The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is collaborating with Montana State University (MSU) Sheep Extension to conduct regional Integrative Parasite Management (IPM) training in Montana, Wyoming, and Utah. In this training, county extension agents, veterinarians, and NRCS staff will learn the potential risks associated with rising internal parasite infection rates in western sheep flocks and the proven IPM methodologies to combat these parasites, most notably the Barber Pole Worm, Haemonchus contortus (H. contortus). Training sessions in all three states will include instruction in FAMACHA eye scoring, creating parasite refugias, conducting fecal egg counts (FEC), implementing grazing protocols to limit infection, and on-farm genetic selection strategies to maximize animal resilience to internal parasites. In addition to this training, we will provide presentations at state woolgrower conventions and will develop a nationally accessible webinar to increase awareness of the expanding range of H. contortus infection and successful holistic control practices that can be employed by producers. Extension and technical notes to assist educators will also be developed and posted on the ATTRA website, https://attra.ncat.org/.
Materials, regional training, and subsequent educator-led trainings will be evaluated through training evaluations, and six and twelve month follow-up educator and producer surveys. We expect to see educators who are more knowledgeable in assisting sheep producers mitigate the effects of increasing H. contortus infections through proven sustainable practices. It is our hope that this will contribute to propelling the sheep industry forward by controlling internal parasites and increasing the effective lifetimes of anthelmintic dewormers.
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2017 Education and Outreach Activities
The overall goal of this project is twofold. The initial goal is to inform agricultural professionals and veterinarians of the need to take seriously the threat that internal parasites pose to sheep producers in the Inter-Mountain West region, especially those producing sheep on irrigated pastures. The second complementary goal is to provide effective training to these educators in all aspects of IPM as defined by the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Control (ACSRPC), to assist sheep producers in the sustainable control of internal parasites, most notably H. contortus.
The ultimate success of the project will be measured by the number of agricultural educators who complete the IPM training sessions and their subsequent education of sheep producers in these practices. The western sheep industry needs to be proactive in the fight against H. contortus. In order to ensure economic viability, producers need the skills to design and implement holistic strategies to control internal parasites.
This project builds on the experiences of educators and producers in their fight against internal parasites in the south and northeastern United States. They are having measurable success controlling H. contortus, but only after IPM programs have been employed. The Intermountain West sheep industry is in the enviable position to be proactive in its suppression of internal parasites through the use of IPM. This project’s goal is to advance that advantage.
Project Anticipated Outcomes
Integrated Parasite Management creates specific outcomes. These results can be measured in the number of sheep in a flock that have demonstrated resilience to internal parasite infection as expressed in fecal egg counts and FAMACHA http://www.wormx.info/famacha scoring. Decreased anthelmintic use will be immediately apparent to producers and to the educators and practicing veterinarians that advise them. Dewormers will be observed to be effective for a longer period of time. This is extremely important, given the limited amount of anthelmintic classes currently available or in the foreseeable future to sheep producers. As the genetic selection component of IPM is practiced, sheep producers will report to agriculture professionals and veterinarians that they are seeing less and less incidence of internal parasitism. Over several years, the ultimate success of the project will be reflected by a decrease in internal parasite infections in those susceptible flocks that employ IPM compared to those that do not.
According to the USDA-NASS 2012 census of agriculture, 53% of Montana’s 1300 sheep operations are 100 head or less (USDA-NASS. 2012. Census of Agriculture). Representing an underserved community, many smaller operations continuously graze small acreage or irrigated pastures, which are more pre-disposed to gastro intestinal parasite inoculation. In the summer of 2016, Stewart and Scott (data unpublished) conducted a pilot project collecting fecal egg counts on small operations to quantify the level of parasite burden. Of the eleven operations surveyed, seven exhibited a moderate to excessive degree of gastro-intestinal parasitism. From these findings additional questions arose, i.e., what are the production losses due to these parasite burdens, what degree of anthelmintic resistance exists in these flocks, and what management strategies can be implemented to minimize reinfections? Crook et al., (2016) observed wide-spread resistance to various classes of dewormers in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. eg., benzimidazoles, ivermectin, moxidectin, and levamisole on 100%, 82%, 47%, and 24% of farms, respectively.
