Newsletter and 2017 meeting announcement

The September newsletter contains details on the 2017 annual meeting.

Our annual conference and meeting in 2017 will be at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Hagerstown, MD on March 2 and 3. We will be partnering with the Maryland Cattle-men’s Association to combine our Conference with their Maryland Hay & Pasture Conference. The theme of our Conference in 2017 is: “From Pasture to Table – Grass-Fed Livestock Production of Meat and Milk and Its Preparation – Their Effects on Fatty Acid Composition and Human Health.”

We will not have a formal poster paper session this year, but being that we are combining our conference with the Maryland Hay and Pasture Conference your poster papers can be positioned so that they get many more people to view them. They can be displayed both days of our Conference. They can be viewed at various times each day and most likely get the most views on Friday, March 3.

Please send Jim Cropper the title of your poster paper and the author name(s) and affiliation(s) by February 10 at the latest. The abstract will to be submitted by February 24 at the latest. Poster submission details.

This issue of the newsletter also highlights fatty acids in meat and milk, recaps a recent pasture walk, and covers other topics of interest.

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2016 Conference Program

Our opening session will take a look back at the first twenty years of the Northeast Pasture Consortium. It is important to take note of what the membership has accomplished over that span of time to foster the rebirth of pasture as an important land use. Much has been done to strengthen pasture research, education, and technology transfer, especially given the reality of shrinking budgets in real dollars and keen competition from other worthy agricultural programs. Jim Cropper will give the progress highlights that were fostered by our members in academia, Extension, ARS, NRCS, and the pasture-based farmer community. Ed Rayburn will follow-up with a look at the rebirth of pasture – past, present, and future.

Technical sessions include:

  • Orchardgrass Die-off Update on Findings from Virginia
  • Riparian Grazing Management
  • What’s New in Forage Plant Breeding
  • Risk Management Tools for Forage & Pasture Producers
  • Transitioning Dairy Cows to a No-grain or High Forage Diet

Full program details are available in the January 2016 Newsletter.

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NEPC Conference Hotel

Room reservations need to booked soon (February 15) for the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, ME for the 2016 Northeast Pasture Consortium Conference being held on March 16 and 17. We have reserved 40 rooms at an 84-room Inn. This block may fill up.

We will begin at 8:00 AM on March 16 so those traveling from afar will need to come in the night before Tuesday, March 15.

To make room reservations use the following contact information: Harraseeket Inn, 162 Main Street, Freeport, ME 04032; phone number: (207) 865-9377. The room rate is $108.00 per night (includes breakfast), plus taxes and gratuity. Each attendee needing a hotel room please note you need to make these room reservations by February 15, 2016 to hold this rate. Tell them you are with the NE Pasture Consortium. It is very important for those needing a hotel room to make reservations at the Harraseeket Inn so that we meet our guaranteed number of room rentals.

Reservations received after February 15th will be accepted on a space available basis as they will be released to the general public.

Conference registration deadline is not until March 9. Details will be available soon.

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NEPC Conference Posters

This year the Northeast Pasture Consortium Conference will be held at the Harraseeket Inn on March 16 and 17 in Freeport, ME just a few miles northeast of Portland, ME. I hope you can attend. The full agenda will be announced in the upcoming newsletter.

There will be an afternoon poster paper session with authors present on March 16 from 2:45 to 3:45 PM similar to what we did in Morgantown, WV in 2015.

Please send Jim Cropper (jbcropper at yahoo dot com) the title of your poster paper and the author name(s) and affiliation(s) by February 12 at the latest. He can accept poster papers after that but would like most of them submitted by that time to plan for enough floor space with my contact at the Inn. Abstracts are needed by March 11 at the latest.

Full instructions on size and composition of the poster papers will be provided.




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Fall Newsletter

Highlights from the Consortium’s fall newsletter fall newsletter:

  • Our annual conference and meeting will be at the Harraseeket Inn on March 16-17 2016 in Freeport, Maine.
  • Alfred State College Offers unique blend of organic dairy education. Nearly ten years ago, Alfred Sate College chose a path of operating both organic and conventional dairies to create a unique learning environment among dairy colleges.
  • What is the future of grazing research? While the world’s managed grasslands re-main vast, the pool of scientists who study them is dwindling.
  • Mob grazing shows possible production and ecological benefits. Mob stocking is a form of extreme rotational grazing where you get a fairly high density of animals and you move them through paddocks much more rapidly than you normally would in a rotational grazing system.
  • USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced the expansion of the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) crop insurance policy to every state and every county, making WFRP the first crop insurance policy to be universally available nationwide.
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More about the NEPC

The Northeast Pasture Consortium has a lovely and informative new flyer (PDF).

