Sheep baby boom aids in university research

Sheep baby boom aids in university research

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Doctors said they are conducting important research at the Arkansas State University Farm and more animals on campus is helping in the effort.

Dr. Kevin Humphrey and Dr. Stephanie Pulley are leading the way in research that may lead to fewer issues with worms in sheep.

Currently, sheep are treated for worms with drugs but some sheep become immune to them. Humphrey and Pulley hope Camelina, a plant, will be a natural medicine.

"The parasites that they are carrying are becoming immune to the chemical type of wormers being used," Humphrey said.

Dr. Humphrey hopes Camelina can be a long term option.

With worms being so harmful to the sheep to the point it could cause death, Christina Scott, a student at Arkansas State University said it could have a negative affect on agriculture.

"They're used for a mixture of things, mainly meat and wool," Scott said.

Dr. Humphrey said that he has found what the magic ingredient is within the Camelina plant that makes it so useful.

"Plants that have condensed tannins seem to have an impact on reducing internal parasites so we've found that Camelina has condensed tannins," Humphrey said.

The research isn't just being used on any sheep though, Scott said the study is currently focused on pregnant sheep.

"In our study we have 57 sheep with 56 of them expecting," Scott said.

With all of the sheep expecting, Humphrey said it also gives them other ways to check how the sheep are reacting to the new way of treating worms

"We're going to be able to actually see through the milk, and other ways of assessment, whether or not the group that is receiving the Camelina in their ration, if that has any other impact on the lambs," Humphrey said.

Humphrey said that because conducting the research on pregnant sheep isn't a necessity. His research will be able to continue even after the sheep have given birth over the next few weeks.

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