Gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN), especially the barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus), are one of the top health concerns of small ruminant (SR) producers in the Northeast. This three-year project offers an online training program on integrated parasite control (IPC) that includes FAMACHA© training and certification, in addition to IPC workshops at large regional events. Education and assistance with fecal egg counting and promotion of the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) will enable interested producers to factor parasite susceptibility into breeding decisions and use estimated breeding values (EBV) to balance parasite resistance with other important production traits. This project will also expand current research evaluating the anti-parasitic effects of cranberry vine on GIN infection in lambs.
Three hundred forty small ruminant producers, with an average of 30 lambs or 20 kids and reported problems with parasites in the past five years, will introduce or improve integrated parasite management practices including genetic selection for resistance. These behaviors will result in reduced death and productivity losses totaling $700,000.
Pelleted cranberry leaf powder (CLP) will have anti-parasitic efficacy against experimental and natural GIN infections in lambs.
The conventional method used to control GIN infections is the use of chemical anthelmintic (deworming) drugs. With the growth of anthelmintic resistance in GIN, alternative methods are needed for GIN control. An anti-parasitic effect was demonstrated in sheep and goats consuming condensed tannin containing forages. One of the bioactive components of condensed tannins are proanthocyanidins (PAC). Cranberries contain high levels of a bioactive extract of condensed tannin, PAC and are grown in New England. In this study, we will be investigating the use of pelleted cranberry vine (CVP) against GIN infections of H. contortus. Clippings from bogs of ‘Stevens’ cranberry owned by the A.D. Makepeace Company (Wareham, MA, USA) were collected following pruning in spring 2015. The collected wet CV (450 kg) yielded 200 kg of dried CV. The dried vines were chopped through a ¾ inch screen and manufactured into a 40% CV pellet.Seven sets of twin lambs (8 male and 6 female) were split into two groups (each group with one of the twins), balanced for sex and weight: CVP0 (500 g grain), or CVP200 (500 g 40% CV pellet, 100 g grain). Fourteen days prior (D0) to the experimental infection (D14), the lambs were placed in their groups (4 male and 3 female lambs per group). Lambs were fed either the CVP0 (0 g CVP, 500 g grain) or CVP200 (500 g CVP, 100 g grain) diets for 57 days (from D0 to D56). After feeding CV for two weeks, all lambs were experimentally infected orally (D14) with 500 H. contortus L3 three times a week for three weeks (D14, D16, D18, D21, D23, D25, D28, D30, D32). Fecal egg counts (FEC), packed cell volumes (PCV), and weights were measured at D0 and weekly after the start of the feeding trial for eight weeks. At the end of the eight-week trial, lambs were sent to the abattoir and abomasal contents were collected for worm recovery, quantification, and identification of developmental stage and sex.
There were no significant differences in any of the measured parameters, including FEC, PCV, worm burden, and fecundity values. Pelleting feed increases the feasibility of transport, storage and administration, as well as reduces waste. Although pelleting of CV provided an easier product to administer, there was no anthelmintic efficacy observed by the pelleted CV, while we have observed a slight suppression observed by the chopped CV. From these findings, it is suspected that the pelleting process may have had an effect on PAC within the CVP and that we also need to increase the quantity of CV consumed. The process of pelleting involves heating to form the pellet, which could potentially have an effect on the CV and the structure of the PAC. It has been reported that PAC shifts from extractable to bound forms as a result of drying and heating PAC containing forages. We have been unable to locate a facility that can provide the flexibility we need to pelletize the CV in the small quantities needed for these studies or found a pelleter available for use that will enable us to control heating of the CV during the pelleting process. In the coming year we will investigate the possibility of acquiring a pelleter suitable to our needs.
Our education program will be advertised using email networks and newsletters targeting SR producer organizations and events, Extension programs and regional events throughout the northeast, existing LNE10-300 project participants, and veterinarians and website links from other SR websites (sheepandgoat.com, acsrpc.org, ncvetp.org, etc.). In addition, this project proposes to promote enrollment of 15 seedstock producers in NSIP, the NSIP portion of the project will be advertised through seedstock breed organizations.
Our educational program consists of three components:
1) Online IPM training materials : As a result of project LNE10-300, SR producers will have access to a website (http://web.uri.edu/sheepngoat) housing comprehensive educational videos on FAMACHA© scoring and fecal egg counting as well as an IPM workshop video. Also available are fact sheets on these topics and other IPM resources, guidance tools and links to related sites. An online test assessing producer knowledge of key IPM concepts, and video assessment of FAMACHA© scoring will also be provided to producers interested in FAMACHA© certification.
