Use of Herbs as De-wormers for Sustainable and Profitable Production of Sheep and Goats Under Natural Grazing Conditions
Using natural herbs as a low cost substitute for synthetic chemical dewormers in feed for sheep and goats is a big plus to reduce the fecal egg count. There are only three commercial dewormers on the market, and many flocks and herds are becoming resistant. The three groups of chemical dewormers; benzimidazoles, avermectin, and milbemycins are very costly and time consuming as they have become less and less effective for controlling internal parasites in sheep and goats. Blood sucking stomach worms are the number one problem for producers of sheep and goats in the hot summer months.
In this project, wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) plants were grown in the greenhouse, cut and dried and fed to the sheep and goats in the project from May to October of 2009. There were four groups of sheep and goats, Dorset wool sheep, Katahdin hair sheep and Boer meat goats were grouped as a control group receiving no treatment, avermectin, a commercial dewormer, a commercial combination of natural herbs and wormwood raised in the greenhouse at Lincoln University.
Weights of sheep and goats was taken at the beginning of the project in May, fecal egg counts, hematocrits, and FAMACHA®, looking at the eyelid color from red (1) to white (5) to help determine anemia were taken each month throughout the trials ending in October 6, 2009. Throughout the season, the fecal egg counts increased and hematocrits decreased as the FAMACHA® scores also increased indicating lowering of the red blood cells in the sheep and goats. FAMACHA® scores are subjective and hematocrits are objective measurements. Differences in Dorset wool sheep, Katahdin hair sheep and Boer meat goats was observed throughout the season (P<.0001) in 2009 in hematocrits, FAMACHA® weight and fecal egg counts when statistically analyzed by SAS. Wormwood is recommended as a dewormer for sheep and goats compared to a commercial dewormer.
1. The artemisia family, Asteraceae of plants with identified anthelmintic activity was selected for this study. The vegetative or floral parts of the plant have reported to have anthelmintic effects. The Artemisia absinthium (wormwood) seed is available in the United States. Artemisia herba alba seed did not germinate in the greenhouse and Artemisia vulgaris seed was not available for purchase. These three Artemisia species reported anthelmintic properties in the literature. Artemisia absinthium grew very well in the greenhouse throughout the spring, summer and fall. The herbs were grown under greenhouse conditions (21-25 degrees C) ambient temperature and 70/90% day/night humidity throughout the duration of the project to ensure a continuous source of high quality and clean plant material. The selected species were propagated vegetatively to maintain true-to-type plant material. The plants were dried without heat after being grown to maturity in well-drained organic potting medium and maintaining a uniform growth rate with a balanced mineral and nutrient supply and irrigated as needed. The herbs were fed to the three groups of sheep and goats from May to October 2009 comparing the control group to the wormwood plant group, commercial mixture plant group and avermectin, the commercial sheep and goat dewormer. The herbs were added to the grain mixture and fed to the sheep and goats at pre-determined dosages related to animal body weights from May to October. The hot weather blood sucking worm is generally not a problem except in the hot summer months. Blood samples were taken to determine the objective measurements for red blood cells and objective weights of sheep and goats at the same time as well as weights and FAMACHA® scores, a subjective measurement for determining anemia.
2. ANIMAL BREEDS
Hair sheep, Katahdin sheep of which Missouri has the highest number of registrations, Dorset wool sheep, a meat breed and Boer goats, a meat breed of goats imported from Africa in 1993 into the United States. The number of Boer goats is increasing each year throughout the United States because they lay down meat at a faster rate than other breeds of goats. Dorset sheep are a white faced meat breed that will breed out-of-season. The Katahdin hair sheep breed is growing in southern Missouri where there is much oak and hickory in trees that produce shade and brush can get into the wool and be a problem in sheep bred for their wool.
3. CHEMICAL ANALYSIS OF THE HERBS
The herbs grown in the greenhouse were analyzed for organic carbon, total nitrogen, metals, volatile oils, non-volatile oils and major active compounds such as santonine and thujone, as reported by (Skyles and Sweet, 2004, Perez-Souto et.al, 1992). Collected samples were analyzed for santonin and thujone with both aqueous and organic solvent extractions and found to be zero. A Shimadzu Total Organic Carbon/Nitrogen analyzer was used to analyze the total organic carbon and nitrogen. Analysis of the active compounds in the herbs was carried out using a combination of gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. The herbs were dried at room temperature, ground and subjected to both aqueous and organic solvent extraction. These will be repeated with the frozen samples.
