Wormers Revisited

Dr. G.F. Kennedy

The questions just keep coming about sheep wormers which indicates to me that there are a lot of unsolved problems.

Question: My sheep are wormy, they have bottle jaw, some are scouring, a few are dying and a whole lot more don’t look that well. My first question is, how did they get this way?

Answer: Answers vary but almost every time they are lambs running on grass with their mothers East of the Missouri or Mississippi rivers.

Okay so whats the problem? I maintain that a lamb was never designed to utilize our soft wet grasses that are the home of the parasites, as well, when not in the sheep. For years, I observed early born lambs going to grass with their mothers and returning in the fall much thinner but not much heavier than when they went to pasture. Along came the Pipestone Lamb and Wool Program and I watched those lambs weaned at eight weeks full fed grain, never seeing pasture, never wormed, and gone to market on less than a 4 to 1 concentrate ratio. the same lambs raised under the other protocol ended up going to market same weight in November and December with an 8:1 feed conversion ratio and less of them. Whats the answer? If you got too much grass, buy more ewes.

Okay so whats the answer? I know the answer in my flock. I worm the ewes twice a year whether they need it or not. I use Dectomax when I bring them in in the fall and again when I send them back to pasture in the spring. I worm the replacement ewe lambs with Dectomax sometime after they come off full feed at 80 pounds. That’s it folks. It is that simple. I don’t have a parasite problem and used the same procedure when we had Suffolk’s, Rambouillet’s and Dorper’s and with different wormers and was successful with those breeds as well.

With our program, I can continuously control coccidiosis (another constant threat to pasture lambs.)

Let’s talk about wormers. The organic products are junk and not effective. I would consider using these products: Cydectin, Ivermectins, Prohibit, Dectomax, Noromectin, Noromectin Plus and Valbazen. All require rotation of pastures after usage to be effective and I am well aware that the farther south you go the greater the parasite pressure is. Dectomax is the most effective against the immature forms and Prohibit is effective against resistant worms but only effective against adults so needs to be repeated. Valbazen and Noromectin Plus are effective against flukes and should be used if flukes are a problem or feeder lambs originating in areas where they are a problem. Valbazen is effective against tape worms, which I believe are non pathogenic and will eventually create resistance and be eliminated anyway. All are safe in pregnancy with the exception of Valbazen. I don’t recommend any procedures for at least 30 days following breeding and prior to breeding as well, but two weeks prior is probably okay.

I am not into fecals and egg counts, I see little practical value. The FAMANCHA thing I find a poor system. Why would you allow an animal to suffer from clinical parasitism before it is treated? Seems to me this is a way to perpetuate parasitism and an animal welfare issue as well.

About Ask-a-Vet Sheep

Veterinary services, procedures, biologicals, and drugs mentioned in this publication represent the personal opinions and clinical observations of the contributing author. They are in no way intended to be interpreted as recommendations without the consent of the producer’s own practicing Veterinarian. We strongly urge that producers establish a patient-client-veterinarian relationship that allows extra-label use when there are no drugs approved for treatment or if approved drugs are not effective. This procedure allows veterinarians to go beyond label directions when “prudent use” is necessary. The limited availability of drugs and biologics in this country is a major factor in restricting the growth of the sheep industry and allowing producers to compete in the world market place.
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