Gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) are amongst the main health and production problems in sheep throughout the world. Faecal egg count (FEC) and FAffa MAlan CHArt (FAMACHA) score can be used as indictors to select genetically resistant animals against the infections. This study was undertaken to (1) determine intensity of and the factors associated with GIN infections in Ethiopian sheep under communal breeding program, and (2) examine relationships between the intensity of GIN infection and levels of anaemia related to blood feeding GIN parasites. A total of 1239 FEC and FAMACHA scores were measured on two Ethiopian sheep breeds during rainy and dry seasons. The data were analyzed using the mixed model procedure, accounting for differences in fixed effects of breed, season and their interaction and a random effect of animal. The interaction of breed and season (p < 0.01) influenced the intensity of infections with GIN. There was no significant (p > 0.05) relationship between FEC and FAMACHA scores; hence the latter is not a suitable indicator of infections with GIN in these animals. FEC should be recorded rather than FAMACHA as a nematode resistance trait to be incorporated into the sheep breeding programs of Bonga and Horro, Ethiopia.
Key words: Breeding program, Ethiopia, faecal egg count, FAffa MAlan CHArt (FAMACHA), gastrointestinal nematodes, sheep.
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