Increasing the Use of a Natural Fungus (Duddingtonia flagrans) to Control Internal Parasites in Small Ruminants

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2021: $199,992.00
Projected End Date: 11/30/2024
Grant Recipients: Delaware State University; Virginia State University
Region: Northeast
State: Delaware
Project Leader:
Dr. Kwame Matthews
Delaware State University


  • Animals: goats, sheep


  • Animal Production: parasite control
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research, workshop

    Proposal abstract:

    Problem and Justification: Production and animal losses due to gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) infection, especially by the blood sucking Haemonchus contortus, is a major constraint not only to profitability, but also to sustainability of United State (U.S.) small ruminant operations. In the absence of vaccines, the only mode of control of GIN is the use of anthelmintics/dewormers. However, decades of relying on dewormer treatments for parasite control has led to the emergence of multi-drug resistant (MDR) parasites which pose a significant challenge to parasite control on small ruminant farms world-wide. Hence, there is an urgent need to identify novel approaches to control and reduce the impact of drug-resistant GIN on sheep and goat farms.

    Solution and Approach: The recent release of a new product in the U.S., BioWorma® and Livamol® with BioWorma® (International Animal Health Products, Australia), containing the fungus, Duddingtonia flagrans, offers an opportunity to reduce GIN on pastures and subsequently reinfection in grazing animals. BioWorma® contains only D. flagrans while Livamol® with BioWorma® is a feed supplement containing 2.2% of the fungus. Duddingtonia flagrans is a nematophagous fungus that is able to control GIN infections by capturing and killing immature larval stages before they migrate from feces to pasture, prohibiting their consumption by grazing animals. Utilizing this fungus in an integrative parasite control approach will help producers reduce parasite loads in their flock/herd significantly and limit their reliance on dewormer for parasite control. However, the current cost of feeding this product as recommended (at least sixty days during the transmission period) is a deterrence to most small ruminant farmers ($18 for a single 50 lb. lamb). Therefore, the overall objective of this project is to educate farmers on integrated parasite control strategies and demonstrate how best to utilize D. flagrans to reduce parasite infections and losses on sheep and goat farms. To achieve this objective, several outreach avenues will be used to present current research-based education on integrated parasite control strategies including the most effective treatment approaches. Additionally, research will be conducted on university and producer farms and results used to demonstrate different, possibly, more cost-effective, approaches to utilizing D. flagrans for effective GIN control.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Five hundred producers will attend field days and workshops both virtually and face-to-face to learn about dewormer resistance and parasite control in order to improve small ruminant productivity and increase profitability. One hundred will adopt the use of integrative parasite control (Five Point Check® system) on their farms. Another 20 producers will utilize BioWorma® on their farms to help reduce parasite loads. Adoption of techniques and the use of BioWorma® to control parasite loads will be utilized in 2,000 or more sheep and/or goats, saving an estimated $28.00 per head and reduce chemical dewormer usage.

    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.