Oregano oil for internal parasite control in sheep, goats, and beef cattle

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2008: $9,914.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
Diane Schivera
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association


  • Animals: goats, sheep


  • Animal Production: parasite control, grazing management, herbal medicines, grazing - rotational
  • Education and Training: demonstration, mentoring

    Proposal abstract:

    Internal parasite infestation is a major problem for many livestock farms. Primarily, it impacts farm economics by reducing the growth rates and weight gains for young animals. Coccidia (Eimeria spp) one type of internal parasite, are intracellular parasites. There are many species of coccidia. They are species specific in their infestation but more than one species of coccidia affects each livestock species. Good management including frequent rotation of lamb pastures and not allowing weaned animals to be grazed where adult animals have been for a least a year will help control parasite and coccidial oocyst infestation in young stock. But many small livestock producers are not able to practice the most effective management methods because of a reduced land base. Another limiting factor for farmers with small herds or flocks is that each animal becomes more precious, often becoming a pet. The occurrence of coccidiosis in these management systems becomes so predictable, that coccidiostats are administered prophylactically. Parasitism is a major limiting factor for farmers who would like to become certified organic to receive that additional income from the sale of their livestock. These farmers with small limiting systems would benefit from a certifiable method of coccidiosis control. Regano is an oregano oil based product that has been tested in Italy on adult meat goats and beef cows as a coccidiostat. The studies are titled: Efficiency of Oregano Essential Oil in Coccidiosis Control of Chronically Infected Goats, Baricco G.1, Rambozzi L.2, Birolo M.2, Menzano A.2, Rossi L.21 Veterinarian practitioner2, Dipartimento di Produzioni Animali, Epidemilogia ed Ecologia, University of Torino, Italy and Observations on a Test of Year-Old Calves with Regano® Carried Out from the Lombardic Consortium Veneto with the Supervision of the University of Milan, Italy. Adapted from a Report Written by Giuseppe Baricco, March 30, 2006. In these initial studies Regano has been shown to be effective at reducing the coccidia load for the test animals in the studies. I would like to test the product on four farms: one beef, one Boer goat and two sheep farms. One is milking sheep and the other Kathadins and Suffolks, both being raised for meat. The tests at each farm will be done on the young stock since those are the animals most seriously affected. This product can be used prophylactically so it will be practical on small livestock operations with the limitations mentioned in the previous section. I am hoping to achieve an additional goal with this study. Since fecal tests are being done, we will be able to see if the treatment affects the levels of any other internal parasites. If there is any possibility that this product affects the survival of other internal parasites, it will be even more valuable. It would be very useful for these small farmers to have a product that would have multiple uses in reducing the livestock’s internal parasite infestation. The use of this product can improve the sustainability of the livestock farms using it. They will be able to have a product that improves the animal’s production levels and the farms profitability. This can be done without the use of a chemical that will promote resistance to the drug. It also limits the farmers’ market. They cannot sell to either the natural or organic markets.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The project will be basically the same at all 4 farms. Each farm will have 30 animals involved in the study, 15 treated and 15 controls. I will go to the sheep and goat farms and work with the farmers to make final adjustments in the arrangements for housing the animals. Deanna Potter will work with David Potter for the beef herd. At approximately four weeks of age, each young animal in the group will have an initial fecal sample taken. They will also be body condition scored. The kids and lambs will be FAMACHA scored. The scoring is done to be sure the animals are not losing condition as a result of the treatment method. The test group will then be given the Regano in their normal ration at a rate of .9gm/100lbs daily. The control group will be kept on a site that has like conditions to the test group, including the population of oocysts.

    I will go to each goat and sheep farm to assist with the initial mixing of the treatment ration. I will also go to each farm for the additional fecal collections and scoring.

    The primary difference at each farm is related to the life cycle of the Eimeria. It behaves slightly differently in each livestock species. The project is structured to account for this difference. The last fecal at 64 days or 8 weeks will account for a prepatent period of 3 weeks. This will give an indication of the effectiveness of the Regano on any parasite that could have been ingested on pasture. The goats will be fecal sampled on days 0, 20 and 64, sheep at 0, 25 and 64, the calves at 0, 30 and 64.

    I will collect the goat and sheep fecal samples and take them to the Diagnostic Laboratory at University of Maine in Orono. Deanna Potter will take the beef samples. Quantitative and qualitative tests will be run.

    After all the data is collected the statistical analysis will be done on the results. Effects of treatment and farm will be compared for each animal species by a Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) where time is the repeated measure, using the PROC GLM module of PC SAS. Reference: SAS/STAT Guide for Personal Computers, vers. 6. SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC.

    It will be done in the late winter and spring of 2009, since the grant will not be received until after the late winter and early spring births of livestock in 2008. The beginning date on each farm will depend on the dates of birth. It will proceed for 8 weeks. After the last fecal exams are done the data will be analyzed within one month and the final report will be written.

    How will you disseminate your project results?

    An article, available for publication in newsletters will be mailed to each livestock and farming organization in New England including MOFGA, all the NOFA’s, Maine Sheep Breeders Assoc., other state sheep and goat organizations, and state beef organizations.

    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.