Biochemical differences in Merino sheep selected for resistance against gastro-intestinal nematodes and genetic and nutritional effects on faecal worm egg output

Shimin Liu, T.L. Smith, D.G. Palmer, L.J.E. Karlsson, R.B. Besier, J.C. Greeff

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    21 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The faecal egg count (FEC) and total egg output is reduced in parasite-resistant sheep and breeding sheep for resistance should reduce infective larval contamination of pastures. This research compares lambs and rams from the parasite-resistant flock, Rylington Merinos, with unselected controls at the same level of larval challenge and the same level of food supply in an animal-house environment. The sheep were penned individually. The parasite resistant sheep excreted 0.85 fold less eggs than the control animals after infection with Trichostrongylus colubriformis and Ostertagia circumcincta for 12 or 18 weeks. During the infection period the parasite resistant lambs had higher plasma immunoglobulin concentration and higher ratio of globulin to albumin than the control animals. In the mature rams these genotype differences diminished. They also had lighter mass of the small intestine with a higher proportion of mucosa, but heavier mass of the large intestine. Parasite infection caused a depletion of blood glutathione in the lambs given food at maintenance or 1.5 x maintenance, and the parasite-resistant sheep ( both lambs and rams) also had lower glutathione concentration. Maintaining good body nutrient reserve before the infection reduced the egg output in the early stage of the infection. Food intake had little effect on worm egg production in young sheep given food at maintenance or above. It is suggested that an improvement of nutrition, sulphur-containing amino acids in particular, is required to recover the loss of productive performance caused by the infection.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)149-157
    JournalAnimal Science
    Volume81
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

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