Genetic Parasite Control in Cattle

Once again we have to go back in time. Cattle in the wild would have had as much parasite resistance as present day wild animals, which made their existence possible. What we have done in the modern world is ignore natural capabilities and we unwittingly began diminishing them to insignificance. Chemicals will never win the battle with parasites. Are you using chemicals? Why? I suspect because you do not realize another way exists, and all the magazine ads and articles say you must. Parasites can be controlled by genetics, which is not only lasting, but cheaper. Genetic progress is dependent on culling, whether by death, as it is in nature or by turning the offender into cash. If the weak did not fall by the wayside in nature, the whole species was in trouble. We have been protecting the frail with chemicals instead of sending them to town. There is still a reservoir of genes to work with, but without someone marking the culls, we can't access that gene pool. As in all the other aspects of management, the hard part is convincing your brain to see this in the true light and shut out the propaganda (spelled advertising). The chemical companies do not want you to even suspect there is another way. Some parasites such as lice are much easier to control. It is obvious which cattle are carriers and you just need to trade them in for cash. There are usually just a few carriers so only a small number of cows need be sold. [caption id="attachment_7172" align="alignright

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5 thoughts on “Genetic Parasite Control in Cattle

  1. My two cents worth is that genetic resistance to parasites and other pests and diseases is strongly related to genetic diversity, so don’t cull so many animals that you inbreed. Genetic resistance is an arms race between host and parasite fought in every generation. The parasites have short life cycles and thus evolve fast. The host animals must keep reshuffling their genes and evolving new defences. An inbred herd cannot do this. Two animals with different genes for partial resistance to a bug give offspring with two potential defences against the parasite.

  2. Stephanie,
    I don’t know what the grazing plan was, but I doubt pastures were rotated, which will make a difference. Working from both angles is always better.


  3. Once again, right on, Chip.
    I suspect that systemic anti-helminthic drugs and/or their partially metabolized down-stream products which are excreted in urine or dung may be harmful to some of our newly appreciated allies , the worms and bugs that live on or in the soil. Who knows?

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