The extent of parasite infection, most notably H. contortus, in the Inter-Mountain West is incomplete. Concurrently, producer awareness of the threat of internal parasites and how to combat them is marginal.
We have launched a project patterned directly after the highly successful SSARE project (Whitley, N.C.,2011).conducted by Dr. Thomas Terrill, et. al. (LS05-177 Sustainable Control of Gastro-intestinal Nematodes in Small Ruminants, 2009) to (1) address the knowledge gaps and target curriculum for control strategies, (2) create producer awareness, and (3) provide assistance to producers by educating ag extension professionals and veterinarians through a series of Train the Trainer sessions.
The long term goals of this project are: (1) survey sheep producer’s perceptions as to the severity of internal parasite infection, (2) quantify the prevalence of H. contortus present through fecal egg counting on sheep operations, (3) employ the DrenchRite assay http://www.wormx.info/storeyhowell2012 to ascertain the degree of resistance to anthelmintic drugs on these operations, and most notably, (4) assist producers through a series of Train the Trainer sessions directed at enabling ag professionals and veterinarians to effectively train producers in all aspects of Integrated Parasite Management (IPM) at the farm level.
Dr. Whit Stewart, University of Wyoming Sheep Extension Specialist, and Dave Scott, Livestock Specialist at the National Center for Appropriate Technology have conducted IPM training for small ruminant producers in 2015 and 2016 at Dave’s sheep operation, Montana Highland Lamb. Forty five attendees participated in these workshops, resulting in 39 FAMACHA certifications. Feedback from these producers has been very favorable. The project team’s goal is to take the next step and extend this training to educators and veterinarians, enabling them to reach out and train producers over a much larger region, specifically the states of Montana, Wyoming, and Utah.
This project focuses on increasing the awareness of producers, veterinarians, and agricultural professionals of the threat of the Barber Pole worm to the sheep industry in the Intermountain States and on teaching Integrated Parasite Management to combat it. IPM training sessions will be conducted on six farms in 2018 and 2019 for training professionals and farmers in FAMACHA eye scoring, creating parasite genetic refugias, grazing strategies, and genetic selection to limit the parasite’s impact on Western farms and ranches, particularly those that are irrigated. This focus will also be leveraged at annual woolgrower conventions in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho in 2017 and 2018 through presentations and at our “Got Worms?” booth at these conventions.
2018 Educational Approach
2018 brought a few changes to implementation of the project. In the spring of 2018, Dr. Whit Stewart left his Montana State Sheep Extension Specialist position and began a new position as University of Wyoming State Sheep Specialist. Dr. Stewart continued his work on this project in the same capacity, except that he began working out of the University of Wyoming. Six samples from Wyoming sheep producers and four from Montana were collected and submitted to the University of Georgia for the DrenchRite® Assay.
Dr. Thomas Murphy continued in this research with Dr. Stewart until he took a position at the Kerr Research Center in Nebraska in November 2018.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
In 2017, our goal was to increase the awareness of veterinarians, ag professionals, and farmers of the threat that the Barber Pole worm posed to sheep operations and to publicize our workshops on Integrated Parasite Management that we will be conducting in 2018 and 2019. Integral to this outreach was applied research conducted by Dr. Whit Stewart of U of Wyoming and Dr. Thomas Murphy of Montana State University concerning the degree of anthelmintic resistance of the Barber Pole worm in Montana and Wyoming sheep flocks.
Dr. Whit Stewart of the University of WY Sheep Extension and NCAT have publicized to producers and ag professionals (veterinarians, extension agents, and NRCS staff) the threat that internal parasites pose through presentations at Woolgrower conventions and meetings in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho. I also delivered this message to veterinarians who affect policy at the 2017 United States Animal Health Association Annual Meeting. Additionally, I included this topic in presentations to three student classes at in the Department of Range and Animal Sciences at Montana State University.
At each presentation, Dr. Stewart and I included the findings from the project’s first year of applied research (Dr. Whit Stewart, U of WY, Dr. Thomas Murphy, Montana State University) on sheep internal parasites. These findings underscored the facts that internal parasites are indeed a problem for Montana and Wyoming producers and that there is potential for parasite resistance to anthelmintics.
