The fungus is coming (Shepherd’s Notebook)
(Editor’s note: Susan Schoenian is a sheep and goat specialist with the University of Maryland.)
Duddingtonia flagrans is a naturally-occurring fungus that traps and kills infective worm larvae.
When it is consumed by grazing livestock, it reduces pasture infectivity; thereby, lowering fecal egg counts and worm burdens in livestock.
After more than 20 years of study, an animal health company in Australia has commercialized the fungus. It is being sold under the trade name BioWorma.
A companion product called Livamol with BioWorma is also being marketed.
According to the product label, BioWorma contains 34.6 perecent fungus (500,000 units/gram).
Due to EPA restrictions, its distribution is limited to veterinarians, feed mills, and premixers. Livamol with BioWorma is a nutritional supplement that contains 2.2-percent fungus (30,000 units/gram). It will be available over the counter to end users (producers). It is recommended that BioWorma be consumed daily by livestock.
The product can be drenched, top-dressed, or incorporated into a feed or mineral product.
The label recommends BioWorma “for use during periods when conditions are conducive to larval development and transmission onto pasture at temperatures above 40 degreesF).”
The most worm-susceptible animals are periparturient females and young lambs and kids.
It is important to emphasize that BioWorma has no effect in the animal. Clinically-parasitized animals will still require treatment with effective dewormers.
BioWorma is a feed-through product, intended to reduce pasture contamination. The fungal spores pass through the animals’ digestive systems unaffected. The action is in the manure. After the fungus kill the worm larvae, they die.
BioWorma is not known to have any detrimental effects on the environment or non-targeted species (earthworms, insects, bacteria, or other fungus).
BioWorma has some limitations. It cannot get wet or it loses its activity.
It cannot be put in a pellet. It is not organic, though organic certification may be possible in the future. Its shelf life is about two years. BioWorma is only effective against roundworm (nematode) larvae. It has no effect on the life cycles of coccidia, tapeworms, or flukes.
BioWorma is currently being sold in Australia and New Zealand.
It was approved last spring in the United States; however, state-by-state approvals are necessary before the product can be marketed.
As of December 2018, BioWorma had been approved in 45 states, including Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware.
The first container load of BioWorma products left Australia (bound for the United States) in mid-December. It is not known when products will be available to veterinarians and producers or how long it will take for BioWorma to be incorporated into commercial feed and mineral products. Stay tuned!
While the cost of BioWorma and its companion product are not yet known, it is expected that the product will be costly. Consequently, it will be important to use it strategically and according to the recommendations of the manufacturer and American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control.
BioWorma is not a “silver bullet.”
It is simply another tool that producers can use to help control worm parasites in their flocks and herds. All producers will need to do a cost-benefit analysis before deciding if/when to use the product(s).
For more information, visit www.bioworma.com or visit www.wormx.info.