2) Integrated parasite control workshops: Multiple workshops will be offered annually.
3) Focus on selective breeding: Producers will be supported in evaluating genetic susceptibility of sheep and goats to GIN through the use of FAMACHA© Scoring (producer) coupled with fecal egg counts. We will hold informational meetings on NSIP (www.nsip.org), for seedstock producers interested in improving the genetic merit of their flock.
1) Small ruminant (SR) producers learn about the major components of the integrated parasite control program: 1) Online training materials in IPM, 2) Integrated parasite control workshops, 3) Focus on selective breeding.
This milestone was met during YR1 and continued during YR2. Membership in list servs we advertised to was well over 3000 and sharing of many of our Facebook posts by producers to other producers and producer organizations adds several thousand more.
During YR1 over 3000 SR producers were reached and accounted for on various small ruminant list servs and electronic newsletters throughout the Northeast and neighboring states and regions in Canada. Outreach through these channels continued during YR2. The URI Small Ruminant Parasite Control Facebook Page, https://www.facebook.com/urisrpc/ was established on February 4, 2016 and received 108 new likes and 229 new follows during YR2 for a total of 238 likes and 246 follows to date (10/26/2017). One URI Facebook post reached over 1,700 people with many posts being widely shared to other producer and organization Facebook pages.
The URI Website, Northeast Small Ruminant Parasite Control, http://web.uri.edu/sheepngoat/ was continually updated and maintained with project resources, opportunities and events. The American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (ACSRPC) website (https://www.wormx.info/) continues to house links to the Online FAMACHA© training program and project videos, and to post project events, opportunities and updates on their blog. Producer groups also continue to list project announcements on their website pages, including the Vermont Sheep and Goat Association and the Rhode Island Sheep Cooperative.
Post cards advertising the Online FAMACHA© training program and the FEC and selective breeding support (developed during YR1) were widely distributed during YR2 to Extension and SR organization contacts and producers during workshops and events.
Periodic reminders and additional outreach using all of these channels will continue for the remainder of the project.
2) Small ruminant producers will visit the project website each year of the project.
This milestone has been met for YR2. The University of Rhode Island used Google Analytics to track website usage between 9/1/2016 and 8/31/2017. A total of 5,798 new users visited the website with 4,929 (85%) being from the U.S. followed by 216 from Canada. By region 2,382 new users were from target Northeast states and neighboring states and regions in Canada. Thirty-two percent of website traffic comes from social channels such as Facebook, with 31% being attributed to direct typing of the website address, followed by 14% from other website referrals (primarily the ACSRPC website). A similar trend was observed in YR1 indicative of success with targeted outreach methods.
3) Small ruminant producers will view IPM fact sheets each year of the project to stay informed on BMP for parasite control.
This milestone was partially met for YR2. The fact sheet and tools webpage received 208 unique page views (232 total) from viewers in the U.S. with 116 unique page views (125 total) being from viewers within the target Northeast and neighboring states and regions in Canada.
Additional Google Analytics programming was established on March 28, 2017 to track the number of clicks or downloads on the project fact sheets which are housed on the website in PDF format. This will enable us to determine which fact sheets are accessed the most. Between March 28 and August 31, 2017 (last 5 months of YR2) the programming tracked the following total clicks or downloads as follows:
- FAMACHA© scoring fact sheet – 151 total clicks among 65 unique users in the U.S. and Canada.
- Fecal Egg Counting fact sheet – 71 total clicks among 33 unique users in the U.S.
- Modified McMaster fact sheet – 93 clicks among 24 unique users in the U.S.
The three IPM fact sheets are housed on two project webpages: the fact sheets and tools, and video pages. In addition, the FAMACHA© scoring fact sheet is also housed on the online FAMACHA© training program webpage. The online FAMACHA© training and video pages received the most unique and total page views, respectively, for YR2 (also for YR1). The video webpage received 1,934 unique page views (2,109 total) from viewers in the U.S. with 915 unique page views (990 total) being from viewers within the target Northeast and neighboring states and regions in Canada.
While the number of unique users accessing these webpages add up to the milestone goal, the number that are actually clicking on the PDF fact sheets is much less (this information was only available for the last 5 months of YR2). Efforts were made during year two to provide direct links to the fact sheet and tools page and/or specific fact sheets on Facebook posts and emails. These efforts will continue during YR3. It should bear mentioning that all of the information contained within the fact sheets is covered and presented within the project videos which are, perhaps, a preferred media for online access and viewing (see Milestone 4). The fact sheets continue to be distributed at workshops and to producers requesting hard copy information in lieu of online versions.
4) Producers will view educational videos on FAMACHA© scoring or fecal egg counting (FEC) that will train, or reinforce training in these techniques each year of the project.