You can also learn more about our mission by choosing the “About the consortium” tab above.

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National Forage Week

The American Forage and Grassland Conference is excited to launch National Forage Week June 21-27, 2015 as an effort to raise awareness to the importance and impact of forages. As the leader and voice of economically and environmentally sound forage focused agriculture,AFGC understands the impact of forages on the world and wants to share that knowledge by focusing our education efforts during National Forage Week.

From AFGC’s press release:

The American Forage and Grassland Council (AFGC) is introducing National Forage Week for the first time June 21 – 27, 2015. Slightly less than 2 percent of the total U.S. population lives on a farm, making it more difficult for the general public to relate to farming and the accompanying challenges. As the general public moves further away from its agrarian heritage and the rural lifestyle, AFGC strives to bring farming and forages into greater public awareness with the launch of National Forage Week. Gary Wilson, AFGC president from Jenera, Ohio, says, “AFGC wanted a way to bring notice and recognition to forages as one of the largest agriculture industries in this country. National Forage Week was first suggested by John Rodgers, a forage producer from Pennsylvania who was a former AFGC President. The AFGC board decided to take this on as an official initiative of our national organization to promote all types of forage production ranging from grazing to commercial hay production.”

More information.

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NEPC 2014: Business meeting

At 3:45 PM the Business Meeting convened. Mr. Peter Miller of Organic Valley had asked to have and was granted a few minutes to alert Consortium members to their Farmers Advocating For Organics grant program. Its mission is to protect and promote organic farmers by investing in organic research, education & advocacy. CROPP Cooperative member-owners voluntarily provide the funds. Since 2007, $2.1 million dollars have been granted on Research, Education, and Advocacy. Grant applications are reviewed by Members, Staff, and Board of Directors. Sustaining Grants are multi-year. For more information go to:

Dr. Ed Rayburn complimented Mr. James Cropper, Executive Director, for his hard work for setting up on the of the best Consortium Conferences. He then announced that he was stepping down as the Northeast Pasture Consortium Principal Investigator. He then added that Dr. Sid Bosworth from the University of Vermont was the new Principal Investigator.

Mr. Ken Miller, the Private Sector Co-Chair, presiding over the Business Meeting asked for nominations of a Private Sector member-at-large for the Executive Committee. Mr. Clyde Bailey nominated Mr. Angus Johnson. Ms. Diane Schivera seconded. Nominations were closed and Mr. Angus Johnson was unanimously elected as the new Private Sector member-at-large. Dr. Andre Brito, the Public Sector Co-Chair, asked for nominations for the Public Sector member-at-large. Mr. Tom Akin nominated Ms. Susan Parry. Mr. James Cropper seconded. Nominations were closed and Ms. Susan Parry was unanimously elected.

Mr. Clyde Bailey invited the Northeast Pasture Consortium to hold their annual conference and meeting at Morgantown, WV on March 11 and 12, 2015. This will be just prior to the 2015 Appalachian Grazing Conference being held at the Waterfront Place Hotel and Conference Center on March 13 and 14, 2015.

Mr. James Cropper thanked Mr. Rob DeClue and Mr. Bob Richardson for their great work on the Executive Committee over the past 4 years as they had completed their tenure on the Committee. Mr. Cropper noted that Mr. DeClue had to work particularly hard to pull together the Pastureland NRI session this year with the change in leadership in Washington, DC and the lack of travel funds available to get Mr. Kevin Ogles at the Conference in person.

After thanking everyone for their participation and making it a great conference, Mr. Cropper adjourned the Conference and Business Meeting.

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NEPC 2014: Agency reports

After lunch, the Reports Session began at 1:00 PM. Mr. Joe Hatton quickly reviewed the Private Sector research needs priorities. He highlighted some of the research needs not covered by the morning session. He mentioned that the parasite issues were nicely addressed during the previous technical session, but added the additional work is needed and supports the current efforts.

Silvopasture, as used in the Northeast, needs to be improved to work seamlessly on Northeastern pasture-based farms. With the closing of the Beaver, WV ARS research unit, someone needs to pick up this research need at a land grant university or other ARS research unit.

Birdsfoot trefoil culture needs further work to get more consistent stand establishment and retention, especially in the light of its nutritional and dewormer potential. The research need about conversion of cropland and forest to pasture also needs to include idle land that may be in some transition state between grassland and woodland.

