Little anthelmintic drenching required for lambs finished over winter and spring on annually re-established irrigated pasture on the Highveld of Gauteng province, South Africa
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association
As part of a trial to test the profitability of finishing weaner lambs over winter and spring on the Highveld of Gauteng province, an investigation was carried out over 4 consecutive years as to whether or not worm control was necessary while the lambs were on irrigated, improved pastures. Pastures that had not been grazed by sheep or other livestock for at least 5 years were planted to annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflora) that was ploughed under and replanted annually. Weaner lambs were
... divided into either 2 (A and B) or 3 (A, B and C) groups and finished from April / May to November / December on a separate pasture per group. While Group A lambs were dewormed before being placed on pasture, those in Groups B and C were not. Faecal egg counts were performed at irregular intervals, and when the lambs were sold at the conclusion of each year's trial, the gastrointestinal tracts of 4-5 lambs per trial group were processed for worm recovery. Haemonchus contortus was the dominant wormspecies, while Trichostrongylus colubriformis, Ostertagia circumcincta and Trichuris spp. were encountered sporadically. From the results obtained it seems unlikely that there is appreciable 'carry-over' of the various wormspecies from year to year on pastures that are ploughed and replanted annually; thus it is improbable that there will be a build-up of anthelmintic-resistant worms. While on pasture, no drenching was required for the Group A lambs (dewormed before placing on the pasture), nor in 2 of the 4 years in Groups B or B+C that were not drenched and were lightly infected at the start. In the remaining 2 years Groups B or B+C were drenched once only during the course of each trial. Thus, under the conditions as in this study, little worm control is necessary, provided faecal worm egg counts are done to gauge the levels of infection before the lambs are placed on pasture, and to guard against the possibility of an increase in worm burdens thereafter in some years. Also, because of the apparent lack of carry-over between years, anthelmintic treatment at the time of introduction of the lambs or during the period of finishing should be safe as regards progressive selection for anthelmintic resistance. It is also likely to be cost-effective, considering the low cost of anthelmintics in relation to the price of lambs, to counter the possibility of a loss in production if lambs were to harbour relatively heavy worm burdens when introduced.