The Use of Controlled Grazing, Chicory Pasture and Herbal Treatments to Prevent Parasitism in Sheep and Goats, Phase II

Project Overview

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2008: $14,941.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Ann Wells
Heifer Ranch

Annual Reports


  • Animals: goats, sheep


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, grazing management

    Proposal abstract:

    Internal parasites are the biggest disease problem of sheep and goats, especially in the warm, humid climates of the south. Parasites are often fatal, detrimentally affecting the sustainability of small operations. The anthelmintics typically used to kill internal parasites are losing their effectiveness because of increased resistance. Without proper grazing management, pastures continue to be spots for parasite infestation, further compounding issues. In order for sheep/goat enterprises to be economically viable and ecologically sound, treatments must befound which can work when parasites become resistant to the commercial anthelmintics. There is a dire need to determine what alternative therapies are most effective and under what conditions. Our goal still is to have no clinical cases of parasitism in our sheep. The cooperator farmers feel the same way. But since that is very difficult to achieve given our climate we must find out if there are some natural anthelmintics that 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. At Heifer Ranch rotational grazing and following sheep with cattle on pastures is ongoing. At lambing, approximately 90 lambs will be randomly assigned to three groups. One group will be continuously grazed; a second group will be given papaya seeds weekly for 6 weeks; and a third group will be grazing chicory pasture on a mostly continuous basis. FAMACHA scores will be recorded biweekly with FECs conducted periodically throughout the trial period. In Oklahoma, lambs will be divided into 3 treatment groups at all farms: a garlic/walnut hull treatment, a papaya treatment and chicory grazing treatment. FAMACHA scores will be recorded biweekly with FECs conducted periodically throughout the trial period. For this trial, a different garlic preparation is being used, combining the garlic juice with green walnut hulls which have been reported to have anthelmintic effects. The chicory pasture treatment at each location in Oklahoma and Arkansas will be grazing the chicory for at least a month with fecal egg counts and FAMACHA scores recorded on all sheep when they go into the pasture and at seven and 14 days after the grazing period ends.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Through the SARE funded on-farm research project titled “The Use of Controlled Grazing and Two Herbal Treatments to Prevent Parasitism in Sheep and Goats,” Heifer Ranch documented the benefits related to controlled grazing techniques in preventing parasitism and herbal treatments (garlic juice and papaya) for treating parasites in sheep and goats. We found that high rainfall areas, such as occurred in the summer of 2007 caused a much higher risk of parasitism which necessitated the need for greater management. With higher rainfall, the garlic was not as effective as it had been in the previous two years of use when there was very droughty periods during the summer months. However, even in the higher rainfall periods this year, the rotational grazing portion of the trial on all farms involved in this project successfully prevented high levels of parasitism in the sheep and goats.

    The discovery by one of the cooperating farmers of multiple anthelmintic resistance occurring in her flock, greatly illustrated the necessity of finding some other effective treatment. We also found that the grazing of a chicory pasture improved the health of grazed animals but didn’t have a measurable effect on fecal egg counts and FAMACHA scores. Papaya seeds also decreased death loss, but too few animals needed treatment to fully understand its effect.

    As a result of these findings, we feel there is a need for further testing of both the management strategies of controlled grazing and use of a chicory (Cichorium intybus) pasture as well as additional trials on two alternative treatments. These treatments are papaya seeds, and garlic juice with green walnut hulls added. We have seen the benefits of controlled or management intensive grazing which has provided a good management strategy for preventing parasitism in many sheep and goats. But we need to have some side by side trials of continuously grazed pasture along with controlled grazing to quantify that benefit. Certain pasture plants have anthelmintic properties. How often and for how long livestock need to graze on these plants remains to be fully determined.

    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.