Assessment of a Composite Herbal Feed Additive on Reducing Haemonchus contortus in a Dual Purpose Sheep Operation

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2021: $14,319.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2021
Grant Recipient: Fork You Farms, LLC
Region: Northeast
State: Connecticut
Project Leader:
Dr. Erin Masur, DVM
Fork You Farms, LLC


  • Animals: camelids, goats, sheep
  • Animal Products: fiber, fur, leather, meat


  • Animal Production: herbal medicines, parasite control, pasture renovation

    Proposal abstract:

    This project is a continuation of the previous project ONE20-371, which addressed the efficacy of a novel herbal feed additive against gastrointestinal nematodes in an alpaca operation. Gastrointestinal nematodes, specifically the “barber pole worm,” or Haemonchus contortus, are the largest threat to the sheep, goat, and camelid industries, both domestically and worldwide. Haemonchus contortus is responsible for high morbidity and mortality, meat and dairy production losses, high treatment costs, and poor pasture health. The previous project showed that the product "Early Bird" significantly decreased gastrointestinal nematodes during peak reproductive pressure in a healthy alpaca herd. However, the investigators wish to challenge this treatment method with a herd of sheep who are clinically affected at the onset of the study. The herd being utilized continuously experiences mortality due to Haemonchus contortus, as well as ongoing morbidities such as diarrhea and weight loss. In comparison, the previous project utilized clinically healthy animals with a low worm burden. This project will employ diagnostic methods more sophisticated than the previous trial in order to definitively speciate the nematodes present in the herd. The authors hope that by using a different species with a more detrimental parasite burden, and advanced diagnostics, we will have a better understanding of the limits of herbal parasite control. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to prove that the multidimensional herbal formula (known as Early Bird) used in a previous project can successfully prevent gastrointestinal nematode propagation, including Haemonchus contortus, in a clinically affected sheep herd, using advanced diagnostics. Colleagues who have reviewed results of the previous project have recommended that a second project be performed with these changes in order to define the limits of the product. This project will help veterinarians develop protocols for the usage of the product, and help farmers determine its worth to their specific operations. Depending on the scope of efficacy, the product will increase the meat, fiber, and dairy productivity of small ruminant and camelid operations by diminishing overall parasite burden. When dealing with parasite morbidity, these operations can expect decreased losses and less intensive nursing care of individuals when using this product. 

    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.