Original Research

Parasites of domestic and wild animals in South Africa. XLV. Helminths of dairy calves on dry-land Kikuyu grass pastures in the Eastern Cape Province

I.G. Horak, Ursula Evans, R.E. Purnell
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 71, No 4 | a249 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v71i4.249 | © 2004 I.G. Horak, Ursula Evans, R.E. Purnell | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 November 2004 | Published: 08 November 2004

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I.G. Horak,
Ursula Evans,
R.E. Purnell,

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Successive pairs of approximately 4-month-old Friesland bull calves, raised under worm-free conditions, were exposed to helminth infection for 14 days on dry-land Kikuyu grass pastures at 28-day to monthly intervals, on a coastal farm in a non-seasonal rainfall region of the Eastern Cape Province. With the exception of one pair of calves exposed for 28 days, this procedure was repeated for 28 consecutive months from December 1982 to March 1985. The day after removal from the pastures one calf of each pair was slaughtered and processed for helminth recovery and the other 21 days later. Both members of the last four pairs of calves were killed 21 days after removal from the pastures.
Sixteen nematode species were recovered from the calves, and infection with Ostertagia ostertagi was the most intense and prevalent, followed by Cooperia oncophora. The calves acquired the greatest number of nematodes from the pastures from June to October of the first year and from June to August of the second year of the survey. Few worms were recovered from the tracer calves examined from November or December to March or April in each year of the survey. The seasonal patterns of infection with Cooperia spp., Haemonchus placei, Nematodirus helvetianus, Oesophagostomum spp., O. ostertagi and Trichostrongylus axei were all similar and were negatively correlated to atmospheric temperature and evaporation. Slight to moderate arrest in the development of fourth stage larvae occurred from July to September in Cooperia spp., April to July in H. placei, and August to October in O. ostertagi and Trichostrongylus spp. during the first year of the survey. Too few worms were present in the second year to determine a seasonal pattern of arrest. Species survival during the hot and windy summer months appeared to be achieved via a combination of arrested larval development and an ageing residual population of adult worms in the host, and a small extant population of infective larvae on the pastures.


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