The barber pole worm, scientific name haemonchus contortus, is a blood sucking parasite which lives in the gut of small ruminants such as goats and sheep. With the effectiveness of traditional dewormers waning, many farmers are losing more and more animals, with no way to combat the problem. Luckily, there may be an answer to the farmer’s prayers: FAMACHA.
What is FAMACHA?
FAMACHA is an acronym which stands for Faffa Malan’s Chart. Dr. Faffa Malan has developed a system which allows farmers to easily check each goat or sheep and determine whether or not deworming is needed. In the past, the entire herd was wormed on a monthly schedule. However, this has led to a greater percentage of the barber pole worm population being dewormer resistant. As more of the dewormer susceptible worms were killed, the only ones left to mate with each other were dewormer resistant worms. This has led to a sort of “Super Barber Pole Worm” population.
Why use FAMACHA?
Since the problem is an anthelmintic resistant worm population, the solution is thought to be to dilute the population with weak worms. The way to accomplish this is to leave the weaker worms alive unless absolutely necessary. In order to do that, although it seems counter-intuitive, dewormer should only be given to those goats or sheep that are showing signs of anemia, the main symptom of barber pole worm infestation that has reached an unsafe level.
How to use FAMACHA:
Since we don’t want to treat the whole herd, but rather only those animals which need it, we have to examine each animal individually. Dr. Malan found that a sheep or goat’s lower eyelid color corresponded to the anemia level and therefore the barber pole worm infestation level in a given animal.
You can obtain a FAMACHA chart by searching for it on Google and printing it off. Next, you’ll take your goat or sheep and with one hand gently push on his top eyelid to slightly press on the eyeball. With your free hand, take your thumb and gently roll down the bottom eyelid and compare that color to the colors on the FAMACHA printout. The printout will tell you whether the goat needs to be wormed or not.
Anthelmintic resistance is a serious problem in the sheep and goat industry, and it could eventually become disastrous if farmers don’t take steps now to combat the problem. Using FAMACHA is a step in the right direction.
Joan Burke, “Management of Barber pole Worm in Sheep and Goats in the Southern U.S.” ATTRA.
The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, “FAMACHA.” University of Tennessee.