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Mid-season targeted selective anthelmintic treatment based on flexible weight gain threshold for nematode infection control in dairy calves

  • A. Merlin (a1), N. Ravinet (a1), A. Madouasse (a1), N. Bareille (a1), A. Chauvin (a1) and C. Chartier (a1)...


The suitability of a single mid-season targeted selective treatment (TST) for gastrointestinal nematodes control, based on flexible average daily weight gain (ADWG) thresholds, was investigated in 23 groups of first grazing season calves. In each group, animals were weighed three times: before turnout, at mid-season and at housing. Just after the first weighing, each group was divided in two homogenous sub-groups in terms of age, breed and weight, and randomly allocated to one of two sub-groups intented for two different mid-season anthelmintic treatment strategies: (1) a treatment of all calves composing the sub-group (whole-group treatment (WT)) or (2) a targeted selective weight gain-based treatment (TST) of the animals showing an individual pre-treatment ADWG inferior to the mean pre-treatment ADWG of the corresponding WT sub-group. Anthelmintic treatment (levamisole 7.5 mg/kg BW) was performed 3 to 4 months after turnout. At housing, two parasitological parameters (the anti-Ostertagia ostertagi antibody level-Ostertagia optical density ratio (ODR) and the pepsinogen level) and a clinical parameter (the breech soiling score) were assessed at individual level in each group. Then, the high exposed groups to gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) were defined as groups for which untreated animals exhibited a mean Ostertagia ODR ⩾0.7 and among these groups, the ones characterized by high abomasal damage due to Ostertagia for which untreated animals exhibited a mean pepsinogen level ⩾2.5 U Tyr were also identified. Among TST sub-groups, the treatment ADWG thresholds varied from 338 to 941 g/day and the percentage of treated animals from 28% to 75%. Pre- and post-treatment ADWG as well as parasitological and clinical parameters measured at housing were similar between TST and WT sub-groups including the 17 high exposed groups to GIN. Within these 17 groups, the treatment allowed to significantly improve post-treatment ADWG compared with untreated animals. In the six high exposed groups showing mean pepsinogen level ⩾2.5 U Tyr, the average effect of treatment on post-treatment ADWG was the highest and estimated up to 14 kg after a grazing duration of 4 months. In contrast, in six other groups showing mean Ostertagia ODR<0.7 in untreated animals, no effect of treatment was seen suggesting an absence of production losses related to a low level of GIN infection. This study highlighted the suitability of a convenient mid-season TST strategy for first grazing season calves, based on the use of flexible thresholds of ADWG, allowing similar growth compared with a whole-group treatment while keeping a GIN population in refugia.


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