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


    This project is a culmination of 6 years of work, using rotational grazing and animal selection as the primary methods of controlling internal parasites in small ruminants.

    Using these two strategies has shown that we can control most internal parasite problems. It is a systems approach, that requires planning and monitoring to stay ahead of the problems. Culling has to be strict and has to be continued from year to year. Rainfall can be a real problem, but by moving livestock right after a rainfall, then parasite problems can be kept to a minimum.

    During this time, we have tried numerous alternative treatments. Chicory and sericea lespedeza plantings have been done and have shown good results in animal performance and decreased fecal egg counts. Sericea has been difficult to establish in central AR. Livestock are rotationally grazed on established chicory pastures, but are still on chicory all through the parasite season. It's unclear how much chicory needs to be in a pasture to be an effective control.

    Other treatments that have been used are an herbal product called Molly's Finest, papaya seeds and whole papayas, a garlic juice preparation called Garlic Barrier and finally cayenne pepper and a Garlic Barrier-black walnut tincture-tobacco tincture. These treatments have been given using a control and treatment group, monitoring FAMACHA scores and fecal egg counts. Molly's Finest did nothing to stop parasite loads from reaching lethal levels. Garlic Barrier is a good tonic, but doesn't help with parasite levels. Papaya seeds did not have enough of an effect and were difficult to administer. The Garlic Barrier-black walnut tincture-tobacco tincture and the cayenne pepper were the only things that showed any promise and will be used on more producer farms this year, combining the pepper with the other mixture.

    However, it needs to be strongly cautioned that we have found no treatment that by itself, can prevent death loss in small ruminants. Rotational grazing and animal selection must be used to stay ahead of internal parasite problems, especially if there are no effective chemical anthelmintics available or if a producer wishes to raise organic small ruminants.


    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.

    Project objectives:

    To further test the grazing of chicory as an anthelmintic.

    To test cayenne pepper and a black walnut/tobacco tincture/garlic juice preparations as anthelmintic treatments, to be used as needed.

    To determine, with the use of cattle and sheep alternately grazed, how little treatment is needed.

    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.