He also briefly reiterated the need expressed at the morning session about orchardgrass persistence. Is it possibly a soil fertility problem? We need to check with Virginia Tech to see what progress they have made on finding a reason for orchardgrass loss.

We need to find the nutritional value of pasture fed beef and milk products. Consumers are driving grass fed markets. We need to look at how stock density and high quality grass interact. We need to maintain energy level: 40% of forages short on energy. We need to look at marketing opportunities in grass fed products. Finally, we need new alternatives to communicate research findings. Ken Miller added that we need more time in the Conference agenda to develop research needs.

Mr. Tom Akin, USDA-NRCS State Agronomist for Massachusetts and Public Sector Co-Chair for the NEPC, delivered the Public Sector report. Several research needs were brought up by the Public Sector. They were:

  1. Research on the effectiveness of grass riparian buffers versus forested riparian buffers.
  2. Research on agroforestry activities that could generate revenue within riparian areas.
  3. Research on silvopasture issues in the Northeast.
  4. Complete a research literature review on the implementation of riparian buffers (series of point-counterpoint arguments on living with the consequences of riparian buffers). Journal of the SWCS may be appropriate. Two previous publications for consideration: CAST Issue Paper #22, “Environmental Impacts of Livestock on U.S. Grazinglands” (William Krueger and Matt Sanderson, 2002); and the 2012 NRCS pastureland literature synthesis edited by Jerry Nelson.
  5. Research needs of the equine community: vegetation suitable for heavy use areas; and evaluation of grass hay cultivars for lower sugar/fructan levels.
  6. Research on the environmental impacts of swine on pastures (appropriate stocking rates on different quality pastures), and the interactions between swine and ruminants in mixed livestock grazing operations. Michigan State and WVU have publications.
  7. Research on forages for small ruminants that contain condensed tannins that aid in parasite control. Ranking cultivars for tannin content and palatability. New cultivars of Serecia lespedeza being grown in Maryland are showing promise.
  8. Research on biological fly control; soil nematode identified as a possible control in NY.
  9. Research on grazing cover crop mixtures/cocktails for soil health benefits and season extension.
  10. Research on extending the grazing season to maintain beneficial fatty acid ratios found in fresh forages.
  11. Research on preserving health benefits of dairy products during processing. Can processing be adjusted to safely preserve the health benefits seen in raw milk?
  12. Research on the economics of investing in feed ingredients (minerals) and soil amendments (micronutrients).
  13. Research on providing free choice minerals cafeteria style (animals self-medicating).
  14. Research on the benefits and economics of fodder crops. Do the labor and energy costs out-weigh the benefits?

The Agricultural Research Service Report was given by Dr. Mark Boggess, Acting National Program Leader for Pasture, Range, and Forages. He is acting for the time being. It will be a while before a decision will be made on whether or not to advertise the position. A previous search for National Program Leader came up empty. He thanked the Consortium for involving him in the Conference. He had found it to be very enlightening as it was his first opportunity to come.

He then turned over the ARS report to Dr. Howard Skinner from University Park, PA to talk about the seven Climate Change Hubs. Dr. Skinner said that for the eastern US, the Durham, NH Forest Service office, the University Park and Ithaca, NY ARS research units, and the Greensboro, NC NRCS East National Technology Support Center were hubs.

Dr. Peter Kleinman, Research Leader, also reported on changes going on at University Park. They were contemplating setting up a work group to do a literature review of riparian area grazing management as suggested by the Consortium at this Conference. Ray Bryant was to take the lead on this effort.

Dr. James P. Dobrowolski, National Program Leader for Rangeland and Grassland Ecosystems, gave the National Institute of Food and Agriculture report remotely over the conference speaker phone. He narrated his PowerPoint presentation sent previously to the Executive Director. Major Challenge Areas for Agricultural Research and Education are the Budget–but NIFA did OK in the 2014 budget, Management–New Farm Bill, and Societal Challenges—More with less. Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack’s priority areas remain that agriculture must address:

  1. Climate Change
  2. Bioenergy
  3. Food safety
  4. Nutrition
  5. International food security

NIFA has added a new challenge area – Water. A Request for Application (RFA) is under review (out this month?). It involves Coordinated Agricultural Projects that are integrated at large scales. NIFA is guide by 3 principles: Focus, Scale, and Impact. NIFA will focus resources on delivering bold results with great power to improve human and animal health and protect our environment. NIFA will work on large projects where we see great potential for breakthroughs on a scale never before seen or imagined. NIFA will award research where we know the impact on human health and well-being can be tangible and meaningful.

Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy is the Director of NIFA. Meryl Broussard is the Deputy Director. We are a small agency with a big budget: ~$1.277 billion for fiscal year 2014. We are into the fourth year of the original Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAPS) and standard grants (e.g., Corn CAP in Iowa; Wheat CAP in Washington). Budgets are reduced, so project budgets are reduced. We have funded large grants for wheat, conifers, dairy and rangeland beef. In FY2014 there are no Climate Change or Bioenergy CAPS. Agency Extramural Funding for Grazing Land Research, Education and Outreach AFRI Grant Program – Last year the Climate Change Challenge Area (rangeland and grassland commodity focus in 2012-13)

  • Dairy in Wisconsin received $19 M.
  • Beef in Oklahoma received $9 M.

AFRI for 2014:

  • Sustainable Food Systems to Improve Food Security Challenge Area (Standard Grants $6 M, up to $1.5 M per project) Reduce crop and livestock losses in U.S. agricultural systems by developing and extending sustainable, integrated management strategies that reduce pre and post-harvest losses caused by diseases, insects, and weeds in crop and animal production systems, while maintaining or improving product quality and production efficiency.
  • AFRI Foundational for 2014 – Renewable Energy, Natural Resources and Environment (RENRE)– Connect biodiversity specifically as an ecosystem service to production system functionality, productivity, socioeconomic viability, sustainability and the production of other ecosystem services related to air, water, soil, habitat and land use.
  • Managed Agroecosystems ($9 M, 2014 RFA released in December 2013) Agroecosystem projects designed to develop management systems that significantly increase the output and/or value of at least three ecosystem services compared with the current management system for the region. This part of the AFRI Foundational appears to be a fruitful area for Consortium member land grants to apply for a grants that involve pasture.
  • Critical Agricultural Research and Extension (CARE) ($5 M, 2014 RFA released in December 2013) Despite prior investments in basic and applied research, critical problems continue to impede the efficient production and protection of agriculturally-important plants and animals. These problems may be local, regional, or national, and may call for work focused on one or more scientific disciplines. However, all need immediate attention to meet producer needs. Finding and implementing solutions to these critical problems require partnership and close coordination among researchers, extension experts, and producers. This too has some good ties to the Consortium but is capped rather low and is only a 3-year project.


  • National Integrated Water Quality Program—Funded pasture-related water quality and quantity efforts (e.g., Chesapeake Bay watershed ($4 M in 2014), RFA out in the Spring 2014.
  • RREA National Focus Funds—Back to $300 K in 2014)
  • Alfalfa and Forage Research Program—($1.35 M in 2014), RFA is under construction.
  • Research into alfalfa and forage holds the potential to increase forage yields, increase milk production, improve forage genetics to increase biomass for cellulosic ethanol.
  • Research should be directed to the improvement of yields, creation of new uses of alfalfa and forages for bioenergy and the development of new storage and harvest systems. •Beginning Farmer and Rancher—currently back in the new farm bill ($20 M each year through 2018, provisional),
  • Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)—currently in the new farm bill ($20 M each year through 2018, provisional)
  • SARE—currently increased ($22.7 M)
  • Hatch—raised to above FY2012 levels ($243 M)

Ms. Susan Parry gave the USDA-NRCS report for Mr. Sid Brantly that he prepared as he had to return to Washington, DC after the morning sessions. She started out with a list of vacancies for state grazinglands specialists: MD, KY, FL, GA, AK, NM and regional grazinglands specialists, 2 positions at the West NTSC, 1 at the East NTSC, and 3 Range Conservationists at the Central NTSC. Thank you for supporting NRCS capacity to provide technical assistance through trained personnel.

Pastureland NRI on-site study: Funding this year is the same as last year. Thank you for your support. 600 segments for 2014, same as 2013. Please continue to support this important work.

Forage Suitability Groups (FSGs): We have a team that is moving forward to modify the Pastureland NRI data processing to assist in building FSG data tables. The relationship between ecological site descriptions is under review, as well as data housing and retrieval processes.

Ecological Site Descriptions (ESDs) used on rangeland and forestland was reported on first. The Interagency ESD Manual has been completed and is in place. An interagency agreement between the the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and NRCS is currently being routed around for signatures. An Interagency ESD Team, led by Dr. Joel Brown, is becoming operational at the Jornada Experimental Range in Las Cruces, NM. The NRCS ESD Handbook is complete and will be rolled out this month. The Interagency ESD Team responsible for the Interagency ESD Manual was recognized in December by Secretary Vilsack with a USDA Honor Award.

