 18 months of age (provided they have adequate nutrition and are housed at an appropriate stocking rate), as most will have developed a strong immunity to worms.

5. Withholding period (WHP) and export slaughter interval (ESI)

Residues and withholding periods

It is essential to choose a drench with an appropriate withholding period (WHP) and export slaughter interval (ESI), according to the time left before the animals may go to slaughter, or their milk may be used for human consumption.

Using drenches

  • Avoid unnecessary drenching – see the section Treatment schemes for cattle.
  • Calibrate drench guns to ensure the correct dose is delivered.
  • Calculate the dose based on the heaviest animals in the mob. It is difficult to accurately estimate the body weight of cattle without using scales. Weigh the animals and divide them into smaller mobs in weight increments of 50 kg. This will ensure that heavy animals are not under-dosed, and light animals are not overdosed.
  • Follow the product label instructions to ensure the correct dose and use of treatments and be aware of the product use contraindications (reasons to withhold treatment if harm might be caused by treating).

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