Sustainable Control of Gastro-intestinal Nematodes in Small Ruminants

2007 Annual Report for LS05-177

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2005: $250,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
Thomas Terrill
Fort Valley State University

Sustainable Control of Gastro-intestinal Nematodes in Small Ruminants


The Southern Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (SCSRPC) met 2 times in 2007, at Virginia Tech (May) and Fort Valley State University (FVSU, October) to review on-going and planned research and outreach activities. Over 4775 FAMACHA cards were sold at over 350 producer workshops held throughout the USA, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands in 2007. Organically-produced sericea lespedeza (SL) hay was tested for efficacy against gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) in goats (USDA/ARS). The hay reduced fecal egg counts, improved blood packed cell volume, and weight gains in the animals compared to bermudagrass. Additional trials with SL included comparing SL leaf meal with SL whole plant meal at 25% of the daily intake of goats (FVSU). The leaf meal concentrated the anthelmintic effect, lowering fecal egg counts in the goats compared with the whole plant meal. A study comparing copper oxide wire particles (COWP) fed to sheep and goats grazing the same pastures (FVSU) showed the COWP to be equally effective in both species, lowering egg counts and adult worm numbers, and increasing anemia scores. In another study, COWP were successfully incorporated into feed pellets and fed to sheep and goats, with similar positive results. Work on CT analysis of different forages from throughout the southern US, PR, and the USVI was completed in 2007, and the first manuscript from this work was published. Several several other scientific and producer-oriented papers were generated from the project in 2007 as well. Hits on our project web site ( steadily increased in 2007.

Objectives/Performance Targets

1. Increase level of adoption of available sustainable GIN control strategies in the southeastern USA and PR by disseminating state-of-the-art knowledge and procedures, plus conduct cost-benefit analyses of these systems.
2. Investigate use of existing and developing novel non-chemical approaches for controlling GIN in small ruminants.
3. Develop and test sustainable small ruminant parasite control systems integrating conventional and novel GIN control strategies.


Over 4775 FAMACHA cards for on-farm use were sold at over 350 producer workshops throughout the southern USA, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands in 2007. Organically grown sericea lespedeza (SL) hay and SL leaf meal were both shown to effectively suppress gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) in goats (USDA/ARS, FVSU). Copper oxide wire particles (COWP), either fed as a bolus or incorporated into a feed pellet, were shown to be an effective anti-parasitic agent for both goats (FVSU) and sheep (LSU). The third year of SL grazing trials with sheep were completed in South Africa as part of this project, demonstrating the parasite-suppressing effects of this plant when harvested directly by animals. The producer in charge of this study made a presentation at a producer workshop at FVSU in February, 2007. All of the producer participants in this workshop (approximately 20) agreed to plant SL after hearing the presentation. Scientific manuscripts on the use of pelleted SL to control GIN infection in goats, and COWP for both sheep and goats were published in 2007. Other scientific publications were published on anthelmintic resistance and on-farm validation of the FAMACHA system. Producer-oriented publications on small ruminant parasite control in general and specifically on the use of SL and COWP as control measures were added to our group’s web site ( in 2007.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

The greatest impact of this work has been on increasing sustainability of small ruminant production in the USA, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands by reducing use of and dependence on chemical dewormers through the use of the FAMACHA system. This simple card, developed in South Africa, has allowed thousands of US farmers to reduce anthelmintic expenditures by approximately 80%, while improving herd and flock genetics for resistance to parasitic infection. Since the publication of our first paper showing the anti-parasitic potential of sericea lespedeza (SL) hay, there has been a tremendous resurgence of interest in this plant (also known as poor man’s alfalfa) as a low-input hay and pasture crop and natural anthelmintic for all classes of livestock. Many of the GIN control methods that have been tested and proven successful with goats and sheep as part of this project, including FAMACHA, SL hay, and copper oxide wire particles, are now being used to control parasites in other ruminant species, including llamas and alpacas, beef and dairy cattle, and exotic species, such as giraffes and other animals in zoological parks.


Mimi Williams

Plant Physiologist
Brooksville, FL
Ray Kaplan

Associate Professor
The University of Georgia
Department of Infectious Diseases
College of Veterinary Medicine
Athens, GA 30602
James Miller
Louisiana State University
Department of Pathobiological Sciences
School of Veterinary Medicine
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Office Phone: 2255789652
Elide Valencia

University of Puerto Rico
Agronomy Department
P.O. Box 9030
Mayaguez, PR 00681
Joan Burke

Research Animal Scientist
6883 S. State Highway 23
Booneville, AR 72927