Parasitic diseases and animal welfare indicators of grazing livestock with applications for animal welfare assessment

Last changed: 09 May 2022

human population. However, this must not be at the expense of reduced animal health and deteriorated animal welfare. Infection with parasitic worms of ruminants is a major constraint on an efficient pasture-based livestock production.

The project aims to investigate the role of various parasitic infections in connection with the promotion of animal welfare in sheep and cattle. It will lead to the development and implementation of measures that actively improve animal welfare but also strengthen animal welfare by developing sustainable methods for parasite control. We will also study more basic questions about how parasites affect animals from a welfare perspective.

The challenge is to develop indicators that detect in time when welfare is negatively affected by intestinal worms to be able to quickly target specific control measures on the farms. The project has two main goals. First, we will examine the role of parasites in the welfare of grazing animals. Then we will investigate how measures against parasites such as targeted means-tested treatment can alleviate unnecessary suffering in affected animals. To be able to do this, we must develop improved welfare indicators based on automatic registrations of animal growth and activity patterns, which are supplemented with tests to detect parasites with current molecular techniques.

Project-time: 2016-2022

The project is financed through grants from Formas.

The project is carried out in collaboration between BVF and HMH at SLU.

Group members:

Johan Höglund, professor, BVF
Niclas Högberg, doktorand, BVF
Paulius Baltrusis, doktorand, BVF
Peter Halvarsson, forskare, BVF
Anna Hessle, forskare, HMH
Lena Lidfors, professor, HMH

Recently published studies from this project:

Högberg, N., Baltrušis, P., Enweji, N., Höglund, J., 2022. Assessment of three DNA extraction kits for the absolute quantification of strongyle nematode eggs in faecal samples. Acta Vet. Scand. 64, 5.

Högberg, N., Hessle, A., Lidfors, L., Enweji, N., Höglund, J., 2021. Nematode parasitism affects lying time and overall activity patterns in lambs following pasture exposure around weaning. Vet. Parasitol. 296, 109500.

Högberg, N., Höglund, J., Carlsson, A., Saint-Jeveint, M., Lidfors, L., 2020. Validation of accelerometers to automatically record postures and number of steps in growing lambs. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 229, 105014.

Högberg, N., Lidfors, L., Hessle, A., Höglund, J., 2019. Effects of Nematode Parasitism on Activity Patterns and Rumination Behaviour in First-Season Grazing Cattle, in: Proceedings from the 27th Conference of the World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology.

Höglund, J., Carlsson, A., Gustafsson, K., 2021a. Effects of lambing season on nematode faecal egg output in ewes. Vet. Parasitol. Reg. Stud. Reports 26.

Segerkvist, K.A., Höglund, J., Österlund, H., Wik, C., Högberg, N., Hessle, A., 2020. Automatic weighing as an animal health monitoring tool on pasture. Livest. Sci. 240.


Johan Höglund
Professor at the Department of Biomedical Science and Veterinary Public Health; Parasitology Unit

Telephone: 018-672371, 070-2574156