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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Effects of lambing season on nematode faecal egg output in ewes

Hoglund, Johan; Carlsson, Anneli; Gustafsson, Katarina


In this study, we assessed the occurrence of a periparturient rise (PPR) in winter and spring lambing ewes in Sweden and where nematode egg excretion patterns were investigated mainly for diagnostic purposes. Gastrointestinal nematodes and Haemonchus contortus presence were monitored in parallel in all animals in each experimental group on four farms in samples that were collected mainly when the animals were stabled. Faecal examinations of the same animals were conducted on four sampling occasions between January and June 2018 Each group consisted of 12 crossbreed ewes of similar genotype. One group's peak lambing was in January or February (early), and the other in March or early May (late). The first (S1) and third samples (S3) were from approximately one to two weeks before parturition in the early (winter lambing) and late (spring lambing) group respectively, whereas the second (S2) and fourth samples (S4) were collected approximately three to five weeks post-parturition in the same groups. During the course of the study, there was a significant rise in faecal egg counts (FEC) in both groups on all farms. On three farms with a substantial amount of Haemonchus, we observed a difference in the egg excretion patterns between the two groups of ewes as revealed by a significant interaction between the sampling point and lambing period. Also, when samples corresponding to each other in relation to the number of weeks that had elapsed post-parturition (three to five weeks post-parturition, S2 for early and S4 for late) were compared, FEC were significantly lower in the early group lambing in winter than the late group lambing in spring. This indicates that besides lambing, the rise in nematode egg count is also influenced by other factors unrelated to the lambing period, such as the increased daylight in spring. Due to study limitations, we cannot provide a more detailed explanation for this, but only state that the rise appeared to be more closely linked to season than physiology as measured by day relative to parturition. Still, our results suggests that when turned out, winter lambing ewes contribute to pasture contamination to a lesser extent than those lambing in spring. These results will be used in stipulating evidence-based advice to farmers in their flock management to reduce use of anthelmintics, and at the same time efficiently produce prime lambs.


Nematode; Haemonchus; Sampling; Diagnostics; ddPCR; McMaster; Faecal egg count; Spring rise; Periparturient rise; Parasite control

Published in

Veterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports
2021, Volume: 26, article number: 100633
Publisher: ELSEVIER