Collaborators with experience in a variety of livestock species have assisted with designing training materials, designing on-farm experiential training ideas and providing expertise as speakers at training workshops. Meetings have been held with the American (formerly Southern) Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control and some updates of existing training materials for small ruminants developed through previous SARE funded grants have been made. Two trainer facilitator’s guides for cattle and horse integrated parasite management have been developed. Train-the-trainer sessions have been held – Seventy-six trainers, most in NC but some in SC, and VA attended training in different formats with some trainers attending more than one type of training. At least 24 Extension field staff or other agricultural professionals trained or hosted trainings for producers with over 506 producers or livestock owners in mostly NC, but some from SC and a few in VA, GA and FL.
1) Focusing on a variety of livestock species, train agents in how to assess parasite management and control issues and provide them with tools to help the farmers with those issues, resulting in farmers understanding and controlling parasites in their animals with more efficient/less chemical dewormer use (to reduce chemicals in our environment and increase farmer profitability).
2) Teach agents about how to assess the impact of trainings they provide to farmers and give them the tools to begin the process, resulting in agents assisting with tracking the impact of the proposed project and participating in reporting of those impacts well into the future.
Ultimately, the goal is to help agents and other agricultural professionals to provide information to farmers with pasture raised pigs, poultry, cattle, horses, sheep and/or goats that will help them make more money and have greater lifestyle satisfaction while reducing chemicals released into the environment.
Gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN), or worms, infect all livestock species and can negatively influence animal performance and survival and thus impair farm profitability. In addition, use of chemical dewormers based on outdated information (as used by many livestock and horse owners) introduces unnecessary chemicals into the environment and causes parasite dewormer resistance. Because the overall problem with GIN in all livestock is much more pronounced in the Southern region of the U.S., this issue is especially important for our region.
In beef cattle production, parasitism was noted as the number one economic factor influencing efficiency, adding up to $190/animal to production costs (reviewed by Bliss et al., 2008). During beef heifer development, untreated GIN parasitism resulted in a nearly $40/animal decrease in gross returns (Loyacano et al., 2002). As with other species, losses due to GIN infection include decreased growth rate, feed efficiency, carcass quality, reproductive efficiency and milk production and increased mortality. However, overuse and misuse of chemical dewormers has resulted in GIN dewormer resistance.
As has been noted with small ruminants, GIN resistance to dewormers is a growing cattle issue, with the first publicized research coming from New Zealand in 1997, followed by reports of dewormer resistance in the Southern U.S. in 1999 (reviewed by Bliss et al., 2008). More recent nationwide research in the U.S. indicated GIN resistance to macrolytic lactones (ivermectin, doramectin and moxidectin products) on 24 farms using injectable products and on 60 farms using pour-on products (Bliss et al., 2008). Research in North Carolina has also indicated ivermectin resistance in cattle (Dr. Mark Alley, personal communication). The causes of GIN resistance include improper dosing and worming animals too often, resulting in all worm populations being exposed to the chemical dewormer. In order to help slow GIN dewormer resistance and save money, alternative parasite control methods should be supported for cattle producers and educational programs about the widespread problem with dewormer resistance in cattle should be conducted.
Parasites are also an issue in horses, especially in the Southern U.S. Nearly 40 years ago, the equine protocol of deworming every six to eight weeks was initiated to reduce pasture parasite contamination when horses were infected with many different worm species (Briggs et al., 2004). However, there are natural methods to manage forages and pastures to help reduce parasite loads while improving the nutritive value of those pastures and controlling nutrient loading, and some species of parasites that were once a major concern are now rare in horses (Kaplan, 2009).
Some exposure to parasites will help livestock build immunity to help resist heavy infections that would cause health problems. In normal animals, approximately 20-30% of the animals carry 80% of the GIN (Kaplan, 2009). Therefore, proper parasite control could target the heavily infected animals and leave those without a problem untreated (which would also help reduce parasite dewormer resistance issues). Unfortunately, many horse owners have zero tolerance for GIN, so deworming schedules continue every 6 to 8 weeks (or as some vets recommend, every 4 to 6 weeks), often at the detriment to the environment, their finances and the animal. In addition, this has caused parasite dewormer resistance that is increasing at an alarming rate (Kaplan, 2009; Lyons et al, 2008a, 2008b; Lyons et al., 2009). Therefore, horse breeders and owners need to be trained in modern parasite control efforts. In order for this to occur efficiently, trainers (Extension personnel, veterinarians and other agricultural professionals) need updated education.
