One hundred and twenty four-month-old Hereford-Friesian cross heifers weighing from 88 to 130 kg were divided into two equal groups. One group acted as a control with each animal receiving one placebo bolus, the other animals received one prototype intraruminal sustained-release bolus designed to deliver approximately 8 mg ivermectin/day for 100 to 120 days. The boluses were administered the day before turnout in mid-May. Each group was grazed separately for 167 days on pastures contaminated with parasitic nematode larvae including the lungworm Dictyocaulus viviparus, and the gastrointestinal worms Ostertagia ostertagi, Cooperia oncophora and Nematodirus helvetianus. Parasitic disease did not occur in the ivermectin-bolus group, but the control group required anthelmintic treatment to control parasitic gastroenteritis at 111 and 154 days after turnout. Up to the 111th day after turnout, the peak mean nematode egg and larval counts per gram of faeces in controls was, respectively, 564 epg and 0.5 lpg. Based on faecal nematode egg counts and worm burdens in bolus-treated cattle removed from pasture at 119 days after turnout and bolus function studies, it was concluded that ivermectin delivery from the prototype bolus ceased between 95 and 98 days after administration. However, unlike the controls, the treated cattle did not develop parasitic gastroenteritis at any time. Their faecal nematode egg output was significantly (P < 0.01) lower (< 1 epg) compared to the controls and lungworm larval output zero during the functional life of the bolus. The faecal egg and larval outputs continued low until the end of the trial.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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