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Regional conference addresses #1 problem for goat, sheep producers

sheep goat farmers
A small ruminant at Virginia State University’s Randolph Farm.

Gastrointestinal parasites are a common problem for sheep and goat farmers. The tiny organisms can wreck havoc on herds, infecting animals with illnesses, ranging from a loss of appetite to diarrhea, and even death.

As small ruminant farmers already know, worms are one of the biggest culprits of gastrointestinal parasites. Adult roundworms live inside the gastrointestinal tract of mature goats and sheep. The worms lay eggs, which are transmitted through manure. The eggs develop into larvae, and live in pastures and grassy areas. When the animals graze in areas contaminated with larvae, it causes the cycle to repeat itself.

Farmers can find answers to concerns about controlling and eradicating parasite problems at the Delmarva Small Ruminant Conference’s All Worms, All Day. The one-day conference will be held on Dec. 7 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Lincoln Memorial University CVM Teaching Center at 203 DeBusk Farm Drive, Ewing, VA 24248.

The conference will have separate sessions for adults and youth. The adult program will educate farmers and other stakeholders on best practices for controlling the problem, including identifying species of parasites, providing better pasture management and developing treatment methods.

Speakers for the adult program are members of the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (ACSRPC). They include Dr. Dahlia O’Brien, Virginia State University; Dr. Kwame Matthews, Delaware State University; Dr. Nelson Escobar, University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Susan Schoenian, University of Maryland; and Dr. Niki Whitley, Fort Valley State University.

Dr. Chantel Wilson, Virginia State University’s 4-H STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Math) Extension specialist will pilot a new, interactive curriculum for youth called Grass, Goats, and…Uninvited Guests! The curriculum uses stuffed animal models and edible treats to teach about the barber pole worm life cycle, signs and symptoms of parasite infection, tools needed to diagnose parasitic infections and appropriate treatment methods to deworm animals.

Admission is $50 per adult and $30 for youth ages 14-18. Youth must be accompanied by a registered adult. Pre-registration is required. To register, visit, click on the event and then click on the registration link.

“Leaving the parasite problem untreated can cripple farm production and be quite costly for small farmers,” said Dr. Dahlia O’Brien, Extension specialist with the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Dr. O’Brien and Amy Fannon, a Lee County Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent, helped organize this year’s conference.

All Worms, All Day is a collaborative effort among Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Cooperative Extension. This is the third year for the program, which is being hosted this year by the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Other collaborators include Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine faculty members (Dr. Jerry Roberson, Gilbert Patterson, and Philippa Gibbons).

If you have any questions or are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Mark Klingman at (804) 524-5493/TDD (800) 828-1120 or during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.