Manipulating small ruminant parasite epidemiology through the combination of nutritional strategies
It is increasingly being recognized that non-chemical parasite control strategies may need to be combined to control more effectively gastrointestinal parasitism, result in resilient production systems and reduce reliance on anthelmintics. Here, we consider if and how metabolizable protein (MP) supplementation and anti-parasitic plant secondary metabolites (PSM) may modulate parasite epidemiology through intervention in pasture contamination, development of infection on pasture and larval challenge as target processes. We then propose that combining two or more non-chemical parasite control strategies may have additive effects on host resistance, especially if the individual strategies target different drivers of parasite epidemiology, different processes in the parasite life cycle or different phases of acquired immunity to parasites. This epidemiological framework is used to review recent findings on combining maternal MP supplementation and grazing the PSM-rich bioactive forage chicory as an example of combining nutritional treatments to manipulate parasite epidemiology in a temperate production system. In the absence of available data for combined nutritional strategies in tropical production systems, we make predictions on the consequences of combining such strategies in these systems. We conclude that currently published studies on combining nutritional strategies under temperate conditions show potential to improve additively host resilience and reduce reliance on anthelmintics; however, effects on epidemiology have to date not shown the additive results hypothesized. The framework developed may assist further in evaluating combined (nutritional) strategies to manipulate parasite epidemiology. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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