External and internalparasites play a significant role in undermining the health and productivity of livestock. Ecto-parasitic conditions such as mange, lice and tick infestations make irritations, suck blood, destroy skins/hides and in many cases transmit disease causing agents. Internal parasites like coccidia and worms cause irritation, impaction, indigestion, ulcerations and suck bloodand nutrientsin the host’s feed leading to depression in performance of the affected livestock. Both external and internal parasites lower the quality and quantity of livestock products and can cause death of the host animals.
A number of conventional drugs (anthelmintics,anti-coccidials and acaricides) against these parasites are presently on open market. However, they are expensive and in some cases not even readily accessible to the rural small holder farmers. Where they are used, conventional drugs have been associated with the challenge of resistance by the target disease-causing organism. This has been attributed to lack of proper knowledge by farmers on optimal dosages, frequency and mode of application and sequencing of the drugs and acaricide types and classes. Furthermore, synthetic drugs persist in animal products and present public health and environmental concerns among consumers.
Work is on-goingto developdrugs against external and internal parasites from locally available medicinal (ethno-veterinary) plants which are cheap, readily accessible, less toxic to humans and the environment.Besides, bio-acaricidal formulations using indigenous fungi species have been developed and are being evaluated against the local ticks and tsetse flies that have been found to be resistant to the conventional acaricides.
The broad aim of this research is to cause an 80% reduction in the burden of external and internal parasites by 2025. Reduced burden of common parasites on major livestock species is expected to result in improved livestock productivity, reduced cost of health management and ultimately result into enhancedproducer incomes and healthier farming and consumer communities.