Internal parasite infections cost the Australian sheep industry over $436 million dollars each year. Worm egg counts (WEC) are heavily depended upon for the optimal timing of anthelmintic treatment of internal parasite infections; however, WEC are often neglected due to the need for skilled operators and delays in result attainment.

To address this critical gap in nematode detection, we investigated the potential of infrared spectroscopy for rapid, on-farm detection of Haemonchus contortus infection in sheep faeces. The accuracy of predicting for H. contortus eggs in sheep faeces was determined by various infrared spectrometers. Detection of H. contortus eggs in sheep faeces did not produce acceptable models using various infrared spectroscopy (n=980). However, preliminary work using infrared spectroscopy with visible wavelength range (400-1000nm) was able to detect and quantify blood in sheep faeces which may be a symptom of H. contortus infection (R2cal=0.81, RMSEC=6.81, R2cval=0.80, RMSECV=7.18) (n=155). Validation with samples not included in the model indicated that detection of blood may be more useful than detection of eggs in sheep faeces in predicting severity of H. contortus infection in sheep (SEP=7.16). With further improvements in sample preparation to minimize optical noise, the infrared technology could one day provide a fast and convenient method for on-farm parasite monitoring.

Speaker's bio

Elise Kho is a second-year PhD student in the Centre for Animal Science at QAAFI. Elise is based in St. Lucia, but travels between different institutes and campuses to complete her PhD work. Elise is also a mother to a beautiful but cheeky toddler, so life is anything but boring for her.

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Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) has been hosting a high-profile seminar series across the disciplines of agriculture, food and nutrition science since 2014. With a range of speakers from Australia and abroad, the series explores how high-impact science will significantly improve the competitiveness and sustainability of the tropical and sub-tropical food, fibre and agribusiness sectors.

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