Sheep and cattle grazing alternately: Nematode parasitism and pasture decontamination
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Three grazing management systems were compared to examine pasture decontamination of gastrointestinal nematode parasites (GIN) of sheep (Ovies aries) and cattle (Bos taurus). They consisted of sheep and cattle grazing paddocks alternately for 32, 96 or 192 days over 2 years. Pastureland (8.43 ha) was subdivided into six areas of eight paddocks each to produce an eight-paddock rotational grazing system. Every paddock was grazed for 4 days and then rested for 28 days. Sixty-six Ile de France ewes and 12 steers were randomly divided into three groups (22 sheep and four cattle per group). Each grazing system included a cattle area and a sheep area. Sheep and cattle interchanged areas every 32 days in system 1 (Group 1), every 96 days in system 2 (Group 2) and every 192 days in system 3 (Group 3). Fecal examination and larvae counting on pasture were performed every 32 days. During summer, winter and spring 2005, tracer lambs free of nematode infection were introduced into each sheep group and later sacrificed for quantification and identification of GIN species. All cattle were sacrificed for the same purpose. The main parasites found in tracer lambs were Haemonchus contortus and Trichostrongylus colubriformis, and in cattle, Haemonchus similis, Cooperia punctata and Oesophagostomum radiatum. Pasture contamination by sheep-infective GIN larvae was considerably reduced after 96 or 192 days of cattle grazing. Cross-infections between sheep and cattle GIN were not significant, which suggested that integrated grazing using such animals could be used for pasture decontamination. However, as effective anthelmintics were not available, decontamination was not sufficient for proper prophylaxis of GIN infections in Ile de France sheep, which are quite susceptible to such parasites. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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