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Evaluation of gastro-intestinal nematode parasite control strategies for first-season grazing cattle in Sweden.

  • Dimander, Sten-Olof
  • Höglund, Johan
  • Uggla, Arvid
  • Spörndly, Eva
  • Waller, Peter J
Published Article
Veterinary Parasitology
Publication Date
Feb 13, 2003
PMID: 12531294


A three-year grazing experiment (1998-2000) was conducted with first-season grazing cattle (FSGC) on improved pastures in central-eastern Sweden. Comparison was made between five groups with 10 calves in each group where four of these were set stocked and either (1) untreated, (2) ivermectin bolus treated, (3) subjected to biological control with the nematophagous fungus Duddingtonia flagrans, or (4) treated with a copper wire particle bolus. The fifth treatment was an evasive grazing strategy, whereby untreated calves were turned out onto pasture used by older cattle the previous year and then these calves were moved to silage aftermath in mid-July. To introduce low-levels of parasite infection to the experiment, each animal received a 'priming dose' of approximately 5,000 Ostertagia ostertagi and 5,000 Cooperia oncophora infective third stage larvae immediately prior to the start of the first grazing year of the trial. Results showed that efficient and sustainable parasite control of FSGC was possible to achieve without the use of anthelmintics by using turnout pastures that the previous year had been grazed by older cattle, in combination with a mid-July move to aftermath leys. Biological control also proved beneficial but the efficacy was impaired if high faecal egg counts coincided with rapid dung pat degradation due to heavy rainfall. No indication of parasite control was observed with the copper wire particle bolus. It was also demonstrated that the impact of gastrointestinal (GI) parasitism varied between years and that the level of overwintering contamination is important but likewise, is unpredictable. Although faecal egg counts in 1999 were low, due both to a delayed turnout and drought for the major part of the grazing season, deposited eggs successfully developed to infective larvae and overwintered in large numbers. The population of overwintered infective larvae at the time of turnout in early May played an important role in the course of infection in 2000 and resulted in an average 65 kg advantage of the ivermectin treated calves compared with the untreated calves.Thus, this three-year grazing experiment has emphasised the importance of subclinical gastrointestinal nematode infections in FSGC in Sweden. In addition, the study has shown that adequate parasite control may be achievable without the use of anthelmintics.

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