The efficacy of a fenbendazole slow release bolus in controlling nematode infections of first-season cattle was evaluated in a field study in northern Germany. Two groups, each of 11 male calves, were set-stocked on separate pastures from May until October 1989 (157 days). The animals of one group were given the bolus at turnout and the animals of the control group were treated with fenbendazole (7.5 mg/kg bodyweight) eight weeks after turnout. Clinical inspections and measurements of faecal egg and larval counts, herbage trichostrongyle larval counts, plasma pepsinogen concentrations and bodyweight were made throughout the study. All the animals were slaughtered for worm counts and the evaluation of carcase quality two weeks after housing. The pasture grazed by the control group showed a marked increase in trichostrongyle larvae from late August onwards and, as a result, the control calves had increasing faecal egg counts and increased plasma pepsinogen concentrations in the latter part of the grazing season, although no clinical signs of parasitic gastroenteritis were apparent. The fenbendazole slow release bolus suppressed the trichostrongyle infections during the grazing season, and larval counts on the pasture grazed by the bolustreated group remained low throughout the study. Postmortem examination showed that the bolus-treated calves harboured significantly (P<0.01) fewer trichostrongyle worms, including inhibited stages, than the controls. Because of an inadequate lungworm challenge during the grazing season it was not possible to evaluate the efficacy of the fenbendazole slow release bolus in preventing parasitic bronchitis. At slaughter, the bolus-treated animals weighed more than the controls and tended to have a better carcase quality.
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