Effect of fall-grazed sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) on gastrointestinal nematode infections, skin and carcass microbial load, and meat quality of growing goats. Vet. Parasitol. 2014, 204, 221–228

Abstract. High prevalence of anthelmintic-resistant gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) in goats has increased pressure to find effective, alternative non-synthetic control methods, one of which is adding forage of the high condensed tannin (CT) legume sericea lespedeza (SL; Lespedeza cuneata) to the animal’s diet. Previous work has demonstrated good efficacy of dried SL (hay, pellets) against small ruminant GIN, but information is lacking on consumption of fresh SL, particularly during the late summer–autumn period in the southern USA when perennial warm-season grass pastures are often low in quality. A study was designed to determine the effects of autumn (September–November) consumption of fresh SL forage, grass pasture (predominantly bermudagrass, BG; Cynodon dactylon), or a combination of SL + BG forage by young goats [intact male Spanish kids, 9 months old (20.7 ± 1.1 kg), n = 10/treatment group] on their GIN infection status.

Three forage paddocks (0.40 ha) were set up at the Fort Valley State University Agricultural Research Station (Fort Valley, GA) for an 8-week trial. The goats in each paddock were supplemented with a commercial feed pellet at 0.45 kg/head/d for the first 4 weeks of the trial, and 0.27 kg/head/d for the final 4 weeks. Forage samples taken at the start of the trial were analyzed for crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), and acid detergent fiber (ADF) content, and a separate set of SL samples was analyzed for CT in leaves, stems, and whole plant using the benzyl mercaptan thiolysis method. Animal weights were taken at the start and end of the trial, and fecal and blood samples were collected weekly for determination of fecal egg counts (FEC) and packed cell volume (PCV), respectively. Adult GIN was recovered from the abomasum and small intestines of all goats at the end of the experiment for counting and speciation. The CP levels were highest for SL forage, intermediate for SL + BG, and lowest for BG forage samples, while NDF and ADF values were the opposite, with highest levels in BG and lowest in SL forage samples. Sericea lespedeza leaves had more CT than stems (16.0 g vs. 3.3 g/100 g dry weight), a slightly higher percentage of PDs (98% vs. 94%, respectively) and polymers of larger mean degrees of polymerization (42 vs. 18, respectively).