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Rotational grazing as a parasite management tool for goats

W. E. Pomroy1,2, S. P. Hart1, and B. R. Min1

1E (Kika) de la Garza Institute for Goat Research, Langston University, Langston, OK
2Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, New Zealand

This study investigated the use of a short-duration, long-rest-period rotational grazing system as a method for controlling internal parasites in goats. Pastures (in central Oklahoma) were blocked by presence (15% cover) or absence of trees with two 2.0-ha pastures of degraded tallgrass native prairie per block. Two pastures were each divided with electric fence into 14 strips for rotational grazing beginning in May. Goats grazed each strip for 5 d and were moved to the next strip for two rotations, resulting in a 65-d rest period. Two pastures were set-stocked. Non-lactating, mature goats were used, six Angora and six Spanish does per pasture. Does were dewormed at the start of the study and fecal egg counts were used to confirm the efficacy of deworming. Initial and final weights of goats were taken. Tracer animals were dewormed effectively (confirmed by fecal egg counts) and allowed to graze with animals in each pasture (three tracers per pasture) for 17 d near the end of the study to measure pasture contamination. Tracers were euthanized after an additional 11 d and worms in the abomasum and small intestine were identified and counted. Goats were sampled every 3 wk for fecal egg counts (modified McMaster procedure) and hematocrit. Fecal egg counts were log transformed prior to statistical analysis. Fecal egg counts were reduced by rotational grazing (P < 0.05; 309 vs 121 eggs/g). There was a significant treatment by block effect (P < 0.005) in that pastures with trees had higher fecal egg counts, presumably due to animals congregating under trees and feces being shaded from the sun. Hematocrit and BW gain were not affected by treatment (P > 0.10). Pasture contamination with Haemonchus contortus larvae, (74.4% of worms identified) as determined by tracer animals, was lower (P < 0.001; 630 vs 40 worms per animal) for rotationally grazed animals than for set-stocked animals with a block by pasture interaction (P < 0.001) due to trees as previously discussed. Contamination by other species (Ostertagia circumcinta, 8.2% and Trichostrongylus colubriformis, 17.4%) of larvae followed a similar pattern. A short-duration, long-rest-period, rotational grazing system on tallgrass native range can effectively control internal parasites in goats, but the presence of trees in pastures can increase parasite infestation.


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