Pasture swine production is a growing business, especially in North Carolina. Regular workshops are conducted with a group of pasture swine producers in Eastern NC, with pasture swine producers in Georgia and Virginia also indicating interest in attending educational workshops. After an outdoor swine health management workshop, 100% of producers indicated by survey that they were interested in learning more about their farm’s GIN. These farmers market to niche buyers with environmental and animal welfare concerns, so proper parasite control with minimal negative environmental/animal impact is important. Unfortunately, no agricultural professionals in their area are trained in integrated/natural parasite control methods and techniques (fecal egg counting and ID, etc.) necessary to help them, indicating a great need.
Integrated parasite management (IPM) is now well-known terminology in the sheep and goat industries, in large part due to efforts supported by SARE funding (FMI: www.acsrpc.org). Over 5000 FAMACHA© cards have been issued through parasite control training (Bob Storey, personal communication), and producers continue to request training. Continued multiple drug dewormer resistance has resulted in a major problem, especially in the Southeast where GIN are the primary animal health problem faced by sheep and goat farmers. The problem continues to expand and new producers and agricultural professionals are entering the industry, so training needs to continue.
Established nationwide IPM training for small ruminants includes recommendations for multi-species grazing, strategic deworming, pasture rotation and other methods of creating “safe” pastures, age-related management and creation of “refugia” (GIN populations not exposed to dewormers). Waller (2006) reviewed some of these methods, many of which may also be used with other species and need to be incorporated into educational materials regarding IPM for cattle, horses, and swine as applicable.
Overall, in all species, GIN infection is a problem (especially in the Southeastern US), but over-treating with chemicals through improper or unnecessary deworming exposes animals to chemicals for no reason, wastes money and contributes to parasite dewormer resistance. Educational programs to teach agricultural professionals how to identify farms with issues and train the cattle, horse, swine, sheep, goat and poultry producers about integrated parasite management can help protect the environment, increase farmer profitability and protect animal welfare.
Bliss, D. H., R. D. Moore, and W. G. Kvasnicka. 2008. Parasite resistance in US Cattle. Proceedings: Am. Assoc. Bovine Pract., 41:109-114.
Briggs, K., C. Reinemeyer, D. French and R. Kaplan. 2004. Bad bug basics. The Horse. January. p. 1-58.
Kaplan, R. 2009. Current concepts for parasite control in horses: It ain’t the 60’s anymore. Proceedings: 27th Annual Alberta Horse Owners and Breeders Conference, p. 1-14.
Loyacano, A.F., J. C. Williams, J. Guire and A. A. DeRosa. 2002. Effect of gastrointestinal nematode and liver fluke infections on weight gain and reproductive performance of beef heifers. Vet. Parasitol. 107:227-234.
Lyons, E.T., S.C. Tolliver, M. Ionita and S.S. Collins. 2008a. Evaluation of parastiticidal activity of fenbendazole, ivermectin, oxibendazole and pyrantel pamoate in horse foals with emphasis on ascarids (Parasacaris equorum) in field studies on five farms in Central Kentucky in 2007. Parastitol. Res. 103:287-291.
Lyons, E.T., S.C. Tolliver, M. Ionita, A. Lewellen and S.S. Collins. 2008b. Field studies indicating reduced activity of ivermectin on small strongyles in horses on a farm in Central Kentucky. Parastiol. Res. 103:209-215.
Lyons, E.T., S.C. Tolliver, and S.S. Collins. 2009. Probably reason why small strongyle EPG counts are returning “early” after ivermectin treatment of horses on a farm in Central Kentucky. Parastiol. Res. 104:569-574.
Waller, P.J. 2006. Sustainable nematode parasite control strategies for ruminant livestock by grazing management and biological control. Anim. Feed Sci. Tech. 126:277–289.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
On-farm training of field staff and farmers focused on fecal egg count reduction testing and was provided on farms ranging in size from 5 to 100 horses, 30 to over 500 cattle, and 20 to 80 small ruminants. Pasture pork farms with parasite loads tested so parasite control efforts could be evaluated ranged in size from 40 to over 100 animals. Some small ruminant and pasture pork parasite fecal egg counts were presented to farmers by veterinarian collaborators along with suggestions for changes on the farms. With Extension funding and collaborator support, training occurred in NC, SC and VA. Integrated parasite management trainings took place mostly in-person so that fecal egg counting could also be taught. After training in fecal egg counting, agents interested in providing this training to farmers or allowing farmers to use equipment at their site were provided with microscopes and fecal egg counting kits. Agents that were trained also hosted trainings for producers or provided training to producers.
