Lambs in a pasture

Controlling Sheep Parasites with Alternative Dewormer Treatments

Javier GarzaJavier Garza

Louisiana State University

SARE grant: Effect of copper oxide wire particles compared to copper sulfate on Haemonchus contortus infection in lambs (2009)

Where he is now: Post-Doctoral Fellow, West Virginia University's Parasite Immunology Lab

Overuse of dewormers to control internal parasites in sheep has made certain parasites resistant and almost impossible to manage. This poses a serious threat to profitability for farmers, and has caused many researchers to focus on finding alternative treatments.

At Louisiana State University (LSU), Javier Garza used a 2009 SARE Graduate Student grant to research alternative treatments for the gastrointestinal nematode parasite Haemonchus contortus. This parasite is a blood feeder that impacts profitable small ruminant production in the Southeastern United States and worldwide. “The problem has become so severe that it is threatening viability of small-scale and limited-resource small ruminant farm operations despite continued high demand for sheep and goat products,” Garza says.

Garza’s project compared the efficacy of two cost-effective treatments of H. contortus infection: copper oxide wire particles and copper sulfate. He found that copper oxide wire particles was the more efficacious treatment. Some producers, knowing of copper sulfate’s low cost and possible effectiveness, were putting it in feed every day to keep copper levels up. This practice concerned Miller and Garza because it can cause toxicity through the accumulation of copper in the liver, which destroys blood cells. So, their project focused on administering these copper-based treatments as a drench, not through feed. They found that administering copper oxide wire particles two times at five-week intervals provided effective control and caused no liver toxicity.

As a result of their work, numerous sheep producers have inquired about using copper oxide wire particles for controlling H. contortus infections. Their feedback has been positive and encouraging, say both Miller and Garza.

Garza’s research teamed him up with LSU professor James Miller, who has made good use of the SARE Graduate Student grant program in his work to evaluate and promote alternative, non-chemical methods for controlling parasites in small ruminants.

Miller has served as advisor on four Graduate Student grant projects, a program he views as important for generating data to support hypotheses about alternative strategies. Plus, “we’ve found no bad results yet,” he claims.

Miller stresses the importance of the four graduate student projects in providing sheep producers with an integrated set of alternatives, rather than attempting to identify a single solution. “Producers want the best treatment, but there isn’t a best treatment,” Miller says.

The other SARE Graduate Student grant projects Miller has advised include:


See Garza's scholarly publications at profile/Javier_Garza2.

The Small Ruminant Toolbox

For an exhaustive collection of information for small ruminant producers and educators, check out the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)'s Small Ruminant Toolbox. The toolbox includes many publications, presentations and other resources that will be helpful to small ruminant producers.

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