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Home  > Question of the Week

Question of the Week



Permalink What can you tell me about worming cattle with garlic and DE?

G.S.
Arkansas

Answer: I am pleased to provide you with information on research on worming cows with garlic and DE.

According to Ann Wells, DVM, herbs such as garlic work not by killing the worms, but by making the intestinal tract healthier. Since worms and other intestinal parasites have evolved to thrive in the unhealthy digestive tract, anything that will make that environment healthier will be detrimental to their survival. Another source cites garlic as having the ability to prevent larval development from certain parasite eggs (Duval, 1994). Dr. Susan Wynn, writing in the Journal of American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, discusses alternative dewormers in great detail and points out that much more research needs to be done to determine the effectiveness of herbs and other natural substances traditionally used as dewormers (Wynn, 1996). Her article also states that many herbs can be toxic to animals, so great care should be taken in giving them. There are veterinarians who use herbs as part of a parasite control program. The AHVMA has a list of veterinarians practicing complementary and alternative medicine in every state (see References below).

According to Hugh Karreman, an holistic vet in Pennsylvania and member of the National Organic Standards Board, diatomaceous earth (DE) has proved successful for many dairy farmers as a preventative measure in healthy cattle. He suggests mixing the DE with grain mix for pastured cattle at a rate of 8 to 10 pounds per ton throughout the grazing season, “pulsed” every two weeks. For heavy infestations Karreman recommends conventional therapy such as fenbendazole, ivermectin, eprinomectin, or moxidectin. Ivermectin is the only conventional (synthetic) paraciticide that is cleared with the National Organic Program for use as a dewormer, and only in breeding stock, not lactating or feeder animals.

Research Abstracts and Article Citations on DE

Insecticide and anthelmintic assessment of diatomaceous earth in cattle.
Lartigue, E. del C., Rossanigo, C. E. Maestría en Gestión Ambiental (FICES, UNSL), San Luis, Mexico. Veterinaria Argentina, 2004 (Vol. 21) (No. 209) 660-674.

Abstract: “Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a geological deposit of fossilized microskeletons from marine siliceous species and fresh water unicellular organisms, which contains porous particles with certain abrasive and absorbent properties. DE has a strictly physical-mechanical insecticidal action, killing the insect by desiccation. Its antiparasitic effect on bovine internal parasites is seen at 2% of total ration dry matter. The purpose of this study was to test DE for the control of gastrointestinal nematodes and natural populations of horn fly (Haematobia irritans) in cattle. Insecticidal and anti-parasitic efficacy were significantly lower (P<0.01) than that of the commercial products evaluated. DE was not effective for the control of H. irritans and internal helminths.”

Duval, Jean. 1994. The Control of Internal Parasites in Ruminants. Ecological Agriculture Projects, McGill University.

Citation: “Some claim that diatomaceous earth acts as a dewormer when added on a regular basis in the amount of 2% of the ration. Scientific tests on the subject are limited however and opinions of farmers are contradictory. Moreover, diatomaceous earth has no effect on lungworm and is not very appetizing. It may also be a lung irritant. Given that the level of dust is already quite high in barns, diatomaceous earth does not seem appropriate when the animals are fed indoors. The main motivation for adding diatomaceous earth to rations should not be to control internal parasites. If it is to be used, it is important to use non-calcined diatomaceous earth and without additives for insecticide use.”

The best recommendation for preventing parasitism in ruminants is to utilize grazing management and barn/lot cleanliness as much as possible. The trick is to break the parasite’s life cycle. Some tactics for keeping herds healthy by breaking the life cycle include:

1. compost manure and bedding to kill parasite eggs,
2. rotational grazing,
3. multi-species grazing,
4. maintaining correct pasture sward height after a grazing period – close grazing is correlated with parasite uptake by ruminants,
5. resting pastures, and
6. grazing by animal age-group (younger animals are more susceptible to parasitism).

If you would like more detailed information on grazing management please see the ATTRA publications Rotational Grazing, Pasture, Rangeland, and Grazing Management, Pastures: Sustainable Management, and Ruminant Nutrition for Graziers. You can obtain these from ATTRA by calling our toll-free number, 1-800-346-9140, or by downloading them from our website at http://www.attra.org.

If infestations are severe, consider using a conventional anthelmintic parasiticide for the animal’s sake.

References:

American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA)

Duval, Jean. 1994. The Control of Internal Parasites in Ruminants. Ecological Agriculture Projects, McGill University.

Karreman, Hubert. 2007. Treating Dairy Cows Naturally. Austin, TX: Acres USA.

Wells, A. 1999. Integrated Parasite Management for Livestock. Butte, MT: NCAT.

Wynn, Susan G. 1996. Anthelmintic therapy in holistic veterinary practice. Journal of the
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. February-April. p. 15-19. Quoted in Integrated Parasite Management for Livestock, 1999 NCAT.

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