Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

Welcome to the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Control's Frequently Asked Questions Page. Send your question(s) to sschoen@umd.edu. It will be answered by a member of the consoritum and published on this page.

Q.  What is a FAMACHA© card?

 

A.  FAMACHA© card is a laminated card that has color illustrations of eyes from sheep having different levels of anemia. Anemia (paleness due to blood loss) is the primary symptom of infection with Haemonchus contortus (barber pole worm). Animals can be classifed into different categories by comparing the color of their ocular mucous membranes with the colors depicted on the card. It is recommended that only anemic animals (those with FAMACHA© scores of 4 or 5 and sometimes 3) be treated with an effective anthelmintic.

 

Q. How do I get a FAMACHA© card?

 

A. In order to receive a FAMACHA© card, non-veterinarians must receive proper instruction in the FAMACHA© method. Please read our open letter to sheep and goat producers regarding the FAMACHA© program. Veterinarians can order FAMACHA© cards by sending an e-mail to famacha@uga.edu.

 

Q. Where can I take a FAMACHA© training?

 

A. FAMACHA© workshops are held throughout the United States. Contact your local extension office or state small ruminant specialist to find out if there are any upcoming workshops in your area. The American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control maintains a list of upcoming FAMACHA© workshops on the web site. If you would like to add a workshop to the list, please contact the webmaster at sschoen@umd.edu

Online FAMACHA© certification is now available through a 4-step process via the University of Rhode Island. The training is endorsed by ACSRPC. Click HERE to learn more.

 

Q. Where can I find a FAMACHA© instructor?

 

A. The American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control maintains a list of qualified FAMACHA© instructors. If there aren't any instructors listed for your state, contact your local extension office or the state small ruminant specialist to find out if there any instructors in your area. Some of the instructors listed on the web site may be willing to travel to your location to conduct a FAMACHA© workshop. Your local veterinarian may also be able to provide training.

 

Q. Where can I buy a McMaster slide?

 

A.  A McMaster slide is a special slide that is used for fecal egg counting. McMaster slides can be purchased from several companies, including the Chalex Corporation, Eggzamin™, FEC Source, Focal Point (South Africa), and Hausser Scientific.  Please contact the webmaster, if you know of other sources of McMaster slides.

 

Q. What is the Five Point Check©?

 

A.  The Five Point Check© is an extension of the FAMACHA© system, a decision-making tool that allows farmers to make deworming decisions for all of the worm parasites that commonly affect small ruminants. Developed by researchers in South Africa, the Five Point Check© involves five check points on the animal: 1) ocular mucous membranes (FAMACHA© score); 2) back (body condition score); 3) tail (dag score); 4) jaw (bottle jaw); and 5) nose (nasal discharge). The Five Point Check© was developed for sheep. For goats, some people substitute coat condition for the nose (nasal bots) check point or incorporate additional criteria.

Q. What is anthelmintic resistance?

 

A.  Anthelmintic (dewormer) resistance is present in a population of worms when efficacy of the drug falls below that which is normally expected, when other causes have been ruled out. Amplication of resistance within a worm population to clinically relevant levels is a slow and gradual process, requiring numerous generations under drug selection (usually taking several to many years).

 

Q. How do I determine if anthelmintic resistance is present on my farm?

 

A.  There are two ways to test for anthelmintic (dewormer) resistance. Before and after fecal egg counts can be compared to determine the effectiveness of a treatment. This is a called a fecal egg count reduction test (FECRT). Resistance is present when treatment fails to reduce fecal egg counts by 95 percent or more. The other method to test for anthelmintic resistance is the DrenchRite® Larval Development Assay (LDA). It is a lab test. Resistance to all drug classes can be determined from a single pooled fecal sample.  Dr. Ray Kaplan's lab at the University of Georgia is the only place in North America where the DrenchRite® test is done. Send an email to jscb@uga.edu for details. It is recommended that producers test for anthelmintic resistance every 2-3 years.

 

Q. What is the proper way to FAMACHA© score a sheep, goat, or camelid?

 

A. Cover the eye by rolling the upper eyelid down over the eyeball. Push down the eyeball. An easy way to tell if you are using enough pressure is that you should see the eye lashes of the upper eyelid are curling up over your thumb. Pull down the lower eyelid. Pop! The mucous membranes will pop into view. Make sure that you do not score the inner surface of the lower eyelid, but rather score the bed of the mucous membranes.  Watch video.

 

Q. What is a "combination" treatment and why is it now recommended?

 

A. A COMBINATION treatment is when more than one dewormer is given at the same time (sequentially, not mixed in the same syringe). There is an additive effect when more than one dewormer is used at the same time. By achieving a higher efficacy, fewer resistant worms survive treatment, thus resulting in a greater dilution of resistant worms in the worm population. Combination treatments are now recommended as the best approach to reduce the development of resistant worms. In order to maintain refugia, a selective treatment approach is essential when using combination treatments.

Q. What is "refugia" and why is it important?

 

A. REFUGIA are the portion of the worm population that have not been exposed to a particular deworming product, thus escaping genetic selection for resistance.  Refugia can be worms inside the animal or larvae on the pasture. Refugia are considered key to maintaining worm populations that are susceptible to drug treatment. Refugia-based strategies should prolong effectiveness of anthelmintics.

 

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