2018 Educational Initiatives and Activities
The objective of the project in 2018 remained to increase awareness among veterinarians, agriculture professionals, and farmers of the threat of the Barber Pole Worm. This was accomplished by continuing applied research on the degree of anthelmintic resistance in Montana and Wyoming and by presenting four IPM workshops in Montana and Utah. A fifth workshop was planned in Wyoming, but it had to be cancelled at the last minute due to lack of attendance by extension agents. This workshop was scheduled for August 1 at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Dr. Stewart, being new to Wyoming, was unaware that nearly all county fairs in the state are held during the first week of August. We hope that the additional trainings conducted in Montana will make up for this and plan to hold a Wyoming IPM Training the Powell Basin in 2019.
We continued our focus on increasing producer and professional awareness of the Barber Pole Worm through a series of Integrated Parasite Management Trainings, three in Montana and one in Utah. Additionally, Dave Scott and NCAT promoted control of the Barber Pole Worm at presentations to two Montana State University sheep and pasture production classes and at a booth at the Montana Woolgrowers Association Convention. Dr. Stewart presented his preliminary research findings at the West Central Woolgrowers Association Conference (Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada sheep producers), as well as several associated sheep workshops in Wyoming. Our message was further conveyed by our “Got Worms?” booths at these two woolgrower conventions.
Additionally, Dave Scott developed a narrative power point, Don’t Let the Barber Pole Ravage Your Flock https://attra.ncat.org/narrated-powerpoint-presentations/ that can be found on the ATTRA website. It has been downloaded 107 times from the ATTRA website in 2018.
Dr. Whit Stewart and Dr. Tom Murphy continued their applied research on the incidence of Barber Pole Worm infection in Montana and Wyoming and the organism’s resistance to anthelmintics. For a review of their findings in 2018, please see Outcomes and Impacts.
NCAT conducted four IPM trainings during the summer and fall of 2018. These workshops were advertised GotWorms_061218-MT-flyer on NCAT’s list serve, Cooperative Extension list serves, and on the Montana Sheep Message Board. Extension agents were asked to complete a survey Cover-letter-to-ag-professional-survey-AK-FINAL-52518-TJ-UTAH , Ag-professional-questionnaire-dft-AK-FINAL-21218 of producer awareness concerning Barber Pole Worm infection.
The first IPM Train the Trainer Training was held on June 26, 2018 in Tremonton, Utah, with Dave Scott of NCAT and Dr. Whit Stewart of University of Wyoming, presenting. Seven Utah State Ag Extension Agents, one vocational agriculture teacher from Bear River High School, and two producers attended and received FAMACHA cards for having passed the course.
Dave Scott conducted Montana IPM trainings in three locations: Stevensville, Hobson, and at Montana State University in Bozeman. A total of 12 extension agents and two veterinarians attended these trainings. Although only one Montana training was tasked in our second year work plan, two more were conducted due to producer and professional demand. The Stevensville and Hobson trainings were held on the farms of Sharon Johnson and Doug Hitch. The training at Montana State University was offered during the MSU Agriculture Education Extension Annual Conference.
The training curriculum Curriculum-for-IPM-Train-the-trainer-Workshop-Session1Curriculum-for-IPM-Train-the-trainer-Workshop-Session1 guided the two hour classroom lecture.
Classroom instruction on the Doug Hitch ranch in Hobson, MT.
Practical FAMACHA discussion at Doug Hitch Ranch, Hobson, MT
Dan Lucas, MSU Extension Western Region Department Head, FAMACHA scores a lamb at the annual MSU Agricultural Extension Conference October 24, 2018 in Bozeman.
IPM discussion at the annual MSU Agricultural Extension Conference.
Classroom instruction was followed by two hours of FAMACHA scoring and a grazing walk demonstrating grazing practices to limit ingestion of parasite larvae.
A video of the IPM training at Sharon Johnson’s ranch in Stevensville, MTUTube-Playlist-Stevensville-IPM-Training-13119 will be uploaded to the NCAT (ATTRA), Montana State University, and University of Wyoming websites.
