BioWorma: A New Weapon Against Roundworms in Livestock

Later this month, there will be a new product on the market in the US and New Zealand that farmers and ranchers can feed to their livestock to reduce their burden of roundworms. In goats and sheep, that includes the infamous barber pole worm, as well as bankrupt worm and brown stomach worm.

The good news is that BioWorma is not just another chemical dewormer, which worms can become resistant to. It’s Duddingtonia flagrans, a natural fungus that eats the worm larvae in manure. Fungal spores are added to the livestock feed and go through the animal’s digestive tract unchanged. After the manure lands in the pasture, the fungus goes to work eating the larvae as the eggs hatch in the manure. This breaks the life cycle of the roundworm, which gets out of control because animals are continually re-ingesting larvae from the pasture. (That’s why pasture rotation is so important.) In fact, it is estimated that 90 percent of worms on a farm are actually in the pasture rather than inside animals.

D. flagrans exists all over the world in a natural state, and is genetically the same regardless of where it is found. Researchers have been studying its use as a biological control for about 20 years now. It’s been studied in a variety of livestock, from sheep in Swedencalves in Mexico, and goats, as well as sheep in Brazil. If you like to read scientific research, you can keep yourself busy for a couple of days. Just search for “Duddingtonia flagrans,” and you’ll find dozens of published studies.

Because this fungus is a very picky eater, you don’t have to worry about it upsetting the balance of anything else in the environment, such as earthworms or soil nematodes. The fungus only consumes roundworm larvae in manure of grazing animals, so it won’t work with poultry. Since it is eating the larvae, not killing them, it’s unlikely the larvae will become resistant to them the way they become resistant to chemical dewormers. (Has anything ever become resistant to being eaten?)

It’s also important to understand that the fungus does not consume 100% of the larvae, so things like pasture rotation are still important. Animals have lived with parasites inside their bodies since the beginning of time, and it’s not an entirely bad thing. We just don’t want the worms to get out of control and make the animals sick, and that’s exactly what the research showed. The fungus reduced the worm load enough that animals did not need chemical deworming.

This product won’t be for everyone, but I do see it as a lifesaver for those who are losing animals to worms because of dewormer resistance.

For a better understanding of how it works, check out the video below.

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26 thoughts on “BioWorma: A New Weapon Against Roundworms in Livestock”

  1. Deborah,
    Do you have a post about medicines I should have on hand with our babies we’re getting from you in a few weeks? Or maybe not medicines, but remedies, we should keep on hand?
    -Michelle Morgan

    Reply
    • With only a couple of goats, you would likely wind up throwing it all away unopened when it expires in a few years. I even do that sometimes. Goats rarely need meds, so you don’t usually need to keep anything on hand. I have a bottle of penicillin in my refrigerator, but that’s about it. When I got started, I bought everything. I spent a small fortune and then realized I didn’t need hardly any of it. A lot of people have a tendency to throw the medicine cabinet at a goat when it’s off, but the more you learn about them, the more you can figure out exactly what’s up and be more specific about treatment. And when you buy goats from me, you can always call me and brainstorm when something is up.

      Reply
      • Other than liquid form antibiotics, you should never throw away medicines at expiration date. They are still just as safe and effective for as much as 10 years beyond exp date! The military did a study on this very thing a decade or more ago because they are a huge stockpiler of pharmaceuticals and were faced with potentially having to regularly dispose of and repurchase millions of dollars of drugs. They tested 100’s of meds for safety and efficacy every year after expiration for up to ten years and found that pretty much every one was perfectly fine after five years and many up to ten years. The only drugs they found to lose efficacy by the expiration date was antibiotics in liquid form (not pill). This is a published study that you can find on the internet, although it does take some digging to find. I had this question about drugs years ago and went digging. I’ve never thrown out a pharmaceutical since. I don’t have money to waste propping up pharma profit margins and I’m sure most of your readers don’t either!!

        Reply
  2. Love your channel , was half asleep the other night allowing auto play and heard you say oh this killed all my hair algae by the way opened my eyes and think i heard you say it was a dewormer you had used? Sadly i fell asleep and didnt save the video to my faves or remember what exactly you had used. Can you give me the name? Trying to get rid of hair algae out of subwassertang is almost impossible manually .

    Reply
  3. Why does it have to be fed to the grazing animal if it works in the dung pile after elimination? Could it just be spread I. The mature piles themselves instead of feeding?

    Reply
    • It would be impossible to find all of the poop in the pasture. Goat berries fall down into the grass, so you don’t even see most of it.

      Reply
      • I have a similar question – can sprinkling some on the pasture help reduce the load as well as feeding it to my goats? We have very limited pasture area, so there is no real way to keep them off it other than to lock them in the barn, which we don’t want to do.

        Reply
        • No, it must be fed to the goats. It would be a waste to spread it on the pasture. That is not how it works. Also, this is very expensive to use because it must be fed daily. It is really only for people who have a problem with dewormer resistance.

          Reply
  4. I have a herd of about 120 goats and 7 heifers. They run on 90 acres. I have it fenced off in 2 sections. One 20 acre section and a 70 acre section. I deal with worms on a regular basis. I use a chemical wormer and a month or two later the worms are back. If I use bioworma will will the fungus travel to other manure piles if they are close by or does it die in the pile that it comes out in and is it possible for the bioworma fungus to live in the ground for a short period of time? I get that I will still need to worm a couple of times to take care of the worms that the goats still have inside their stomach. I also know that there will still be some worms in the ground prior using the bioworma. Is it feasible for this product to work in my favor or would it be way to expensive or would I have to use it at a certain time of the year when the temps are lower than 40 degrees?

    Reply
    • The reason you have a worm problem is because you are not rotational grazing. Ideally you will have the animals in an area where they will eat all the grass in about 4-5 days, then you move them to the next area. Right now they are eating from their toilet and reinfecting themselves with worm larvae daily. Even though they have a large area, there will be areas (usually near resting and watering places) where the grass will be eaten down very short, and they keep going back and eating that because the short stuff is sweeter and softer than the more mature grass. Any grass under 4-6 inches probably has worm larvae on it. And at this point, the worms are probably becoming resistant to your dewormers. Been there, done that more than 10 years ago. When the dewormers stop working, you just sit there and watch the goats die because nothing works.

      Bioworma is a very expensive answer. Buying ElectroNet from Premier1 would be much cheaper in the long run, so you can subdivide your pastures. Bioworma has to be fed every day. Yes it stays in the manure, which is exactly where it needs to be. The worm eggs are in the manure — that’s why you have to feed it every day, so that the Bioworma is in every manure pile. You will need to feed it every day when temperatures are above 50 degrees, which is when the worm eggs in the pasture are hatching.

      Reply
  5. Va multumesc pentru aceste informatii foarte utile.Anul acesta au murit 8 copii de aproximativ 3 luni.Ce asi putea sa le dau preventiv?

    Reply
  6. Just checked recently. Not available in Canada yet. I would be willing to give it a try though, just as a prevention.

    Reply
    • I should revise this article. This stuff is expensive and has to be fed all the time. If you can practice rotational grazing or put your goats on a dry lot, you basically get the same result. But not everyone can do that. It just reduces the larvae on pasture so prevents reinfection just like putting goats on clean pasture or a dry lot.

      Reply

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