Main content area

A longitudinal study on the effect of lambing season on the periparturient egg rise in Ontario sheep flocks

Falzon, L.C., Menzies, P.I., Shakya, K.P., Jones-Bitton, A., Vanleeuwen, J., Avula, J., Jansen, J.T., Peregrine, A.S.
Preventive veterinary medicine 2013 v.110 no.3-4 pp. 467-480
autumn, blood proteins, blood sampling, early lactation, eggs, ewes, fecal egg count, feces, flocks, gastrointestinal nematodes, gestation period, hematocrit, lambing, late lactation, linear models, longitudinal studies, pregnancy, spring, winter, Ontario
The epidemiology of the periparturient egg rise (PPER) of gastrointestinal nematodes (GINs) in sheep remains unclear, and may be influenced by the lambing season. This longitudinal study was performed to determine the effect of out-of-season lambing on the PPER in ewes in Ontario, and whether total plasma protein (TPP) and packed cell volume (PCV) were associated with the PPER. Six farms that practiced out-of-season lambing were enrolled, and sampled for three consecutive lambing seasons (winter, spring and autumn). For each lambing season, all farms were visited five times. On the first visit for each lambing season, 15–20 pregnant ewes and 15–20 non-pregnant/early gestation ewes were randomly selected. At each visit, fecal samples were collected from all selected animals and processed individually to measure GIN fecal egg counts (FECs). Blood samples were collected on three visits in each lambing period and processed to measure TPP and PCV. The ewes were classified into one of five production stages (maintenance [i.e. not pregnant], early or late gestation [<120d and ≥120d, respectively], and early or late lactation [<40d and ≥40d, respectively]) based on information collected during farm visits. Linear mixed models were developed for the TPP, PCV and logarithmic-transformed FEC (lnFEC). During the winter and spring lambing season, the FECs increased gradually over the gestation period and peaked during lactation, with these increases being larger in ewes with a low PCV (three-way interaction in the final model). In the autumn lambing season, the FECs started off higher in early gestation, and increased rapidly to peak in late gestation, particularly for animals with low PCV levels. In the TPP model, PCV and lnFEC were positively associated with TPP. During both autumn and winter lambing seasons, the TPP decreased from maintenance throughout gestation and early lactation, followed by an increase in late lactation, except for when there were high FECs. During the spring lambing season, TPP peaked at early gestation, and then decreased in late gestation, to increase more gradually over lactation. In the PCV model, PCV increased with TPP and decreased exponentially with increases in lnFEC. The PPER occurred during all three lambing seasons, and its magnitude and distribution varied with the lambing season, suggesting that the PPER in ewes depends on both environmental and animal physiological factors, an important consideration when implementing preventive parasite control strategies on sheep farms that practice out-of-season lambing.