The combined influence of (1) calving period (early or late) and (2) overwintering contamination by residual infective larvae (high or low) on subsequent exposure of suckler calves to gastrointestinal nematodes was investigated. We found that the effect of calving date was greater than the level of residual contamination. This was because the adult cows produced large quantities of manure containing small amounts of nematode eggs from turnout, which significantly contaminated the pasture, and thereby, reduced the effect of prior high-low contamination. Early born calves were found to be more heavily exposed to parasites, most likely due to ingesting more herbage than those born later. Late-born calves also had relatively high antibody levels at turnout, which first decreased and then increased again. We suggest that the high antibody levels at turnout reflect passive transfer of maternal antibodies through the milk. There was also a significant difference in animal performance, with the more heavily exposed early born calves having significantly lower daily weight gain than the late-born calves. However, this might not be entirely due to increased parasitism.
- Population dynamics
- Accepted February 15, 2013.
- British Veterinary Association