The CARLATM Saliva Test results from research and development work within AgResearch for over six years, funded by Ovita and Beef + Lamb New Zealand.
Agriculture Minister Hon David Carter officially launched the advance today at the Hopkirk Research Institute in Palmerston North.
Parasitic worms are a significant problem for livestock farmers, causing illness for the animals and costing an estimated $300m each year in lost production and treatment costs.
Richard Shaw, Senior Scientist with AgResearch’s Animal Health Section, who has developed the CARLATM test, said at the event “This new technology will generate significant returns for sheep farmers countrywide.”
“Sheep breeders are now able to identify their naturally parasite-resistant sheep and select them for breeding. CARLATM will generate income for the industry and for New Zealand.
“The CARLATM Saliva Test was successfully trialled last season with 14 farmers and over 7,000 sheep. Saliva sampling itself takes about 30 seconds per animal; a dental swab is rubbed in the cheek pouch for around 7 seconds and then placed in a labelled vial,” said Richard Shaw.
Some sheep produce more CARLATM antibodies than others. The Saliva Test is a simple method to test for the presence and level of these protective CARLATM antibodies in saliva.
The test could replace worm egg count testing which requires the collection of sheep faeces, and can be carried out more quickly. Testing has shown that an efficient sampling team involving three people could sample over 120 animals an hour. With electronic identity tags and barcode systems, this can be even faster.
View a short video which shows the test on sheep and laboratory analysis
Background CARLATM is a molecule found on the surface of all internal parasite larvae and is only present for a few days after worms are ingested. CARLATM antibody is produced by the sheep’s immune system, and is one of the major mechanisms by which the animals become protected against parasite infection. In immune sheep, high levels of CARLATM antibodies are present in saliva and gut mucus.
There is a large variation in the time at which spring-born lambs develop a protective CARLATM response. Typically:
Eventually, most sheep develop some sort of protective immunity, although even in flocks with high challenge there are still 10-20% of animals where CARLATM levels remain very low.
The timing and strength of an individual CARLATM antibody response is strongly influenced by an animal’s genetics. The heritability of the CARLATM antibody response is high (about 0.3 or 30%).
Farmers wanting to utilise CARLATM can phone 0800 4 CARLA (0800 422 752) or email: email@example.com
For more information contact: Sam Fisher AgResearch Media Liaison 021 714 209
Richard Shaw AgResearch Senior Scientist 0800 422 752 firstname.lastname@example.org
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