Outreach and Publications
Whitley, N.C., S.-H. Oh, S.J. Lee, S. Schoenian, R.M. Kaplan, B. Storey, T.H. Terrill, S. Mobini, J.M. Burke, J.E. Miller, and M.A.Perdue. 2013. Impact of integrated gastrointestinal parasite management training for U.S. goat and sheep producers. Vet Parasitol. Accepted with revision 2013
Abstracts and proceedings
Whitley, N.C., B. Chase and S.B. Routh. 2013. Survey of central North Carolina horse owners regarding parasite resistance. Submitted. J. Anim. Sci. 91 E Suppl.:In Press.
Whitley, N.C., M.L. Alley, R.M. Kaplan, S. Howell, K. Moulton, R.A. Franco and A.E. Cooper. 2012. Cattle anthelmintic resistance testing and training in North Carolina. J. Anim. Sci. 90 E-Suppl. 3:335.
Whitley, N.C., R.M. Kaplan, R.K. Splan, A.M. Zajac, K. Moulton, R.A. Franco C. Swanson, A.E. Cooper and V.R. Jackson. 2012. Anthelmintic resistance testing and training on horse farms in the Southeast. J. Anim. Sci. 90 E-Suppl. 3:551.
Whitley, N., K. Moulton, R. Franco, A. Cooper, R. Jackson and T. Conrad-Acuna. 2012. Livestock Integrated Parasite Management in North Carolina. Proceedings, Association of Extension Administrators National Meeting, June 24-28. Poster presentation.
Whitley N.C., R.M. Kaplan, R.A. Franco, K. Moulton, and A.E. Cooper. 2012. Anthelmintic resistance testing and agricultural professional training on horse farms in North Carolina. J. Anim. Sci. 90 E-Suppl. 1:32.
Whitley, N., K. Moulton, R. Franco, A. Cooper, R. Jackson, and T. Conrad-Acuna. 2012. Livestock integrated parasite management in North Carolina. Proceedings, 6th National Small Farm Conference:124.
Whitley, N.C., S. Schoenian, J-M. Luginbuhl, M. Worku and R.C. Noble. 2011. Impact of Gastrointestinal parasite management training in North Carolina. ARD proceedings, April, 2011; p. 195.
Whitley, N.C., J-M. Luginbuhl, S. Schoenian, and M. Worku. 2010. Survey of North Carolina sheep and goat producers after gastrointestinal parasite management training. J. Anim. Sci. . Small ruminant producer gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) management survey. J. Anim. Sci. 88 E-Suppl. 3:35.
Guides, fact sheets and other materials for trainers to use with producers:
Facilitator’s guides: Cattle IPM (in review), Horse IPM (in review) and updates to the ACSRPC small ruminant manual (www.acsrpc.org)
NC Whitley. 2012 Suggestions for de-worming outdoor hogs. ANR-FS-12204
eXtension parasite management checklist (submitted by Niki Whitley):
Notebook put together and provided to field staff during training included sheep, goat, cattle, horse and pig/poultry sections. Includes electronic and some printed versions of powerpoints, handouts and evaluations to use with producers.
Results from train-the-trainer sessions indicated that participants felt the information was relevant to their needs and that they would use the information with their clientele. This was proven when agents provided related information to producers in workshops as noted previously. At least 6 pasture/outdoor pork farms have changed deworming protocols based on information obtained through work with their agents in order to better control internal parasites on their farms. Horse farm owners have indicated they have made or intend to make changes on their farm to reduce deworming, one farm boarding/owning over 100 horses has reduced deworming from every two months for all horses to every four months for all but approximately 26 horses (that are still dewormed every two months because they were high shedders), reducing her costs and reducing the amount of chemical dewormers being released into the environment. Three cattle farms realized they had dewormer resistance on their farm and made changes in their deworming strategies. Making changes on their farm can help them raise a higher quality product and use less feed to market, improving overall farm profitability.
Trainings – Seventy-three (76) Extension field staff and other ag professionals (vets, USDA staff, vet techs) have been trained in NC, SC (14), and VA (1) using classroom lectures and/or through interactive hands-on fecal egg count, FAMACHA training or on-farm fecal egg count reduction test training. An additional 17 field personnel/agricultural professionals from several states (mostly NC and SC) were provided with parasite control information and a checklist to use with farmers at the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association extension farm tour in 2012. At least 24 Extension field staff or other agricultural professionals trained or hosted trainings for producers with over 506 producers or livestock owners (for those trained that were reported to the Project Director by agents or who asked the PD to collaborate on training). These participants represented primarily NC, but some were from SC, and a few were from VA, GA and FL. An additional 28 University or Community College students were trained. Youth interested in livestock were also trained by some Extension field staff.
