Investigation of sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) cultivar differences on nitrogen balance and fecal egg count in artificially infected lambs. J. Anim. Sci. 2013, 91, 2342-2354.

Abstract. Research in ruminant nutrition and helminth control with forages, which contain condensed tannins (CT), suggests that varying responses may depend not only on CT concentration but also on CT composition. An experiment was designed to test this by feeding 2 dried sainfoin cultivars (Visnovsky and Perly), which differed in CT properties, to lambs that were artifi cially infected with the abomasal bloodsucking nematode Haemonchus contortus. Twenty-four infected lambs received 1 of these 2 cultivars; the feeds were either untreated or treated with the CT-binding polyethylene glycol over 4 wk (n = 6). The 2 cultivars were also fed to 2 × 6 uninfected lambs. Nutrient digestibility, N balance, ADG, plasma urea, together with indicators of infection [fecal egg count (FEC), abomasal worm count, per capita female fecundity, erythrocytic indices, and serum protein], were determined. The specifi c effects of sainfoin cultivar, CT, and infection were evaluated by contrast analysis. Digestibility of both NDF and ADF were less (P < 0.001) with Perly compared with Visnovsky. The apparent nutrient digestibility was reduced (P < 0.001) by CT. However, no clear cultivar effects were evident on N excretion and retention. Condensed tannins reduced (P = 0.05) body N retention and shifted (P < 0.001) N excretion from urine to feces. Unlike cultivar and CT, infection decreased (P = 0.002) ADG. Plasma urea concentration was decreased (P = 0.007) in Perly- compared with Visnovsky-fed lambs and was decreased (P < 0.001) by CT. Plasma concentrations of essential and semi essential AA were increased (P < 0.001) by CT. The groups of infected lambs did not clearly differ in abomasal worm counts and erythrocytic indicators. In the last 2 to 3 wk of the experiment, FEC was decreased (P ≤ 0.01) when feeding CT. The lack of substantial cultivar effects suggests that the differences in CT properties may have been too small to result in nutritional and anthelmintic effects. The present results indicate that sainfoin CT had a mitigating effect on FEC and, consequently, pasture infectivity. However, the reduction was too small to expect any signifi cant benefi ts in an Haemonchus dominated system. Therefore, the use of sainfoin for controlling H. contortus should only be one component within an integrated worm control system.