The influence of increased feeding on the susceptibility of sheep to infection with Haemonchus contortus
Previous research has shown that supplementing the diet of growing lambs with urea enhances their ability to withstand gastrointestinal infection with the nematode Haemonchus contortus. This study compared lambs given two different amounts (x 1 and x 1.5) of the same urea-supplemented diet. One dietary allowance was sufficient to allow uninfected lambs to gain approximately 400 g/week without adverse clinical signs. In contrast half of the H. contortus infected lambs on this dietary allowance had to be humanely killed before the end of the experiment due to severe anaemia and anorexia. All infected lambs on this dietary allowance showed decreased mean red cell volumes and decreased plasma albumin concentrations indicating inadequate replacement of red blood cells and plasma proteins last during the infection. The remaining lambs were offered proportionately 0.5 more of the same dietary allowance. Among lambs an this dietary allowance, there were very few differences between uninfected and infected sheep in clinical signs and growth rate. Therefore, dietary allowances that are adequate for uninfected lambs are not necessarily sufficient for infected lambs. As nearly all grazing lambs are infected with nematodes, dietary recommendations should take parasitic infection and its nutritional demands into account.