Goats and sheep in Florida are especially prone to having issues with intestinal parasites. Unfortunately, with this warm and humid weather, we are in prime time to have issues with parasites in our small ruminant friends. We will do a series of posts regarding different parasites, parasite monitoring and control in small ruminants.

Bad Guy #1: Haemonchus contortus aka Barber Pole Worm

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  • Lives in abomasum (true stomach)
  • Blood sucking
  • Large numbers cause anemia, bottle jaw, weakness, decreased growth and death
  • Does not typically cause diarrhea
  • Sheep & goats are infected while grazing
  • How to monitor: check FAMACHA
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  • FAMANCHA scoring works by assessing the color of the goat/sheep’s eyelid mucosa. Pale mucosa is a sign of anemia due to parasitism.
    1. You cover the eye with the upper eyelid, push down, lower the lower eyelid and assess the color of the goat/sheep’s mucosa
    2. If the goat/sheep is on the pale end of the score, it is a good indicator that it’s time to deworm.
  • What to do if you notice your goat/sheep has a poor FAMANCHA score:
    • Barber pole worms tend to be very resistant to dewormers
      • It is not uncommon for us to see severe levels of parasitism even in animals that are regularly dewormed
      • We can actually worsen dewormer resistance by doing rotational or regular deworming.
  • We recommend deworming with a dewormer from one of these classes:
  • Approximately 14 days after deworming, bring in a fecal sample for analysis. If there is still a large amount of parasite eggs in the feces, then this is a sign that the parasite is resistant to the dewormer used.
      • Then, we deworm with a different class of dewormer- then again re-asses a fecal sample

Barber pole worms have the potential to quickly cause an animal to become anemic. Usually, unless aggressive therapies are started, then these animals tend to have a poor survival rate. The best way to improve your animal’s survival with these worms is to identify anemia early, then quickly deworm and double-check a fecal. 

For a more in-depth discussion of barber pole worms check out: https://web.uri.edu/sheepngoat/files/Why-and-How-To-Practice-Integrated-Parasite-Control-for-Sheep-and-Goats-_-Text-Only-Slides.pdf

This blog is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please contact Bayside Veterinary Services or your veterinarian for medical concerns.