NRCS Management Practices: Job approval authority for NRCS management conservation practices is under review by a committee organized under Terrell Erickson, Ecological Science Division Director.

Brush Management & Herbaceous Weed Control: A waiver process for EQIP payments for Brush Management and Herbaceous Weed Control has been established such that up to 3 years of payments can be made when needed for “hard to control” species and groups of plants.

This ended the NRCS report.

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NEPC 2014: Parasite control

At 10:00 AM, the last technical session Control of Parasites in Pastured Small Ruminant Livestock through Integrated Use of Pasture Management, Botanicals, and Pharmaceuticals began. Ms. Diane Schivera, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, was the moderator. Dr. Tatiana Stanton, Cornell Small Ruminant Extension Specialist, and Dr. Katherine Petersson, University of Rhode Island Assistant Professor of Animal and Veterinary Science, were the two speakers. They rotated their presentations by topic. Ms. Schivera gave out 2 handouts, Oregano oil for internal parasite control in sheep, goats, and beef cattle (acts an ionophore or coccidiostat), and Vermi-Tox Study, a herbal dewormer containing condensed tannins.

barber pole worm

Dr. Katherine Petersson started out the session with a presentation called War of the Worms. Worms in small ruminants are not a new problem. In the 1920s, drenches that included carbon tetrachloride and copper sulfate/nicotine were used to kill intestinal worms. Gastrointestinal (GI) nematodes are the biggest health problem east of the Rockies. ALL GRAZING ANIMALS HAVE WORMS!!!!!!!!! The most important is the barber pole worm, Haemonchus contortus. It is an abomasal (stomach) parasite, exploiting many environments and management practices. Typically, it is a warm weather worm but survives everywhere with adequate moisture. In summer, it is the predominant stomach worm even in Vermont. It is a blood-sucking parasite. A heavy burden of these worms can result in anemia and bottle jaw, a swelling of the lower jaw, and weakness. They consume a half-cup or more of blood per day. They do not cause diarrhea usually. Subclinical losses are possible. Decreased gains and growth are typical.

Related parasites also contribute to problems and can cause diarrhea are brown stomach worm (Ostertagia, Teladorsagia) and Trichostrongylus. The others are less important. The brown stomach worm (Ostertagia spp.) used to be considered the most serious parasite of sheep in cool climates. The worm develops in gastric glands of stomach (abomasum) and destroys the glands as they grow. It decreases appetite, digestion, and nutrient utilization. Clinical signs of infestation of this worm are diarrhea, reduced appetite, and weight loss.

GI nematodes (worms) have a life cycle that goes from an egg to worm stage. Eggs are in the dung of ruminants. When they are deposited on the ground, it takes from 5-7 days to hatch in warm weather. Once the worms hatch, they climb up on grass blades and can swim in dew or rain drops adhering to the leaves. The ruminant eats the grass and thus gets infected. These infective worms may live for 17-21 days. The worms while in the open environment are encased in a protective sheath. Once they are in the ruminant’s rumen, they shed their sheath chemically. While they are in the sheath, they can’t eat once they reach the infective stage. Once metabolic reserves are used up, they die. The hotter it is, the faster they wiggle, the quicker they die. Under cool, moist conditions, they can live for months. Freezing kills some species, including Haemonchus. In the winter, on pasture as eggs or larvae, only some species can make it through the winter. As larvae in the host in a dormant state (arrested or hypo-biotic), they can survive the winter. There is no sign of disease and no eggs found in the feces.

Goal is to manage the worms, not to eradicate the worms. Goal is to keep worms at a level that does not have detrimental health effects. Climatic effects on worm abundance and presence are: Warm, wet grazing seasons are perfect for Haemonchus and with a short life cycle of about 3 weeks from infection to egg laying; milder, shorter winters extend transmission season. Vermont worm season is July to August. Virginia worm season is June-October, and in Florida worm season is all year long. Barber pole worm has become more important in the Northeast. Past wisdom–other worms more important, but today veterinarian and producer experience say it is the most important. Most numerous eggs found in project samples in New England. The increased importance is probably due to resistant worms and/or changing, lengthening grazing season. High density grazing on permanent pastures increases chances for infection.

