Relative resistance of Dorper crossbred ewes to gastrointestinal nematode infection compared with St. Croix and Katahdin ewes in the southeastern United States

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A study was conducted to evaluate relative resistance of Dorper crossbred (DO), Katahdin (KA), St. Croix (SC), and Hampshire (HA) ewes to natural and experimental gastro-intestinal (GI) nematode infection over a 20-month period. The objective of Experiment 1 was to evaluate breeds for resistance to infection acquired naturally from mixed grass pastures. In Year 1 (May-December 2000) de-worming of ewes occurred during wet, hot conditions in July and during late pregnancy in December. In Year 2 (January-December 2001), ewes were de-wormed after fecal egg count (FEC) for a breed group rose above 1000 eggs per gram (epg) or after blood packed cell volume (PCV) of an individual ewe fell below 20. FEC was determined every 28 days and PCV every 14-28 days. In both the years, ewes were pastured together, except during the 28-days breeding periods, on tall fescue, bermudagrass, or ryegrass, and rotated among pastures dependent on forage availability. Ewes were in good or excellent condition (body condition score of 3-4 out of 5) throughout the study. The objective of Experiment 2 was to evaluate the breeds for relative resistance to an experimental infection with Haemonchus contortus infective larvae. Both PCV and FEC were determined every 7 days from 14 to 42 days after inoculation with 30,000 infective larvae per ewe. In Experiment 1, Year 1, FEC was slightly greater and PCV was lower from July to September in DO ewes (breed x time, P < 0.001). In Year 2, de-worming occurred 14 days later in DO ewes compared with other breed types. Otherwise PCV and FEC were similar among the hair breeds and higher and lower, respectively, compared with HA ewes (breed x time, P < 0.001). In Experiment 2, FEC and PCV were similar among hair breeds; FEC was lower and PCV higher in hair breeds compared with that of HA ewes (P < 0.01). Relative resistance of mature Dorper crossbred ewes was comparable to that of Katahdin and St. Croix ewes and superior to that of Hampshire ewes.

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Veterinary Parasitology

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