Medicinal Plants to Improve Animal Health

Ethiopian plant treatment


Small-holder farmers in poor countries like Ethiopia have for many generations used medicinal plants to try to control livestock endo- and ectoparasites, often because they simply can not afford chemical drugs. This project brings together Ethiopian traditional healers with SRUC and Hawassa University researchers to promote informed use of plants to control parasites through systematically obtaining scientific evidence on anti-parasitic efficacy of Ethiopian plants. This provides countries like Ethiopia with knowledge to optimise using their own natural resources to control animal parasites.

Key Challenges

Small holder farmers, pastoralists and traditional healers in Ethiopia and other developing countries often do not have access to affordable and reliable anti-parasitic drugs. They rely on ethno-veterinary knowledge to use plants for control of endo- and ectoparasitic diseases. The key challenges are to undertake lab and animal based research to generate knowledge on their efficacy. This can then be translated this to small holder farmers so that informed decisions can be made about including medicinal plants in animal health management strategies.]

Key Benefits

Poor farmers in developing countries world-wide very often do not have access to vets or cannot afford veterinary drugs to treat their animals against internal and external parasites. In Ethiopia, this is resulting in high mortality, reduced productivity and economic losses as high as 50% of the value of their millions of sheep and goats. For many generations, small-holder farmers and traditional healers in Ethiopia have used medicinal plants to try to cure their animals. Like farmers across the world they often do things because their fathers and grandfathers did. Whilst this may often be the only option these farmers have, the large economic losses suggest that the plant-based parasite control strategies they use may not always be very effective. It would be fair to say that very often it is not known if they work, how they work and if there are side effects that need to be considered. If we know more about these possible positive and negative effects, then we may be able to increase the effectiveness of using plants to control animal disease by promoting those with the greatest efficacy.

“SRUC research is helping small holder farmers and traditional healers in Ethiopia to make informed decisions on plant-based parasite control strategies to improve the health of their animals.”

Projects like these help ensure that the knowledge of traditional animal health care practitioners does not get lost, and ensure that results from Ethiopian plants benefits Ethiopian agriculture. The optimum outcome would be that countries like Ethiopia use their own natural resources to control animal parasites as much as possible.

The analysis of anti-parasitic properties of plant preparation can also form a basis of identifying bioactive compounds, which may on the one hand lead into identifying other plants with similar anti-parasitic properties and on the other hand fuel the development of novel anti-parasitic drugs.

This £930k project is part of Combating Infectious Diseases in Livestock for International Development (CIDLID), a £13M+ program sponsored by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Scottish Government (SG). This initiative aims to generate workable solutions on the ground to improve animal welfare, productivity and ultimately enhance the lives of millions of people.

Our Partners

This project is funded through the CIDLID initiative, funded by DFID, BBSRC and SG. It involves collaboration with Hawassa University, Ethiopia.

Prof Jos Houdijk

Head of Monogastric Science Research Centre

Address: Animal & Veterinary Sciences, SRUC, Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush, Midlothian EH25 9RG

Telephone: 01316034752

Fax: 0131 535 3121


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