Silvopastoralism and autochthonous equine livestock: analysis of the infection by endoparasites.
ABSTRACT Two groups of autochthonous Pura Raza Galega (PRG) horses, one comprising 483 animals under a silvopasturing regime, and the other comprising 72 PRG horses managed in farms, were used to analyse the effect of silvopasture on infection by endoparasites. Results were considered according to the age and the sex of the horses. Faecal samples were individually collected from each animal and analysed by the coprological flotation, sedimentation and migration techniques. Coprocultures were also done to identify the main strongylid genera affecting the horses. Eggs from the gastrointestinal nematoda Parascaris equorum, strongyles and Oxyuris equi were the only endoparasites observed in the faeces of the horses. Larvae of Trichonema and Cyalocephalus spp. (small strongyles) and Strongylus and Triodontophorus (large strongyles) were identified in the coprocultures. The silvopasturing horses had the highest prevalence of the helminth parasites. The percentage of horses passing ascarid eggs was significantly higher in pasturing horses younger than 3 years. The prevalence of strongyles was statistically greater in the oldest grazing equines. Mares reached the highest prevalence of helminth egg output. Our results showed that native horses kept under silvopasture had the highest prevalence of the ascarids, strongyles and oxyurids, possibly due to their exposure to contaminated grazing areas, lack of appropriate feeding and control of their health status. We conclude that silvopasture increases the presence of infection by gastrointestinal nematoda in wild horses, especially by strongyles. Suitable measures to control parasitic diseases affecting horses in silvopasture should be considered in those systems.