At each of these trainings, a rich discussion was prompted by producers who were having problems with Barber Pole Worm. We were able to provide answers to their queries and outline both remedial and proactive responses to Barber Pole Worm infection.
To date, there has been little applied research in the Inter Mountain West concerning the presence of Barber Pole Worm infection or it’s resistance to anthelmintics. Drs. Stewart’s and Murphy’s findings during the first year of applied research is attached Report-Year-1-Field-Research-EW17-011WS-FINAL-121817. In essence, the study found significant presence of Barber Pole infection in the flocks surveyed and parasite resistance to one of the most common anthelmintics, Benzimidazole. There was moderate resistance to Levamisol and Ivermectin and no resistance to Moxidectin. These results indicate that dewormer resistance is occurring and perhaps increasing; however, there is opportunity to put into place Integrated Parasite Management strategies for positive impacts.
Additionally, parasite infection was found primarily in irrigated settings. However, there is significant potential for infection in large range operations that have sub irrigated or irrigated pastures near ranch headquarters that orphan lambs, rams, or ewes not fit to go out on the range graze upon. The potential of these “at risk” pastures typically is forgotten and needs to be addressed.
The small study established that the Barber Pole worm is a force to be reckoned with in both range and irrigated operations and substantiates the need for the Train the Trainer IPM workshops to be conducted in years two and three of the project. The study’s results were included in our outreach to nearly 900 farmers, veterinarians, and ag professionals through nine presentations in 2017. It captured the attention of audiences, and helped create interest in the upcoming Train the Trainer IPM sessions.
Producer surveys (sample one is attached, Internal-Parasite-Producer-Survey-2017) were conducted at the Montana and West Central States Woolgrower conventions in 2016-2017 in addition to a summary of the results Producer-Parasite-Survey-2016.-2017-MT-WCS-Woolgrowers-conventions-1918. This survey of 34 producers reveals that 71% of the respondents considered internal parasites a manageable to major threat. Furthermore, 68% of the respondents dewormed all animals while only 3% were employing FAMACHA scoring. This indicates that there is a potential for anthemintic resistance due to the lack of a parasitic genetic refugia in flocks. Forty seven percent indicated that they would be interested in attending an IPM training session, demonstrating the need for IPM trainers.
This year’s research and outreach to ag professionals and producers had a positive outcome: it increased awareness in the parasitic threat and also created interest in attending the Train the Trainer IPM sessions scheduled in 2018 and 2019.
2018 Outcomes and Impacts
Dr. Stewart and Dr. Murphy continued their applied research on the incidence of Barber Pole Worm in Montana and Wyoming and the organism’s resistance to the three classes of anthelmintics on sheep ranches, using the DrenchRite Assay. All of the producers who collaborated with the study received a DrenchRite Assay (performed by the University of Georgia) of their flock. This assay is a very convenient way to determine if the Barber Pole Worm is resistant to any of the three classes of dewormers. It saves the tedious work of performing Fecal Egg Count Reduction Tests for each of the dewormer classes. Participants recognized the importance of parasite resistance and were quite pleased to have the DrenchRite Assay performed on their flocks. Due to some faulty assay trays, the DrenchRite Assay was inconclusive for Levamisol resistance. However, since most of the collaborators indicated they had not used Levamisol anthelmintic, it would be reasonable to assume that resistance is low. The only factor that would challenge this assumption is if sheep and thus, anthelmintic management, had been imported into these flocks.
DrenchRite participants each answered a survey regarding their flock’s management Drenchrite-Fecal-producer-questionnaire-WS-AK-EDITS-62117-FINAL. From this, we will be able to draw some conclusions on the relationship of management upon anthelmintic resistance. This will be summarized in the final report in 2020.
Dr. Stewart’s findings Report-Year-2-Progress-Report-Dr.-Whit-Stewart indicate again that H. contortus resistance to Benzimadizols was high on Montana and Wyoming ranches.
