Sustainable control of gastro-intestinal nematodes in organic and grass-fed small ruminant production systems

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2008: $230,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Joan Burke
USDA, Agricultural Research Service

Annual Reports


  • Animals: goats, sheep


  • Animal Production: parasite control, grazing management, preventive practices, grazing - rotational
  • Education and Training: extension, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, whole farm planning
  • Pest Management: biological control, prevention
  • Production Systems: holistic management, organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures


    Integration of non-chemical control of parasitic nematodes in organic small ruminants was developed. These included use of sericea lespedeza (SL), copper oxide wire particles (COWP), FAMACHA and selective deworming, and forage systems. SL supplementation or grazing both led to reduced parasite infection and need for deworming; coupled with COWP, no chemical deworming was necessary. Annual forages may not fit in well with organic principles if a prepared seed bed is necessary; however, increasing the protein in the pasture through the use of legumes reduced the need for deworming. Rotational compared with continuous grazing also reduced the need for deworming.

    Project objectives:

    1. 1. Examine the use of sericea lespedeza and other condensed tannin-containing plants, as fresh or dried forage (hay, pellets), for gastrointestinal nematode control in sheep and goats.
      2. Examine alternative forage systems for organic and grass-fed small ruminants to decrease gastrointestinal nematode infection and increase weight gains.
      3. Test integrated, forage-based gastrointestinal nematode control systems for organic and grass-fed small ruminant production on-farm.
      4. Complete impact assessment of non-chemical gastrointestinal nematode control techniques on small ruminant producers.
    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.