Alternatives to anthelmintics for the control of nematodes in livestock

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Abstract

SUMMARY

Efficient and welfare-friendly livestock production demands the control of nematode infection. Current control measures rely upon anthelmintic treatment but are threatened by the widespread evolution of drug-resistance in parasite populations. Several methods have been advocated to control nematodes without relying on effective anthelmintics. These include grazing management, biological control, nutritional supplementation, vaccination, and genetic approaches. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. There are several grazing management schemes that can reduce the severity of infection but they are insufficient on their own to control infection. Biological control includes the use of predatory fungi to control nematode populations and the use of pasture species that can reduce the intensity of infection. Fungi can control nematodes but the current requirement for daily feeding means that this approach will be most useful for animals that are handled daily. Feeding supplementary protein can control nematode infection. The method is simple but can be expensive and may not be cost-effective for some marginal enterprises. Genetic approaches include the use of resistant breeds and selective breeding. Some breeds will thrive in conditions that kill animals from other breeds but substitution of resistant breeds is not always feasible. Selective breeding is effective and inexpensive but requires a high level of expertize. The most appropriate method or set of methods to minimize the adverse consequences of nematode infection may vary among farms.

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