The influence of chemoprophylaxis with an ivermectin sustained-release bolus in the first grazing season on the resistance of cattle to gastrointestinal nematodes during the following grazing season was investigated. In 1993 and 1994 dairy replacement calves were either given one bolus at the start of their first grazing season or left untreated. The two groups were grazed separately on a pasture that was divided into two similar sized paddocks. Faecal egg counts, serum pepsinogen and antibody levels were measured to evaluate host-parasite contact. Pasture infection levels were estimated by pasture larval counts and worm counts in tracer calves. After winter housing the animals were monitored during their second grazing season on a pasture that was also divided into two similar sized paddocks. Acquired resistance to gastrointestinal nematodes was evaluated by faecal egg counts and weight gains. Again, pasture infection levels were determined and pepsinogen and antibody levels were measured. During the first grazing seasons gastrointestinal nematode infections were controlled very effectively by the bolus, as shown by the greater weight gains, the negligible faecal egg counts and the low serum pepsinogen and antibody levels in the treated calves. In contrast, all parameters showed extensive parasitehost contact in the untreated animals. The efficient prophylaxis in the treated groups resulted in low levels of larval contamination on the paddocks grazed by the treated animals, compared to moderate infection levels at the end of both first grazing seasons on the paddocks grazed by the untreated animals. During the second grazing seasons (1994 and 1995) the faecal egg output was low in all groups. Although in the previously treated animals faecal egg counts were consistently higher, the differences were minimal, resulting in comparable levels of larval contamination on both paddocks. Serum pepsinogen and antibody levels were not significantly different between the groups and indicated a similar level of larval uptake on both paddocks. No negative effect of the previous chemoprophylaxis on the clinical condition and the weight gain of the second season grazing animals was observed.
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