Use of pelleted sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) for natural control of coccidia and gastrointestinal nematodes in weaned goats

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Infection with Eimeria spp. (coccidia) can be devastating in goats, particularly for young, recently-weaned kids, resulting in diarrhea, dehydration, and even death. Feeding dried sericea lespedeza [SL; Lespedeza cuneata (Dum.-Cours.) G. Don.] to young goats has been reported to reduce the effects of internal parasites, including gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) but there have been no reports of the effects of feeding this forage on Eimeria spp. in goats. Two confinement feeding experiments were completed on recently-weaned intact bucks (24 Kiko-cross, Exp. 1; 20 Spanish, Exp. 2) to determine effects of SL pellets on an established infection of GIN and coccidia. The bucks were assigned to 1 of 2 (Exp. 1) or 3 (Exp. 2) treatment groups based upon the number of Eimeria spp. oocysts per gram (OPG) of feces. In Exp. 1, the kids were fed 1 of 2 pelleted rations ad libitum; 90% SL leaf meal. +. 10% of a liquid molasses/lignin binder mix and a commercial pellet with 12% crude protein (CP) and 24% acid detergent fiber (n=. 12/treatment group, 2 animals/pen). For Exp. 2, treatment groups were fed (1) 90% SL leaf meal pellets from leaves stored 3 years (n=. 7), (2) 90% SL pellets from leaf meal stored less than 6 months, (n=. 7), and the commercial pellets (n=. 6) ad libitum. For both trials, fecal and blood samples were taken from individual animals every 7 days for 28 days to determine OPG and GIN eggs per gram (EPG) and packed cell volume (PCV), respectively. In Exp. 2, feces were scored for consistency (1. =. solid pellets, 5. =. slurry) as an indicator of coccidiosis. In Exp. 1, EPG (P<. 0.001) and OPG (P<. 0.01) were reduced by 78.7% and 96.9%, respectively, 7 days after initiation of feeding in goats on the SL pellet diet compared with animals fed the control pellets. The OPG and EPG remained lower in treatment than control animals until the end of the trial. In Exp. 2, goats fed new and old SL leaf meal pellets had 66.2% and 79.2% lower (P<. 0.05) EPG and 92.2% and 91.2% lower (P<. 0.05) OPG, respectively, than control animals within 7 days, and these differences were maintained or increased throughout the trial. After 4 weeks of pellet feeding in Exp. 2, fecal scores were lower (P<. 0.01) in both SL-fed groups compared with control animals, indicating fewer signs of coccidiosis. There was no effect of diet on PCV values throughout either experiment. Dried, pelleted SL has excellent potential as a natural anti-coccidial feed for weaned goats. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

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Veterinary Parasitology

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