Since 1960s we have had fantastic drugs for treatment of sheep and goat GI nematodes. They are highly effective against adults and larvae (>95%), safe, nonprescription, and CHEAP. However, the overuse of these drugs has caused drug resistance. Some worms with a genetic ability to resist a drug always exist at low levels because of random gene mutation. When the drug is not present, the resistant worms have no advantage. Use of a drug gives those worms an advantage and gradually the number of resistant worms increases. Forty to 55 percent of NY and PA goat herds show severe resistance to Ivermectin and Fenbendazol, respectively. Fecal egg reduction rate study for each dewormer class in a New England showed only a 50% reduction for Benzimidoles, a 65% reduction for Macrolides, and a 75% for Nicotinics.

Management practices that speed up development of drug resistance are:

  • Frequent treatments
  • Treating all the animals at once
  • Under-dosing
  • Treating and moving to clean pastures
  • Treating when there aren’t many worms on pasture (drought, end of winter).

All these decrease the refugia on your farm. Refugia are the portions of the parasite population not exposed (=unselected) when a drug is administered. Worms on pasture, and in untreated animals, keeps susceptible worms in the population. This is a good thing. The higher the refugia, the greater the chance that there will be susceptible worms around to reduce the chances of 2 resistant worms mating. Goals of rational drug use are to prevent disease/loss and minimize rate of development of resistance, so reduce treatments and maintain refugia.

Sheep and goats metabolize drugs differently so the effective dose in goats is two times the sheep dose except for Levamisole (1.5x) and Moxidectin injectable—do not use it. Other ways to increase refugia are:

  1. Don’t deworm and immediately move animals to safe/clean pasture, only resistant worms will go to the new pasture.
  2. Put back on old pasture for awhile to pick up susceptible worms or just treat some animals before move.
  3. Don’t deworm all animals at the same time.

New drugs keep coming out, such as amino acetonitrile, Monepantel—Zolvix. It is a different class of drug, but it will select for resistant worms just as quickly as all the others did.

As an alternative to commercial dewormers are herbal dewormers. Several products are commercially available containing variety of plants, but are not regulated by the FDA. No requirement for studies to support efficacy or safety and no guarantee of consistency from bag to bag. Dewormer use in organic sheep operations guidelines are:

  • Ivermectin, moxidectin and fenbendazole (prescription only) currently allowed for limited use
  • Prohibited in slaughter stock sold as organic
  • Allowed for emergency treatment of dairy and breeder stock when all else fails
  • Milk or milk products cannot be labeled organic for 90 days following treatment
  • If offspring to be sold as organic meat, cannot be used in last third of gestation or during lactation
  • Must treat in humane situation

Parasite Control in Sustainable Systems should follow these guideposts. Parasite losses are a management disease. We have ways of controlling parasites. Each producer has to decide which control methods work best for him or her. An integrated parasite control program is a must. Sheep and goats develop a natural immunity to GI worms. This immunity controls parasites, but does not elimin-ate them. Immune animals will still have eggs in manure. This immunity is in place at maturity. Goats more susceptible than sheep to GI worms. In all flocks, some animals are more susceptible than others to worms.

Animals with temporary high susceptibility to parasites are the young–before immunity develops, lactating ewes and does, and ewes at time of lambing are especially susceptible. Poor health or nutrition animals are also highly susceptible. Animals with an inherited high susceptibility to parasites should be culled. All other things equal, ~30% of the animals have 80% of the worms. Select for more parasite resistant breeding stock. Ask breeders if they have information on their breeding stock resistance to worms. Use fecal egg counts to assess problem in your flock.

Anyone can make any group of any breed more parasite resistant with selective breeding. Sheep breeds with higher levels of resistance to parasites are St. Croix, Katahdin, and Gulf Coast/Florida Native. One has to keep selecting for parasite resistance even in more resistant breeds. There is less research on variation in resistance in goat breeds. Immunity can be used effectively by doing selective deworming programs. This concentrates dewormer use on animals that need it the most. Less dewormer is used. It slows development of resistance to dewormers. Treating the high 33% of the flock with a drug that causes a 99% fecal egg count reduction (FECR) reduces daily pasture contamination with eggs by 80%. Following treatment, > 95% of eggs are being shed by untreated goats = REFUGIA.

To discover the highly susceptible sheep and goats to barber pole worm, FAMACHA is a popular targeted (selective) deworming program. It matches color of sheep or goat ocular mucous membrane to a color chart. A #5 color indicates an anemic animal that is heavily wormy. It identifies which ones to treat, but it only works for barber pole worm. Another means to select susceptible animals is to identify wormiest animals by doing fecal egg counts.

