Managing the Health of Your Livestock, Parasite Control and Management Plans for Small Farms

March 7, 2023

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This session has held as part of the Animal Agriculture track during the 2023 MI Ag Ideas to Grow With virtual conference. This virtual conference held February 27-March 10, 2023, is a two-week program encompassing many aspects of the agricultural industry and offering a full array of educational sessions for farmers and homeowners interested in food production and other agricultural endeavors. Sessions were recorded and can be found online at

Video Transcript

Thank you, Beth, and thanks to all of you for being online tonight. As Beth mentioned this evening, we're going to talk about I think Beth, I can advance the slides, right? Yeah, preventing and treating parasite infection and farm animals. And my interest in this topic goes back about 65 years now when I was a little kid living on a farm and we had a lot of animals and I'll never forget my fifth birthday or shortly thereafter, I realized, we realized that I was harboring to parasite infections at the same time. One was pinworm and the other was mange. I'm sure there are things that I picked up in part from playing around in the manure with our animals and the mud and then probably get the pinworm from other kids at school. But it's stimulated an interest in me that I've had for about 25 years or 65 years now, I actually worked for 25 years in the field. This evening then Beth and I thought we would focus a little bit about parasites and their hosts. Why parasites are so hard to control. And then we're going to spend some time talking about preventing parasite infections and trading site infections, which are two different things shown in the figure there as one of the large roundworms, Ascaris, which is parabola in many pigs, including pigs here in Michigan. There are literally hundreds, maybe thousands of different parasites that we could consider that infect animals. And what we're gonna do tonight is we're going to just focus on a few parasites that are important in animals that reside in Michigan. So parasites either live inside the body, in which case they're referred to as endoparasites. And some examples are the roundworms shown here including Ascaris, whipworm, thread worm, and some others. They can live in tissues outside of, outside of the gut. And these include the Trichinella, lung worms and kidney worms. And those parasites live most of their life cycle within those tissues. Then there are tapeworms, which can grow to be 20 ft long, live in the gut, different, different species, the plane on the host animal, liver flukes that live in the liver. And then there's a whole group of protozoa. And we've just shown a few of the more important ones here. Toxoplasma attack city, cryptosporidium and giardia. These are important to farm animals. The ectoparasites, on the other hand, live on the surface and they're usually insects of some type. They're arthropods have some type. There are some spiders too. But the important ones that you'll need to know about our mites lice. And then a little bit, we'll say a little bit about flies, stable and horn flies and a little bit about mosquitoes. The things that I've highlighted in yellow here are what we refer to as zoonotic parasite. They can live in people and they can also live in our animals. So they're especially important. Now in livestock. Most of the parasites that we're going to talk about tonight are not actually lethal. There are some exceptions and we'll talk about those later. But usually they don't actually kill the animal. They just make them sick and they make them less productive. But some of the signs you'll see are itching, scratching. The animals will be agitated. If they, if they're parasites, endoparasites that reside in the gut, you'll see usually some dehydration and some diarrhea. While they're living inside the body, they're parasitized and essential nutrients and that's really important. It makes the animal less healthy. It also can slow growth and reduced efficiency. And in terms of if you're a farmer and you've got parasites, That's really the crux of the problem right there. That's the thing that you're concerned most about. They can injure vital organs and cause the organs to be condemned, as in the case of this photograph we showing here of a pig liver that's been condemned by white spots caused by granuloma is formed around Ascaris eggs in this case. They also cause a lot of immune reactions and they mess up the immune system of the animals, which increases the susceptibility of the animals to disease, especially the GI and respiratory diseases, and especially those caused by viruses and bacteria. And these can be very important. Those diseases then can, are more likely to kill the animals and the parasites are, but the parasites do cost US farmers billions of dollars a year. Nevertheless. Okay, understanding a few key themes we think are really important to understanding parasites. If you understand these things, then I think you're in a better position to understand how to prevent disease by parasites. And why treatments are so complicated sometimes. First, they require an animal for nutrition and reproduction during most stages in their life cycle. That's really fundamental. That defines what a parasite is. Their eggs that they produce often in very large numbers can last for many years. Ascaris eggs and try curious eggs can live as long as ten years in