Dave Scott and Dr. Stewart presented at several woolgrower conventions, sheep producer workshops, and college classes (Montana State University and the University of Wyoming) in 2018. At the conventions, we manned “Got Worms?” booths, drawing the interest of sheep producers, Extension agents, and NRCS staff. This piqued producer interest and attendance in the 2018 IPM Train the Trainer workshops. Dave Scott also wrote two articles that were published in the Montana Woolgrower, Using FAMACHA to Fight Parasites on Irrigated Pastures FAMACHA-and-FEC-Mt-Woolgrower-article-52218, and Control the Barber Pole Worm: Breed for Resistant Sheep Montana-Woolgrower-article-8218-Genetic-Strategies-for-HC-Resistant-sheep-8118. We are hopeful that this combined outreach will also encourage participation in 2019 IPM workshops. By emphasizing the Barber Pole Worm problem and offering methods of mediation via trainings, we have undoubtedly increased knowledge of the parasite threat in Montana, Utah, and Wyoming, and provided hope to control it. Additionally, presentations at Montana State University and University of Wyoming have served to initiate awareness in this region’s future generation of sheep producers.
The IPM trainings themselves have led to significant outcomes in 2018. A total of 19 Extension agents, two veterinarians, one vocational agriculture teacher, and 19 producers have been educated in IPM and have received FAMACHA cards. The ag professionals have certification to train producers and high school students. We presently have commitments from four of these new trainers to put on IPM trainings to producers in 2019. We are hoping for more commitments in 2019.
Pre Pre-survey-IPM-train-the-trainer-traing-62318 and post surveys Post-test-survey-UT-IPM-train-the-trainer-training-SER-PRO-PAGE-1-62718 were conducted at the IPM trainings. Few of the attendees knew very much about Barber Pole Worm or the threat that it poses to small ruminants in the Intermountain West. After completing the training, nearly all felt more knowledgeable and many felt that they would be able to conduct an IPM training, especially with some assistance from Dr. Stewart or Dave Scott. We offered them our assistance at any time and Dave plans to help them by attending their first trainings. An analysis of the pre and post tests will be presented in the 2020 Final Report of the project.
A third deliverable this year is a series of five tip sheets on H. contortus management, written by Dave Scott of NCAT. They include:
Frequently Asked Questions About Integrative Parasite Management tipsheet-FAQ-pdf-620181
776 ATTRA Downloads
Why FAMACHA score? Tipsheet-Why-FAMACHA-score-pdf
788 ATTRA Downloads
Using Fecal Egg Counts to Control the Barber Pole Worm Tipsheet-fecaleggcounts-tipsheet-PDF-FINAL-52518
1162 ATTRA Downloads
Grazing to Control Parasites tipsheet-graze-tocontrol-PDF-6518
1059 ATTRA Downloads
Simple Genetic Strategies to Limit the Barber Pole Worm Tipsheet-Simple-Genetic-Selection-Strategies-pdf-62018
742 ATTRA Downloads
These tip sheets serve as the core material for the IPM training presentations. They were part of the packet distributed to all attendees of the trainings. Other items in the packet included Key Points about the Barber Pole Worm Key-Points-to-Integrative-Parasite-Management, a FAMACHA card, and slide notes on the power point presentation. As evidenced by the number of downloads from the ATTRA website, the tip sheets have been in strong demand. In winter of 2019, they will be offered at Montana State University and University of Wyoming animal science department websites.
Although not included in the project proposal, NCAT created a Facebook Group, Beat the Barber Pole Worm https://www.facebook.com/groups/BeatTheBPW/, in November 2018. To view this closed Facebook Group, please ask permission to join and Dave Scott will accept your request. To date, the group has 52 members. It includes a bi-weekly blog written by Dave Scott, and comments are encouraged. We are hopeful that this group will grow in number and that it will be a helpful resource for producers and professionals desiring information and discussion about how to decrease anthelmintic resistance and increase control of the Baber Pole Worm through holistic methods including grazing and genetic selection.
An additional outcome from this project is that Dave Scott received a request from the Northeastern Integrative Pest Management Center to sit on a panel to review the proposal, Fecal Sampling and Small Ruminant Parasite Control Lab Project by Jason Detzel and Tatatia Stanton of Cornell University Extension. The small ruminant community interested in controlling intestinal parasites is broadening, and Dave is pleased to contribute by serving on this panel.
