New approaches for improving integrated parasite control strategies in the Northeast

2016 Annual Report for LNE15-342

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2015: $236,815.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2019
Grant Recipient: University of Rhode Island
Region: Northeast
State: Rhode Island
Project Leader:
Katherine Petersson
University of Rhode Island

New approaches for improving integrated parasite control strategies in the Northeast


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.

During year one of this project, extensive outreach was conducted using email list servs, electronic newsletters, social media channels such as Facebook and blogs, websites including the project website,, and through distribution of brochures and post cards to announce project resources and opportunities. The resources on the project website was visited by 6,698 new users worldwide, with 4,721 being from the U.S., and 1310 being from Northeast states. Thirty SR producers have completed the online component of the FAMACHA certification program and 15 of these producers have submitted video evidence of competency in the FAMACHA© scoring technique and received their FAMACHA© certification. Five workshops on integrated parasite control topics were attended by 101 producers; 41 participants received FAMACHA© certification. Three workshops on genetic selection that included information about NSIP, estimated breeding values and selecting for parasite resistance were attended by 56 producers. Sixteen producers collected and submitted FEC samples for analysis and received results along with an information sheet to assist producers in evaluating their breeding animals for parasite susceptibility. Evaluation of the anti-parasitic efficacy of feeding pelleted cranberry vine to lambs infected with the barber pole worm is ongoing.      

Objectives/Performance Targets

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.


1) 3000 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 has been met for YR1.

Due to the opportunity to develop a new and improved two-hour video, Why and How To Practice Integrated Parasite Control For Sheep and Goats (completed February 2016 with other Univ. of Rhode Island funding), major outreach for the key project components began in February/March 2016. A project brochure (over 1000) and two outreach post cards (2000 each for the online FAMACHA© training program and selective breeding/FEC/NSIP opportunities) were developed during January and February 2016 and widely distributed to Northeast Extension colleagues, 55 veterinarians, producer groups such as the Vermont Sheep and Goat Association and the Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association, at Integrated Parasite Control / FAMACHA© training workshops and other events such as the Big E, producer conferences, festivals and forums such as the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival, the Vermont Livestock and Grazing Conference, and the Southern New England Shepherd’s Forum. The URI Small Ruminant Parasite Control Facebook page, was established on February 4, 2016 and received 116 likes as of August 31, 2016 and continues to receive new likes on a regular basis. The newly completed two-hour video on integrated parasite control was published to YouTube on February 17, 2016, At this time, extensive outreach began to Northeast Small Ruminant Producers and Extension colleagues about project opportunities using Facebook, email listserves and electronic newsletters, and through distributing post cards in a number of ways, including a mailing to 55 veterinarians.  

The URI Website, Northeast Small Ruminant Parasite Control, was continually updated and maintained with project resources and events. The American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (ACSRPC) posted an announcement and link to the Online FAMACHA© training program, and the FEC analysis opportunity was listed on the home page under current events. It also contains the project videos on FAMACHA© scoring and fecal egg counts. Several producer groups also list announcements on their website pages, in addition to Facebook pages, such as the Vermont Sheep and Goat Association and the Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association.

Periodic reminders and additional outreach using all of these channels were made during the remainder of YR1 and will continue for the remainder of the project.

Online training materials in IPM 

Table 1_Summary of Website and Video Usage_NESARE LNE15-342 Year One

Table 2_New Website Users_LNE15-342 Year One

2) At least 2000 SR producers will visit the project website each year of the project.

This milestone has been met for YR1. The University of Rhode Island used Google Analytics to track project website usage between 9/1/2015 and 8/31/2016 (YR1, Tables 1 and 2). A total of 6,698 new users visited the website with 4,721 being from the U.S. followed by 283 from Canada, and another 364 being ‘not set’ or unknown. .

3) At least 1000 SR 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 year one (Table 1). Further data extraction from Google Analytics programming is needed.

The webpage that houses the fact sheets and other resources such as recordkeeping sheets and sheep and goat deworming charts ( had 341 unique page views (418 total) by users in the U.S. with 218 unique views (249 total) being from users within the target Northeast and neighboring states which is 64% of the unique views in the U.S.

While we can track unique and total page views on the website, we were not able to obtain information on whether the IPM fact sheets on FAMACHA© scoring and fecal egg counts (PDF files) were ‘clicked’ on or opened and downloaded. A request has been made with the URI information technology staff to program event tracking on these fact sheets, which will help provide information on file clicks and downloads. The URI information technology staff is currently investigating the programming needed to accomplish this task.      

Additional Facebook page posts and website home page announcements will be made to encourage fact sheet viewing. More focused efforts in directing users to the fact sheet webpage will be made through Facebook posts and when conducting further outreach on events and project opportunities. Links to the key IPM fact sheets have also been placed in more project webpage locations to provide easy access and encourage viewing.