the soil. And then they get ingested, taken up by another animal, maybe a great, great, great grandchild of the animal that put the eggs there. And then they can make the animal very sick. Some ectoparasites transfer other parasites to host animals in an examples of this is the classic one, is the mosquito, which is an ectoparasites and it trans fors a malarial protozoan parasite to any other animals or many of the animals that it bites. Another example I'd like to talk about is the black fly, which will harbor these little microfilaria of onchocerciasis and they'll bite people and cause river blindness. Some transfer bacteria or viruses. Classic examples that you're aware of or the tick which transmits lyme disease, which is a virus. Mosquito which transmits Eastern Equine Encephalitis, which is a virus. And then we mentioned Ascaris eggs, which can themselves actually transfer E coli, harmful pathogenic E coli, to different parts of the body and make animals very sick. Another point is host animals like our livestock, they can harbor many, many species and individual animal can hand, can harbor 50 or 60 different parasites at the same time. And quite often they do particularly sheep. Cattle to a little bit lesser extent can harbor many, many different species because they occupy different niches in the body. So you think about an animal like to exclude different animals from where it likes to live. And that's no problem with parasites because there are species that reside all throughout the body, as we mentioned earlier, but also some can be as long as 20 ft long. Some of the tapeworms that live inside the intestine, or they can be submicroscopic like some of the protozoa. Most species in fact only one definitive host animal. But the zoonotic, again that we already mentioned, and I've kind of highlighted in yellow and several points so you can start to get the point. They infect multiple hosts and we're especially interested in them when they infect people and the livestock animal because then you can pick those up, you pick those parasites up from your animals and you can give them the anime, the same parasites. Now, these are some of the more important parasites that infect both animals and people. We mentioned the large roundworm ascaris shown here protruding from the **** of an infected pig, causing diarrhea. Trichinella. These little wound up coils are the larvae of Trichinella that reside in the muscle tissue. Again, usually if pig tapeworm Taenia, shown here in this slide of a human brain, that this was actually from a child and Mexico that died from neurocysticercosis. Each one of these round areas that give it the brain. This Swiss cheese like effect is, is a stage of the lifecycle of the tapeworm. And then the other. These others are very important pathogens in zoonotic parasites and people and animals too. So what are some of the key challenges that make it really tough to prevent and to treat parasites. Number one is they thrive outdoors and dirty, dirty places, especially where there are rodents, birds, beetles and earthworms. Because all of these animals can really keep the life cycle of the parasite going for a long time. There are also things that are eaten by a lot of our livestock, or they will, in some cases byte or Poupon the feed of our livestock while they're harboring parasites and then pass eggs onto our livestock. That way. They have complex life cycles, multiple stages, that means they are moving targets and the host animal part of their life has been on a host. Part of their life. Part of their life is spent in the grass or in the mud or in the manure. Some of them, including the nematodes, have a collagen covering. In. This collagen material is very dense and thick and it can. You can keep the animal alive in there. For again, we mentioned ten years in the case of Ascaris and try QRS in the soil, as long as there's a little bit of moisture so they don't completely dry out. These eggs can live for up to ten years in the soil. So you can imagine what a biosecurity challenge they pose. Diagnosis can be challenging. You can't see these things usually. Sometimes they get pooped out and when you can, then, you know, you've got a parasite infection, but sometimes you go for months with a parasite infection, you don't really see the parasite and some are too small to see. So diagnosis can be challenging. There's multiple species with diverse biology and pharmacology. They're sensitive to different types of drugs that we'll talk about in a few minutes. No single drug is useful against all the parasites that are important to our animals. Importantly, there's no useful vaccine for most parasites. As you know, most of the viruses that infect our animals and many of the bacteria, there are good vaccines for him now. There's really, other than a vaccine for, for Keq city and chickens, there really are not good vaccines for any of these parasites we're talking about tonight. There's also relatively few drugs. The reason for that is that the drugs have to be such that they can kill the parasite while it's in the host animal. Without killing the host animal, without killing the person or the horse or the pig. And that's tough to do because the DNA of these parasites, even though they don't look like people, that their DNA is 95-98% identical to human DNA. They have all the same proteins, are, most of the same proteins that we do. They use the same neurotransmitters. Drug. Resistance is an increasingly frequent problem and that's something