ABSTRACT: A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was performed on dairy herds in Flanders (Belgium) to detect management factors that are associated with an increased gastrointestinal parasite infection level of adult dairy cows. At the end of the grazing season, information concerning general herd factors, pasture management and anthelmintic treatment strategy was obtained from 956 herds. A bulk tank milk sample was obtained from 779 out of the 956 herds and the antibody levels (ODR) against Ostertagia ostertagi were determined. The associations between ODR and herd management factors were studied by two linear regression models. The first model evaluated the effect of general herd factors and the level of the cows' exposure to pasture. Large sized herds had significantly lower ODRs as compared to medium (P=0.001) or small sized herds (P=0.03). Herds with only dairy cows had lower ODRs than herds with both dairy and beef cows (P=0.02). An increased exposure to pasture of the cows was associated with higher ODRs (P<0.001). The second model was built to evaluate the effect of pasture management factors and anthelmintic treatment strategy. Later turn-out on pasture (P<0.001) and mowing (P=0.002) were both significantly associated with lower ODRs. Cows that had a restricted grazing time per day tended to have lower ODR than cows that grazed 24 h per day (P=0.07). An increased exposure to pasture of the heifers was significantly associated with higher ODRs (P=0.001). No associations were found between ODR and calf related management factors, anthelmintic treatment strategy, time of turn-in, rotational grazing type or stocking rate. Later turn-out on pasture, mowing and restricting the grazing time per day are factors that can be applied immediately on dairy farms to reduce economical losses due to gastrointestinal nematodes.
Veterinary Parasitology 11/2005; 133(1):91-100. · 2.58 Impact Factor