Intestinal worms in livestock – Testing and controlling worms

 Livestock and pets are prone to many different intestinal parasites. Some of these can cause ill thrift, scouring, anaemia or even death.

Nematodes (such as the deadly barbers pole worm)

Common nematodes found in livestock include the roundworms, black scour and barbers pole worm. These hook into the wall of the stomach or small intestine with specialised mouth parts, make a small cut and then proceed to feed on the blood of the host animal. Each cut creates a small scar, which cannot absorb nutrients. The more scars an animal has, the more it needs to eat to get the same amount of nutrients from the feed. If nematode infestations continue untreated, the animal becomes anaemic and will eventually die. 

Barbers pole worm burdens can build up quickly to deadly levels in sheep and goats. The worms become active after the first spring rains, when the weather starts to warm up. Within 21 days after ingestion, the parasite begins laying 5,000-10,000 eggs per day.  

Barbers pole worm accounts for more livestock deaths in sheep and goats than any other parasite in Australia.   
Barbers pole worm.

 Tape worms

 Tape worms compete with livestock for nutrients. Even more seriously, an infestation by the hydatids tape worm can transfer to humans and cause cysts in  the liver, brain or lungs. This can be fatal. Humans are the end host for the hydatid tape worm, with dogs the intermediate host and sheep the primary  host. 

 Liver fluke

 Liver fluke, once ingested, infect the liver of sheep and cattle by penetrating the intestinal wall into the abdominal cavity. From there, they penetrate the liver  capsule and spend a few weeks migrating through the liver before entering the bile ducts. After spending several weeks developing in the bile ducts, they  mature into egg laying adults. The damage caused by the immature migrating fluke larvae can cause jaundice, liver failure, haemorrhage or death in  severely infected animals. As a zoonotic disease, liver fluke can be passed from animals to humans, which has serious consequences.


 Coccidia are small, microscopic protozoa that cause coccidiosis infection.  Young livestock (under 3 months of age) with the infection can suffer from  scouring, ill-thrift and even death. Alpacas, sheep and goats usually develop immunity with age, unless they are in poor condition.

 Worm treatment and testing

 Simple worm treatment strategies that small landholders can implement to control intestinal worms and also prevent zoonotic diseases include:

  1. Regular worm testing, including egg counts and worm type. Worm test should be conducted every six months or at least once a year. However, they should be conducted more often if livestock are showing symptoms that could be due to internal parasites. If you have a positive result from a worm test, drench without delay using a drench suitable for that species, at a dose rate appropriate for the heaviest animal in each class of livestock i.e. kids, lambs, crias, adult females or males. 

  2. Quarantine drenching. Drench all incoming livestock with a broad spectrum oral drench suitable for that species, as recommended by your animal health adviser. The latter is especially important for alpacas as there are no drenches registered for them. Keep new livestock confined in a small area away from others for a minimum of 1 week allowing them to empty out any worms. If this isn’t done paddocks can quickly become infested with worm eggs, or worse still, you can bring drench resistant worms onto your farm.

  3. Regular worming of dogs. Giving your dogs a regular worm treatment will help ensure they do not become hosts for any zoonotic diseases.

  4. Using good hygiene when working with livestock, by not eating or smoking while handling them and washing your hands prior to eating.

 Where to from here?

 For further information on intestinal worms we recommend you read Managing worms in sheep, cattle and goats. To identify problem intestinal worms,  ensure your drenching program is effective and save on unnecessary drenching, we recommend you purchase a worm test

Acknowledgement: Barbers pole worm image coutesy of WormBoss website, image supplied by Associate Professor Nick Sangster, University of  Sydney.

The author Barb Vincent from Claravale Park Boer Goat Stud has also written Farming Meat Goats - Breeding, Production and Marketing. Barb has been involved in the meat goat industry for a number of years providing her with a lot of pleasure and fulfilment seeing her goats go off to market or to stud duties on another property. 
News Category

New Forum Topics

Topic Replies Last post Forum
6105 Which is the best site for online shopping in Pakistan?
byshiza3587 on Mon, 06/01/2020 - 22:03
by shiza3587
Mon, 06/01/2020 - 22:03
6104 Sheep per acre
bysena on Sun, 05/31/2020 - 04:05
by admin
Mon, 06/01/2020 - 12:10
5673 Goat Worming
byBrettgarland on Sat, 05/11/2019 - 17:06
by hairy goat
Sun, 05/31/2020 - 09:14
Farming Help
6103 Machine to automatically collect and compost manure
byHStuart18 on Wed, 05/27/2020 - 10:52
by HStuart18
Wed, 05/27/2020 - 10:52
General Forum
5363 Olive trees
bylazzaman on Sat, 12/22/2018 - 19:39
by meriam
Tue, 05/26/2020 - 20:39
General Forum
6073 Typical seasonal variability coastal NSW
byme001 on Wed, 05/13/2020 - 13:40
by me001
Thu, 05/21/2020 - 09:00
Farming Help
3275 Agistment Rates
bymrmrsmrb on Thu, 11/09/2017 - 17:14
by rchalmerssayes
Sun, 05/17/2020 - 15:17
General Forum
1498 Information: solar powered drip irrigation system
byfrisbie on Mon, 12/03/2012 - 21:55
by shahabuddin
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 04:08
General Forum
6071 Tractors
byDJF on Sat, 05/09/2020 - 11:06
by admin
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 09:14
932 Tractors
bygaz on Fri, 07/13/2012 - 13:53
by DJF
Sun, 05/10/2020 - 18:51
General Forum
2918 Starting a farm on the sunshine coast QLD
bygreenpasturesnoosa on Fri, 05/20/2016 - 15:11
by admin
Fri, 05/08/2020 - 11:20
New Members
6032 Seeding practices
byWil on Mon, 05/04/2020 - 20:49
by craka
Thu, 05/07/2020 - 23:16
Farming Help
6043 Making Tractor attachments
byCal and Nanny on Wed, 05/06/2020 - 15:15
by craka
Thu, 05/07/2020 - 22:58
Farm equipment
6028 Guidelines for sheep condition and nutritional signs
byshaz on Sun, 05/03/2020 - 11:57
by admin
Tue, 05/05/2020 - 17:17
6031 Quadbike ROPS
byPhilO on Mon, 05/04/2020 - 18:18
by admin
Tue, 05/05/2020 - 17:09
6029 Goat Farming Course
byphil123 on Sun, 05/03/2020 - 12:47
by phil123
Sun, 05/03/2020 - 23:05
5991 Pasture grass identification
bySammymorgan24 on Sun, 03/29/2020 - 19:31
by shaz
Sun, 05/03/2020 - 12:19
6019 New farm owner licenses
byaitkenr on Tue, 04/21/2020 - 21:36
by ned
Sat, 05/02/2020 - 13:34
Farm planning
5966 Smsf farm buying
byjohnj on Thu, 03/12/2020 - 12:40
by ned
Sat, 05/02/2020 - 13:27
General Forum
6024 Primary Producer Qualification (NSW)
bySteveB on Sat, 04/25/2020 - 20:16
by admin
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 09:39
Farming Help

Our Sponsors

Our Partners