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What are effective tools for managing parasites in sheep?

Answer: In addition to pasture management, there are many tools for managing internal parasites. Due to the complex nature of parasite control, it is necessary to use multiple management techniques to combat the problem. The following are some tools that can be used to manage internal parasites. Using more of the tools will improve results.

– Use FAMACHA for classifying animals based on levels of anemia (according to eye mucous membrane color).

– Treat only animals with symptoms of anemia.

– Deworm selectively to reduce use of dewormers, which slows development of resistance and saves money.

– Remember that FAMACHA is only effective in the screening for H. contortus. Use the Five-Point Check to pick up signs of other parasites. Again, only treat animals with symptoms, not the whole flock or herd. (See ATTRA’s Tools for Managing Internal Parasites in Small Ruminants: Animal Selection.)

– Keep records to show which animals are more resistant or resilient, and retain those animals for breeding.

  • Selecting resistant animals
  • Alternative control methods

– Copper oxide wire particles have been found to reduce parasite loads in sheep and goats. (See ATTRA’s Tools for Managing Internal Parasites in Small Ruminants: Copper Wire Particles.)

– Forages with high levels of condensed tannins, such as sericea lespedeza, have been shown to reduce parasite loads. (See ATTRA’s Tools for Managing Internal Parasites in Small Ruminants: Sericea Lespedeza.)

– There are anecdotal claims that botanicals such as garlic, papaya seeds, pumpkin seeds, and herbal dewormers are effective means of parasite control. However, controlled research on these methods has shown they have no effect on parasites (O’Brien et al., 2012; Burke et al., 2009a,b)

The ATTRA publications linked here will provide more information. In addition, be sure to check out the Livestock and Pasture section of our website, where you’ll find a wealth of useful resources, including a section on Animal Health and Nutrition.


Burke, J.M., A. Wells, P. Casey, and J.E. Miller. 2009a. Garlic and papaya lack control over gastrointestinal nematodes in goats and lambs. Veterinary Parasitology. Vol. 159. p. 171-174.

Burke, J.M., A. Wells, P. Casey, and R.M. Kaplan. 2009b. Herbal dewormer fails to control gastrointestinal nematodes in goats. Veterinary Parasitology. Vol. 160. p. 168-170.

O’Brien, D.J, N.C. Whitley, J.E. Miller, J.M. Burke, K.K. Matthews, and M.C. Gooden. 2012. Effi cacy of pumpkin seeds and ginger in controlling gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) in meat goat kids. Unpublished paper.