we won't talk about tonight. But just like you have drug resistance for bacteria and viruses, you also have it for parasites. So what's the challenge? Challenges the parasites love to live out in the grass. They love to live in the mud and they love to live in the ****. And these are all things that for you farmers that are raising animals outside. You know, this is also the environment where your animals or ramp, this is where they liked to reside. And just think about the pasture like this or like this or mud like this. And think about how many billions of eggs that are potential Lee out in these areas that can infect the animals and keep the cycles going. This is illustrated here with the lifecycle of Ascaris. Zoom again, this large parasite that we've seen a couple of times already that lives in the lower GI tract. Mostly of the pig. But it can also live in people. It's called the large roundworm or the large white roundworm, typically by people that keep pigs. Think about this pig, ingesting some grass, maybe with it, some eggs on it or ingesting some mud out and it's yard or even just rolling in the mud and getting its mouth. Taking in some eggs that have been there for maybe were deposited by a pig that was in that same pasture five years ago or even ten years ago. Once inside the pig, the egg gets reactivated. The enzymes and the acid in the stomach and it does all the way this collagen covering and that releases, in combination with the nutrients and the warmth of the pig, it releases the infectious stage, the force forth larval stage of the parasite, and it reinfect the pig. It infects this pig. Eventually after about six to eight weeks. Worms will be large enough, there'll be fully sexually mature. They'll start producing eggs themselves. That'll get pooped out into that same environment. And this cycle just keeps going on and on and on. It's a vicious cycle. We wanted to say a few words tonight about diagnosing Endo parasite infection. Because there are certain things that you can do that are useful and pretty easy to do. Some of the clinical observations you can make, e.g. if your animal is coughing a lot, that's going off feed and it's got some diarrhea or some blood in it's stool or urine. These are signs that you might have a parasite infection if you actually see worms or worms segments in the stool as shown here. And then that's the acid test that tells you you definitely have parasites in that animal. You can also, if you have a very simple microscope, probably 20 x would do it. You could find eggs in the stool samples at different stages of the parasite. And this is what your your veterinarian would do if he came to your farm, he would take some fresh stool samples and send them into a lab maybe at Michigan State, depending on the species, maybe it to Iowa State. And they would look for eggs like this. You can see the parasite wound up in the in the collagen covering. They are advancing these tests quite rapidly now, especially at Iowa State University for pigs, different universities for different species. But they have developed oral fluids testing where it's really easy. Now you can drop on BOP or you can drop a piece of cotton from a mop into a place where you keep your pigs, where there's a pan or someplace on pasture if it's out and passed, gee, it might need to put a little peanut butter, something on it to entice the pigs to come play with it. But when they get it in their mouths, they will deposit eggs from ascaris or other parasites. They'll also deposit other proteins that can be diagnostic for other diseases that the pigs can get. And then you take the fluid from these oral fluids tests and send them to a laboratory there, Michigan State or Iowa State or some other lab. And within a few days and probably 15 to $20, they'll come back with a diagnosis for you. Prevention is always the most important key to minimizing the impact that these parasitic diseases have on your farm animals. You want to buy animals from a reputable farmer. You want to isolate your new animals for four weeks to see whether they're harboring any infection and give them a chance to adapt before you commingle them. Keep your hands clean and dry as you can. Wash and disinfect equipment that you use because parasites can glom onto equipment used in one group of animals and be transferred to another. You want to provide good nutrition. Ideally, no meat for pigs. Rotating pastures is extremely helpful. It's not because of the life span of those eggs. It's not a it's not a slam dunk, but it does help by reducing the amount, the sheer amount of eggs that your animals are exposed to when they're on a certain past year. You want to clear manure near your feeders every two to three days, if you can. You want to keep rodents and raccoons away from your pans because they bring the parasites right into the pens. Certainly don't want the rodents getting in and pooping in your feed because there's, there's bound to be parasites in there. You want to dispose of carcasses properly, get them out of the pens as quickly as you can and dispose of them properly because they are likely they could have parasites and that the other animals would pick up or the rats would pick up or the worms would pick up and then pass them on to the, to the livestock animal. And then you want to isolate and treat infected animals. And we'll talk about the treatments here in just a minute. Now. Many of you took to prevent zoonotic infection. Yes. You have one question and it's about the