GIN life cycle

Dr. Tatiana Stanton gave a presentation entitled Basics of Pasture Management to Help Control Internal Parasites. On pasture, eggs in feces fall from animal to ground. Requires warmth (may be as cool as 50+F but lots of response by 60 F) and humidity to hatch into first stage larvae, L-1. This occurs in 1-6 days. L-1 eats bacteria in feces and grows, molts (sheds skin like a snake) and becomes L-2. L-2 also eats bacteria in feces and then molts.

Direct sunlight can heat fecal pellet to 155 F and sterilize pellet. This is an excellent time to mow a pasture short to aid in drying the fecal pellet. Shade trees and tall, dense grass increase humidity and protect fecal pellets from the sun, increasing worm hatch and survival problem. L-2 molts to L-3. However, the cuticle (skin) is not shed, so the L-3 has 2 layers of cuticle (sheath). This makes the L-3 much more resistant to drying out. However, the L-3 cannot eat, because his mouth is covered. He must live off his stored reserves. Since he is cold-blooded, his metabolism speeds up when it is hot. He can only live about 30-60 days in hot weather or 120-240 days in cool weather. He can not survive freezing.

Pasture becomes infective at this time. Most L3s do not get more than about 3 inches high on grass blade. The L-3 must escape from the fecal pellet to infect an animal. The L-3 can only live about a week or two inside a fecal pellet if it is hot and dry. Pellet must be broken up by rain (2 inches in a month’s time), then the larvae scoots on a film of water (from rain or dew) and gets under fallen leaves or other debris, OR scoots on a film of water 2-3 inches up onto fresh forage. For the barber pole worm life cycle, maybe only 2-10% of eggs end up as L-3 larvae on forage. L-3 must be eaten by a goat or sheep to continue development.

Cattle and horses can “vacuum up” L3 larvae from goat pastures and stop its life cycle. They are not hosts for the worm. If available, use them to graze pastures in between rotational cycles of sheep or goats.

Use clean or safe pastures – wise management decisions about pasture height, grazing duration and pasture rest – easy to say, difficult to implement for entire grazing cycle. Give priority to recently weaned young stock > lactating does/ewes > dry animals. Practice evasive by moving animals fast enough to prevent infection from feces deposited during current grazing period (autoinfection). Takes 3-5 days to hatch at 77-79F, 15-30 days to hatch at 50–52F. Often ~5 to 14 days from egg to L3. Play it safe with 4 day (wet, warm) to 7 day (cooler, drier) grazing duration. Move earlier if pasture getting too short – i.e. 3 inches.

Allow a long enough rest period that there is substantial L3 die off before animals return to graze (60 – 105 days). Problem with this latter remark is pasture rest periods to control barber pole worm need to be longer than normal recommendations for either pasture health or nutritional value of the forage (42 days or less). Options for keeping pastures from getting too mature while avoiding barber pole worms are graze cattle or horses in between sheep or goats, clip pasture, or harvest hay crop. Rotational grazing in the spring appears to reduce the “barnyard effect” and delay the onset of summer parasite problems.

Barnyards with grass or other good forage lead to high concentration of manure and internal parasites in grazing material and can contribute greatly to herd contamination with internal parasites. There may be a “barnyard effect” in pastures that border a barn and are not rotationally grazed to keep higher grass stubble heights. Worm egg counts were much higher in kids in early spring that were on continuously grazed pasture versus rotationally grazed due to this barnyard effect. By late July egg counts were similar.

Central graining and watering areas can also have a barnyard effect. Some options to help reduce barnyard effect is to lay down gravel, concrete, or herbicides, close off access to barnyard or provide hay in barn at night when animals come in from pasture to cut down on night grazing in the barnyard, make barn yards small so that no grazing occurs, or put in lanes or leave animals out 24/7.

Dr. Peterssen did the next segment on Evaluate the effects of vitamin E supplementation (10 IU/kg BW/day – VE 10) on lambs experimentally infected with Haemonchus contortus. Elevated levels of vitamin E supplementation had a beneficial effect on the abomasal worm burden. VE 10 lambs tended to have a lower mean fecal egg count and higher eosinophil and globule leukocyte counts. Future studies will examine mechanistic effect of VE supplementation on GI nematode infections in lambs including direct effects on parasitic defense mechanism.

