Online FAMACHA© Certification

Cover, Push, Pull, POP!

Use of the FAMACHA© system allows small ruminant producers to make deworming decisions based on an estimate of the the level of anemia in sheep and goats associated with barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus) infection. The barber pole worm is the most economically important parasite affecting sheep and goat production on pasture and the most common cause of anemia during the grazing season in most of the U.S.  It has a small “tooth” that lacerates the animal’s stomach (abomasum) wall, and it feeds on the blood that is released.  This can result in anemia, (reduction below normal in the number of red cells in the blood) and in severe cases, death.

Endorsed by ACSRPC

The FAMACHA© card, developed in South Africa, was introduced to the U.S. by the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (  This online training program was developed by Dr. Katherine Petersson and Dr. Anne Zajac, DVM, members of the ACSRPC, as part of a Northeast SARE grant being administered by the University of Rhode Island.  The ACSRPC fully endorses the program for those who are unable to attend a workshop.     

The FAMACHA© card is a tool that matches the color of the eye mucous membranes of small ruminants with a laminated color chart showing 5 color categories that correspond to different levels of anemia.  Category 1 represents “not anemic” with category 5 representing “severely anemic.”  The FAMACHA© system uses the scores determined with the card to identify and selectively deworm sheep and goats with anemia.  Selective deworming minimizes drug use and slows the development of drug resistant GIN parasites. It can also aid in selective breeding decisions by identifying those animals that are most susceptible to barber pole worm infection.

Online FAMACHA© certification can be obtained through a 4-step process.  You must be 13 years of age or older to participate.  Please read through all of the instructions before starting this online training program and then begin with Step 1.  Click here for a PDF print version of these instructions Online FAMACHA Scoring instructions_10.17.2017

1.  View the 2 hour video on Integrated Parasite Control and the 30 minute video, Why and How To Do FAMACHA© Scoring.  Visit our website, to access these videos. The videos can be viewed in sections at your own pace. Complete an online post-video summary administered through SurveyMonkey. Email project staff (see bottom of page for contact information) to obtain the link to the summary and state that you have watched both of the required videos.  Project staff will review responses to the online post-video summary and follow up with participants.

2.  Practice the COVER, PUSH, PULL, POP! technique demonstrated in the online video, Why and How To Do FAMACHA© Scoring. This technique allows you to correctly use your FAMACHA© card for anemia scoring. To mimic a FAMACHA© card, cut an index card or other stiff paper or cardboard to 3.5 X 4.5 inches. Using a red marker, draw a thick (1/2 inch) red line on the long side of the card.

3.  Make and email us a video demonstrating your mastery of the COVER, PUSH, PULL, POP! technique following the instructions below.  If the video file is too large to send in an email, project staff will set up a temporary share folder to upload the file to using Google Drive or Dropbox, etc.  We do need to have the video file for our records.

  • You will need help making the video, so enlist friends or family members.  It is okay to have help restraining the animals and/or holding the index card.
  • To start – introduce yourself to us by stating your name, date and that you are demonstrating the proper handling of the animals for FAMACHA© scoring.
  • Demonstrate the correct procedure on a sheep or goat. Make sure that you zoom in to provide a clear, steady, easy to see close-up of the COVER, PUSH, PULL, POP! technique on both eyes using proper positioning and using your thumbs.  Proper exposure of the eye mucous membranes must be evident from the video.  An easy way to tell if you are using enough pressure when you COVER and PUSH is that you should see that the eyelashes of the upper eyelid are curling up over your thumb.
  • Hold the card next to the mucous membranes and state whether the color is darker than, lighter than or the same color as the red line on your card.
  • Be sure to demonstrate the technique in natural light and be careful that you do not shade the eyes with your body while exposing the membranes.  Remember to do both eyes.
  • Repeat the procedure on a second sheep or goat.

4.  Project staff will follow up through phone and/or email, as needed, to discuss and ensure proper technique. Live video sessions using Skype™ or FaceTime can be utilized when needed.

Upon completing the 4-step online training program listed above, the participant will receive a Certificate of Competence in the use of the FAMACHA© anemia scoring system. The certificate will enable participants to purchase a FAMACHA© card through the University of Rhode Island.  The price of the FAMACHA© card is subject to change.  Details will be provided upon completion of this online training program or email project staff for more information.

Contacts for Online FAMACHA© Certification:


Holly Burdett, Research Associate I
Dept. Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science, University of Rhode Island
Phone: (401) 874-2249 (Tuesday and Thursday)
55 Peckham Farm
Kingston, RI 02881

Dr. Katherine Petersson, PhD, Animal Scientist and Project Leader
Dept. Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science, University of Rhode Island
Phone: (401) 874-2951
120 Flagg Road, CBLS Room 177
Kingston, RI 02881

For more information about the FAMACHA© System, view our fact sheet, Why and How To Do FAMACHA Scoring, and visit the American Consortium of Small Ruminant Parasite Control.

For more information about this online education program, as well as opportunities for assistance with selective breeding for parasite resistance, visit our project page – New Approaches for Improving Integrated Parasite Control Strategies for Small Ruminants in the Northeast.

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program Project LNE15-342, and USDA NIFA Hatch Project 1007290.
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