last slide. So okay. I was wondering, is sanitizer enough to kill the eggs or break the cycle when you have pigs and parents. Sometimes, okay. Some of the, some of the sanitizing agents will kill the parasite eggs, but not all of them. And it, most of the sanitizing agents don't do a great job at all against some eggs from some of the parents lakes like Ascaris. So you can't count on that. But it helps. And the main way that it would help, as in some of those eggs, are going to be very close to hatching or breaking open. There's always some infective larvae and the eggs that are trying to work themselves out. Once that egg shell explodes, it's compromised in some way. Or it begins to break down just through the natural process, then those eggs and the larvae are far more sensitive to the dissolving effects in the killing effects of the various insect disinfecting solutions that we use. Perfect. Thank you so much, Dave. Yeah, my pleasure. Bad. So to prevent zoonotic infections that yourself, I'm not gonna go through this list because you all know this list from your experiences and preventing influenza. It's the same thing we've added in here, cook meat to 145 degrees, but everything else, all of these other things, washing your hands, separate your work boots, don't eat in the pan. Treat and cover wounds. Keep on accompany children out of pens, seek treatment and filter your physician. If you work with Anna, don't quit your animals. These are all the things you're already doing to prevent yourself from picking up influenza. So just think about the same types of things. We really don't have much of an issue here in the United States were essentially a Trichinella free country. But it's still a good idea to cook your pork to 145 degrees. There still are some Trichinella floating around. Now, before we start talking about the specific drugs, I want to say a few words about their chemical structures because there's always a few nerds out there that love to look at the chemical structure shown here are for the most, probably most important parasitic sites for treating endoparasites. In the first case, the ivermectin is also useful for treating lice and mites. So it's, it's useful for ectoparasites as well. The reason we show these is to make the point that no single one of these drugs, these products is effective against all the species of parasites that are important. It's true that ivermectin and Ben, Ben does all have a broader spectrum of activity than the other drugs do. And that's one reason why why Beth and I and MSU Extension team like to recommend these two drugs for most of the Endo parasitic needs. Certainly for pigs. There are some endoparasites that become important. More important in, say, in sheep and in cattle than in pig's liver flukes in particular. And certainly the city are far more important in chickens and we'll talk about that in a few minutes. But in general, we really like the Ivermectin containing parasitic sites. And we like the fender benders all containing, which includes safe guard. And there are multiple formulations available. These two compounds are extremely safe, as are these other two. But they're also the way they are administered in the way they're formulated they have for a very long duration of action are broad spectrum. We really like these two drugs. So in terms of controlling parasites using the deworming agents, which are also known as antiemetics. This table which talks about roundworms, nodular weren't whipworms, lung worms, tapeworms, liver flukes also presents the relative costs really illustrates again why we like the fender benders all are safe guard products and the Ivo Mac or delta max which contain ivermectin. There's what broader spectrum. Again, ivermectin does not not very effective against tapeworms are liver flukes, whereas some of the benzimidazole is RF and benzoate is effective, not as effective as strike labetalol or albendazole for liver flukes or tapeworm. So if you have a bad problem with liver flukes, you'd probably want to purchase the elbows n instead of Fen benzyl, e.g. now if you had a problem with roundworms only, you might want to just treat with lysine in the water. It's expensive and it's pretty effective against the, the ascaris. But usually where you have one parasite, you have others. Like you often have whipworm or nodular worm. Often whipworm in Michigan, if you have roundworm ascaris, you can see that the piperazine really doesn't do very much against whipworm. Unfortunately, the safeguard in the Ivo MC delta max are more expensive than the other compounds. And that's certainly a downside of them, but overall they're very, very effective. That then I wanted to say a few words before we start talking about other ecto is we wanted to say a few words about the mike problems that we've had in Michigan the last few years. I think Beth mites are becoming unimportant. They've always been important, but maybe becoming a little bit more important as we are, summers get a little hotter. It's funny. It's even though they're really more of a fall problem. But you've probably many of you that have had pigs have seen the ears like this. And you'll get mange mites and other species of your farm animals. Pigs are just easier to see because of the nature of their skin. The mains might sensitivity that you'll see this is a hypersensitivity reaction that the pig gets to the main mange mite bites. You'll see this. These are little spider-like creatures and they're becoming more important. So we