The influence of dietary supplementation with urea on resilience and resistance to infection with Haemonchus contortus
Previous research has indicated that supplementing an apparently adequate diet with additional protein improves both host resistance and resilience in lambs infected with Haemonchus contortus. The present study tested the influence of supplementation with non-protein nitrogen (urea). Helminth-naive Hampshire Down lambs were given an apparently adequate basal diet or a diet supplemented with urea. The lambs were then infected with Haemonchus contortus for 10 weeks. Supplementation with urea had no discernible effect an resistance to infection; faecal egg counts, worm burdens, worm lengths and mean number of eggs per adult female worm did not differ between the 2 groups. However, lambs on the supplemented diet showed better resilience; they had greater packed red cell volumes, higher plasma albumin concentrations and increased liveweight gain compared to lambs on the basal diet. The loss of appetite following infection was less in lambs fed the urea-supplemented diet. The observed effect of urea supplementation was seemingly due to greater food consumption as well as the better diet.