Efficiency of feeding Duddingtonia flagrans chlamydospores to grazing ewes on reducing availability of parasitic nematode larvae on pasture

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Gastrointestinal nematodes are of concern in sheep production because of production and economic losses. Control of these nematodes is primarily based on the use of anthelmintic treatment and pasture management. The almost exclusive use of anthelmintic treatment has resulted in development of anthelmintic resistance which has led to the need for other parasite control options to be explored. The blood sucking abomasal parasitic nematode Haemonchus contortus causes severe losses in small ruminant production in the warm, humid sub-tropic and tropics. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a nematode trapping fungus, Duddingtonia flagrans, in reducing availability of parasitic nematode larvae, specifically H. contortus, on pasture. Chlamydospores of D. flagrans were mixed with a supplement feed which was fed daily to a group of crossbred ewes for the duration of the summer grazing season. A control group was fed the same supplement feed without chlamydospores. A reduction in infective larval numbers was observed in fecal cultures of the fungus-fed group. Herbage samples from the pasture grazed by the fungus-fed group also showed a reduction in infective larvae. There were no significant (P>0.05) differences in overall fecal egg count, packed cell volume or animal weight between fungus-fed and control groups. Tracer animals were placed on the study pastures at the end of the study to assess pasture infectivity. Although tracer animals were only two per group, those that grazed with the fungus-fed group had substantially reduced (96.8%) nematode burdens as compared to those from the control group pasture. Results demonstrated that the fungus did have activity against nematode larvae in the feces which reduced pasture infectivity and subsequently nematode burdens in tracer animals. This study showed that D. flagrans, fed daily to grazing ewes, was an effective biological control agent in reducing a predominantly H. contortus larval population on pasture. © 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Veterinary Parasitology

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