An online training program for FAMACHA© has been developed and piloted by Dr. Katherine Petersson, PhD and Dr. Anne Zajac, DVM, PhD, members of the ACSRPC, as an alternative for small ruminant producers who are unable to attend a workshop. Funds for development of the program are provided by a Northeast SARE grant (LNE15-342) administered by the University of Rhode Island entitled, “New Approaches for Improving Integrated Parasite Control Strategies for Small Ruminants in the Northeast.”
The online training program was launched in March 2016 and as of September 22, 2017, seventy-eight participants have completed the 4-step certification process and another forty participants are in progress. Interest surged during the summer of 2017 and continues with new email inquiries and requests to participate each week. Most participants learn about the program through an online search about the FAMACHA© system and/or integrated parasite control issues, including several referrals from the ACSRPC website. Others are referred to this program by their veterinarians or other producers and breeders, while some learn about it through Facebook groups, electronic newsletters, and listserv announcements.
States/areas with the highest participation include Vermont, Canada, Missouri, Texas, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, and Florida. In addition, the online presence has generated several inquiries from veterinarians who have obtained more information and resources to train, certify, and provide FAMACHA© cards to clients. We have also received inquiries from producers and professionals in Australia, Finland, Switzerland, Guatemala, Greece, and India and have provided project resources and contacts for more information.
When the detailed instructions are followed, the 4-step process seems to be effective and relatively easy to complete for both participants and the administrator. As interest and participation continue to increase, there is an opportunity to refine methods for administering the online post-video summary, record keeping, storing and archiving videos, processing payments and mailings for FAMACHA© cards, and handling participation requests in a timely manner during peak parasite season.
Funding from the Northeast SARE grant (LNE15-342) will continue through December 2018, and The University of Rhode Island plans to seek additional funding to continue and refine the online training program which may include the need to charge a fee for participation. For more information go to http://web.uri.edu/sheepngoat/.