This milestone has been met for YR2 with 500+ unique views of the educational videos.
The videos are housed on the URI project website (http://web.uri.edu/sheepngoat/video/) as well as on the University of Rhode Island YouTube Channel Page (direct links provided on webpage). The following YouTube statistics were obtained for YR2:
- Why and How To Do FAMACHA© Scoring video (run time 31 minutes): There were a total of 3,830 views and 25,193 minutes watch time (77% U.S).
- Why and How To Do FAMACHA© Scoring video clip: QR code printed on the back of U.S. FAMACHA© cards takes viewers to this clip housed on the URI YouTube Channel page (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmeZkqGQnMg&feature=youtu.be). To date (10/26/2017), the video clip has 196 views.
- Why and How To Do Sheep and Goat Fecal Egg Counts video (run time 72 minutes): There were a total of 4,208 views and 46,648 minutes watch time (63% U.S.).
- Why and How To Practice Integrated Parasite Control For Sheep and Goats (run time 120 minutes, 11 seconds): There were a total of 1,752 views and 40,014 minutes watch time (82% U.S.).
The webpage that houses the project videos (http://web.uri.edu/sheepngoat/video/) received 1,934 unique page views (2,109 total) from viewers in the U.S. with 915 unique page views (990 total) being from viewers within the target Northeast and neighboring states and regions in Canada. Additional Google Analytics programming was established on March 28, 2017 to track the number of clicks on the play button of the videos embedded within the webpage itself. Between March 28 and August 31, 2017 (last 5 months of YR2) the programming tracked the following total clicks on the play button:
- Why and How To Do FAMACHA© Scoring video – 772 clicks on Play button among 171 unique users in the US and world.
- Why and How To Do Sheep and Goat Fecal Egg Counts video – 608 clicks on Play button among 65 unique users in the US and world.
- Why and How To Practice Integrated Parasite Control For Sheep and Goats video – 2,408 clicks on Play button among 313 unique users in the US and world.
While both sets of information can not specifically account for the number of participants who may have viewed each video in its entirety, the number of YouTube views and total watch time, and the number of unique project webpage visits and clicks on the embedded videos combined suggest that project outreach has been successful in reaching target viewers.
5) 225 producers (75/year) will view the Integrated Parasite Control workshop and FAMACHA© scoring videos, take the online assessment exam and be certified in FAMACHA© scoring through submitting a video of their FAMACHA© scoring technique. Live video assessment such as Facetime or Skype can be used if needed.
During YR2, eighty-five (85) new participants began the online training program with 53 completing it and receiving certification for a 62% completion rate. Seven (7) additional YR2 participants (as of 12/7/17) have gone on to complete the training early in YR3. While we have exceeded the yearly milestone goal in new participants starting the program (85) during YR2, only 53 have completed the training as of the end of YR2 (70% of the goal) increasing to 60 participants (80% of the goal) early in YR3. During YR1 (beginning in March 2016), thirty (30) new participants began the online training program with 15 completing it and receiving certification for a 50% completion rate. Two additional participants who started the training in YR1 completed it early in YR2. The majority of participants who have not completed the training as of the end of YR2 did view the required online videos and completed the online post-video summary assessment, but have never submitted a demonstration video (29 participants). Five participants submitted a first demonstration video but never submitted a second video addressing corrections requested by project staff. Four participants never completed the online post-video summary assessment despite having submitted acceptable videos (VT college class). The rate at which producers have completed the training program has improved during YR2 and the beginning of YR3. Participants live among 33 states and 3 Canadian provinces with the highest participation being from VT, Ontario Canada, MO, TX, MA, NY and VA (as of the end of YR2). In addition, about 20 people have inquired about the program since it was offered in March 2016, but have not taken the post-video summary assessment or submitted a demonstration video, though they may have watched the required online videos.
Interest in this training program has steadily increased during YR2 and continues with new email inquiries and requests to participate each week. Most participants learn about the program through an online search about the FAMACHA© system and/or integrated parasite control issues, including several referrals from the ACSRPC website. Others are referred to this program by their veterinarians or other producers and breeders, while some learn about it through Facebook groups, electronic newsletters (i.e. Maryland Sheep Breeder’s Association Newsletter, Winter 2017) and listserv announcements. In addition, the online presence has generated several inquiries from veterinarians who have obtained more information and resources to train, certify and provide FAMACHA© cards to clients. We have also received inquiries from producers and professionals in Australia, Finland, Switzerland, Guatemala, Greece and India and have provided project resources and contacts for more information.
