Forage-based Parasite Control In Sheep and Goats In the Northeast U.S.

[ A USDA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative]

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Photo courtesy of tatiana Stanton, Cornell Sheep and Goat Program

Photo courtesy of tatiana Stanton, Cornell Sheep and Goat ProgramGastrointestinal nematode (GIN) parasites, such as the barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus), are a serious problem affecting small ruminant production throughout the Northeast region and world.  These parasites cause poor growth, anemia, and death in severe infections.
GIN parasites are a primary concern when raising sheep and goats on pasture, and many producers rely on the use of chemical dewormers to help manage the problem.  Not only has widespread dewormer resistance begun to occur, but organic producers are hindered by a lack of alternative parasite control options.

Consumption of specific forages containing condensed tannins (CT) has been effective to suppress GIN infection and provide adequate parasite control in some regions of the U.S.  The use of CT forages and other rotational grazing practices are promising methods for maintaining goat and sheep health and profitability in keeping with organic production principles.  This project has joined several land grant university researchers, educators, and farmers together to research, demonstrate and evaluate the potential of birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.) to suppress GIN parasites in the Northeast.  We will extend this and other pasture management practices to organic and transitioning producers.

2019 Update – Learn more about our new USDA NIFA Organic Transitions Program project entitled, Overcoming barriers to transitioning small ruminants to organic production:  Effects of feeding birdsfoot trefoil on parasite control, nutritional status & profitability, that builds from this project.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative under Agreement No. 2012-51300-03654
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