The benefits of GPS tracking technology to combat internal parasite burden were explored by researchers in Australia. Twenty ewes from a fine-wool Merino stud were fitted with GPS collars. The position of each animal was recorded every 12 seconds over a 24 hour period.
Concurrent with the fitting of the collars, fecal samples were collected and FEC was determined. FEC levels indicated a minimal to significant worm burden. Mean FEC was 408 (+/- 363) epg. The predominant parasite was Trichostrongylus spp.
The study identified a relationship between FEC levels and distance traveled. Higher FEC was associated with greater mean distances per time step. According to the researchers, this could be due to the sheep having to graze for longer periods or travel further for water as a result of their heavier parasite load.
While the results are preliminary, the relationship might be useful in the identification of stock with superior internal parasite resistance.
Source: Short Communication. Small Ruminant Research Journal. April 2013.