Worming Sheep

Worms, worms, perhaps all the FHAMACA and parasite resistance isn’t working. About every second question we get now is about worms and bottle jaw. Lets talk about bottle jaw, this condition is caused by fluid collecting  evenly in the intramadibular  area. This develops as the result of anemia. Anemia is the result of blood sucking stomach worms. Other chronic diseases and chronic disease conditions may cause severe anemia, Johne’s being one of those disease. Localized infections can be confusing as well.

In  response to my critics that promote parasite resistance and FHAMACA programs good  luck and I question the animal welfare aspects of their procedures. Would you tolerate worms in your child as long as they didn’t  kill him. We get criticized in the pig business for our confinement methods but we have no mange and very seldom worms. How can you allow an animal become parasitized to the point that it compromises health and production and becomes a source of infection for the balance of the flock before you take action.  My position as a veterinarian is to do my best to see that animals are treated humanely and given a chance to survive. No animal should be left behind.

In my camp I am going to recommend the use of wormers and pasture rotation. Along with this recommendation I am going to suggest that if you are located in a warm or humid area the lambs should not go to pasture. If ewes and lambs are held in dry lot and weaned at 8 to 10 weeks of age and fed to market you expect lambs to go to market in 120 to 150 days of age and a feed conversion of 4:1 or less. Run them on grass, wean at weights at not much higher than the 8 to 10 week weight, stand the death loss and if lucky get an 8:1 feed conversion. Worms and coccidiosis are no longer a problem and much easier to control worms in the ewes. If you have to much grass, run more ewes. that is an expansion program that works and the Pipestone Lamb and Wool Program is on going proof that the system works.

Wormers I like: as long as we stay away from copper wire and organic junk they all work if programed to each individual production situation. I ignore the tape worms as eventually animals develop resistance and they are expelled. Tape worm segments are often observed in fecal material and thy may indicate the presence of stomach worms if animals haven’t been wormed. That takes Valbazen off the list unless dealing with liver flukes. Cydectin and Ivomectin products work but I prefer Dectomax as an injectable or Prohibit as a drench. Dectomax is the most effective on undeveloped migrating larvae and Prohibit is effective against adults only and said to be the most effective against resistant worms. Makes sense to me to use Dectomax in the fall when coming off pasture and drenching with Prohibit prior to going to grass in the spring.

In my flock I use Dectomax spring and fall. I don’t worm lambs until they are pulled off self feeder and retained for breeding stock. I have done this successfully with several breeds over the years and with other wormers 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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