Effect of forage legumes and anthelmintic treatment on the performance, nutritional status and nematode parasites of grazing lambs

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-282
Number of pages15
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number3-4
Early online date08 Jun 2005
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2005
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Recent studies in New Zealand and the UK have shown that certain forages reduce parasitic infection in sheep. The aim of this experiment was to investigate the effects of legume forages compared to ryegrass on interactions between production, nutritional status and nematodes in grazing lambs. Twenty-four male lambs per forage treatment, half of which were treated with anthelmintics on Day 0, grazed monocultures of lucerne (Medicago sativa), red clover (Trifolium pratense) and white clover (Trifolium repens) and were compared with lambs grazing perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne). Individual faecal egg counts (FEC) and liveweight were determined every 7 days for 56 days, after which half the lambs were slaughtered to determine total nematode intensities (TNI). Results showed that lambs grazed on red or white clover, but not lucerne, had lower pooled mean FEC and improved liveweight performance compared to lambs grazing ryegrass. Lambs treated with anthelmintics had higher TNI compared to lambs not treated, due to a trend for more adult nematodes in lambs grazing lucerne and treated with anthelmintics than all other lambs, except those grazing red clover and also given anthelmintics. Lambs grazing white clover tended to have fewer adult nematodes than lambs grazing other forages. Examination of the nematode species showed a change in female T. circumcincta occurred in all lambs following anthelmintic treatment and that the forage species grazed by lambs affected individual parasite species. Lambs grazing white clover had fewer male and adult T. circumcincta compared to lambs grazing other forages, and lambs grazing lucerne had fewer adult T. circumcincta compared to lambs grazing ryegrass or red clover. Data on small intestine TNI showed that lambs grazing lucerne and given anthelmintics had more male adult nematodes than other lambs, except those grazing red clover and treated with anthelmintics. Results indicate that lucerne and red clover both increase the re-infection of grazing lambs with Trichostrongylus species compared to ryegrass following anthelmintic treatment. In conclusion, legume forages have the potential to contribute to the control of abomasal but not small intestine nematode parasites in finishing lamb systems.


  • Gastrointestinal nematodes, internal parasites, sheep-nematoda, forage legumes, high protein forages