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What’s a FAMACHA©?

Clinical system helps control a common parasite infesting goats and sheep in warmer areas


(From "Shepherding for Superior Wool," by Cherie Langlois)

One increasing problem with parasite control in livestock concerns the development of drug resistance in worms.

Developed in South Africa, FAMACHA© is a clinical system for controlling the barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus), a common parasite infesting goats and sheep in warmer areas. 

The FAMACHA© method aims to slow the progress of dewormer resistance by allowing raisers to identify and to selectively treat only those animals that truly need deworming.

Farmers regularly check the mucous membranes around animal’s eyes and compare the color to illustrations on a card portraying various levels of anemia (anemia being the main symptom of infestation by this parasite).  Only those animals scored as anemic are treated, which translates to fewer treatments and money saved.

“It’s not a difficult system to learn, but it’s a good idea to have someone who is certified in it teach you,” advises Paul Walker. 

“When starting this system, we blanket deworm all the animals on the farm.  Then when it comes time to deworm again, we go through and check eyelid color.  Any animal that has white or pinkish-white membranes gets treated again.  The whole purpose of this program is to mark the animals that have to be treated frequently and to cull them out and keep the ones that are parasite resistant.”

For more information, log onto the Southern Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control website and click on FAMACHA© info.

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