Friday, April 10, 2015

FAMACHA Training

Wednesday evening Maddy and I went to a FAMACHA training class put on by Penn State and held at the sheep barn at Delaware Valley University. FAMACHA is a diagnostic tool useful in determining which sheep/goats need deworming. The program is based on assessing the color of an animal's mucous membranes (mostly the lower eyelid) using a patented color card to diagnose anemia. Anemia is very helpful in assessing for barber pole worm infection.

The barn itself was impressive. There were at least three different types of sheep (we didn't go through the whole barn) and I was able to get some pictures of the hay mangers I want to build.
Side view-
The course started with a power point presentation covering internal parasites, their life cycles, management techniques to prevent the spread of worms, etc. Dr Wolfgang, from Penn State, spoke in a little more depth on other principles of management including refugia and Targeted Selective Treatment (TST.). Refugia is the term for populations of worms in untreated sheep and the subsequent larvae on pastures. Leaving worms that have not been exposed to the anthelmintics helps to reduce build up of resistance to wormers by diluting the numbers of worms that survive treatment.  Another part of TST is FAMACHA scoring.

We then went over to the sheep and assessed the color of the mucous membranes of the lower eyelid of a sheep.
She was very cooperative!

Inside the classroom the assistants had been busy preparing fecal egg count slides from the fecal samples the participants brought. They also showed us how to prepare samples ourselves. Of course my sheep sample was the only sample with worm eggs, 1750! At least the goat sample I brought was clean.  Dr Wolfgang gave some recommendations for treatment and I'll be getting the vet out, again.

I have been mulling over in my mind how to do my own fecal egg counts. It is recommended to keep a "low background parasite burden"  and only treat animals when necessary i.e., if becoming anemic. This strategy should help decrease the development of resistance to anthelmintic drugs. But having the vet's office do routine fecal egg counts on all my sheep and goats on a routine basis could get expensive. Preparing the sample is not that difficult and only requires a few simple tools. The most costly tool is a microscope. I am spoiled by the microscopes at work so a cheap microscope might just be too frustrating for me. 

All in all it was a great class and we learned a ton of very useful information. When I look back to what I knew about sheep four months ago I see huge growth, but there is still a long way to go.

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