Treating Parasites Made Easier

A Kiwi company has come up with an exciting new product for preventative treatment of parasites in R1 cattle.

Alpheus Anti-Parasitic Capsules uses a unique applicator to insert a slow release capsule into the cattle, providing coverage for +/- 125 days. More than four times longer than other products on the New Zealand market.

Dr Claire Nicholson, BVSc., has spent the last two years overseeing the development and testing of these capsules.

The idea developed when Dr Nicholson, herself was a consultant to a number of companies involved in the animal health sector.

She states, "One issue that farmers constantly raised with me was the struggle to get good growth rates in cattle over the Autumn period. What that came down to was that the products available in the New Zealand market only provided protection from infestation with parasites for a few days, new parasites ingested after that, complete their lifecycle in the animals gut causing damage along the way. The next treatment is targeted to kill these new infestations when they have reached the adult stage thus preventing more contamination of pasture."

"Our solution is a product that kills all incoming larvae for +/- 125 days thus avoiding the establishment of new patent infestations and the consequent gut damage” said Dr Nicholson.

Farmers also felt that parasite management was 'too time consuming', and 'time is money'.

She said, “I shared their view that there must be a better way, that didn’t involve having to round up the herd and bring them all in for dosing once a month. It needed to suit the New Zealand conditions and complement farm practices and lifestyles".

Stu Moore, Manager of Gem Lake Station where tests were conducted last year, is one farmer who will be switching to Alpheus Anti-Parasitic Capsules.

60 cattle on the Otago property were part of the testing last year. 30 were given Alpheus capsules, 15 were drenched and 15 were injected. All the cattle were weighed and FEC tested every two weeks.

“The cattle who had the capsules in them gained more weight,” Stu says. “I wasn’t surprised at the results, we’ve seen similar benefits treating sheep in this way. It’s just good that we have finally got something for cattle. Some may struggle with the cost, but you’ve got to look at the advantages of not having to bring the cattle in every few weeks. Once the capsule is in, it’s in. You don’t have to re-drench or re-inject. With the labour cost savings and the considerably less stress it puts on the cattle, it’s well worth it.”

Alpheus provides complete protection for +/- 125 days.

“It is more expensive than other parasite treatments," says Dr Nicholson, "but this is more than made up for in the time saved from not having to treat stock every 28 days.”

Alpheus anti-parasitic capsule and primer are designed to be used over the autumn, when the larval flush on pasture is at its highest and the parasite challenge is at a maximum level.

“We believe that gut damage at this time leads to more permanent effects which in turn leads to reduced production.” said Dr Nicholson. “Our testing so far has supported our aim that cattle treated with Alpheus antiparasitic capsules will gain weight, which in turn can lead to increased milk production and higher conception rates. This all equals increased profits.

Dr Nicholson says "the capsule is being sold as a vet only treatment".

“We have had a great response from vets so far. They not only see the benefits of the Alpheus Anti-Parasitic Capsules, but also how they can use the applicator to simultaneously treat with other controlled release products such as zinc for FE and trace elements."

“We are encouraging such practice. It fits our philosophy to try and make life easier for farmers and reduce stress on the animals."

“The unique Captec technology prevents regurgitation, we’ve had 100% retention in all trials to date, and the unique flat head design of the applicator makes it easy and safer to administer." states Dr Nicholson.

Sirona Animal Health has developed the Alpheus Anti-Parasitic Capsules with the assistance of Argenta Pharmaceuticals.