Parasitological measures to characterize different livestock production systems

Stig M. Thamsborg, H. Mejer, Heidi Enemark

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


    Worldwide, livestock is produced and managed very differently, reflecting climatic, topographical, cultural and economical differences between regions. Even within regions, a diverse range of systems exists due to different availability of resources, local conditions, and farmers’ attitudes. Several on-farm surveys have indicated that, despite large farm-to-farm variation, levels and diversity of parasite infections may reflect differences in production systems. In developed countries, organic farming (OF) as a certified livestock production system with a given set of standards, has gained momentum in several livestock species, mainly ruminants, poultry and pigs. The changes in management which need to be implemented in order to get the OF status, vary with species and local conditions. For example, conventional pig production is highly intensive and indoors in NW Europe, whereas OF practices include outdoor production with associated higher risks of parasites. In dairy cattle production, changes are less dramatic and mostly related to self-sufficiency with feedstuffs and increased use of grazing. But in all cases, there is a reduced reliance on external input, including restrictions on use of parasiticides and often also an accompanying change in the mindset of farmers, e.g. attitudes in relation to intervention thresholds. These major changes may potentially result in re-emergence (or emergence) of parasite problems. In many developing countries certified OF production is uncommon in the livestock sector but the local farming systems may represent the ‘hidden world of OF’ (Parrott et al., 2005) e.g. as low input sustainable agriculture based on local resources and processes and traditional farming (food grown without chemicals or organic by default). Some of the problems and perhaps also some of the solutions in these systems are parallel to challenges related to organic livestock production in developed countries. This paper will consider how parasitological research may bridge the systems and cross-fertilize one another, and so far there are several good examples, e.g. the extensive work done on diets, bioactive plants, selective breeding and pasture management. For this purpose we need better tools to overall characterize farms with regard to parasites, to determine the need for interventions, and to evaluate the effectiveness of a range of alternative approaches on-farm.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication7th Novel Approaches to the Control of Helminths of Livestock : Bridges between scientific advances and farm development
    Publication date2013
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    Event7th Novel Approaches to the Control of Helminths of Livestock (CAPARA 2013) - Toulouse, France
    Duration: 25 Mar 201328 Mar 2013


    Conference7th Novel Approaches to the Control of Helminths of Livestock (CAPARA 2013)
    Internet address

    Bibliographical note

    Oral presentation.

    The authors thank the ERA-Net EMIDA project CARES (Coping with Anthelmintic Resistance in Ruminants) and the COST Action FA0805 CAPARA (Goat–Parasite Interactions: from Knowledge to Control).


    • Livestock
    • Production systems
    • Organic farming
    • Epidemiology

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