The Relationship Between Internal Parasitic Infection of Goats and Self-medication Using Garlic
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Haemonchus contortus, is a gastrointestinal nematode common in small ruminants and is a major cause of economic loss in livestock enterprises. Progressive anthelmintic resistance of Haemonchus contortus is the most limiting factor in effective control of this parasite. The utilization of botanical supplements with suspected anthelmintic activity for treatment of Haemonchus contortus is gaining popularity. Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is known for having multiple health benefits and has demonstrated limited anthelmintic properties. While these botanicals can be administered by producers directly, an alternative could be through passive administration, which would be considered a self-medication method. While there is some evidence for self-medication in goats, data is limited. Therefore, it is hypothesized that goats will self-medicate with A. sativum when H. contortus infection is high. The objective of this study was to determine if goats were willing to consume feed treated with A. sativum and if that willingness correlated with elevated levels of H. contortus infection. This longitudinal study aimed to evaluate feeding behavior of goats during periods of high and low H. contortus infection, as determined by fecal egg counts (FEC). Twenty-three feeding trials with 11 goats were conducted from December to June with three garlic inclusion levels (0.148 g garlic/g feed, 0.298g garlic/g, feed 0.446g garlic/g feed) to determine feed preference and its relationship to FEC. Fecal samples were collected before every trial for determination of FEC using the modified McMaster procedure. During the trials each goat was observed individually for 2-mintues to determine feed choice: consuming feed with no garlic (C), continuously switching between garlic treated feed and control (NC), consuming the garlic feed (G) and switching from the garlic feed to the control feed (S). The results indicated that the inclusion level of 0.298g garlic/g feed was associated with the choices that included garlic (G and S) when animals had higher FEC. This suggests a possible therapeutic self-medicating strategy in goats with elevated FEC and may be an alternative treatment method for H. contortus infection in goats.