How Often Should You Deworm Sheep or Is It Even Necessary?

It is no secret that of all livestock species, sheep and goats are the most susceptible to internal parasites.

Some veterinarians would argue that all sheep are always in a state of “worminess” and that it is simply a matter of keeping populations of those worms as low as possible rather than getting rid of them completely.

This can be discouraging for the new herd owner, but it is a reality of shepherding that you need to be aware of if you want to be successful (and more importantly, your animals). keep healthy).

So how often should you deworm sheep? It varies, but it is likely to happen more often than you think.

Here’s what you need to know.

How often should you worm your sheep?

As I mentioned, expecting your sheep to eliminate all internal parasites is impossible, unrealistic, and frankly unnecessary. They can tolerate a small level of internal parasites that have no effect on their health.

However, if you live in an area where the weather is hot and humid (or if you’re working with sick or other sensitive animals), it’s important to know how often and how to disinfect your sheep.

The frequency at which you should apply an anthelmintic varies, but usually, it is once every 3-4 weeks.

That’s the simple answer.

The more complicated answer is that you need to fine-tune your worming program to meet the needs of your flock.

Lamb’s Timeline for Worming

For example, sheep that are lamb on pasture should be dewormed about 2 weeks before lambing. This is because the number of parasitic eggs increases dramatically both before and immediately after the lamb is hatched. The larvae will reproduce quickly when it comes time for the lambs to graze – and of course, this leads to further infection.

If you don’t deworm the lamb before, it should be when you feed the lamb. You should also move the sheep to fresh pasture to be safe.

Lamb should be wormed regularly, starting at 6 weeks of age. It is important to note that mature sheep are going to be more tolerant of worms than lambs.

Lastly, whenever you bring new sheep into the herd, you should remove the worm. Mixing untreated sheep with sheep that have already been treated will negate all your previous efforts to stop parasites in your flock.

Since it is so easy to overdose on anthelmintic sheep, I recommend using the FAMACHA system and deworming only when necessary. Look for people with pale eyelids and who are underweight. These are both signs that your sheep need to be wormed.

How long after worming the sheep are the worms removed?

In most cases, sheep expel the worms within a few days of treatment.

However, it may take up to 2 weeks for the full effect of the treatment to be seen.

Therefore, you should conduct a follow-up worm egg count approximately 2 weeks after soaking to determine whether your program has been effective.

What are the symptoms of worms in sheep?

There are several symptoms to look for to see if you suspect parasites in your flock.

Some of the most common include:

  • frugality – not eating, losing body position, or lagging behind the herd
  • weakness and lethargy
  • Severe anemia (as indicated by pale eyelids)
  • diarrhea and dander
  • Swelling under the jaw (bottle’s jaw) indicates excessive anemia as associated with a barber pole worm infection

Sheep under stress (drought, lack of fodder in winter, late pregnancy, and lactation, etc.) are as susceptible to worm infestation as young sheep.

What is the best wormer for sheep?

There are a few different anthelmintics that can be used on sheep. Within each class there are three classes of many types of worms. It is important to note that if a parasitic species develops resistance to one class, it will develop resistance to all worms in that class.

There are three classes:

  • benzimidazoles – Valbazen, Safeguard, Panacur
  • Avermectins: Evomec, Sideactin, Aprinex, Dectomax
  • Imidazothiazoles: Levamisole, Pyranteed, Morentel, Tramisol

You’ll need to touch base with your vet to figure out the best one for you, but here are some general tips:

  • Lamb should be worm-free with Cydectin (Mooxidectin) or Ivomec (Ivermectin)
  • Valbazen (Albendazole) is most effective on tapeworms but should not be used in pregnant sheep
  • Safeguard is not approved for use in sheep but is effective (especially for pinworms) and is often used off-label.
  • Cydectin does not cure tapeworms but is very effective in getting rid of roundworms
  • Prohibition (levamisole) is one of the most effective anthelmintic agents in the treatment of barber pole worm in sheep (causing severe anemia, or bottle jaw)

Here is a useful chart to help you get an idea of ​​the best product and dosage for your animal.

Tips for spoiling sheep

Now that you know when and how to worm your sheep, here are some tips for doing so.

