Reducing anthelmintic inputs in organic farming: Are small ruminant farmers integrating alternative strategies to control gastrointestinal nematodes?

Caroline Chylinski, Spiridoula Athanasiadou, Thuer Susann Thüer, Christian Grovermann, Simon Moakes, Hervé Hoste, Saulius Petkevicius, Cynthia Verwer, Jan Verkaik, Steffen Werne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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To counter the global spread of anthelmintic resistance (AR), considerable efforts have been invested in the development and dissemination of sustainable alternatives to control gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) infections in small ruminants. The degree to which these have been accepted and integrated by farmers, particularly in organic systems, where the drive to reduce chemical inputs is arguably even more pressing, has been little studied. To identify whether more comprehensive actions are needed to support the uptake of alternative GIN controls amongst organic farmers, this study conducted a survey in five European countries on organic dairy goat and meat sheep farmers to gain insight into current GIN control strategies and farmer attitudes towards AR and alternative measures in these countries. The structured survey was disseminated in the five European countries Switzerland, France, Netherlands, Lithuania and United Kingdom, receiving a total of 425 responses, 106 from organic dairy goat farmers and 319 from organic meat sheep farmers. Regression analyses were carried out to identify factors impacting anthelmintic drenching on meat sheep production systems, whereas all data were analysed descriptively. Four key findings emerged: i) The frequency of anthelmintic treatments averaged less than two per animal a year in all production systems; ii) Overall, organic farmers seemed well informed on the availability of alternative GIN control methods, but fewer stated to put them into practice; iii) Targeted selective treatment (TST) strategies of anthelmintics appears to be not commonly incorporated by organic farmers; iv) Despite operating under national and EU organic regulations, each of the organic dairy goat (Switzerland, France and Netherlands) and meat sheep (Switzerland, Lithuania and United Kingdom) production systems developed distinct approaches for GIN control. To increase uptake of alternatives to GIN control and optimise anthelmintic use, initiatives that promote research dissemination, farmer participatory and knowledge transfer activities at national level would be desirable.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109864
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Early online date22 Dec 2022
Publication statusPrint publication - Mar 2023


  • Alternative control
  • Anthelmintic
  • Gastrointestinal nematodes
  • Organic farming
  • Small ruminants
  • Farmers
  • Goats
  • Humans
  • Sheep Diseases/drug therapy
  • Organic Agriculture
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases/veterinary
  • Animals
  • Goat Diseases/drug therapy
  • Sheep
  • Nematode Infections/prevention & control
  • Nematoda
  • Anthelmintics/therapeutic use
  • Ruminants
  • Drug Resistance


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