We have also had interest in group participation in the form of a facilitated workshop, or within a 4-H club. The first inquiry came in August 2017 from a VT college, in which a class consisting of 10 participants (already in progress) requested assistance with the online training program. The class facilitator had guided the participants through the online videos and assisted with the making of each participant’s demonstration video. Six of the ten participants completed the training and received their certification. A second inquiry came from a 4-H club leader who would like to have club members participate in the training (winter 2018). A third inquiry, to be conducted in January 2018, comes from a Northeast Extension program in which the audience consists of participants with limited internet, technology challenges and/or who prefer group learning in a workshop setting. We will continue to develop a process during YR3 that efficiently adapts the online training program to accommodate facilitated group participation. We are excited about this new direction, because it is a novel application of this program that combines the benefits of the online approach with group-assisted learning and will ultimately result in more participants gaining access to and successfully completing this program.
6) 90 of these producers will implement or improve on-farm parasite control strategies (30/project year).
58 online training participants indicated in their program evaluation that they would like to adopt or improve upon the following parasite control practices as follows:
- 88% FAMACHA© Scoring
- 62% Fecal Egg Counts
- 55% Selective deworming
- 50% Genetic Selection – select animals with resistance to parasites for breeding
- 43% Genetic Selection – cull animals that are highly susceptible to parasites
- 45% Implement new pasture management strategies
- 41% Plant a forage containing condensed tannins.
- 43% Multi-species grazing
During YR2, a follow up survey administered through SurveyMonkey was emailed to 26 online FAMACHA© training program participants from YR1. Eleven participants (42%) responded as follows regarding adoption of parasite control practices:
- 91% adopted or improved FAMACHA© Scoring; 9% plan to adopt
- 63% adopted or improved fecal egg counts; 9% plan to adopt
- 63% adopted or improved maintaining a minimum four-inch pasture forage height (decrease exposure to parasite larvae); 27% plan to adopt
- 54% adopted or improved rotational grazing to limit parasite exposure; 36% plan to adopt
- 54% adopted or improved genetic selection for parasite resistance; 27% plan to adopt
The follow up survey will be sent to both YR1 and YR2 participants during winter 2018.
7) 360 SR producers will attend an integrated parasite control workshops (30/workshopx4 workshops/year=120 producers/year) and be certified in FAMACHA©.
This milestone has been partially met. Seventy-eight (78) producers, students and professionals attended one or more of 6 integrated parasite control workshops conducted during YR2. Fifty-nine (59) received FAMACHA© certification. During YR1, 64 participants attended one or more of 5 workshops and 41 received FAMACHA© certification.
An additional 208 producers, students and professionals received education on integrated parasite control, fecal egg counting and selective breeding for parasite resistance as part of 8 NSIP workshops (milestone 10). During YR1, an additional 56 participants received education on these topics at workshops focused on selective breeding for parasite resistance as part of milestone 10.
8) 135 SR producers will implement or improve on-farm parasite control strategies (45/project year).
The annual goal was met for this milestone. During YR2, 51 workshop participants indicated plans to improve or adopt at least one parasite control practice. During YR2, a follow up survey administered through SurveyMonkey was emailed to 54 workshop participants from YR1. Fourteen participants (26%) responded as follows regarding adoption of parasite control practices:
- 100% of responders adopted or improved at least one parasite control practice.
- 72% adopted or improved FAMACHA© Scoring; 7% plan to adopt.
- 61% adopted or improved genetic selection for parasite resistance; 23% plan to adopt.
- 58% adopted or improved fecal egg counts; 8% plan to adopt.
- 42% adopted or improved maintaining a minimum four-inch pasture forage height (decrease exposure to parasite larvae); 21% plan to adopt
- 43% adopted or improved use of oral drench dewormers only.
In addition, there were 5 producers who participated in the fecal egg count opportunity during YR1 that did not also participate in either the online training program or a workshop during YR1 (though they may have participated in a past workshop or project). Three of these participants (60%) responded as follows regarding adoption of parasite control practices:
- 100% had already adopted FAMACHA©
- 100% adopted or improved fecal egg counts.
- 67% improved genetic selection for parasite resistance.
- 67% plan to maintain a minimum four-inch pasture forage height (decrease exposure to parasite larvae).
The follow up survey will be sent to both YR1 and YR2 participants during winter 2018.
9) 1500 seedstock producers will be informed of four NSIP workshops that will be held the first two years of the project (Sept 2015 & Sept 2016).
This milestone has been met for YRs 1 and 2 through the general outreach conducted as part of milestone 1. Also during YR 2, additional targeted outreach was conducted through the NSIP program’s member listserv and Facebook page; through emails to contacts for 23 national breed associations affiliated with NSIP, and through Extension colleagues that assisted with 6 local NSIP workshops throughout VA, WV, PA and NY.
