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Worming Question

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This may be a dumb question but here goes. Does everyone find that they worm more or less in the summer?


Unfortunately, I don't have grass and the sheep are hay fed year round. They are fed from a nice feeder up off the ground. The ground is dry more often than not though. I worm consistently but would like to be "smarter" about it. I had a fecal done about 4 weeks ago right when they were due to be wormed. It came back slightly positive for a few types. I guess I expect that -they are sheep, they get worms.


However, the vet wanted a follow up fecal 4 weeks after I wormed with Valbazen to see if they were cleared after it. I am doing that this week. However, i noticed last night that there a few very loose piles around. My first thought was worms but then I figured this extreme heat could do it too. I am in NJ and we are in a heat wave of 90+ every day.


Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Hi Tina,


Sheep in a drylot should require minimal worming. Every couple-three months should do it.


Also in a drylot situation if you did see bottle jaw, my first guess would not be worms. Bottle jaw is caused by low blood protein, which is usually a symptom of anemia. The worm that causes anemia, Haemonchus contortus, has a life cycle that practically (note, not absolutely) requires grass. Usually the infective larvae are suspended in dew drops or rain drops on the grass the sheep are ingesting.


I'd be looking at other causes of anemia, such as cobalt deficiency or some other nutritional cause as well as taking a fecal sample to see if Haemonchus were present.


By way of comparison, grazing lambs and lactating ewes often need treatment every three weeks during the summer months. Sheep parasites, being cold-blooded, do everything faster in the heat than when it's cool. This includes reproducing, hatching out, and developing into infective larvae. So you would see more of a need in the summer than in the winter.

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Thanks for the info, Bill. I appreciate it. If they only need to be wormed every 3 months or so what should I think about the fecal coming back positive after only 6 weeks btw wormings. Is it just a normal worm load?


I hadn't thought of coccidia. Is that something to consider? Could this extreme heat cause loose stools too?


Of course when I am out there the only ones pooping are fine. I haven't figured out which one it is yet but all are eating and acting fine. If I worm every 6 weeks as I have been then they aren't due for 2 weeks. I would love to stretch it out and not overworm them.


I have to tell you I really appreciate any suggestions you have. Thanks again.

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Hi Tina,


I think we can set aside coccidiosis. A.) any decent tech would recognize coccidia oocysts in a fecal flotation and B.) nearly all adult sheep are essentially immune to it.


If you're worming adult sheep in a drylot that often, something isn't right. Either your wormer is not effective against what they are carrying, or they are being reinfected somehow that I'm not thinking of.


I wouldn't think that loose stools would necessarily be from worms. I think you should take in the fecal sample and see what's going on.

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