Thursday, July 10, 2014

Goats Start Test with Mixed Parasite Load

The goats started this year's test with a mixed parasite load. On May 30, a pooled sample was collected from goats from each consignment. This sample was sent to Dr. Dahlia O'Brien's lab at Virginia State University for coproculture.

Coproculture is when the eggs in the feces are hatched and the worm species are identified by measuring the larvae and examining their morphology. It is not possible to differentiate between the different species of strongyle-type worms at the egg stage.

For the sample collected on May 30, the fecal egg count was 720 epg. This is similar to the average of the individual fecal egg counts of the 77 goats (830 epg) in the test (on May 30), but considerably higher than the median FEC (50 epg). A few goats had very high FECs, which skewed the average.

The worm load was comprised of 49% Haemonchus contortus, 37% Trichostrongylus and Teladorsagia. The remaining 14% of the sample contained Oesophagostomum and Ostertagia. This is the lowest percentage of Haemonchus ever found in a pooled sample from the test. Usually, the percentage of Hamonchus exceeds 75%. At times, it's been close to 100%. Last year's test goats started the test with 84% Haemonchus.

Species Common name Percentage
Haemonchus contortus Barber pole worm 49
Trichostrongylus, Teladorsagia various 37
Oesophagostomum, Ostertagia Nodule worm 14

The female barber pole worm is a very prolific egg layer, whereas the other species lay considerably fewer eggs. 2,000 epg is generally considered to be of clinical significance for the barber pole worm, whereas FECs of 500 epg can be problematic for the other worm species. At the same time, fecal egg counts are generally not a good indicator of clinical parasitism, as so many other factors are involved.

Another pooled fecal sample was collected from random goats on July 3. The fecal egg count for this sample was considerable higher at 1750 epg. It will take several weeks to complete the fecal coproculture.