Small stock production: The five-point check for internal parasites in small stock


This five-point assessment method allows farmers to identify several diseases and parasites in their small livestock. This enables you to diagnose and prevent diseases and death on your farm.


Nasal discharge

By checking the nose, you can immediately see if there are any sign of nasal worm (Oestrus ovis) contamination. This parasite causes a watery, or purulent, discharge in goats and sheep.

Sheep are more often affected by the pest than goats. Affected animals are unlikely to die due to the larvae, but the parasite has a negative effect on weight increase and, for example, the smell of a ram during mating season, and the ewe during lambing.

It is important that rams should be clean during mating season to enable them to smell the ewes on heat and for the ewes to be able to recognise their own lambs through smell.

Other diseases/parasites: lungworm, pneumonia, blue tongue, ammonia


The FAMACHA© system is based on the well-known fact that not all animals are equally affected by parasites, even when they are in the same group and exposed to the same parasite risk. In the past, we had no way of telling easily which animals were worst affected and therefore needed treatment most. So, we treated them all, which was expensive, unnecessary and quickly caused drug resistance.

Smallholder farmers can save a lot of money and play an important role to curb resistance in worms by rather dosing individual animals.

Healthy sheep and goats that have adapted to survive in harmony with these parasites, have red mucous membranes in their eyes, and don’t need dosing.

With wireworms (and some other parasites, like liver fluke and hookworms) we can use the degree of anaemia or blood loss to identify the severity of infection, by examining the colour of the eye’s mucous membranes.

Wireworm is a problem, especially in the summer. The worms’ eggs need moisture and heat to hatch.

There are, however, other conditions that may cause the mucous membranes in the eyes to appear redder, concealing anaemia. These include dusty conditions, very hot weather, moving animals over a long distance, any fever reaction, eye infection and disease linked to heart failure.

Other diseases/parasites: whipworm, hookworm, large mouthed bowel worm, fluke worm, pear shaped worm.


To determine the body score of your animal, you must check its loin.

The extent to which you can feel the spine, loin eye muscle, and fat cover determines the body score.


Other diseases/parasites: brown stomach worm, bankrupt worm, long-necked bankrupt worm, white bankrupt worm, nodule worm, large mouthed bowel worm, whipworm, pear shaped worm and tape worm.


Scoring system for dag score: Picture: ResearchGate

0. No visible faeces, no action/treatment needed.
1. Very slight soiling on the edge of the tail/on each side, no action/treatment needed.
2. Slight soiling on edge of tail and on each side, usually no treatment/action needed.
3. Moderate soiling on tail and wool, DAG formation – consider treatment.
4. Severe soiling, extending far into the wool, severe DAG formation. Treatment needed, crutching recommended.
5. Very severe, watery diarrhoea extending to the hocks. Treatment and crutching essential.

Other diseases/parasites: brown stomach worm, bankrupt worm, long-necked bankrupt worm, white bankrupt worm, nodule worm, large mouthed bowel worm, whipworm, pear shaped worm, tape worm and coccidiosis.


The most common parasites to cause bottle jaw are wireworm or liver fluke. It is well known that worms or internal parasites cause production losses and even death in sheep and goats.

Signs of disease such as nasal secretion and “bottle jaw” caused by parasites,

These worms cause weight and protein loss – having a dramatic impact on the immune system and fertility. The animals have a limited protein level and can’t produce a sufficient immune reaction and animals are now even more prone to severe diseases and infection.



The development and implementation of the FAMACHA© system goes back almost 20 years. As the concept was first developed and tested by Dr Faffa Malan, it was named FA(ffa) – Ma(lan) – CHA(rt) in his honour.

Extensive testing and fine-tuning followed, with funding from many sources including the South African National Wool Growers Association (NWGA), Red Meat Producers Organisation (RPO), Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The card, instruction pamphlets and other material followed, accompanied by training for farmers and their staff.

The system has been tested very widely outside South Africa, too, and is available internationally. It is now accepted world-wide as the first proven, practical method of applying Targeted Selective Treatment.

The FAMACHA© system is advocated for use by all farmers who have wireworm as a significant parasite in their sheep.


South African National Wool Growers Association – Die 5-punt ondersoekmetode vir beter kuddegesondheid (Juan Venter, Prof Gareth Bath) – Die vyfpuntplan (Dok/Dr Faffa Malan) – Condition Scoring of Sheep

Read more:

Keep your goats disease free

Protect your assets and vaccinate sheep and goats by following this vaccine programme

Manage your goats – keep the worm and tick loads down

Manage gut parasites for profitable goat farming

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