Effects of maternal protein nutrition and subsequent grazing on chicory (Cichorium intybus) on parasitism and performance of lambs
Forty-eight 4- to 5-yr-old Blackface x Bluefaced Leicester (Mule) ewes and their 24-d-old twin lambs were used to assess the effects of maternal protein nutrition and subsequent grazing on chicory (Cichorium intybus) on performance and parasitism. The experiment consisted of 2 grazing periods: safe pasture period and experimental pasture period. During an adaptation period of 66 d, ewes were infected through oral dosing with Teladorsagia circumcincta infective larvae (3 d per wk) and were supplemented with protein (HP) or not (LP) for the last 45 d of this period. At the end of this period, ewes and their lambs were turned out onto a parasitologically safe pasture; all ewes continued to be dosed with parasite (once a week), and HP ewes received protein supplementation for the first 35 d. Ewes and lambs grazed the safe pasture for an additional 43 d after termination of protein supplementation and of oral dosing with parasites. Ewes and their lambs were then moved onto newly established experimental pastures sown with chicory or grass/clover (Lolium perenne/Trifolium repens). During the safe pasture period, HP ewes had decreased fecal egg counts (FEC) compared with LP ewes, whereas HP lambs had temporarily less (P < 0.05) FEC, decreased (P < 0.001) plasma pepsinogen concentrations, and grew faster (P = 0.028) than LP lambs. Lambs grazing chicory had consistently less (P < 0.001) FEC and grew faster (P = 0.013) than lambs grazing grass/clover but had greater (P < 0.001) concentrations of pepsinogen. Pasture larvae counts were decreased (P = 0.07) for the chicory compared with the grass/clover plots. There were no interactions (P > 0.10) between maternal nutrition and grazed forage type on performance or parasitological measurements. Our results suggest that increased maternal protein nutrition and subsequent grazing of chicory independently improve lamb performance and reduce lamb parasitism.