decided to put a slide in, talk a little bit about what's good for controlling them. There are a number of compounds, including tactic, coral, ecto banner, a few examples proliferate. These all have worked by different mechanisms of action, which is important. They have short withhold periods, which is good. They're really not very costly. The problem with them relative to the Ivermectin deco max is really, I think their duration of efficacy and the extent of their efficacy. These, these, these products are usually good for a few days. These products will actually cure an infection if administered properly. Again, they are costly and another downside is something you have to be careful as they have longer withhold times. The reason they're width all times are longer is that these drugs hang around the tissue, the body tissue of the pig or whatever animal you're dosing them to allow longer. We're going to say a few words about each of the important species and just kinda summarize here by talking about what, what you might want to consider for roundworm and other nematodes, other GI worms. It's good if you would ask the farmer that you purchased the pig from, if you're a for-each person that's called into night to deworm a couple of weeks before you pick up your pig. You want to manage your pasture or your panic, you can rotate it a few times. You want to check your stools for worms. If you suspect it, you might want to call your vet and get a fecal egg count. The two drugs that we really like are the two classes would be the IBO, Mecca deco max or the safeguard. You do that shortly after placement. And then again, two months and one month out of fare. Let's say you're gonna be taking the animal, this animal to fair. If you're just going to keep the pig around for a few years than what we recommend is twice a year, minimal dosing. If you start to suspect parasites or your seat per se, you're going to want to go to once a month. But if you, if you don't and you're pigs seem healthy, you're not seeing any signs then. Certainly you still wanna in Michigan treat twice a year with one of these two compounds. Tapeworms, if you're seeing segments like this and the stool, safe guard is good, There's a safeguard praziquantel combo if you suspect you may also have liver flukes. If you are having tech Syria, which often shows up as diarrhea in the young pig maybe before you buy it. But if you're, if you're, if you're a farrowing operation and you're erasing baby pigs that tech city, we usually cause diarrhea. Diarrhea during that 7.21 day period. You certainly want to practice good. So husbandry. And then my Nansen and am prolly MR2 drugs that are approved in the US for treating textarea, mites and lice again, the ear and the eye issues. Again, for the reasons we just discussed a few minutes ago, ivermectin deco max, or what you probably want to use for those who had used the cheaper products that you're going to have to give a lot of doses. You're really not curing condition, but you're treating it. In terms of cattle. Cattle are a real challenge in Michigan and in particularly the closer to the equator, you get lots and lots of different species of roundworms. Again, I've Womack economics and safeguard work very well in cattle. If you have a tape and flute problem, again, the safeguard privacy clientele combo. If the problem is, is tapes and flukes, you probably want to use triclosan diesel or bell bend azole. If you have a protozoa problem and there would be crack city are important in cattle and cryptosporidium, very important, particularly in calves. Then you want to treat with romance and bulb attack and decay. Again, if it's sedia, really are no good treatments for crypto. You just tried to make the animal comfortable in and keep it clean and healthy with feed, stable flies, horn flies, cattle, grubs, lice shown in some of these other pictures. Again, I have omega is what we would recommend. You can also use pyrethroids and there are numerous topical agents that you can use that are effective. But you'd want to check with your bed to see what is most effective in your area. In terms of sheep and goats, I would say that sheep and goats, are, they parasites are true existential threat to sheep and goats. For some reason because of the way they're built, because of the way they eat. They eat close grass close to the ground. They take in a lot of dirt. Sometimes this is that area right close to the ground, is where parasites really liked to come out and infectious stages. So you want to manage your pastures by rotating now, frequently, you want to check stools, maybe get a fecal egg count. Again, the biggest problem is the GI worms, Ivo Mac and economics and safeguard again, these to keep coming up. These are the gold standards. For tapes and flukes. Again, safeguard and praziquantel combination works. But again, if you know you have a flute problem, then you'll probably want to go with the album Zan or track with endosome. And then the diarrhea. Their biggest problem is probably textarea, romance and, and detox or two products that proof for sheep that worked very well. In feed, in water agents, lice mites, ticks, fleas, kids, nasal box. But I add a few more picture of them managed by shearing, dipping spray ions as possible. But I've ohmic and the pyrethroids. Numerous, numerous topicals are also available. And again, if it was me, I would go to the gold standard, probably use Ivo Mac. In chickens. Unlike the, unlike the ruminants and unlike the pigs and