“I just wormed him..

so why did he die?”

(ETA – none of mine died.)

I wrote and posted this entry a few days ago. I deleted it, as I felt it was an angry post. And angry is not my goal here. Strong opinions? you bet! Maybe even abit (and then some 🙂 ) opinionated? right again!

But, the statement, “I just wormed” , drives me up the wall. Take a breath, Linda, and relax.

I’ve heard more times than I want to count, “I just wormed, so why?”  Deworming is not a cure-all, even if your dewormer is still working for your flock.  All diarrhea is not due to parasites. Barber pole worms (haemonchus), one of the most common causes of death in lambs in this area, cause anemia, but not diarrhea. All anemia is not due to parasites (although, it’s a good guess in our area) Diarrhea can often be caused by coccidiosis – which is not treated by the usual dewormers and can be a real lamb killer.  I had an adult ewe a few years ago that picked up a bacterial infection which caused diarrhea. I saw nothing in fecs (fecal egg count). It took a trip to the vet for her (well, actually her fecal sample), who was able to diagnose her problem. I could have dewormed her forever and never made a difference.

Dewormer resistance is a huge problem here in the southeast. This is largely a result of scheduled whole flock worming .  My first sheep were some crossbred meat sheep. I purchased them from a local Suffolk breeder. He told me I HAD to worm every six weeks, which is what he did. But, the reason he had so many crossbred lambs for sale was because his high dollar Suffolk ram was so out of condition due to a heavy parasite load, that the Hampshire clean-up ram he picked up at an auction caught most of the ewes. Hmm….? That was 16 years ago. Since then, I’ve taken the FAMACHA course at University of Georgia and the fecal testing workshop at SAFF and read and watched alot. I’ve seen flocks that had a parasite population that was resistant to all three classes of dewormers. I’ve purchased sheep from a NY flock that never wormed. I’ve learned the difference between parasite resistant and parasite tolerant.

Politely, not angrily…
If you deworm, take a few minutes to be sure the sheep needs worming (I love my cheapie $125 microscope), take a few minutes to see if the deworming works – 10 or so days later.  Immediately after deworming, you’ll see about a zillion (okay, I do exaggerate) parasite eggs in a fec. If you do scheduled dewormings, I would prefer (I’m being polite here) that you deworm three days before I come to get the sheep.  If you’ve got a lamb looking kinda dopie off in a corner, consider more than parasites or the heat. If you’ve got two sheep with the same fec and one looks great and one isn’t thriving, think abit about selecting for a hardy sheep.

And here I come to the finale – still politely–

Please – do not think that deworming is the answer for every time a sheep is abit off color.  Please – don’t jump to deworm everytime a sheep has diarrhea. Do you deworm your children or yourself everytime you have a tummy upset?  Don’t think that just because you dewormed that you don’t need to monitor your sheep.


About patchworkfibers

Registered Jacob Sheep
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4 Responses to “I just wormed him..

  1. No, none of mine died. 🙂

  2. FarmGirl says:

    Did I miss something? At the beginning of the post, you wrote “so why did he die?” Did a lamb of yours die?

    My father-in-law raises market lambs and worms every 21 days or so until they need to be off of them for slaughter. I’m shocked by it. I have yet to buy wormer for my little flock. One wether has been an entire year without worming. I rotate pastures every 1 to 2 weeks usually, not coming back to a pasture for over a month which is long enough for the worms to hatch and move on.

    I also took the FAMACHA training and the fecal egg count training and learned SO much.

    Thanks for your post!!

  3. Wow Linda, I can’t imagine worming as much as that fella did. I check eye lids often and do fecals several times a year at the vets for $15. each. It would probably be to my and my sheeps advantage to get a cheapy scope like what you have to do my own. Would you mind telling me what you have and what you use to identify them. Many thanks…

  4. Great post Linda!!! I am shocked/amazed/horrified at how often some people worm their sheep.

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