Managing parasites in your small ruminants with FAMACHA

Spring is here and summer is right around the corner.  With a mild winter and a great deal of rain, we are seeing more and more parasites.  This is one of the largest problem facing breeders and managers of small ruminant herds.  Managing your deworming program for your goats and sheep is best done utilizing FAMACHA© scoring. You can take a free course on this here: 

The FAMACHA© Scoring System is a system that allows small ruminant producers to make selective deworming decisions based on an estimated level of anemia (low red blood cell concentration) in sheep and goats affected by barber pole worm infections. The barber pole worm is the most devastating parasite, from a financial standpoint, affecting small ruminant herds on pasture. The barber pole causes varying levels of anemia commonly known as reduction below normal in the red cells in the blood. In severe cases an infection can cause death. It is a big problem, particularly here in the gulf coast where we rarely get hard freezes. Worldwide anthelmintic (anti-parasitic) resistance has been reported in all current dewormers available to treat the barber pole worm and other gastrointestinal nematodes. We in the veterinary community are tracking this and doing what we can to reduce further resistance as very few new dewormers are likely to come out in the near future.  You can help by selectively deworming at your own property.

The FAMACHA©© system aids in selective deworming, minimizing the use of dewormers and slowing the rate of drug resistant parasite population development. The FAMACHA©© system also aids in selective breeding decisions by identifying those animals that are most susceptible to barber pole worm infection. Selective culling can be very helpful in keeping your herd from serious parasite problems that will require veterinary visits.

Once the certification is completed, you can purchase a FAMACHA© card from the same site. The FAMACHA© card is a tool that matches the color of the eye mucous membranes of small ruminants with a laminated color chart showing five color categories corresponding to different levels of anemia. This can allow you as a producer to develop a deworming strategy for your own property.

If you are seeing low FAMACHA© scores throughout your herd or dewormer resistance resulting in inability to lower your individual scores, that is the time to call us out. We can help you choose a better protocol and do fecal egg count reduction tests to determine the best dewormer/combination on dewormers for your property.

The biggest thing to remember is in our area especially, you are never going to have a parasite free herd. The best you can do is use the tools available to select the best individual animals, best dewormers, and most importantly, the best deworming protocol to help mimimize resistance in your animals.

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