1. Choose the Right Product

All types of anthelmintic are approved for use in sheep. Most come in liquid form, which is administered with a drench gun or syringe. However, you can also buy disposable tubes of anthelmintic paste.

The format is up to you – it’s the product type that matters most to get it right.

Check with your veterinarian to find the right anthelmintic for your animal. If you are raising sheep for meat or milk, be sure to check the withdrawal times for the drug.

You also need to give proper dosage. Before giving your sheep any anthelmintic medication, find out their exact weight.

Dosage for the heaviest in the group, rather than the average size. You need to be careful of overdose but taking sheep in moderation is more dangerous as it will not only be ineffective, but can also increase parasite resistance.

2. Use Handling System

One of our biggest challenges when deworming sheep is making sure you get the whole flock. However, for a parasite control program to be effective, each member of the herd must be treated.

When you have hundreds of animals it can be difficult to treat each member of the herd. Use a marking crayon or spray to indicate which animals have been treated. That way, you won’t miss a single sheep or a double dose.

Also, consider using handling systems such as pens, chutes, and corrals. This will make it easier to treat your sheep without chasing them or causing undue stress.

3. Come up with a Record-Keeping System

Whether you’re tracking animals in a spreadsheet, taking notes in a binder, or doing something else, make sure you keep reliable records so you’ll have a clear idea of ​​your parasite management program in the past, present, and future. Be.

Don’t rely only on memory. It’s all too easy to forget when you last dealt with a sheep, no matter how good you think your memory is. A record-keeping system would allow you to track the notes of symptomatic sheep or those who became ill or died due to the parasites. This information will be necessary for you to refer to as part of your veterinary care and breeding programs.

4. Low Stocking Rates

When there are fewer sheep, fewer animals in a given area will lay worm eggs. This reduces the parasitic load. Keep as many sheep together as often as possible to help reduce the frequency with which you need to release the worm and reduce resistance.

5. Rotate products

Don’t rely on just one product. This is a surefire way to make parasites resistant to the drug of choice.

Some producers discontinue products yearly, using Ivermectin one year and Levamisole or Prohibit the next. You can also switch each time you release the worm. It’s up to you, but make sure you don’t use the same thing every time.

6. Try “Dosage and Move”

Here’s the scary reality when it comes to parasites. A worm larva takes only 3 weeks from the time it is ingested from pasture until it becomes a fully grown, egg-laying adult. Because of this, if you give an animal a worm and then keep it in the same spot, it won’t help the overall worm condition.

Dose and move is a pasture rotation exercise in which you give your sheep a dose of anthelmintic, then move them immediately to fresh pasture.

This helps reduce your sheep’s reliance on anthelmintic drugs, which can reduce the number of parasites they have. Allowing them to graze in soils where there is an active parasite load will only make the parasite more resistant to whatever chemical you use.

Ideally, you should move them to a clean pasture (one that hasn’t been pastured in a year) but it should be at least an area where they haven’t been for several weeks or months.

Is Worm Sheep Naturally an Option?

Despite what I said above, sometimes it’s okay not to worm your sheep.

If you commit to a solid pasture rotation plan, meaning your sheep never graze short grass during weak periods in the height of summer, you can reduce their chances of taking in large amounts of worms.

When the grass is tall – that is, pastures have been rotated or fewer sheep are grazed in a given area – it is harder for sheep to be infested with worms.

You can also try multi-species grazing. Animals such as cattle and horses do not share worms with sheep and will help scrape some worm eggs from the pasture, leaving less for the sheep to pick.

Selecting sheep with good parasite resistance can help. Check your animal’s eyelids frequently for yellowness using the FAMACHA scoring system described above.

These are the most effective alternatives to using chemical wormers. Some manufacturers swear by things like garlic and apple cider vinegar. Although I’ve seen these take effect in animals like chickens and pigs, I haven’t had much luck with sheep – but since they’re not harmful in any way, they’re worth a shot.

Ultimately, solid pasture management is the best way to protect you against parasites. By regularly moving the sheep to fresh hay, you can help reduce the frequency with which you need to deworm your sheep.

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