Lamb coccidiosis dynamics in different dairy production systems

Abstract of accepted paper in the Journal Veterinary Parasitology doi:10.1016/j.vetpar.2011.04.027
Lamb coccidiosis dynamics in different dairy production systems
Anastasios Saratsis*1,2, Anja Joachim2, Stefanakis Alexandros1, Smaragda Sotiraki11 Veterinary Research Institute, National Agricultural Research Foundation, NAGREF Campus, PO Box 60272, 57001 Thermi, Greece2Institute of Parasitology, Department of Pathobiology, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, A-1210 Wien, Austria

The aim of this study was to investigate the spread of infection and population dynamics of ovine coccidosis under dairy sheep production systems in the Mediterranean area taking into account differences between management systems, lambing season and climatic conditions. Data were collected from six (intensive and semi-intensive) dairy sheep flocks located either in the North or the South of Greece, with groups of lambs born during two consecutive lambing periods (autumn, spring) from each flock. Faecal consistency and oocyst excretion were recorded from faecal samples taken from 220 lambs in total starting at day 7-9 after lambing and subsequently every 6 days for 5 times. Eleven Eimeria species were isolated including the highly abundant pathogenic E. ovinoidalis and E. crandallis. The onset of excretion was noted from 13 to 33 days after birth with a peak at 19-21 days. The cumulative incidence of infection per flock until the end of the study ranged from 64.29% to 100% during both lambing periods. A significant tendency for animals to get infected earlier during spring lambing was observed. This trend was even higher for lambs from farms located in the South. This is possibly related to the higher contamination level of the farms after lambing took place during that time. Only subclinical cases of coccidiosis were observed during the course of the study with a relatively low proportion of diarrhoeic faeces which did not significantly differ between the two rounds. Considering the significance of dairy sheep production in the area and the economic losses caused by eimeriosis, continuous monitoring of infection levels in the farms, taking into account the lambing period and environmental conditions, is highly recommended.