FAMACHA is a new system designed to control the parasite Haemonchus Contortus in sheep and goats. This parasite is one of the most problematic among small ruminants. It is an intestinal parasite that survives by sucking the blood of its host. The parasite actually lives in the abomasums of sheep and goats, also known as the true stomach. The parasite sucks large amounts of blood and the result is a severely anemic animal that most frequently dies. The FAMACHA system was developed in South Africa by Francois Malan. There is a huge problem with worm control in South Africa in the meat goat industry, and the FAMACHA system was developed as a means of controlling Haemonchus Contortus in small ruminants.
As in controlling any parasite, resistance to dewormers is a huge problem when treating Haemonchus. It is this problem that hinders the ability of many sheep and goat producers to be successful in their industry. Instead of treating every animal in the herd or flock, FAMACHA allows the producer only to treat the animals that truly need to be treated for Haemonchus Contortus. This aids in lowering the resistance among the flock to the dewormers that inevitably occurs when animals are wormed on a regular basis.
Anemia, as mention above, is the main symptom caused by infection with Haemonchus Contortus. The FAMACHA system relies on this symptom to decide which animals need to be dewormed and which do not. The system relies on a system of diagnosis relating to the color of the eyelid of the animal. The University of Kentucky has developed a chart showing the different levels of anemia (*See adjacent chart) , and at what levels the animal is safe to go on without being treated for Haemonchus Contortus, and at what levels the animal is at risk and should be dosed to get rid of the worm.
The main technique that must be mastered in order to successfully utilize the FAMACHA system is being able to recognize anemia in the eyelid of the animal. It is relatively easier for two people to move quickly through a herd of sheep or goats and restrain each one and check the color of their eyelid. These results are much quicker, and less labor intensive than routinely taking fecal samples from a herd and doing egg counts. However, it is still recommended that egg counts are done every two or so years to make certain that the wormer being used to dose the anemic animals is effective. This method also allows one to check every goat and be able to select in the future for animals that seem to show more resistance to Haemonchus Contortus.
*USE ONLY the official FAMACHA evaluation chart since printing this one may distort the colors.