Q: Can I wait until I see a case of coccidiosis to worry about it?

No. Clinical signs do not develop until the final stages of the parasite’s cycle in the host. This means that once a producer notices signs of coccidiosis, damage has already occurred in the intestines of the animal.1 Because almost 95 percent of coccidiosis cases are subclinical,2 producers may be losing performance and money from the disease without knowing it. Subclinical infections can cause decreased growth rates and increased feed requirements to produce a pound of gain.1,3

Both beef and dairy producers should take a preventive approach to coccidiosis, especially as the weather becomes more unpredictable. Extreme swings in the weather and winter storms can stress cattle, making them more vulnerable to the disease. Producers should prepare cattle to battle these challenges by choosing a coccidiostat that is labeled for both prevention and treatment of coccidiosis. Producers also have the option of using a product that comes in multiple formulations, including in feed, in water and as a drench, making it convenient to prevent this costly disease regardless of the operation.

Source: Joe Dedrickson, DVM, Ph.D., is an associate director of the Merial Veterinary Services team. He has been in various areas of research and development, sales and marketing in the veterinary biological and pharmaceutical industry for the past 18 years. For the three years prior to entering the industry, he taught at Kansas State University, where he also completed a doctorate in veterinary pathology. Before teaching, he was in private practice for 10 years as he owned and managed multiple-veterinarian, primarily large-animal, clinics.