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Blood-Sucking Barber's Pole

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Bethan Martin


19 March 2021

Barber's Pole worm (Haemonchus controtus) is the vampire of the parasite world. The parasite infects sheep and goats, sucking so much blood it causes severe anaemia. Goats and sheep with large burdens will be lethargic, pale, scour and may develop bottle-jaw, with death not being uncommon. The first time you know you have a problem may be when you see dead animals. Barber's Pole worm replicates very quickly in the hot, humid conditions of summer. It has a 14-day lifecycle and adults lay up to 10,000 eggs per day (most other worms only lay 200 eggs per day). The eggs hatch and the immature larvae burrow into the stomach to start sucking blood. As most goat farmers are well aware, goats don't develop the same level of resistance to worms as cows and sheep do, and so can develop large burdens easily. They are most at risk when kept at pasture, but even indoor goats are at risk. Faecal egg counts will show the extent of the issue in your herd. At post mortem the worms are large so can be seen in the abomasum (stomach) with their characteristic "candy cane" markings. Most worm drenches will kill adult worms, but talk to us about what drench program is best for you.



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