Nutritional sensitivity of periparturient resistance to nematode parasites in two breeds of sheep with different nutrient demands

A Kidane, JGM Houdijk, S Athanasiadou, BJ Tolkamp, I Kyriazakis

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16 Citations (Scopus)


The periparturient relaxation of immunity (PPRI) to parasites in mammals is sensitive to both metabolisable protein (MP) supply and animal genotype (different reproductive outputs). We tested the hypothesis that the sensitivity of PPRI to MP scarcity would not differ between different levels of reproductive output when nutrient intake is adjusted for associated differences in MP demand; this hypothesis assumes that PPRI has a nutritional basis only. Scottish Blackface (BF) and the more productive Mule (MU) ewes were infected with the abomasal parasite Teladorsagia circumcincta, and from day221 to day32 (day0 is parturition), they were fed restrictedly at either 0·8 (low protein (LP)) or 1·3 (high protein (HP)) times their breed-specific estimated MP requirement (n 18 for each breed–feeding treatment combination). During late pregnancy, LP feeding reduced ewe body weight gain in both breeds, tended to increase faecal egg count (FEC), but it did not affect plasma pepsinogen. During lactation, LP feeding reduced litter growth rate and ewe plasma urea and plasma albumin concentrations compared with HP feeding in both breeds. However, breed and feeding treatment interacted for ewe FEC, worm egg excretion and plasma pepsinogen, which were higher for the LP-MU ewes compared with the HP-MU and BF ewes. The lower degree of PPRI of the BF ewes during lactation compared with the MU ewes at a similar degree of MP scarcity suggests that the effect of reproductive output on nutritional sensitivity of PPRI cannot be explained by associated differences in nutrient demand only.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1477 - 1486
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Publication statusFirst published - 2010

Bibliographical note



  • Breed
  • Faecal egg count
  • Metabolisable protein
  • Teladorsagia circumcincta


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