Developing Sustainable Internal Parasite Control Programs for Small Ruminants
A detailed phone survey is being conducted with small ruminant producers in the Mid-Atlantic region. Survey questions covered farm demographics, farm management, anthelmintic usage and perceived anthelmintic problems. Preliminary analysis did not reveal any significant or suggestive differences. This may be attributed to difference response patterns between goat and sheep producers, particularly those who had beef cattle. Anthelmintic testing with a more detailed survey was continued on-farm by comparing fecal egg counts prior to and following treatment. Preliminary results for fenbendazole, albendazole and ivermectin indicated moderate to severe resistance. In contrast, levamisole and moxidectin were still relatively effective. Data suggest anthelmintic resistance is a serious problem.
- Survey development and implementation
On-farm survey and testing
Fact sheet development and distribution
Outreach workshop and presentations
Veterinarian survey and agent training
- While developing and testing the survey, it was decided that the information asked was going to be too complex for a postal survey. Therefore, we modified the procedure to conduct a 30-minute phone survey. During the first year, we developed and field-tested the survey instrument. Then we conducted and analyzed about 40 phone surveys. This information was presented as an abstract and poster at the Association of Research Directors 13th Biennial Research Symposium. Additional phone surveys will be conducted throughout the second year.
Some 10 farms were visited and detailed surveys and on-farm anthelmintic testing trials we conducted. Although the results are consistent, the weather was particularly dry this past year. This information was presented as an abstract and graduate student competition paper / presentation at the Association of Research Directors 13th Biennial Research Symposium. Additional on-farm trials will be conducted throughout the second year.
The above two accomplishments were the main Masters research for Ms. Michaela P.L. Dismann. She completed her thesis requirements and received her degree last December. Currently Ms. Dismann is continuing on the project as a research technician.
In spite of the preliminary nature of the results, four outreach presentations have already been conducted. These were at Virginia State University (fall regional ruminant nutrition conference), Virginia Tech, Blackstone AREC (fall tri-state small ruminant program for Central Extension District), University of Maryland, Keedysville AREC (fall tri-state regional ruminant nutrition conference), and Mid-Atlantic Meat Goat and Lamb Marketing Cooperative (fall board meeting and program). Numerous other programs will occur during the next year (a full workshop and four presentations have already been scheduled).
Fact sheets have not been developed, as the data are still preliminary.
So far, we have surveyed a couple veterinarians. Additional veterinarian contacts and in-service agent training are anticipated in the second year.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
- Producer response has been excellent. The producers that have participated in the survey are spurring an accelerated outreach effort. The ten programs that have been given or planned were a direct result of producer requests. This proactive producer initiative is driving an accelerating Extension program. Producer receptiveness for participating in the trials has appeared to accelerate.
There are direct and indirect cost savings to producers as a result of these trials. Direct savings are realized by discontinuing ineffective parasite control programs. In our survey, the average cost of anthelmintic was about $0.60 a treatment. Combined with on-farm testing results, it suggests that producers are spending between $1 and $3 per head annually on treatments that have little or no effect. With about 100 head per farm, this is a significant direct savings. In directly, parasite burden reduce weight gain and ineffective treatments would not remove parasites. Studies have suggested potential losses of 5 – 10 lbs per head for market lambs and kids. With current prices at $1 or more per pound, this represents considerable lost potential gain.
The on-farm trial created an opportunity for collaboration in food safety. A subset of the fecal samples collected for parasite analysis have been tested for potential human pathogens (Salmonella and E. coli 0157:H7). We are in the process of expanding these preliminary studies into a collaboration with Florida A& M and USDA-ARS.
Several unexpected outcomes were the recognition that our SARE trial received. First, Southern Region SARE chose it for their annual Highlights (in press). Second, there have been several requests for popular press articles related to these trials. One of these has been published in the Virginia Shepherd (January) and another is pending Mid-Atlantic Meat Goat and Lamb Marketing Cooperative newsletter (drafted). Third, the paper and presentation of this work by Ms. Michaela Dismann received a second place in the graduate student competition the Association of Research Directors 13th Biennial Research Symposium (March).
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Virginia State University
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