4. EVALUATION OF THE EFFICACY OF THE HERBS ON THE CONTROL OF INTERNAL PARASITES
A total of 119 Katahdin hair sheep, Dorset wool sheep and Boer meat goats were used on the trials in 2009. They were raised on primarily fescue grass and monitored following treatment with herbs grown in the greenhouse and a commercial dewormer with a mix of herbs, avermectin, the chemical dewormer and a control group. The animals were divided at random. Physical indices monitored included changes in physical and pathological indices. Physical indices monitored included: change in body weight, general mood of the animals, color appearance of the gums and eyelids for anemia using FAMACHA® cards, a subjective measurement to compare to actual values of the pathological indices measured using standard hematocrit procedures, an objective measurement.
Effects of the herbs on the immune system were monitored by measuring immunoglobins. Pathological indices measured include changes in the imunoglobulins from fecal egg population from May to October and changes in fecal protein levels. The immunoglobins were no different in each group in the research trials; 1)control groups, 2) Artemisia absinthium (wormwood), 3) mixed commercial herbal group and 4) avermectin group of Katahdin hair sheep, Dorset wool sheep and Boer meat goats.
The FAMACHA® cards named after its South African developer Francois Malan. The method consists of a plastic card featuring five high-resolution photographs of the eyes of sheep ranging from 1 to 5 with 5 representing severe anemia. The 1 represents red eyelids, less red a 2, pink a 3 and 4 a light pink with 5 representing white eyelids of severe anemia.
The dose of the herbs and avermectin was determined by the weight of the animals.
5. TRANSFORMATION STUDIES OF CHEMICAL COMPONENTS OF HERBS
Blood and feces samples from each animal were collected every four weeks from May through October, 2009. Results of analysis were compared between the wormwood, commercial herbal group, avermectin group and control group of Katahdin hair sheep, Dorset wool sheep and Boer meat goats. Frozen samples will be analyzed with organic solvents, methanol, acetone and chloroform. The extracts will be loaded unto HPLC and GC/MS systems and analyzed using appropriate columns. Results of analyses will be compared to those obtained on the herbs to develop a picture of the transformational pathways and mechanisms.
6. GREENHOUSE STUDIES ON THE HERBS
A greenhouse study of the herbs was carried out to establish at what point in the plant growth process the active ingredients were synthesized of synthesized maximally ingredients to be dried for deworming sheep and goats. The herbs were transplanted into pots and collected every two weeks and dried and frozen for analysis. The highest level of nutrients was at the bloom stage of the plants in the greenhouse.
7. HERBS AND SUSTAINABILITY OF GRAZING OPERATIONS
Artemisia absinthium (wormwood) grown in the greenhouse is to be planted outside to integrate the overall grazing operation of sheep and goats in 2010. The effect of direct planting of herbs on grazing lands on both the control of internal parasites and sustainability of the grazing land will be evaluated in 2010. Bitter herbs are not consumed by sheep and goats and this study will evaluate different mixed planting strategies that will ensure the unintentional consumption of the herbs along with the main food of the animals, in this case, the fescue, Kentucky 31.
8. COMMERCIAL FIELD EVALUATION AND FARMERS’ INVOLVEMENT
In 2010, two farmers in Newton County are participating in a study in their pastures to determine the effectiveness of grazing plants on deworming sheep and goats. The project places premium value on farmers’ participation. The sheep and goats will have fecal samples collected and blood samples taken for hematocrits. The animals are receiving a commercial anthelmintic and comparing grazing. FAMACHA® cards will also be used to determine a subjective measure of the eyelid to held determine anemia.
9. STATISTICAL ANALYSIS
Results of this study were subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA) using a recognized statistical package such as SAS. Statistical analysis compared dose response to herbs, avermectin and the control group. Comparisons of breeds of animals, time of year and dosage was completed. Results showed differences in months in all three breeds of Katahdin hair sheep, Dorset wool sheep and Boer meat goats in weight (P<.0001), FAMACHA® values (P<.0001) and fecal egg counts and hematocrits (P<.0001).
10. INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY
This project was executed as a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional partnership involving personnel of Lincoln University and Xavier University of Cincinnati, Ohio, involving scientists with expertise in animal science, analytical chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology and the extension service. The Chemistry Department at Xavier University provided much needed advice on various analytical instrumentation and functional Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) machines. Lincoln University provided the farmland for rearing and grazing the sheep and goats as well as the animals. The hydroponic greenhouse facilities were available at Lincoln University for growing the plants and analysis for the study.