The producer need for controlling H. contortus in their flocks is demonstrated by three producer’s experiences that have been shared with Dave Scott this year.
One producer in Montana remarked that there have been 250 ewes for two generations on her irrigated pastures with little or no problems with parasites. Suddenly, in 2018 she lost several lambs and a ewe to the Barber Pole Worm. Unfortunately, we are finding this to be a common scenario, and one that requires prompt action or further losses will occur. A DrenchRite Assay was conducted on her flock and she attended an IPM training. She now is proficient in FAMACHA scoring and is aware of grazing and genetic strategies to limit further infection. Hopefully, this will keep her in the sheep business.
A relatively new sheep producer in Montana lost ten ewes in one week, all confirmed by his veterinarian to be H. contortus victims. He was distraught about what to do until he attended one of the IPM Trainings. A DrenchRite Assay determined that the flock’s worms were resistant to the Benzimidazol class of anthelmintic he was using. He immediately switched to Prohibit (Levamisol class) and no additional sheep were lost. Furthermore, he now has a multi-faceted management plan that he can implement.
A third couple who expanded their flock in recent years was experiencing substantial problems with the parasite. The DrenchRite Assay revealed that all three classes of dewormers were ineffective against the Barber Pole Worm. This resistance likely existed in the ewes that they purchased. Between that and increasing threats of wolf predation, they gave up and sold their flock. This is what this IPM project seeks to prevent. Unfortunately, we were a few years too late.
Dr. Stewart and Dave Scott feel that there have been many positive outcomes for the Integrated Parasite Management: Train the Trainer Project in 2018 and that we are meeting our goals for the project as stated in the Project Introduction. We look forward to increasing these outcomes in 2019 with more educational outreach.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Due to producer interest, one IPM workshop was given by NCAT in July 2017 for producers at Montana Highland Lamb in Whitehall, MT. Nineteen producers and family members from 15 ranches attended with a total of 15 FAMACHA cards being given out to successful participants. These participants are skilled in putting IPM into practice on their sheep operations.
We have had no outcomes directly associated with training ag professionals and veterinarians or in the number of farmers reached through their programs. These outcomes will be generated in years two and three of the project.
2018 Learning Outcomes and Impact
In their ongoing applied research on incidence of H. contortus and its resistance to anthelmintics, Drs. Whit Stewart nd Thomas Murphy continued to observe significant infection on irrigated pastures while non-irrigated pastures or pastures where haying is incorporated in the pasture rotation showed little Barber Pole Worm infection. Resistance to Benzimidazole dewormers was widespread on irrigated pasture systems. This indicates, at least for irrigated farms, the need for Fecal Egg Count Reduction Tests or DrenchRite Assays to be performed to determine if dewormers are indeed effective.
The outreach in 2018 has had clear impacts:
Over 7000 producers and ag professionals nationwide have been effectively reached with our tipsheets and presentations, providing a new awareness of the threat of the Barber Pole Worm and sustainable strategies of control.
Nineteen extension agents, two veterinarians and one vocational agriculture teacher have attended one of the four IPM train the trainer trainings, resulting in a considerable increase in the extension knowledge base concerning the Baber Pole Worm, sustainable strategies to control it, and effective methods to educate sheep producers.
2018 Additional Outcomes
One unanticipated learning outcome of sampling for the DrenchRite assay was the discovery that you have to use FAMACHA scoring to filter prospective ewes for DrenchRite sampling. The ten fecal samples need to include at least 50% FAMACHA score 4 ewes in order to ensure a fecal egg count of greater than 500 eggs per gram. If this parasite challenge is not met, the Drenchrite Assay results are inconclusive.
Three comments from IPM training attendees:
An extension agent and sheep producer in Western Montana communicated to Dave Scott after she had attended the Stevensville, Montana IPM Train the Trainer training session. She wrote:MT-Bitterroot-ext-agent-comment-Stevensville-IPM-training-9118
A high school vocational agriculture instructor in Northwestern Utah commented, “I will teach my classes (IPM) and do some agri-science projects.”
A club lamb producer in Western Montana emailed Dave Scott, stating, “I think it’s really important that producers/4H learn about parasites. Especially if they are going to continue on with a Breeding Flock Project.”