Effect of sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) fed as hay, on natural and experimental Haemonchus contortus infections in lambs

Veterinary Parasitology
K C LangeM T Kearney

Abstract

Parasitic infection is one of the leading economic constraints in small ruminant production. This problem is exacerbated as the resistance of nematode populations to chemical treatment (anthelmintics) becomes increasingly more common. Condensed tannin (CT) containing plants are being investigated as alternative solutions to address these problems. This investigation was conducted to evaluate the effect of the CT containing forage, Lespedeza cuneata (sericea lespedeza, SL) fed as hay, on Haemonchus contortus infection in sheep. Naturally and experimentally infected lambs were fed either SL or bermudagrass (BG, control) hay for 49 days. All lambs were fed BG hay for an additional 14 days. SL hay effectively reduced (67-98%) fecal egg count (FEC) during the time of feeding for both infection groups. FEC increased in both infection groups after SL feeding was stopped which indicated an effect on fecundity. SL hay feeding also reduced worm numbers, with more of an effect on reducing naturally infected worm burdens (67.2%) than on establishment of incoming larvae (26.1%). SL fed as hay may be more useful to remove existing worms than establishing worms. The decrease in FEC would have the benefit of reduced pasture contamination.

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