horses, the protozoa are the most important type of parasite in chickens. The tech city, in particular, the various species that by Mary, I believe there are seven or eight of them now, vaccines are helpful, but they're not effective against all strains are all species. So you can treat, you can still get some very serious Keck city infections. Fortunately, when Hansen in other ionophores and amp folium work quite well. Although drug resistance is becoming more important, they do have roundworms and we've shown a few here. Ascarids, galley, no relation to Ascaris so that infects big but as Derrida Galli and heterozygous, here, what you really have to do is keep your coop in your run clean and dry. So you have to practice prevention if you have a roundworm problem and chickens, if you do get infections, safe guard does work. But you want to pretty tricky you have to check with your vet and see what dose regimen he is going to recommend on your farm. If you see rice and your stool, there's a chance you have tapeworms. That rice is really little segments that tapeworm safeguard will work in chickens. Again, ask your bet. Little bit tricky. You have to be careful how you dose and when you dose. If you have a problem with mites and these could be red. Mites are fomites or lice. Again, the pyrethroids am a trans and now if I own are safe and effective. They have short, shorter-term efficacy. There are also numerous in feed and water does containing these compounds. So yeah, in terms of horses then and I hope we have a few horse people on the phone. Again, they get a lot of roundworms. You'll see a lung coffee because a lot of these roundworms have some stage that gets into the law. Again, you need to manage your pasture, you need to rotate them. You need to check the stools. If you suspect something, get a fecal egg cow. Treat the mare foaling for thread worm, thread worms important in horses. Again, I have omega, deco, max and safeguard. They keep coming up tapes and flukes again, you'll see segments in the stool. Again, safe guard, praziquantel combo. If you're fairly confident you've got a problem with flukes, you probably want to treat with bulbous end. Then the crypto and giardia. We've shown a Giardia here. These are beautiful animals. Protozoa. Tally it up, carry out only for crypto. Again, metronidazole is effective for giardia, giardia. And again, if you have stable fly bites and kicks, the problem is two-fold here. One is those stable flies in the buds and ticks can drive the horse is nuts. But the real problem is that they can also carry different parasites. Mosquitoes are probably the gold standard now in terms of a problem in horses because they transmit Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile virus. And these are both lethal as you know, and they can also be given to man, not from the horse, but from mosquitoes that bite a horse that's infected. So these are, these are really problematical. Just think of rabbits as little, little horses. I think very little horses, but they get roundworms to you can manage that in your rabbits the same way the pork industry manages roundworms and their pigs. They, they have slotted floors in for pigs. You can manage the wire mesh and your floor if you have a wire mesh floors so that the **** drops away, then that's a real help if you make sure the water is fresh. Because the roundworm larvae, the infectious larvae will get into their water and you can treat with piperazine, which is very inexpensive in water. You can use safeguard, you can use Ivo mic. There's an ivermectin topical that you can use. If you have issues with tapes from fleas, are flukes from snails. And you will probably see segments of the tapes in the stool. Segments. Not so for the flukes, but praziquantel for the tapes and flukes works fine. I'm not sure if they'll buzz and has been approved yet. If you do have a fluke issue for protozoa, textarea, there are different species than the chicken. So that's a different collection of drugs that are used and effective. These can all be a little bit tricky. I would definitely work with a vet before I used these compounds. For your rabbit. They do get fleas, mites, lice. They get them usually from dogs and cats that are around. You can use Advantage and revolution, stronghold. These are great products. I'm safe. When used as directed. You can use combs and insecticidal dusts. So there are a number of products that you can use safely, but I would check with a pet for rat, rabbit. Rabbits are so small, they have a little bit different the way they metabolize drugs. So technically non parasites but important and we've seen them at the affairs of u times the e colliculi is really not a parasite, some people think it is, but it's really an intracellular fungus. And then the hemorrhagic disease virus to the virus. Again, that doesn't come by way of parasites, but they're important diseases. And I just, I put them in just to remind people that these two are not technically parasite. First thing, diseases. So Dave is absolutely one of the best resources around when it comes to talking about parasite parasite issues. He's always happy to talk through your specific situations and give you some recommendations on how to help control or how to help prevent parasite infections in your livestock. So if there's any questions, let us know. Otherwise, we really thank you for joining us here today. I appreciate your time and attention and hope that you have a Safe Night and enjoy the rest of your time.