Veterinary parasitology

The effect of repeated, four-weekly eprinomectin treatment on milk production in pasture-based, seasonally-calving dairy cattle.

PMID 22664339


A randomised clinical trial from the North Island of New Zealand was conducted to assess the effect of repeated anthelmintic treatment on milk production, and to assess factors that affect treatment response. Nine hundred and twenty three multiparous, lactating dairy cattle from three pasture-based, spring-calving dairy herds were enrolled in this trial. Within each herd, cattle were stratified on age and calving date, and were randomly allocated to treatment (n=319) or control (n=604) groups. The treatment group received ≥ 0.05 mg/kg of topical eprinomectin every 28 days for eight treatments during lactation. Pooled-milk from treated cows and bulk-milk samples were obtained at each treatment and analysed with an Ostertagia antibody ELISA, expressed as optical density ratios (ODR). Bi-monthly milk data were collected and expressed as energy-corrected milk (kg/day; ECM). A linear mixed model was used to analyse ECM, with cow as the random effect. The effect of anthelmintic treatment on days from calving, and start-of-mating, to conception were analysed with Cox-proportional hazard models. ODR values ranged from 0.6 to 1.3; there were no differences in ODR between herds (p=0.12), or between pooled-milk from treated cows and bulk-milk (p=0.26). Repeated treatments had no effect on daily ECM yields (p=0.74). However, there was a significant treatment × herd interaction (p=0.03); treatment increased ECM in one herd by 0.781 kg/cow/day (p=0.015), but resulted in a non-significant decrease in the other two herds. A curvilinear interaction existed between days-in-milk and treatment response (p=0.039); the greatest treatment effect occurred during mid-lactation. Previous year milk production (p=0.46) and age (p=0.11) did not influence the effect of treatment on ECM. Treatment had no effect on any reproductive parameter. In conclusion, under New Zealand pastoral conditions, anthelmintic treatment increased milk production in one herd, but had no effect in two other herds. Further work is needed to identify why this variation in gastro-intestinal parasitism occurs.