Gastrointestinal nematode infection affects overall activity in young sheep monitored with tri-axial accelerometers

Seer J. Ikurior*, William E. Pomroy, Ian Scott, Rene Corner-Thomas, Nelly Marquetoux, Stephan T. Leu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Animals suffering from parasitism typically display altered grazing behaviour and a voluntary reduction in feed intake. These changes are potentially important as indicators of disease. Recent advances in sensor technologies provide the opportunity to objectively measure animal activity while on pasture. Tri-axial accelerometers measure body movement in terms of acceleration, which can then be used to estimate physical activity over time. This study investigated if tri-axial measures of overall activity can be used to assess the impact of gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) infection in young sheep. To address this, the overall activity, faecal nematode egg count (FEC) and body weight of two treatment groups of Romney X Suffolk ram lambs were compared. Animals were monitored for four days using tri-axial accelerometer sensors mounted on a ram mating harness after 42-days grazing on contaminated pasture. On Day 0, all lambs were given anthelmintics. Subsequently, a Suppressive Treatment Group (n = 12) was treated with anthelmintics every two weeks. An Untreated Group (n = 12) did not receive further anthelmintics. Overall activity levels were monitored from Day 42 – 46. Activity level was calculated as vectorial dynamic body acceleration (VeDBA). Anthelmintic treatment had a significant effect on FEC but there was no evidence found for a treatment effect on body weight growth over the 42-day period. An effect of treatment and lamb starting weight on overall activity was found (beta = –0.74, 95 % CI –1.17 to –0.30, p = 0.002), identifying a negative impact of parasitism on activity in heavier animals. These results highlight the usefulness of this approach in assessing the effect of GIN parasitism on sheep monitored remotely. If a threshold value of activity could be determined, it could provide a useful tool for farmers and managers that serves as an early indicator of parasitism in sheep.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109188
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Volume283
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Accelerometers
  • Activity level
  • Gastrointestinal nematodes
  • Remote monitoring
  • Sheep

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