Spring Babies, Showers…& Worms

This spring has been filled with lambing, kidding, rain showers, & {unfortunately} stomach worms.

Ewes & nannies began lambing & kidding in March. Fields & pastures have been filled with lambs & kids. We have also received numerous rain showers. Unfortunately, these rains bring stomach worms for sheep & goats.

Most flocks/herds have dormant parasites in them, but may never show symptoms until ideal conditions occur {rainy, wet, warm}. Worm survival conditions improve during warm, wet weather or when a ewe or nanny’s ability to resist parasites declines {i.e. during lambing or kidding}. At this time, the worms liven back up. Spring arrives & stomach worms begin to lay eggs {as many as 10,000 a day} spreading them across pastures through the animal’s manure. The eggs then hatch into larvae. Wet weather helps move them from the manure to plant leaves where other animals eat them. This allows them to complete their life cycle.

Internal parasite management is a key concern for sheep & goat producers. Stomach worms are ravenous bloodsuckers & will destroy the lining of the stomach to access the bloodstream. The destruction of the lining of the stomach can cause colic {abdominal pain}, diarrhea, anemia, weight loss, & possibly death due to the animal’s inability to digest feed completely. A wormy nanny will sometimes ‘kick off’ or quit nursing her kid due to her poor health. Ewes are less likely to abandon their lambs.

sources: Texas A&M AgriLife, Oregon State Extension

Ewes & nannies were drenched {treated} for stomach worms at shearing time earlier this year. However, with the recent wet, warm weather some still became ‘wormy’. We have been steadily gathering & drenching. The wormiest nannies kidded & were grazing on planted fields, which is an optimal setting for stomach worms. After being drenched, these nannies & kids were moved to other pastures.