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Vet Parasitol. 1999 Jul;84(1-2):113-23.

Faecal egg counts in Angora goats following natural or experimental challenge with nematode parasites: within-flock variability and repeatabilities.

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  • 1AgResearch, Wallaceville Animal Research Centre, Upper Hutt, New Zealand.


Phenotypic variation in faecal worm-egg count (FEC) was studied in 100 Angora goats between 6 months and 2 years old as part of a wider investigation into the potential use of FEC as a selection trait in breeding goats for improved natural resistance to nematode infection. Shortly after weaning at 4-5 months old the goats were subjected to a procedure involving successive natural and experimental challenges, which was continued at 6-monthly intervals until the goats were 2 years old. Experimental challenges consisted of Trichostrongylus colubriformis infective larvae administered orally at a dose rate of 1000 larvae/kg liveweight. FECs resulting from both natural and experimental infections varied considerably between individual goats as well as between different sampling times. Mixed model analysis of variance of natural infections confirmed that a significant component of this variation was attributable to differences between individual goats (P < 0.01) as opposed to other potential sources of variability, indicating that although generally deemed to be more susceptible than sheep, Angora goats do nevertheless vary in their ability to resist nematode infection. Rank correlations between pairs of FECs derived from the same infection were relatively high for both natural and experimental infections (r = 0.63-0.70 and 0.54-0.79, respectively; all P < 0.01). However, those between mean FECs measured on successive 6-monthly sampling occasions were considerably lower and more variable (r = 0.01-0.41 and 0.19-0.62 for natural and experimental infections, respectively). Nevertheless, FECs resulting from natural infections showed moderate correlations with those from corresponding experimental infections (P < 0.01) on all except the first sampling occasion (r = 0.23-0.61). Correlations were marginally higher when FECs from experimental infections were adjusted for infecting dose size (r = 0.32-0.63). FECs resulting from experimental infections were significantly higher on the first sampling occasion (at 6 months) than on subsequent occasions (P < 0.01) suggesting that some degree of resistance to nematode establishment had developed in the goats by 12 months old. On the basis of unadjusted FECs there appeared to be no marked increase in resistance beyond that age, although analyses based on FECs adjusted for infecting dose size suggested an increase in acquired resistance up to 18 months of age. FECs following natural challenge in goats which had also received experimental infections were not significantly different from those exposed only to natural challenge, indicating that the drench-abbreviated experimental infections had had no immunizing effect. Does that had given birth and were lactating at 24 months had significantly higher FECs than 'dry' does in the flock (P < 0.01), suggesting that like sheep, goats exhibit a post-parturient relaxation of immunity. The use of FECs as potential indicators of resistance status in goats and as a criterion for the selection of breeding animals is discussed.

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