Small ruminants are particularly well suited to meet United Nations Sustainable Development Goals surrounding food security, human wellbeing and poverty alleviation in different environmental and climatic settings. However the current efficiency of food production from small ruminants in both developed agricultural regions and in lower and middle income countries is woefully inadequate to meet predicted global needs over the forthcoming decades. Most global research to address this challenge is focussed on the genetics of animal growth, conformation and disease tolerance or resistance traits, albeit the practical consequences of such selection and strategies to use genetically improved animals in the field are uncertain. Any long-term benefits derived from small ruminant genetic selection will only be impactful if steps are first taken to keep animals alive, healthy and productive through iterative planned health management. Parasites are the foremost global infectious disease constraints to efficient small ruminant production. Their genetic adaptability to exploit opportunities afforded by effects of climatic or management changes on free-living stages, or exposure of parasitic stages to drugs, presents specific challenges to their sustainable control. Hence, parasite control provides a relevant means of engagement with livestock keepers and farmers on the topic of planned animal health management. The value of parasitology in this regard is enhanced by the availability of simple to use and accessible diagnostic tools.
- Small ruminant production
- Planned animal health management
- Poverty alleviation
- Parasite genetic adaptability
- Sustainable parasite control