Effect of birdsfoot trefoil cultivars on exsheathment of Haemonchus contortus in fistulated sheep

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Proanthocyanidin (PAC, condensed tannin) containing forages have well-documented anti-parasitic effects against gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) of small ruminants. Although extensive research has been conducted on the inhibition of exsheathment of the L3 stage of Haemonchus contortus by in vitro exposure to the extracts of PAC containing plants, only one study has previously attempted to replicate this process in vivo and it was found that consumption of fresh sainfoin slowed the exsheathment rate. No similar studies have explored the effect of feeding condensed tannin forages in the form of hay on in vivo exsheathment of GIN. Another PAC containing forage, birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus, BFT), has a large area of adaptation globally and feeding BFT has been shown to reduce fecal egg counts and total worm burdens. However, its effect on the in vivo exsheathment of H. contortus in the rumen is unknown. Recent work from this laboratory showed that BFT populations differ in the ability of aqueous extracts of freeze-dried plants to reduce exsheathment of H. contortus in vitro, and that the reduced exsheathment caused by BFT populations did not directly correlate with PAC content. Therefore, the objective of this study was twofold: 1) to evaluate the ability of birdsfoot trefoil hay to impair ruminal exsheathment of H. contortus in vivo and 2) to measure the difference in exsheathment between three commercially available cultivars of birdsfoot trefoil representing a broad range of in vitro efficacy against H. contortus. Four rumen fistulated ewes were fed three cultivars of birdsfoot trefoil (cv. Bruce, Empire, and Pardee) hay or a control hay (alfalfa/grass hay) in a Latin 4 × 4 design. The effect of consumption of birdsfoot trefoil on the exsheathment of H. contortus larvae in vivo was evaluated. For each exsheathment test, two capsules with 2000 ensheathed third-stage larvae per capsule were placed in the rumen of each ewe for eight hours. Larval containment capsules were made by capping each end of a short piece of Tygon® tubing (ID 9.5 mm, OD 14.3 mm) with an 8 μm NuncTM Cell Culture Insert. Larval exsheathment and motility were examined pre and post rumen exposure. Three exsheathment tests were run per diet cycle. Consumption of BFT hay did not significantly alter larval exsheathment. These results highlight the importance of further in vivo testing on the role of condensed tannins and other plant secondary compounds on larval exsheathment in the rumen.

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Veterinary Parasitology