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Peripartal Excretion of Eimeria Oocyst by Cows on Swedish Dairy Farms and the Age of Calves at First Excretion


Faecal samples were collected 3 times a week for 6 weeks from 22 peripartal cows and for up to 15 weeks after birth from 27 calves in 3 herds, to determine the numbers of Eimeria oocysts excreted and the age at which the calves first excreted oocysts. Only low numbers of oocysts were excreted by the cows and no oocysts were detected in 93% of the samples. However, half the cows excreted oocysts at least once. The age at which the calves first excreted oocysts ranged from 2.5 to at least 15 weeks, and there was a significant difference between the herds in their mean age at first excretion. Oocysts of Eimeria alabamensis, E. auburnensis, E. bovis and E. ellipsoidalis were found in numbers ranging from 7 to 8450 oocysts per gram faeces. About 50% of the calves excreted oocysts before they were transferred to group pens. The primary source of infection of the calves was probably their penmates or the previous occupants of the pens, and the cows probably played a subsidiary role.


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The author is indebted to the staff of the farms for taking faeces samples and for their interest, to Ms. Helena Olofsson for laboratory work and Drs. Bo Pehrson, Mats Törnquist and Arvid Uggla for help in planning and preparing the study. The investigation was supported financially by the Swedish Farmers' Foundation for Research.

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Svensson, C. Peripartal Excretion of Eimeria Oocyst by Cows on Swedish Dairy Farms and the Age of Calves at First Excretion. Acta Vet Scand 34, 77–81 (1993).

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