Dr. Peterssen also briefly mentioned that cranberry leaves contain high levels of proanthocyanidin condensed (PAC) tannins. The leaves are by-product of harvest in Wisconsin and Massachusetts. The abstract is in a form of a powder and has anthelmintic properties. Cranberry leaf powder PAC exhibited anthelmintic activity against L1/L2 H. contortus after 48 hour incubation at a concentration of 1.25 μg/ml, larval development at a concentration of 600 μg/ml, and adult H. contortus after 48 hour incubation at a concentration of 1200 μg/ml. Cranberry leaf powder showed anthelmintic efficacy through fecal egg reduction at weeks 1 and 2 post treatment at a concentration of 75 μg/ml.

Dr. Petersson made us aware of a OREI research grant, USDA OREI Forage-based Parasite Control in Sheep and Goats in the Northeast U.S. These universities are involved in the project: West Virginia University, Cornell University, University of Rhode Island, University of Wisconsin, and Virginia Tech. This project is evaluating of birdsfoot trefoil (BFT) cultivars – URI tested 7 conventional varieties (Empire, Leo, Bull, New York, Norcen, Pardee, Bruce). The project also studied 51 high tannin varieties with limited seed availability (kept 20 most promising for multiplication of seed). There is an analysis of the condensed tannin profiles. There will be an assessment of the anthelmintic effect of BFT cultivars, and assess the effect of BFT on immune function. The project will also evaluate herd health and economic outcomes of BFT pasture mixes for GIN suppression.

Dr. Stanton followed up with On-Farm BFT Studies. Coordinating on-farm studies with participating farmers who will investigate how to best utilize BFT in the field. Want to work on-farm starting spring and fall 2014. Let Tatiana know if interested!

Researching these questions:

  • Are there practical ways to incorporate BFT into grazing systems and control parasites?
  • Variety differences in terms of effectiveness and suitability?
  • Amount needed?
  • Sustainability?

Dr. Stanton also covered Copper Oxide Wire Particles for Barber Pole Worm Control in Goats and Sheep. Sheep are ten times more susceptible to copper toxicity than cattle. When consumed over a long period of time, excess copper is stored in the liver. No damage occurs until a toxic level is reached. Then, a hemolytic crisis occurs with the destruction of red blood cells.

Copper is closely related to molybdenum, and copper toxicity occurs when the dietary ratio of copper to molybdenum increases about 6-10:1. Affected animals suddenly go off feed and become weak. Mucous membranes and white skin turn yellowish brown color. Urine is red-brown color due to hemoglobin in the urine. Copper oxide wire particles (COWP) were developed as a slow release source of copper for cattle on copper deficient soils. COWP particles are retained in the abomasum long enough to permit acid solubilization of the copper. This results in a gradual release of copper which reduces risk of copper toxicity to the sheep.

COWP boluses (Copasure©) available commercially and already approved by organic certification associations because of their role in copper supplementation. 12.5 and 25 gram boluses for calves and cows need to be repackaged into far smaller doses suitable for growing sheep and goats! Effective against Barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus), but thought not to be effective against arrested worms. What time of year best to give? Not effective against Brown stomach worm (WHY?), and also not effective against tapeworms. .5-2 g dose for lamb or kid and 1-4 gram dose for ewe or doe. The lower dosages may be repeated a few times a year depending on soil and diet levels of Cu and Mo.

Studies in SE US focus on looking for lowest dosages that can be used in combination with FAMACHA – give COWP to your vulnerable “3s” (lambs, kids, lactating or late pregnant females) rather than giving a commercial dewormer. The mechanism that cause COWP to work is unknown. It seems to work poorly in animals that are stressed or run down. It is also not effective in just weaned kids or lambs. When it works, it is quite effective, killing 75-95% of Barber pole worms.

Cornell has a grant to develop guidelines on the use of Copper Oxide Wire Particles in the Northeast US. Boluses or capsules are injected into the throat and are swallowed. The capsules breakdown and wire particles of copper get dispersed into the stomach. The wire rods get trapped in the first 3 stomachs. The fourth stomach’s acid slowly dissolves the wire particles. The copper gets absorbed form the intestine.

A Cornell study with milking goats found COWP not as effective as a dewormer (assuming there is no resistance to the dewormer), but no discarding of milk was necessary. Two grams per head appeared to work as well as 1 gram per 22 lb. live weight and did not significantly increase the copper levels in milk. A study conducted on 3 sheep farms had these results. Fecal egg counts decreased at all farms after giving either .5 to 1 gram per head. Results were short term at two farms but lasted at least 42 days at the third farm. On lambs, .5 gram per head dosages appeared to be as effective as 1 gram per head dosages. We need more studies to identify why the effect at the three farms differed. This concluded the technical session program.

copper treatment

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