Work with agents in the eastern region has been conducted on 5 minority-owned pasture pork farms to evaluate (and help producers solve) parasite issues. Two State-owned outdoor swine farms were tested for agent training. Dr. Morgan Morrow with NCSU presented information about pasture swine parasite management to a group of pasture pork producers and came again when the results of the on-farm work was available to discuss those results and how to manage parasites. Training with farm managers and agents was conducted at a goat farm in SC with a collaborating Clemson University Extension veterinarian, Dr. Patty Scharko. She helped pilot, review and updated an on-farm parasite assessment survey (checklist) that was published on eXtension for field staff (and producer) use. She also worked with the People’s Cooperative (a minority farmer organization) and Extension staff in SC to organize parasite management training for sheep and goat producers for which Dr. Niki Whitley (PD, NC A&T State University) served as a speaker. Dr. Scharko also helped the SC Sheep Producers Association organize a parasite/fecal egg count training at their annual meeting for two years.
A total of 487 horses on 11 NC farms, 5 SC farms and 9 VA farms were used in fecal egg count reduction test training for agents or by agents for farm managers/owners. The Extension agent in VA who was trained through the project conducted the parasite management and on-farm fecal egg count reduction training in VA. She also trained 4-H Youth in Virginia, expanding the impact of the project. Dr. Mark Alley (NCSU) assisted with on-farm fecal egg count reduction training in cattle on three farms and has provided input and resources to use for educational materials development. Three additional cattle farms were used for training (one in SC). Dr. Ray Kaplan (UGA) and Dr. Anne Zajac (Virginia Tech; limitedly) have assisted with fecal egg count reduction training by allowing agents/producers to send samples for analysis to help farm owners develop parasite management practices on their farm. DrenchRite testing was done for 3 small ruminant farms, all three where proven to have multiple drug resistance. The information was provided to producers so they would work with their vet and ag professionals to determine future control methods (including integrated parasite management) for their farms. Working with Dr. Patty Scharko, a minority goat producer conducted a fecal egg count reduction test and identified dewormers that were not effective and one that was effective. So he, his extension agent and Dr. Scharko worked together to identify methods to try to keep the one dewormer working as long as possible by using integrated parasite management.
Materials/Manual Updates – Livestock Integrated Parasite Management (IPM) training materials were developed based on existing Small Ruminant train-the-trainer manual materials; the materials were updated prior to each use in training agents. Materials include one notebook with sections of information for sheep/goats, cattle, horses and pigs/poultry. Individual powerpoints, evaluations and other materials are available for sheep/goats, cattle and horses. Two facilitator’s guides for cattle and horse integrated parasite management (a powerpoint, a guide for trainers to follow while presenting the training, and an evaluation piece) have been developed and started through the review/editing process and piloting is expected soon. In addition, meetings with the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite control (ACRSPC; www.acsrpc.org) resulted in a committee formation for updates. Some updates have been made and were provided in a 2013 ACRSPC Conference as well as were posted on the Consortium website.
Other Educational Materials – Notebooks or folders with materials, which (for the notebooks) included electronic materials such as a Powerpoint presentation and evaluations for trainers to use, were provided during train-the-trainer sessions for the livestock agents and other agricultural professionals (vets, technicians, community college/ag education instructors and research farm managers and workers) trained. Microscope and fecal egg counting kits were offered to livestock agents in NC who also received training (31 agents received kits; due to the popularity of the trainings, less expensive microscopes were ordered to allow for more agents than planned to receive kits; Extension also helped to provide funding for kits). An additional agent received a fecal egg counting kit but already had a microscope.
The expansion of training in integrated parasite management could result in reduction of the use of chemicals that do not work while still controlling parasites so that the health and welfare of the animals is improved. The community benefits from reduced use of chemicals that pass through the animal into the environment and reduced chemicals that may be found as residue in the meat if not managed properly. Improved health of the animals helps provide a quality food product to consumers and increases profitability for the producer.
Throughout the project period, producers and horse owners requested information. Work needs to continue to train field staff so the training of producers can be expanded, especially in beef cattle and the equine industries where less focused programming was available. Research needs to be conducted to track the incidence of parasite resistance in beef cattle and horses similar to that which has been conducted by others for sheep and goats so that the extent of the problem can be evaluated and solutions can be found. New dewormers for all species would need to be handled using selective deworming in order to reduce dewormer resistance.