Cow Poop & Soil Health

dung beetles

Recently, I posted about dung beetles on our Instagram and it made me think.  This kind of information doesn’t get posted enough.  You know, the kind of information about what we do for animal health as well as soil/bug health in our pastures.  If we are not thinking about feeding the soil (microbes, worms, dung beetles, etc.) in a livestock grazing system we are really missing the boat.

How many times have you thought about what you are doing above the ground affects what is happening under the ground?  So many times we forget that when we use a product to kill the bad bugs (whether it is internal or external parasites) that we could be harming the good bugs and in this case I am talking about dung beetles.  You want to carefully select products that do not harm dung beetles or minimize the use of the ones that do.

Dung beetles are so important for determining soil health.  They work to breakdown the manure patties so the nutrients become available to the plants.  Dung beetles help build organic matter and fertilize the plants when they breakdown manure patties.  Their activity speeds up the breakdown process which is so important, especially from a pest management perspective.

How can you tell if you have dung beetle activity? If you look close you can see little holes and sometimes you will see the dung beetle itself!

Here are a few tips to promote dung beetle activity:

  • Look for dung beetle friendly dewormer products that have a short residual like fenbendazoles
  • Reduce the use of long residual dewormer products like pour-ons and avermectins
  • Use insecticide products that have short residuals, are ear tags, or contain Altosid®️IGR
  • Consider rotational grazing and using an increased stocking density

Here at 3B Cattle Co. we very rarely use pour-on dewormers and have switched to injectable Ivomec®️ and Safe-Guard®️ oral paste. We do not blanket deworm brood cows but rather treat those individuals that need it. We deworm calves before and at weaning and any heifers and bulls prior to breeding.  For fly control we prefer Purina wind and rain with Altosid®️IGR along with insecticide put on cattle in the form of spray, rubs, and pour-on (cyfluthrin active ingredient).

Remember, always check the products you want to use and see if they are dung beetle friendly!  Use products responsibly, read the labels, and consult with your veterinarian.

If you want to learn more about internal and external parasite control in cattle, check out my latest recorded webinar here:

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