Evaluating the relationship between fecal egg count, FAMACHA score, and weight in dewormed and non-dewormed Katahdin rams during a parasite challenge

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Oxford University Press


The objective of this study was to evaluate and to estimate the relationship between fecal egg counts (FECs) and FAMACHA score and the body weight of growing Katahdin rams during a parasite challenge. One of the largest factors negatively influencing reproduction and economics in the sheep industry is gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) parasites. Due to anthelmintic resistance of these parasites, animals are selected for parasite resistance using FEC and FAMACHA scores. Data were used from the Virginia Tech Southwest Agricultural Research and Extension Center Ram Test in Glade Spring, VA, from the year 2012 to 2018 in which animals were tested in 14-d intervals for 70 d. Mixed models for repeated weight measurements were made from backward stepwise selection to evaluate the relationships between weight and GIN FEC. A total of 576 animals within 23 contemporary groups derived from test year and pasture group were analyzed. Ram, contemporary group, and consignor were considered random effects, and fixed effects were birth type, test day, age, age squared, starting weight, FEC, and FAMACHA score. Pairwise contrasts were used in the statistical analysis of parameters and their interactions. Weight and age were found to have a quadratic relationship. Increased FEC was associated with weight loss at a rate of 0.00030 kg/FEC (P < 0.0001). Animals dewormed at any point during the trial weighed less than those that were not and increased with test day to a maximum difference of 4.66 kg (P < 0.001). FAMACHA score was found to be significant (P < 0.05), but a direct relationship with weight was not conclusive. Overall, rams with severe enough parasite load to require deworming had lesser weights, which could impact the profitability of sheep production and reinforced the need to select animals that had greater innate parasite resistance.



gastrointestinal nematodes, growth, ram test