Use of Herbs as De-wormers for Sustainable and Profitable Production of Sheep and Goats Under Natural Grazing Conditions

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2007: $146,522.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Helen Swartz
Lincoln University
Arlene Stewart
Lincoln University

Annual Reports


  • Animals: goats, sheep


  • Pest Management: general pest management


    This project increased awareness of researchers and producers alike on the potential of natural herbs as low cost substitutes for synthetic costly chemical de-wormers of warm weather intestinal parasites of Katahdin hair sheep, Dorset wool sheep and Boer meat goats that results in many deaths of sheep and goats. The three groups of chemical de-wormers currently approved for sheep and goats by the Food and Drug Administration are experiencing internal parasites developing resistance.

    Effects of natural herbs on the immunoglobulin (IgG) showed no ill effects. Sheep and goats producing meat, milk, cheese and wool consumed in this country fed wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) had a positive result when fed wormwood. The commercial ground powder of wormwood was increased four times the recommended dosage and fed to sheep and goats with no negative effects observed. Immunoglobulins (IgG) were not affected by feeding wormwood, all within the normal range, therefore no ill effects to the immune system was observed in any way as the wormwood had a positive effect on controlling parasites in sheep and goats.


    The number one problem of sheep and goat producers in Missouri in the hot summer months is the blood sucking internal parasite Haemonchus contortus that sucks blood making animals anemic followed by death. Meat goats are the fastest growing commodity in Missouri. The state has 80,000 small farms with sloping land well suited for grazing with sheep and goats. Cattle, sheep and goats are commonly grazed as cattle prefer grass, sheep prefer forbs (weeds) and goats prefer browse plants. The biggest challenge to profitability and sustainability in the grazing season are the internal parasites that suck blood. Internal parasites have been commonly treated with pharmaceutical drugs such as avermectin. The parasites have developed resistance to the common drugs approved on the market today. Natural herbs such as wormwood were shown to control internal parasites in a study in Pakistan (Igbal et al., 2004). Effects of wormwood fed to sheep and goats on the immune system and the animal’s ability to overcome stomach worms needs to be researched in this country. Wormwood specie has a long history of use as a medicinal herb dating back several centuries in de-worming sheep and goats in the hot summer months. The cost of de-worming a sheep or goat is $45 using commercial dewormers compared to $4.00 to de-worm with wormwood. The effects of wormwood on the immune system measuring immunoglobulin (IgG) is important as the immune system must function to help control internal parasites.

    Project objectives:

    1)To increase awareness of herbs as an alternative de-wormer compared to a commercial de-wormer, avermectin.

    2)To observe the increase of recommended herbal de-wormers to monitor toxicity.

    3)To measure immunoglobin IgG to determine the effects of feeding wormwood on the immune system of sheep and goats.

    4)To measure weight gain or loss in A)control, B) wormwood group C) commercial de-wormer group of Boer meat goats, Katahdin hair sheep and Dorset wool sheep.

    5)To observe HAMACHA compared to hematocrits on red blood cell count and anemia.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.