The effect of mixed and sequential grazing of cattle and sheep on the faecal egg counts and growth rates of weaned lambs when treated with anthelmintics

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-141
Number of pages7
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Volume142
Issue number1-2
Early online date02 Aug 2006
DOI
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2006
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Abstract

An experiment was conducted over two successive years (2002 and 2003) to investigate the effects of grazing improved permanent pasture (mainly perennial ryegrass/white clover) by cattle or sheep, either sequentially or mixed, on the faecal egg counts and growth rates of weaned lambs when treated with anthelmintics. The grazing season was divided into two parts, May–July then July–October, relating to the pre- and post-weaning of the lambs. Four grazing regimes, replicated three times, were compared: (1) sheep only from May to October (SS); (2) cattle May to July followed by lambs until October (C/S); (3) cattle and sheep May to July followed by lambs until October (C + S/S); and (4) cattle and sheep May to July followed by cattle and lambs until October (C + S/C + S). Sward height was maintained at 6 cm using a “put and take” stocking system. At weaning, lambs were weighed and treated with an anthelmintic (0.08% ivermectin drench, Oramec®) before being allocated to plots. They were then weighed and drenched every 28 days until the end of the experiment (Day 84). Faecal egg counts (FEC) were measured in all lambs immediately prior to each anthelmintic treatment. In 2002 and 2003, there were differences between the groups in FEC, with the SS lambs having the highest values and C/S lambs the lowest (P <0.01). There were also differences in the rate of liveweight gain of the lambs in each of the study years: for this parameter SS lambs had the lowest growth rate but the fastest growth was in C + S/C + S lambs not C/S lambs (P <0.01), indicating that these differences were due to factors other than parasite infection. Overall, sequential grazing of pastures with cattle then sheep reduced the faecal egg counts in lambs regularly treated with anthelmintics when compared with lambs grazing in mixed systems with cattle and sheep or with sheep only systems, however, the highest growth rates were observed in lambs in the mixed cattle/sheep grazing system throughout.

Keywords

  • gastrointestinal nematodes, internal parasites, sheep, grazing management