10) 200 seedstock producers will attend an NSIP workshop (estimate 50/workshop x 2 workshops/year = 100 producers/year).
This milestone has been met.
During YR 2, 208 producers, students and professionals participated in 8 workshops that provided detailed information about the NSIP program and the benefits and resources available to producers as part of enrollment and membership. In addition, presentations on integrated parasite control and selective breeding for parasite resistance were emphasized. These workshops were conducted in VA, WV, PA, NY and in Wooster, OH as part of the Eastern NSIP Sheep Sale.
During YR1, an additional 56 participants received education at 3 workshops on integrated parasite control and selective breeding for important production traits including parasite resistance.
Due to the interest and success of the YR2 NSIP workshops, plans are underway to organize and conduct another series of these workshops throughout the New England states during YR3.
11) 15 seedstock producers (10 YR1, 5 YR2) will enroll in the NSIP program and generate estimated breeding values (EBV) for important production traits.
A post-workshop evaluation and a follow-up email were administered to 113 participants who attended one or more workshops conducted in VA, WV, PA, and NY during March 2017. At least five producers enrolled in the NSIP program as a result of project workshops and outreach, at least 17 producers are planning to enroll, and at least 5 producers are utilizing or plan to utilize NSIP breedstock. Two additional producers attended an NSIP workshop and enrolled in NSIP during this past year, however, further follow-up is needed to confirm whether it is a direct result of our program.
12) 100 (33/year) producers from #6 and #8 will participate in FEC program to identify SR with genetic resistance.
This milestone has been partially met.
Producer outreach for the YR2 FEC program began in March 2017 with NSIP workshop participants and then accelerated using email list servs and Facebook posts beginning May 2017 through August 2017. Sixty-one producers from Northeast and other states responded with interest and received detailed fecal sample collection and shipping instructions, a sample submission form, and a link to sign up with more information about their farms and number of samples planned. Most of these interested producers were emailed with reminders and details about this opportunity at least two or three times. Fourteen producers (7 NSIP members who had not previously generated FEC EBVs) collected and submitted 652 FEC samples for analysis, with four of these producers submitting at least two or more sets of samples. Four of these producers also collected and submitted FEC samples for analysis during YR1.
During YR1, 48 interested producers received detailed instructions, with 16 producers collecting and submitting 346 FEC samples for analysis. In March 2017, an email was sent to these 16 producers for feedback on how the FEC results were used (aside from also receiving a follow-up survey). Eight producers responded to this email and all indicated that the results helped them with overall parasite management including selective deworming decisions and providing a baseline for genetic resistance information within their new flocks. Three of these producers directly used the results to make selective breeding and culling decisions last year, with one producer submitting the results to NSIP to begin generating FEC EBVs.
While the number of interested producers exceeds the target milestone, the number of producers that actually collect and submit FEC samples is less. As of the end of YR2, a total of 109 unique producers received detailed instructions and 25 unique producers have collected and sent samples (some producers have participated and/or received detailed instructions during both YRs 1 and 2. Communication with YR1 and YR2 participants indicates a few reasons for this including:
- Costs associated with overnight shipping of samples. A vacuum sealing option has been offered since YR1 to provide another alternative. We also offered to send the empty shipping containers back to producers during YR2.
- The need to collect and send samples at least 4 weeks after the animals have been dewormed. At least two producers had to deworm their flocks too often to meet this time requirement.
- Overall, it appears that the time needed to collect and ship the fecal samples during the busiest time of year overrides the interest and best intentions.
Milestone Activities and Participation Summary
During year 2, a follow-up survey was administered to YR1 participants; 19 out of 26 total respondents indicated that they have begun using or increased the importance of parasite susceptibility as a factor in their breeding decisions. During YRs 1 and 2, pre and post quizzes were administered at IPM/FAMACHA training workshops to measure knowledge gained; 135 participants performed better on the post quiz. During YRs 1 and 2, a post field day evaluation was administered to participants to measure knowledge gained concerning the anti-parasitic effects of cranberry vine; 26 participants indicated an increase in knowledge on this topic, 25 are somewhat interested or very likely to continue to follow the research and 20 are somewhat interested or very likely to feed cranberry vine when guidelines are established. During year 2, a post workshop evaluation was administered to National Sheep Improvement Program workshop participants; 37 participants indicated that they gained new knowledge about the NSIP mission, tools, resources, and use of EBVs, the majority of these participants also agreed that there are economic benefits to joining NSIP, that their tools are valuable and that selective breeding for parasite resistance is important.