BioWorma – Natural Parasite Control

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

BioWorma is the one of the latest products developed in the livestock sector to be used as an additional management tool to control for internal parasites. At this time, BioWorma has been registered by International Animal Health Products Pty Ltd in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. This product is said to become available to producers in AU and NZ by early July, but as for the US, BioWorma must first receive EPA approval. Upon approval, regulation of use and distribution will be established by each state. Until then, gathering a better understanding of the product itself and how it can be implemented on-farm will be key to its success here in the US.

As described in this educational leaflet, BioWorma is a nutritional supplement that contains a natural biological control to reduce infective nematode populations in the manure of grazing animals. The natural biological control used in this product is Duddingtonia flagrans, a fungal spore that is naturally found in soils and among grazing systems. Duddingtonia flagrans is a nematophagous fungus, which in Greek means “worm eating” fungus. Just as the Latin definition explains, once Duddingtonia flagrans spores germinate, the fungus forms trapping organs that traps, paralyzes, and consumes parasitic larvae present in the manure pack of grazing animals. Duddingtonia flagrans spores are not activated in the digestive system of an animal, therefore the spores are passed through the animal and deposited on pasture. In addition, Duddingtonia flagrans is host specific in which it only affects parasitic larvae making this product both animal and environmentally friendly.

So how is BioWorma used on-farm?

BioWorma is a supplement that is fed once daily at a rate of 1 gram per kilogram of live body weight. The fungal spores are supplemented to grazing livestock to deposit the fungal spores in the manure pack. A unique property of Duddingtonia flagrans is that it germinates under the same environmental conditions as common detrimental parasites found on pasture  (i.e. Haemonchus contortus). Therefore when parasitic eggs begin to hatch and develop into infective stages of larvae, Duddingtonia flagrans will also be active and begin to consume the larvae present in the pasture system. As approximately 90% of all parasites in a production system are located on pasture whereas the remaining 10% are within the grazing animals. Therefore, using this product makes sense to begin eliminating the issue of parasitic infection as the greatest number of parasites are found on pasture.

With this being said, producers should familiarize themselves with the feeding directions in which are provided on the manufacturers label. For example, before feeding BioWorma, producers should treat all animals with a suitable chemical de-wormer. As Duddingtonia flagrans acts upon infective stages of larvae found in the manure pack and on pasture, it will not be effective in clearing the host of its parasitic burden. Remember, this fungal spore is not active in the animal in which it is fed to. In addition, BioWorma use is recommended during periods of time in which parasites on pasture are of greatest concern. According to the manufacturers label, BioWorma should be used when temperatures are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. For more details regarding BioWorma’s use, please following the manufacturers label.

As parasitic infection continues to be a great concern to those producers who rely on pastures as a means to feed and manage their livestock, alternative management strategies to decrease parasitic populations is critical. An added benefit of Duddingtonia flagrans is that this product has shown to reduce the number of infective worm larvae on pasture, including those populations of parasites that are resistant to many of today’s de-worming products. This is a great finding as we know that the most difficult parasites to control and manage are those that have developed some type of resistance to our current management strategies. For those producers that continue to face the challenges associated with parasitic infection in your operation, the implementation of this technology may serve as a beneficial management strategy that can be added to your tool box!

For more information regarding this novel method in parasite management, check out