A 12-month study was conducted to assess and monitor gastrointestinal tract nematodes and liver fluke in cohorts of cattle on a Scottish organic dairy farm. Various diagnostic markers for helminth parasites of cattle from different age groups were assessed monthly from April 2007 to March 2008. First season grazing stock were subjected to significant challenge from Ostertagia ostertagi nematodes as reflected in serum pepsinogen concentrations, which rose markedly in the second half of the grazing season. In addition, plasma albumin concentrations decreased and faecal egg counts (FEC) increased moderately, indicating exposure to both O ostertagi and probably Cooperia oncophora. Second season grazing animals had a peak FEC early in the grazing period, suggestive of a potential carry-over of Ostertagia species infection (‘Type 2’) during housing. All classes of cattle showed evidence of fluke (Fasciola hepatica) infection. Adult cow exposure to O ostertagi and fluke was estimated via the use of ELISA testing to detect antibodies to O ostertagi and F hepatica and the high levels detected suggested a significant exposure response. Despite low stocking densities and sympathetic grazing management, there was a significant challenge to all grazing stock from gastrointestinal nematodes and liver fluke.
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Provenance not commissioned; externally peer reviewed
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