Effect of sainfoin on lamb coccidiosis

Accepted abstract (poster presentation), 23rd international conference of the World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology (WAAVP), Buenos Aires, Argentina, 21-15 August 2011:
Effect of sainfoin on lamb coccidiosis
Anastasios Saratsis1,2, Alexandros Stefanakis1, Anja Joachim2, Nikolaos Tzanidakis1, Nikolaos Voutzourakis1 Smaragda Sotiraki11NAGREF-VRI, Thessaloniki, Greece, 2Institute of Parasitology, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Austria.

Background:Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) is a forage legume which, when fed to sheep, due to its unique tannin and polyphenol composition has been shown to present highly beneficial properties such as anthelmintic properties, increase protein utilization and prevent bloating. The aim of the study was to screen the in vivo effect of sainfoin against lamb coccidiosis when fed as hay to infected lambs or their ewes. Methods:The experimental set-up included feeding trials in lambs which preformed twice and each time included 3 groups of 8 lambs each assigned to: group A-L (receiving sainfoin-hay); group B-L (receiving lucerne-hay and no further treatment) and group C-L (receiving lucerne-hay and treated with toltrazuril at the recommended dose rate). The trial started at weaning of the animals and lasted for 2 months. Additionally, a feeding trial which included 31 pregnant ewes and all the lambs borne was carried out including: group A_E (15 ewes, receiving sainfoin-hay) and group B-E (16 ewes, receiving lucerne-hay). Those ewes received the respective diet 1 month before and 3 months after lambing. The sampling period for their lambs lasted 9 weeks starting at day 9 of age. During all trials, lambs were sampled weekly and faecal consistency and oocyst excretion (opg) were recorded.Results:In the first 2 trials significant reduction in the total amount of oocysts excreted (using mean AUC values) between groups A-L and B-L was recorded only in one of them and from week 3 until week 7 after the start of the trial. In contrast to that, when ewes were fed sainfoin hay the total amount of oocysts excreted by their lambs throughout the trial was reduced from 847,065 to 439,092 (48.1% reduction in comparison to the control), which was a significant difference (p=0.01). Conclusions:The results suggest that sainfoin intake by the ewes before and after lambing is a better approach to achieve an effect against Eimeria spp in lambs than feeding the lambs directly. Hay intake by recently weaned lambs may not be sufficient to reach the needed bioactive compounds concentration in their gut to obtain an anticoccidial effect. This may also explain why when efficacy against coccidia by feeding lambs appeared that was after 3-4 weeks of treatment.