Coccidiosis can be a devastating disease in livestock and poultry, particularly for young animals, causing diarrhea and even death. Options for control of coccidiosis, as well as parasitic nemotodes, can be limited, particularly for small ruminants.
T.H. Terrill, D.S. Kommuru and S. Desai of Fort Valley State University in Ft. Valley, Ga., J.E. Miller of Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge, J.M. Burke of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service in Booneville, Ark., and J.A. Mosjidis of Auburn University presented an abstract at JAM2013 in Indianapolis, Ind., that looked at feeding dried sericea lespedeza to young goats for the control of internal parasites.
Terrill said they fed pelleted lespedeza leaves, which contain condensed tannins, to recently weaned goat bucks. After seven days, the lespedeza diet reduced (P < 0.05) coccidia oocysts per gram and nematode eggs per gram by 96.9 and 78.7%, respectively, compared with animals fed the control diet, and remained lower (P < 0.05) in treatment than control animals until the end of the trial.
Terrill explained that the results appear to not be a nutrient effect as condensed tannins are not absorbed from the digestive tract and the non-lespedeza diet had slightly more crude protein. He noted that this was more of a treatment effect than a preventative effect, but the researchers are not yet sure of its mechanism of action. More research trials with small ruminants is underway looking at longer-term results such as growth performance as well as research with cattle. He concluded that dried, pelleted lespedeza has excellent potential as a natural anticoccidial feed for weaned goats and other small ruminants.