Agricultural restructuring and gastrointestinal parasitism in domestic ruminants on the rangelands of Kazakhstan
In order to evaluate the epidemiology of parasitism in farmed ruminants in the changed agricultural context in Kazakhstan, 505 cattle, sheep and goats were surveyed for gastrointestinal parasitism using coprological examination, and a further thirty sheep and four goats using post mortem extraction of helminths. The dominant helminth genera were Marshallagia, Nematodirus and Trichostrongylus. Haemonchus was also present. Faecal egg counts were low (mean abundance 0–115 eggs per gram in different groups), and there was no relationship between faecal egg density and body condition score. Eggs of Nematodirus spp. were more common in sheep less than 1 yr of age, whereas those of the Trichostrongylidae were generally more common in adult sheep. Based on faecal egg counts, sheep grazing on common land close to permanent human settlements were generally no more heavily infected than those grazing the remote open plains. This could be due to a non-linear relationship between livestock numbers and stocking density. We suggest that cessation of strategic nematode control in the region following post-Soviet agricultural reform was offset by a general reduction in stocking density, such that parasite burdens remained low. However, recovery in livestock numbers is likely to lead to increased levels of infection and production loss unless sustainable control strategies are put in place.