1. One species of the Artemisia family, Asteraceae, was grown in the greenhouse and fed to Katahdin hair sheep, Dorset wool sheep and Boer meat goats in this study and compared to a control, a commercial dewormer and avermectin, a commercial dewormer. Artemisia absinthium and Artemisia herba-alba seeds were available. The Artemisia absinthium grew very well in the greenhouse. Artemisia herba-alba was planted twice and failed to germinate both times, so was not included in the project. It was getting too for a third planting. The Artemisia absinthium grew very well in the greenhouse conditions (21-25 C) ambient temperature with humidity of 75/90% day/night throughout the duration of the project. The herbs were dried at room temperature and ground into powder without any heat to add to the grain mixture of pre-determined dosages related to animal body weight. The sheep and goats grazed throughout the trials on mixed pastures of primarily fescue, Kentucky 31 and some red clover.
2. Katahdin hair sheep, Dorset wool out of season sheep and Boer meat goats were used in this study. The Boer goats were imported into the United States in 1003. There were 119 animals used in the study in 2009. The use of the three animal breeds was to establish the existence of variation in both the incidence of the disease due to worms and tolerance of the different treatment groups and regimens. The Katahdin hair sheep breeds have the largest number of registrations in the United States in the state or Missouri. Missouri is very suitable as a state for hair sheep with the large number of hickory and oak trees in the abundant forests in the southern part of the state of Missouri. The blood sucking barberpole stomach worm causes many losses in our state throughout the hot summer months. Dorset wool sheep that breed out of season when other breeds rarely do to any extent are very popular and are the only white faced meat breed in the United States. Goats are reported to have more problems with barberpole stomach worms than sheep and the dosage was increased in the goats in this trial. The breed is very popular in our state and is a meat breed imported in 1993 with great musculature and high growing ability in the goat breeds adapting well in the Midwest region.
3. Analysis of the herbs was carried out with total organic carbon and nitrogen and mineral analysis and will be repeated with frozen samples.
4. Comparisons of the control of internal parasites was accomplished from May through October of 2009 with 119 animals in the three breeds, Katahdin hair sheep, Dorset wool sheep and Boer meat goats. Responses to the treatments of a commercial herbal dewormer and Artemisia absinthium grown in our Lincoln University greenhouse, avermectin, a commercial dewormer and a control were measured. FAMACHA® was compared with blood drawn and hematocrits measured. The FAMACHA® method is named after its South African developer Francois McIan. The color of the eyelid determines the subjective measure of anemia with red being a 1, two, not as red, 3 being pink, 4 being light pink and 4 being white indicating low red blood cells in the animal. Immunoglobulins were analyzed from blood samples and showed no statistically significant differences. Neither the avermectin nor the Artemisia absinthium had any effect on the immunoglobulins.
5. Pathological indices measured were taken from May through October of 2009. Changes in fecal egg count populations on the groups showed significance from May through October (P<.0001) as well as FAMACHA®. No values were shown in the analysis for collected samples of plants with solvent extractions for santonine and thujone.
6. Greenhouse herbs grew well for the past two years. The plants were cut and dried each month from May through October of 2009.
7. Commercial Field Evaluation and Farmers’ Involvement. Two farmers have been identified in Newton County to work with the project on deworming sheep and goats in 2010.
8. Statistical analysis-Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) using SAS employed on all studies. This included statistical analysis for dose comparisons between control, commercial herbs, greenhouse grown herbs and avermectin, the commercial sheep and goat dewormers. Statistical analysis was conducted on all data from May through October of 2009.
9. Institutional Capacity. The project has been executed as a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional partnership involving personnel of Lincoln University and Xavier University of Cincinnati, OH with expertise in animal science, analytical chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology and the extension services.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Wormwood is a natural herb that is a low cost substitute for expensive synthetic chemical dewormers such as avermectin selected for this project since it is a well-rounded commercial dewormer.
Katahdin hair sheep, Dorset wool sheep and Boer meat goats were compared In this project for effects of dewormers on weight, fecal egg count, hematocrits, FAMACHA®, immunoglobulins, plant effects, commercial approved dewormers and resistance. Resistance of the internal parasites has been reported by the Food and Drug Adminstration’s (FDA) currently I approved dewormers.
The wormwood plants were grown in the greenhouse at Lincoln University. Artemisia absinthium was very prolific and plants were dried from May through October of 2009.
The sustainable rearing of sheep and goats using natural herbs is a long-term outcome from this three year study. The results of this study will be shared with sheep and goat farmers with the positive outcome in 2008-2009 results. Three years of data are needed to make recommendations to farmers.