Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Gastrointestinal nematode and lungworm infections in organic dairy calves reared with nurse cows during their first grazing season in western France

The rearing system of dairy calves with nurse cows has been developing since 2010 in organic farms in western France. This system allows cow-calf contact until a weaning age close to the natural weaning for cattle and is characterized by an early turnout for calves at around one month of age with their nurse cows and a first grazing season with mixed grazing of calves and adults at a ratio of 2-4 calves per nurse cow. The objectives of this study were to assess the gastrointestinal (GIN) and lungworm infections in such reared calves and their variability during the first grazing season. Faecal egg count (FEC), pepsinogen (PEP) concentration and Ostertagia ELISA optical density ratio (ODR) were determined in calves (n = 497) at housing in 33 groups from 24 farms in 2018, and in calves (n = 405) and nurse cows (n = 199) throughout the 2019 grazing season in 41 groups from 20 farms. For lungworm infection, information was obtained during 2019 through the recording of coughing episodes along the grazing season and the Dictyocaulus ELISA ODR determination at housing both in calves and nurses. Results indicated that the level of GIN infection was overall low for calves during the first grazing season with PEP and Ostertagia ODR group-average values ranging from 0.97 to 1.6 U Tyr and 0.23 to 0.71 ODR respectively. No anthelmintic treatment being given in any group of calves. Ostertagia ODR values increased with the duration of the grazing season (>240 d) and with the ratio calves/nurse (>2). GIN parameters for nurses remained fairly stable during the grazing season with mean FEC, PEP and Ostertagia ODR group-average values of 13 epg, 2.28 U Tyr and 0.81 ODR, respectively. Antibodies against lungworms were detected in 3-62 % of calves depending on the duration of grazing, but only 6% of calves showed a coughing episode. The dilution effect due to the mixed grazing of resistant (nurse cows) and susceptible (calves) animals associated with predominant milk diet of calves during the first months of grazing in combination with protective grazing management allow calves to be turned out at an early age without using anthelmintic treatments. Further studies are needed to assess the GIN infection dynamics during the second grazing season in weaned heifers.


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