The type and level of infective strongylid nematode larvae on pasture were monitored fortnightly from July 1995 to June 1996 in the central highlands of Kenya. The number of larvae on pasture was moderate, reaching >1200/kg dry matter of grass during the period of, and soon after, the rains, and remained low in the dry seasons. The number of larvae on pasture was directly related to the rainfall pattern which was found to be the most important factor for the development of eggs and free-living stages. Haemonchus was the predominant genus, followed in decreasing order by Trichostrongylus, Cooperia, Oesophagostomum and Bunostomum. The mean total adult worm burdens of tracer calves released at monthly intervals were related to the levels of herbage larvae and there was a positive correlation between faecal worm egg counts and worm burdens ( r=0.58) during the study period. These results indicate that a reduction in the contamination of pasture with nematode eggs before the rains could result in pastures carrying fewer larvae and thus form the basis of effective worm control programmes for cattle.
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