The Use of Controlled Grazing and two Herbal Treatments to Prevent Parasitism in Sheep and Goats

Project Overview

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2007: $14,967.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Ann Wells
Heifer Ranch

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bovine, goats, sheep


  • Animal Production: parasite control, herbal medicines, grazing - multispecies, preventive practices, grazing - rotational
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Production Systems: holistic management

    Proposal abstract:

    Internal parasites are the biggest disease problem of sheep and goats. The warm, humid climates in the South allow these parasites to produce and cause disease for more months of the year. In addition, the anthelmintics used to kill these internal parasites are losing their effectiveness because of resistance to them is developing in the internal parasites. In order for sheep and goat producers to be profitable, these two issues must be addressed and solutions found. It is imperative to design different management systems. There is also a need to determine if there are alternative therapies that are efficacious.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    There is no single answer, as producers have been accustomed to using chemical anthelmintics. Instead, producers must use a multi-pronged approach. Controlled or management intensive grazing provides a good management strategy for preventing parasitism in many sheep and goats. Grazing forage at a height that provides optimal nutrition also keeps livestock from ingesting high levels of parasitic larvae. Weather plays a role and rain events need to be monitored to determine rotations of livestock to prevent grazing pastures with high larval numbers due to moist conditions. Certain pasture plants have anthelmintic properties. How often and for how long livestock need to graze on these plants remains to be fully determined. Selecting for animals who exhibit a high level of resilience, being able to produce and perform even with internal parasites, has to be carefully done. Mixed species grazing helps to break parasite life cycles of both livestock species. Some herbal remedies appear to have an effect but dosages and frequencies of treatment are unknown.

    This project will address all of the above approaches. The sheep flock at Heifer Ranch has been rotationally grazed using controlled grazing techniques for three years. The rotations have been based on forage height, animals’ nutritional needs and presumed parasitic larval pasture contamination. Cattle have been grazed after sheep to help break the parasite life cycles. Chicory (Cichorium intybus) has been planted in one pasture as an anthelmintic treatment though grazing. A garlic juice preparation has been given to predetermined group of sheep for the purpose of determining changes in fecal egg counts and weight gains. This same garlic juice preparation has been given to sheep that have shown signs of parasitism, based on fecal egg counts, FAMACHA eye test scores and other clinical signs. Papaya seeds have also been given as a treatment following garlic juice treatment. This treatment has shown some astonishing results. Rainfall data have been recorded and plotted over the last 3 years. Each year has been vastly different but we have not changed our pasture rotations due to rainfall.

    Our goal is to have no clinical cases of parasitism in our sheep. But since that is very difficult to achieve given our climate we want to have some natural, non-chemical anthelmintics we know will work. Because of our success with our grazing management and the results of the garlic and papaya, we feel that these approaches can provide sheep and goat producers with some effective control measures.

    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.