Specialist explains how to prevent parasites in ruminants
Small ruminant specialist and junior livestock specialist Dr. Chelsey Ahrens discussed with local farmers Friday how to detect parasites in small ruminant breeds.
Ahrens is originally from Lamar and grew up on a cattle and sheep farm. She said internal parasites are one of the most common problems in small ruminants.
“It’s because small ruminants are so susceptible to them,” she said.
She said forcing the ruminants to eat on the ground can be a huge issue because it is forcing them to eat worms.
“We also tend to overcrowd them and we cause the parasite resistance problem because we’re treating them and maybe they didn’t need to be treated,” she said. “We also have environments, especially here in this part of the world, where these worms thrive because it’s warm and it’s moist.”
Ahrens said ruminants are sometimes not kept in good condition. She said that could be because they are overcrowded and don’t have the proper nutritional plan.
Ahrens explained the life cycle regarding how certain parasites enter a ruminant’s body.
“It gets ingested and then it goes through their system and they defecate onto the ground and when they eat that grass those worms are on the grass, and it’s just a continuous cycle,” she said.
She also discussed the different types of worms that can enter both sheep and goats.
She said the one to really worry about is the Haemonchus Contortus, also known as the ‘barber pole’ worm.
Ahrens said this is because it is a blood-sucking worm.
“It’s the one causing the anemia, and one day your goat is fine, then the next day it’s dead,” she said.
She said these worms are very prolific.
“They can lay 5,000 eggs per day, per female, so it just multiplies constantly,” she said.
She said 75 percent of larvae live in the bottom two inches of grass and 90 percent of larvae are in the bottom four inches of grass. She recommends not grazing below four inches.
“Once you graze below four inches you’re getting into your parasites,” she said.