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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: A Systems Approach to Control Gastrointestinal Nematodes (Gin) in Organic Small Ruminant Production

Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The objectives are to examine farm management systems for year-round gastrointestinal nematode control, identify resistant animals to minimize problems with nematode infection, conduct on-farm studies on the feasibility of techniques developed from research studies, and educate outreach professionals and producers on adopting available organic gastrointestinal nematode control strategies in small ruminants by disseminating state-of-the-art knowledge and procedures.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
The impact of continuous use of integrated methods that have been developed by these investigators previously will be examined using a systems approach in a long-term experiment. Groups of sheep or goats using different control strategies will be managed separately for at least four years, and infection level and production efficiency will be measured. Forage systems (including sericea lespedeza and birdsfoot trefoil) will be examined to minimize parasite infection. Genetic selection for resistant sheep and goats will be examined by correlating fecal egg counts of parents and offspring, and selected sires will be used to generate stock with a greater resistance to parasites. Integrated approaches described above will be examined on-farm by producers who will submit information on the success of approaches employed.


3.Progress Report:

Management to optimize sustainability of small ruminants on pasture was addressed. Scientists from USDA, ARS Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center (Booneville, Arkansas), and Louisiana State University, funded by USDA, NIFA OREI, are examining the effects of sericea lespedeza leaf meal pellets on the control of coccidiosis in goat kids, an economically devastating parasitic disease that affects livestock and poultry. Coccidiostats are often ineffective and are not allowed in organic production. Condensed tannins from sericea lespedeza reduced the number of protozoan parasite (Eimeria spp.) oocysts found in the feces of kids and reduced the clinical signs of coccidiosis. Reduction of coccidiosis will increase feed efficiency and reduce death loss of livestock. Concurrently, these scientists are examining the long-term effects on production of administering copper oxide wire particles or feeding of sericea lespedeza to aid in the control of gastrointestinal nematodes in sheep and goats. Gastrointestinal nematodes are the greatest threat to the health of young lambs, kids, and adult females around the time of parturition. Dewormer resistance means many commercial drugs are ineffective. Incidence of deworming is reduced in sericea lespedeza fed animals; however, long-term feeding may affect mineral availability to the animal. An understanding of how this impacts the animal is currently under investigation. The mechanism of action of condensed tannins in sericea lespedeza on worms has not been determined. Adult worms recovered from sericea lespedeza-fed goats were examined for evidence of surface damage using scanning electron microscopy. Although not consistently, there was damage to the outside surface on some of these worms, but no damage from worms recovered from control goats. This suggests a direct effect of sericea lespedeza on the cuticle of the Haemonchus contortus or barberpole worm. Education modules are being developed for live or online student training and online farmer training regarding the control of parasitic worms using organic and conventional methods. Outreach is also being conducted.


Last Modified: 9/2/2014
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