Evaluation of multiple low doses of copper oxide wire particles compared with levamisole for control of Haemonchus contortus in lambs

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High levels of anthelmintic resistance in gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) of small ruminants have created the need for alternative approaches to parasite control. Copper oxide wire particles (COWP; 2 g) have proven effective in decreasing GIN infection in lambs. However, the risk of copper toxicity has limited the usefulness of this approach. Recently, smaller doses (0.5 and 1 g) have proven effective in GIN control, reducing the risk of toxicity. The objective of this study was to examine the effectiveness and risk of toxicity using multiple small doses of COWP for GIN control in lambs between weaning and market weight. Dorper crossbred ram lambs were orally administered levamisole (Levasol, 8.0 mg/kg; n = 8), 0.5 g (n = 9), or 1 g COWP (n = 9) at weaning (Day 0; 118 ± 2 days of age; late May 2005) and again at 6-week intervals for a total of four treatments. A pooled fecal culture determined that Haemonchus contortus was the predominant gastrointestinal parasite at weaning. Lambs grazed bermudagrass pastures and were supplemented with up to 500 g corn/soybean meal and free choice trace mineralized salt. Fecal egg counts (FEC), packed cell volume (PCV), and plasma aspartate aminotransferase (AST) activity were determined every 14 days and lambs weighed every 28 days. GIN infection reached a peak at Day 42 (high FEC, low PCV). COWP effectively reduced FEC on Days 0 and 42 compared with the previous week, but did not reduce FEC on Days 84 and 126 (treatment by time interaction, P < 0.005). Plasma AST activity and weight gains were similar among treatment groups throughout the study period. Concentrations of copper in the liver on Day 155 were greater in COWP-treated lambs (P < 0.001), but all concentrations were normal. Multiple doses of COWP were as effective as levamisole for control of H. contortus without risk of copper toxicity.

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Veterinary Parasitology

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