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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Plant Resources for Grazing Ruminants
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Impacting Health of Meat Goats and Sheep in Appalachia 

Among the most significant constraints on small ruminant enterprises are diminished production and animal death attributable to gastrointestinal parasite infections.  The principal culprit is Haemonchus contortus (barber pole worm), a species that has developed resistance to every class of pharmaceutical dewormers.  Because no new anthelmintic drugs for small ruminants are being developed, integrated parasite control strategies are crucial for sustainability of meat goat and sheep production.  Bioactive plants that can disrupt the parasite life cycle are considered essential components of this integrated approach, especially for small farms with limited management alternatives.  Our goal is to discover regionally adapted plants that can meet nutritional and health needs of small ruminants produced in the humid, temperate conditions of Appalachia.   We also develop management practices for these plant species.  Emphasis is on plant characteristics that adversely affect free-living stages of the parasite in pastures and on phytochemicals that are effective against parasitic stages in animals.  We investigate the antioxidant capacity of forage species to define plant resources that can improve immune system function of small ruminants, in response to gastrointestinal parasite infection.  Our research uses a systematic approach combining laboratory and field experimentation techniques to discover bioactive plants and plant compounds that are safe for use by grazing livestock.


CRIS Alignment to REE Research Area Priorities


Scientific Staff


Joyce G. Foster, Research Biochemist, Lead Scientist
Biochemical composition and anthelmintic properties of non-traditional forages and plant-based supplements


Kimberly A. Cassida, Research Agronomist
Production and management of condensed tannin-containing forages and control of gastrointestinal parasites in pastures


Jorge F. S. Ferreira, Research Horticulturist
Antioxidant capacity of forages and environmental effects on plant phytochemicals


Kenneth E. Turner, Research Animal Scientist

Phytochemical effects on rumen fermentation processes


Congressionally Mandated Specific Cooperative Agreement 
Mountain State University, Native Plant Resources for Small Ruminant Production


Mario R. Morales, Agronomist (plant breeding and genetics)
Cultivation, evaluation, breeding, and selection of native plant species for small ruminant forage and medicinal applications

Last Modified: 9/30/2010