Register now for the next American Sheep Industry Association webinar focusing on parasite management. The webinar, "Looking towards the future of parasite management through 'host-colored' glasses," will be held at 7 p.m. EST on Dec. 11. Scott Bowdridge, Ph.D., assistant professor of animal science with Virginia Polytech Institute and State University, will be the presenter. Moderating the session is Jay Parsons, Ph.D., Colorado State University and Optimal Ag.
Many producers have experienced loss in the form of reduced growth and often death as a result of parasitism within their flock. Development of multi-drug resistance in these worms, especially in the southeastern United States, has left many producers feeling helpless in the face of gastrointestinal nematode parasitism. As a result, some have left the sheep business, others have switched to a dry-lot system for lambs and the rest have tried everything else to keep these lambs growing on pasture.
The utilization of selective deworming has resulted in at least the maintenance of dewormer efficacy, yet, with limited drug choices, this option remains one of our best tools. Through the incorporation of parasite-resistant breeds, many have observed a less-frequent need for treatment. Concerns about the effect on growth and carcass quality, not to mention the effect on wool quality, have limited the use of parasite-resistant hair breeds of sheep.
Parasite-resistant sheep have, however, provided much of our understanding of functional host protective immunity, as these sheep generate a very rapid and robust immune response to worms. It is curious why the same response is not seen when commercial-crossbred sheep become infected. Perhaps parasite management should be equally focused on the host as it is on the pathogen.
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