Gastrointestinal nematode infections in German sheep
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The objective of the present study was to determine the prevalence and variation of natural gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) infections in lambs according to birth type, gender and breed based on individual faecal egg counts (FEC) from various regions in Germany. A total of 3,924 lambs (3 to 15 months old) with different genetic backgrounds (Merinoland, German Blackhead Mutton, Rhoen, Texel and Merino long-wool) were individually sampled during the grazing period between 2006 and 2008. Furthermore, pooled faecal samples from each of the farms were cultured in order to differentiate the third-stage larvae of the nematode spp. Sixty-three percent of the lambs were infected with GIN. The infections were mostly low to moderate and involved several nematode species. The Trichostrongylus spp. was the predominant species based on the percentage of larvae in faecal cultures. Only 11.4% of the lambs were free of Eimeria oocysts. Tapeworm eggs were encountered in 13.2% of all samples. The prevalence of GIN infections varied significantly (P < 0.001) among farms. A significantly higher FEC (P < 0.05) was observed in multiple-born lambs when compared with singletons. Moreover, male lambs were more susceptible to infection than females (P < 0.001). No significant differences (P > 0.05) were observed between breeds regarding FEC. Inter-individual variations were higher than inter-breed differences, which may indicate the possibility of selection within these breeds for parasites resistance as described in earlier studies.
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