Livestock Choose Parasite-Killing Foods

Researchers at Utah State University have conducted several studies that show that tannins in forages can reduce parasite loads in livestock, and that animals will choose to eat more foods with tannins when they are infested with parasites.  Most shrubs contain tannins, and tannins can also be found in sudangrass, birdsfoot and big trefoil, sorghum, sulla, sainfoin and sericea lespedeza.  This means that we can reduce our parasite problems by simply adding these forages to our pastures, and helping our livestock to learn to eat them.  It's also possible that we could provide our livestock with supplements that contain tannins to reduce parasite loads. Feeding Trials In trials, researchers worked with sheep because their smaller size made feeding and managing the animals easier.  Dr. Juan Villalba and graduate student Larry Lisonbee, fed penned lambs a supplement that contained tannins.  In the first of their two studies, they found that lambs with lots of parasites ate more of the supplement than lambs without parasites.  Then, as the parasite numbers declined in the lambs, they ate less  and less of the tannin containing supplement.  In a second study, they actually measured the fecal egg counts in the lambs infested with parasites.  Again, they found that infested animals ate more of the tanni

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