4) 500 producers will view educational video s 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 year one. See summary of activity in Table 1.

The videos are housed on the URI project website ( as well as on the University of Rhode Island YouTube Channel Page (direct links provided on webpage).

  • Why and How To Do FAMACHA© Scoring video (run time 31 minutes): There were a total of 4,701 views and 31,301 minutes watch time. .
  • Why and How To Do FAMACHA© Scoring video clip: The ACSRPC requested that this 75 second video clip be made and included as a reference on the back of the new FAMACHAã cards that they are now printing in the U.S. The ACSRPC has generated a QR code that is contained on the back of the new FAMACHAã cards which takes a viewer to this video clip housed on the URI YouTube Channel page ( All SR producers and veterinarians that obtain FAMACHAã cards in the U.S. now have access to this video clip which demonstrates the correct FAMACHAã scoring technique on a sheep; and then also shows common mistakes to avoid.
  • Why and How To Do Sheep and Goat Fecal Egg Counts video (run time 72 minutes): There were a total of 3,935 views and 46,636 minutes watch time.

While this YouTube information can not specifically account for the number of participants who may have viewed each video in its entirety, the number of views, the watch time, the amount of time watched from embedded, external websites, and the amount of watch time accounted for by the U.S. and Canada suggests that project outreach has been effective in reaching target viewers. An inquiry has been made with the URI Dept. of Media and Communications to determine if we can drill down further with the YouTube tracking information to determine views and watch minutes by region, etc.  

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. This milestone has been slightly amended. Producers requested the option to submit a recorded video versus live assessment due to time constraints and project staff also determined that this would allow for better documentation and recordkeeping. Live video assessment is available for use if needed or requested

This milestone has been partially met for YR1.

As of August 31, 2016, thirty producers (60% from northeast or northeast neighboring states) have viewed the videos and completed the online post video summary assessment; fifteen of those producers have submitted acceptable videos and received their FAMACHA© certification. Four of the 15 producers who completed their certification needed to submit one or more corrected videos prior to certification. Our target of 75 producers/year completing the online training program would translate to a rate of ~6 producers/month therefore 30 producers over a 5 month period would mean that we are on track to meet this milestone. The majority of producers do well on the post video assessment scoring in the 90 to 100 points range with a few scoring in the 80 to 90 points range. Feedback is provided to the producers to clarify and reinforce concepts on any incorrect responses. The time it takes to submit an acceptable video and become certified can take longer. Follow-up, reminder emails are sent to all participants when approximately one month or more has lapsed since completing the online post video summary assessment. We are expecting that these producers will all submit videos and ultimately become FAMACHA© certified. Outreach and reminders for this opportunity are provided on the URI Facebook page, and while conducting outreach for workshops and events.

6) 90 of these producers will implement or improve on-farm parasite control strategies (30/project year).

A follow up survey will be administered to all online FAMACHA© training program participants one parasite season after receiving the training and then yearly after that for the duration of the project. Seven producers completed the online training program as of May 5, 2016 and will receive the follow up survey during winter 2017.

The online post video summary includes some optional program feedback. Twenty-three of the thirty producers (77%) who completed the online summary as of August 31, 2016 indicated that they would like to adopt or improve upon the following practices as follows:

  • 83% FAMACHA© Scoring
  • 57% Fecal Egg Counts
  • 57% Genetic Selection – select animals with resistance to parasites for breeding
  • 44% Genetic Selection – cull animals that are highly susceptible to parasites
  • 44% Plant a forage containing condensed tannins

 Integrated parasite control workshops:

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. One hundred one participants attended one of the 5 workshops held during year one; 41 producers received FAMACHA© certification.

Coordination is also underway for conducting IPC / FAMACHA© training workshops in northeast states outside of the New England region.

 8) 135 SR producers will implement or improve on-farm parasite control strategies (45/project year).

A follow up survey will be administered to all workshop participants one parasite season after receiving the training and then yearly after that for the duration of the project. Forty-three producers who attended workshops during fall 2015 and winter 2016 will receive the follow up survey during the winter 2017.

Focus on selective breeding:

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 through the general outreach conducted as part of milestone 1.

10) 200 seedstock producers will attend an NSIP workshop (estimate 50/workshop x 2 workshops/year = 100 producers/year).

This milestone has been partially met. Fifty-six participants attended one of the three workshops during YR1. Accelerated efforts are underway to recruit a larger number of seedstock producers to workshops occurring during YR2 of this project..

11) 15 seedstock producers (10 YR1, 5 YR2) will enroll in the NSIP program and generate estimated breeding values (EBV) for important production traits.

Efforts are underway to enroll seedstock producers in the NSIP program as well as promote and provide support for FAMACHA© scoring and FEC analyses for current NSIP producers that are not currently focused on generating EBV for parasite resistance.

