Drenching adult ewes: Implications of anthelmintic treatments pre- and post-lambing on the development of anthelmintic resistance

Drenching adult ewes: Implications of anthelmintic treatments pre- and post-lambing on the development of anthelmintic resistance
Peer reviewed

Abstract

AIMS: To test the hypothesis that peri-parturient anthelmintic treatment of adult ewes, either pre-lambing with a controlled- release capsule (CRC) or at tail-docking with a short-acting oral formulation, would increase the rate of development of anthelmintic resistance, as compared to not drenching ewes and giving an additional drench to lambs in the autumn. Also, to evaluate the potential of routinely leaving 15% of the heaviest lambs untreated when drenching, as a means of slowing the development of anthelmintic resistance.
METHODS: A replicated farmlet trial was run from 1999– 2004. Eleven farmlets, each consisting of five paddocks, were initially seeded with Ostertagia (=Teladorsagia) circumcincta and Trichostrongylus colubriformis parasites, these being a mixture of albendazole-susceptible and -resistant isolates to yield a 96% reduction in faecal nematode egg count (FEC) on drenching. Four prescriptive drenching regimes were applied; Treatments 1–3 were replicated three times and Treatment 4 twice. Treatments were as follows. Treatment 1: Ewes were given an albendazole CRC pre-lambing, and any ewes exceeding 65 kg liveweight were given two capsules simultaneously; lambs were given a five-drench preventive programme of treatments, orally, of albendazole on Days 0, 21, 42, 70 and 98 after weaning. Treatment 2: Ewes were given a single oral treatment of albendazole at docking (2–3 weeks after lambing), and lambs were given the same five-drench preventive programme as in Treatment 1. Treatment 3: Ewes remained untreated, while lambs were given a six-drench preventive programme of treatments, orally, of albendazole on Days 0, 21, 42, 70, 98 and 126 after weaning. Treatment 4: Ewes remained untreated, while lambs were given the same six-drench preventive programme as in Treatment 3, but the heaviest 15% of lambs were left untreated each time. Albendazole-resistance status was measured at least twice-yearly, using faecal egg count reduction tests (FECRTs) and larval development assays (LDA). In addition, controlled slaughter of drenched and undrenched tracer lambs was undertaken in the last 3 years.
RESULTS: Resistance to albendazole increased most rapidly in Treatment 1, as measured by FECRT and LDA results, and worm burdens in tracer lambs. In Treatment 2, resistance developed slower than in Treatment 1 but faster than in Treatments 3 and 4, as measured by LDA; resistance in Treatment 2 developed more quickly than in Treatment 4, as measured by FECRTs. There was no significant difference between Treatments 3 and 4, although this approached significance in Ostertagia spp, as measured by LDA.
CONCLUSIONS: Anthelmintic treatments to adult ewes around lambing time are likely to be more selective for resistance than additional treatments administered to lambs in the autumn. Farmers wishing to slow the emergence of anthelmintic resistance on their farms should look to minimise the administration of peri-parturient treatment of ewes. A trend to slower development of resistance where a proportion of lambs were left untreated at each drench suggests further work on this aspect of management of resistance is warranted.
KEY WORDS: Sheep, parasites, anthelmintic resistance, capsule, Ostertagia, Teladorsagia, Trichostrongylus

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