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New Zealand veterinary journal

Production benefits from pre- and post-lambing anthelmintic treatment of ewes on commercial farms in the southern North Island of New Zealand.


PMID 25589215

Abstract

To measure the magnitude and variability in production responses to anthelmintic treatments administered to adult ewes around lambing. Ewes carrying twin lambs, from sheep and beef farms (eight in Year 1 and six in Year 2) in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand, were enrolled in 14 trials (part of an experiment carried out on one farm in one year). Experiment 1 compared ewes treated 2-4 weeks pre-lambing with a controlled release capsule (CRC) containing abamectin, albendazole, Se and Co, to ewes injected pre-lambing with a long-acting Se plus vitamin B12 product, and to untreated ewes. Experiment 2 included these treatments, plus a CRC administered at pregnancy scanning. Experiment 3 included the same treatments as Experiment 1, plus administration of a CRC containing albendazole, Se and Co, injectable moxidectin or oral derquantel plus abamectin, all administered pre-lambing, or oral derquantel plus abamectin administered 4-6 weeks after lambing. Variables compared were ewe liveweight at weaning and pre-mating, lamb liveweight at weaning, total weight of lamb weaned per ewe and ewe dag score at weaning. Ewes treated with a CRC pre-lambing were heavier than untreated ewes (mean 3.2 kg) at weaning in 12/14 trials, and pre-mating (mean 2.8 kg) in 9/14 trials (p<0.001). Compared with mineral-treated ewes the mean difference was 2.8 kg pre-lambing (9/14 trials) and 1.7 kg pre-weaning (6/14 trials). Lambs reared by treated ewes were heavier (mean 1.55 kg) at weaning in 6/14 trials (p<0.001), but there was no effect of CRC treatment on total weight of lambs weaned per ewe (p=0.507). Variation in weight of lamb weaned per ewe was largely explained by differences in lamb survival from birth to weaning (p<0.001), with no effect of CRC treatment (p>0.65). Treatment of ewes with a CRC at pregnancy scanning was neither better nor worse than a pre-lambing treatment (p=0.065). There was no difference in the response from treatment with either of the two CRC or moxidectin. Treatment with short-acting oral anthelmintics resulted in no consistent benefit. Anthelmintic treatments administered to ewes around lambing resulted in variable responses between farms and years, which in some trials were negative for some variables, and some of the variability was due to the mineral component of the CRC. The widespread perception amongst farmers and veterinarians that anthelmintic treatment of ewes around lambing will always result in positive benefits is not supported.