Should I Worm My Exotics?

Exotic animal species are becoming more common on properties that are being managed for recreational or commercial hunting. This is because exotics can be hunted year-round, something which attracts hunters and brings in off-season supplemental income for commercial properties. Exotics are not really picky eaters for the most part, but there are still some things you should be concerned with when it comes to managing these species--especially if you manage a ranch with high populations or multiple exotic species grazing the same pasture.

Parasites - A Common Problem

Internal parasites are probably the most common issue with exotics in confinement. It's imperative to have a fecal monitoring program to be sure you do not reach parasite load threshold with exotics, especially with captive animals in pens. The only way to stay ahead of it is with a good monitoring program where you’re checking fecals quarterly and worming with an effective anthelmintic as needed. While this is relatively easy inside a pen where we know whose poop came from who, it can be extremely difficult in a large pasture with multiple species. Each species needs to be monitored independently as each will have a different tolerance or threshold for particular internal parasites before you see negative herd implications. This, of course, presents a management challenge from a fecal monitoring standpoint--which is why most ranches typically elect to worm at certain times of the year regardless of whether they have issues or not.

Treating with Supplemental Feed

With pasture animals, our only option for worming exotics is typically with a feed-through anthelmintic. The most commonly used option is fenbendazole (Safe-Guard) because it is extremely safe to feed with no clearance required while showing an extremely high level of efficacy in herds that are conditioned to consume supplemental feed. For good control, it's important that animals consume the feed consistently. For animals in confinement, we typically recommend Apex Dewormer with Safe-Guard be fed at full feed for at least 3 days. That basically equates to one bag for every four head of exotics that weigh 200 lb or less. (Larger exotics may require a higher Safe-Guard inclusion or feed rate to see good efficacy.) For pasture animals, we recommend a longer treatment to ensure all have adequate access to the feed. This typically means feeding one bag of Apex Dewormer for every three head.

Most exotic ranches follow the traditional domestic livestock protocol and worm their pasture animals in the fall after first frost or before Thanksgiving and again after first initial spring green up. But every ranch is different, and there are many frequently overlooked variables to consider when it comes to feeding exotics. This is why we recommend discussing your feed plan with a nutritionist each year to ensure you're meeting the demands of your herd based on head count and existing habitat.

Not sure where to start? Give us a call or stop by sometime, and we'll help you make the right connections.



NOTE: This post is adapted (with permission) from content proudly brought to you by our partners at Nutrena and Cargill Animal Nutrition. The original article appears here.

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