Relative resistance of Menz and Washera sheep breeds to artificial infection with Haemonchus contortus in the highlands of Ethiopia
The aim of this study was to evaluate the relative resistance of Menz and Washera sheep breeds to artificial infection with Haemonchus contortus. The challenge trial was conducted at the Debre Berhan Agricultural Research Center in Ethiopia. A total of 39 (Menz = 21, Washera = 18) lambs of about 6 months old were used for the trial. All lambs were initially treated against internal parasite using albendazole and Fasinex to free them from internal parasites and kept indoors. H. contortus third-stage larvae (L3) were prepared according to standard procedure from adult female parasite collected from abattoirs and recovered using the Baerman technique. Approximately 5000 infective larvae were inoculated to the experimental lambs at about 5 weeks after deworming. Fecal egg count (FEC), packed cell volume (PCV), FAffa MAlan CHArt (FAMACHA) score, lamb body weight, and survival of lambs were recorded at 28, 35, and 42 days after challenge. Breed effect was not significant (P > 0.05), whereas time of measurement and the interaction of breed and time had significant (P < 0.05) effects on FEC and PCV. At 28 days after challenge, Menz sheep had lower FEC than Washera sheep, whereas at days 35 and 42, the Washera sheep had lower FEC than Menz lambs. The PCV decreased significantly throughout the post-challenge period. Despite their parasite burden, Menz sheep were able to maintain live weight during the 42 days of challenge. Chi-square tests for breed differences in lamb survival were not significant at any time (28, 35, and 42 days after challenge). Lower FEC at 28 days and delayed rise in FEC after infection in Menz lamb would allow in delaying anthelmintic treatment. In addition to maintain body weights during the infection period, sheep of both breeds exhibited substantial variability in PCV and FEC, suggesting opportunity to consider parasite resistance in selection program.