 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 was conducted in August 2016 to accept and analyze fecal samples through September 2016. Forty-eight producers from Northeast states responded with interest in learning more about this opportunity and received fecal sample collection and shipping instructions and a sample submission form. Producers continue to respond to this opportunity and will be revisited during summer 2017. Sixteen producers collected and submitted 346 FEC samples for analysis and received results along with an information sheet to assist with interpreting the results.

Outreach for this opportunity will be conducted again in late spring/early summer 2017 to accept and analyze samples during July and August 2017. We expect to see a higher participation rate of producers with more notice and more time to collect and ship samples. The fecal sample collection and shipping instructions will be slightly revised to include a QR code as well as the YouTube links that take a viewer to a short video clip on how to collect a fecal sample. Two video clips have been generated from the project video on Fecal Egg Counts to coincide with two different shipping methods.

 Research accomplishments:

During the spring of 2016, two thousand pounds of cranberry vine (CV) prunings were obtained from a local cranberry grower. The nutritional analysis of the 2016 indicated an unusually high copper content, a mineral that has to be fed with care to sheep. During year two we will work with the local cranberry grower to determine if the high CV copper content is localized to a few bogs or is a characteristic of all the bogs on the farm. Due to the unexpected closure of the local feed mill slated to pellet the 2016 cranberry vine, the feeding trial of pelleted cranberry vine to lambs experimentally infected with Haemonchus contortus was begun in August of 2016 using a limited amount of test pellet made from 2015 CV. Efforts are underway to locate another feed mill that can pellet the CV. Analyses are ongoing.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Focused outreach has been effective for YR1. Over 3,074 small ruminant producers in the Northeast states have learned about the major project components and the online resources available on the project website through email listserves and electronic newsletters. Social media channels, particularly Facebook, have resulted in project announcements and information being circulated to numerous small ruminant producer groups, farm pages and other livestock and farm organizations throughout the Northeast region and country with as many as 3,300 people at a time being reached with a post. The project website was visited by over 6,600 new users worldwide, with over 4,700 being from the U.S. and over 1300 from Northeast states. Nearly 800 additional new users were from neighboring states and nearly 200 new users were from neighboring Canadian provinces.

As our outreach efforts continue to grow and new avenues of outreach continue to be developed it is expected that the number of producers completing the online FAMACAHA© Training program will continue to grow. The first online FAMACHA© Training program participant completed her training at the very start of the project and posted the following review on the URI Small Ruminant Parasite Control Facebook Page, 8/26/2016: “I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to take the online FAMACHA© course and be able to use it with my flock of Leicester Longwool and Gotland Sheep. There are very few resources in my rural area for small ruminant farmers. It was very complete and user friendly and I have been able to put it to work with my flock for a year now.” Similar comments have been made by other online training program participants. These producers have gained new knowledge, adopted new best management practices, and in doing so improved agricultural sustainability for SR GIN parasite control. This online training program has the potential to make a great contribution to the education of small ruminant producers not only in the Northeast but worldwide by reducing the number of small ruminants lost to gastrointestinal parasites as well a sharp reduction in the use of chemical anti-parasitics.

The components of this project focused on selective breeding for parasite resistance also has the potential to exert a tremendous positive influence on the sheep and goat industry. The focus on the use of EBVs for important production traits, including parasite resistance, for the selection of breeding stock will be of benefit to SR producers. The emphasis on enrolling more seedstock producers in NSIP and encouraging those already enrolled in NSIP to generate EBVs for parasite resistance will significantly increase the availability of breeding stock for SR producers interested in factoring parasite resistance into their breeding programs.

Finally, continued research into the development of anthelmintic feed supplements, such as CV, will provide producers with other alternative methods of parasite control than commercial dewormers.  


Dr. Joe Emenheiser
Livestock Specialist
University of Vermont Extension
327 US Route 302
Suite 1
Barre, VT 05641
Office Phone: 8024762003
Dr. Anne Zajac
Virginia Tech
Dept Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Phase II, Room 121
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Office Phone: 5402317017
Nick Miniter
Farm Manager
University of Rhode Island
1 Peckham Farm Road
Kingston, RI 02881
Office Phone: 4018744183
Melanie Barkley
Agriculture Extension Educator
Pennsylvania State University
120 W. John Street
Suite 2
Bedford, PA 15522
Office Phone: 8146234800
Dr. Reid Redden
Sheep and Goat Specialist
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
7887 U.S. Highway 87 North
San Angelo, TX 76901
Office Phone: 3256577324
Holly Burdett
Extension Research Associate
University of Rhode Island
120 Flagg Road
CBLS Room 383
Kingston, RI 02881
Office Phone: 4018742249
Dr. Jess Reed
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1675 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1284
Office Phone: 6082634310