Forage plant wards off ruminant gastrointestinal nematode

February 18, 2010

A common pasture plant could help foraging ruminants ward off damaging gastrointestinal nematodes that can cause illness and death, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists report.

Animal scientist Joan Burke at the ARS Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center in Booneville, Ark., along with colleagues at several universities, has patented formulations of Sericea lespedeza, commonly referred to as Chinese bush clover. The plant was introduced in the United States in the 1930s to minimize .

Adding the patented dry hay and pelleted forms of this plant to animal feed thwarts the reproductive cycles of gastrointestinal nematodes that are in the digestive tracts of goats and sheep. It is particularly effective in controlling the barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus), a nematode that attaches to the animals' abomasal (true stomach) wall and feeds on their blood. Female worms can produce more than 5,000 eggs per day that are shed in the animal's manure.

After hatching outside the animal, H. contortus larvae molt several times, resulting in a more developed and infectious larval form on grass leaves that animals consume during grazing. Once the infectious larvae are inside the animal, they suck the animal's blood, potentially leading to anemia, weakness and even death.

In the southern United States, goat production for meat or milk is an attractive alternative business for farmers because of the comparatively low cost of breeding stock, the high reproductive rate of goats, and the animals' ability to thrive on native pastures or brushland that is unsuitable for cropping. The major hindrance to economic goat production in this region is infection with gastrointestinal nematodes, particularly H. contortus. This parasite causes large economic losses for farmers around the world, and the worm has developed resistance to chemical interventions.

Burke, Jorge Mosjidis at Auburn University in Alabama, Thomas Terrill at Fort Valley State University in Georgia, and James Miller at Louisiana State University are co-inventors on the patent awarded in November 2009.

Explore further: Soybean varieties viable in southern Indiana, resistant to root-knot nematode

Related Stories

DNA test to revolutionise sheep worm control

June 23, 2008

CSIRO scientists have moved a step closer to developing a novel DNA test which has the potential to revolutionise management of one of the biggest threats to sheep health in Australia, the barber’s pole worm.

Possible new hope for crops battling parasitic infection

January 16, 2009

Scientists from Ghent University and VIB (The Flemisch Institute for Biotechnology) have demonstrated how nematodes, also known as roundworms, manipulate the transport of the plant hormone auxin in order to force the plant ...

New test may help address costly parasite in sheep industry

January 8, 2010

Researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Georgia have developed an improved, more efficient method to test for the most serious of the parasitic worms in sheep, a problem that causes hundreds of millions ...

Recommended for you

Genomes uncover life's early history

August 24, 2015

A University of Manchester scientist is part of a team which has carried out one of the biggest ever analyses of genomes on life of all forms.

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in three decades

August 25, 2015

In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers ...

Why a mutant rice called Big Grain1 yields such big grains

August 24, 2015

(Phys.org)—Rice is one of the most important staple crops grown by humans—very possibly the most important in history. With 4.3 billion inhabitants, Asia is home to 60 percent of the world's population, so it's unsurprising ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.