Behavioural strategies used by parasitized and non-parasitized sheep to avoid ingestion of gastro-intestinal nematodes associated with faeces

Hutchings, M.R., Kyriazakis, I., Anderson, D.H., Gordon, I.J., and Coop, R.L. (1998) Behavioural strategies used by parasitized and non-parasitized sheep to avoid ingestion of gastro-intestinal nematodes associated with faeces. Animal Science, 67 (1). pp. 97-106.

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Abstract

A study was instigated to test whether grazing herbivores have evolved effective strategies to reduce parasite ingestion and to assess the effects of parasitism on these strategies. Two choice trials, each using five animals parasitized with O. circumcincta and five parasite naive animals, were conducted to investigate cues used by sheep to avoid grazing swards contaminated with faeces. Animals were presented with pairs of artificial swards (36 X 21 cm) and allowed to graze for short periods. In the first trial, four quantities (0 g, 5 g, 25 g and 25 g), and in the second trial a control (no faeces) and three age classes (0, 10 and 21 days old), of faeces were tested against each other. Increasing amount of faeces per sward tray was associated with a reduced proportion of bites taken from the sward and reduced bite depth and mass. The minimum amount of faeces at which sheep showed significant levels of rejection was 15 g. Decreasing age of faeces was associated with a reduced proportion of bites taken from the sward, reduced bite depth and mass. This presented the paradox that grazing swards contaminated with young faeces presented least risk of parasitism, yet fresh faeces presented the strongest stimulus for sward rejection. Parasitism altered animal grazing behaviour with parasitized animals becoming more selective when avoiding contaminated swards, taking smaller bites at reduced bite rates compared with nan-infected animals. The enhancement of faeces avoidance behaviours shown by parasitized animals could act to reduce further intake of parasites and suggests that grazing behaviour is affected by nematode infection.

Item ID: 42606
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1748-748X
Keywords: nematoda, Ostertagia circumcincta, parasitism, selective grazing, sheep
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council (UK) (NERC), Scottish Office of the Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries Department (SOAEFD)
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2016 07:43
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060801 Animal Behaviour @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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