WASHINGTON, December 9, 2020 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Research Service (ARS) today announced a groundbreaking treatment that prevents anemia, weight loss, poor wool and meat production, and even death in sheep.
ARS researchers partnered with Virginia Tech and the University of Massachusetts' Medical School to solve H. contortus parasite infection, which also happens to be the number one health problem in the U.S. sheep industry. The parasite infects the stomach of ruminant mammals, feeding and interfering with digestion, before ultimately affecting the animal's overall health and stability.
"The H. contortus parasite has developed resistance to virtually all known classes of anti-parasitic drugs," said ARS Researcher Dr. Joseph Urban, who lead the research team in testing and implementation of a para-probiotic treatment to kill the parasite that causes H.contortus.
The worm parasite mates within the animal and its fertilized eggs pass through the animal's waste into the soil. The larvae then develop to re-infect other unsuspecting animals, spreading the infection throughout a pasture and creating a cycle of infection that hinders animal growth, development and production.
Written by Gabriel Vicovan
Special thanks to Radu Răducu, Enciu Ana, and Vicovan Adriana for their assistance.
The meat breed – Palas was created at the Research and Development Institute for Sheep and Goat Breeding Palas – Constanța, from 1973 to 1989, by crossing the breeds Ile de France and Palas Merino, followed by reproductive isolation and selection in the direction of meat production. Crossings with the Ile de France breed aimed to improve growth rate, increase feed conversion capacity, improve conformation, increase yield, and carcass quality indices.
The breed has in the genome 93% genes from the Ile de France and Palas Merino breeds and less than 7% genes from other breeds. It was homologated as a breed in 2012.
In Dobrogea, at the Research and Development Institute for Sheep and Goat Breeding Palas – Constanța and other farms in Constanța County. The number of ewes is about 3,000 heads.
Palas are bred at the Research and Development Institute for Sheep and Goat Breeding Palas – Constanța, which deliver rams with high breeding value to improve the production of meat in sheep.
The only genetic fund of the breed, from the Research and Development Institute for Sheep and Goat Breeding Palas – Constanța, is structured in 12 ram families during the breeding season, proceeding the rotational mating between families.
External (morphological) characteristics
It is a precocious breed, brevimorphic to mesomorphic with aptitudes for meat production. The ears are large, worn horizontally, or slightly raised. The trunk is long and broad. The chest is wide and lowered; the back and loins are long and wide, well dressed in muscles; the rump is horizontal, wide, and long. The tail is caught up; the gigots are convex, descended, well dressed with muscle, and the abdomen is rounded. The limbs are short, distant, with correct aplomb, and the hocks are vertical. The wool coat is white and covers the body well, with the wool extending on the head to the level of the orbits and the limbs to the knees and hips.
The body dimensions
Adult animals are: height at the withers (cm) 69-71 in rams and 67-69 in ewes; croup height (cm) 69-71 in rams and 67-69 in ewes ; trunk length (cm) 73-75 in rams and 68-70 in ewes; croup length (cm) 26-28 in rams and 25-27 in ewes ; shoulder width 27-28 cm for rams and 24-26 cm for ewes; width for coxo-femoral joints (cm) 29-31 for rams and 26-28 for ewes; chest depth 33-35 cm for rams and 30-32 in ewes, chest width (cm) 31-33 in rams and 29-31 in ewes, chest circumference (cm) 97-99 in rams and 91-93 in ewes, whistle perimeter (cm) 9-10 in rams and 8-9 in ewes.
Using of the breed
The Palas breed produces high hybrid fat lambs.
The Institute delivers about 300 yearling rams every year for sheep breeders.
The International Goat Association promotes goat research and development for the benefit of humankind, to alleviate poverty, to promote prosperity and to improve the quality of life.