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Vet Parasitol. 2000 Jun 10;90(1-2):111-8.

Evaluation of the effects of nematode parasitism on grazing behaviour, herbage intake and growth in young grazing cattle.

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Merial Animal Hlth Ltd., Sandringham House, Harlow Business Park, Essex, UK.


Parasitic nematodes, even in the absence of any clinical disease, can cause a reduction in voluntary feed intake in housed ruminants. This trial examined these effects on young cattle grazing pastures. Twenty dairy heifer calves, born in the previous autumn, were blocked according to liveweight and allocated to one of two groups: either untreated or dosed with an IVOMEC((R)) (ivermectin) SR Bolus 10 days prior to turnout on 1 May 1998. The groups grazed separately on two paddocks on predominately ryegrass swards. Liveweights were recorded every 28 days and faecal samples taken for worm egg counts at the same time. In mid-May and mid-July, for two 14-day periods, animals were paired within treatment groups and transferred to one of 10 replicate paddocks of similar sward height and herbage mass. Grazing behaviour and herbage intake were measured during these periods. In mid-May, 2 weeks after turnout, treated and untreated animals showed no difference in grazing behaviour or daily intake of grass. By mid-July, 10 weeks after turnout, the untreated heifers spent on average 105min less per day in grazing time and their daily herbage intake was 0.78kg dry matter (DM) per day lower than that of the treated animals. Residual sward height, mass and composition in the trial paddocks reflected these differences. There were no clinical signs of gastrointestinal parasitism in the untreated group up to this time; in July, the mean worm egg count in this group was 120 eggs per gram (e.p.g.) of faeces. Faecal samples from several untreated animals were positive for lungworm larvae by July, mild clinical signs of bronchitis were observed in two of these animals in mid-July. Over the period from turnout until mid-July, the untreated heifers showed a reduction in mean daily liveweight gain of 150g, compared to the treated animals.

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