I want information about

I want information about
Home Roundworms of Sheep and Goats Black Scour Worms – Goats and Sheep

Black Scour Worms – Goats and Sheep

(Trichostrongylus species)

Black scour worms occur in all sheep and goat production districts of Australia. Trichostrongylus colubriformis and T. vitrinus are the main species that cause disease. T. rugatus is more commonly seen in arid regions while T. axei is not often seen. These worms are often also called “trichs” (pronounced: trikes).

Image: Black scour worm (Source: Professor Nick Sangster, University of Sydney)

Generally, T. colubriformis occurs in the warmer summer rainfall areas while T. vitrinus occurs more frequently in winter rainfall areas.

T. vitrinus is considerably more pathogenic than T. colubriformis, meaning that sheep or goats need to be treated at lower egg counts.

All scour worms are small, hair-like worms tapered at one end. Males are 4–6mm long and the females are 5–7mm long, and not easily seen at post mortem. T. axei inhabits the abomasum while the other black scour worms live in the first three metres of the small intestine of the sheep or goat where they cause damage to the lining of the gut resulting in nutritional disturbances. The adult female in the small intestine typically lays 100–200 eggs per day that are passed out in the dung.

Further ecological information on worms and their control:


Small intestine (first three metres) except for T.axei which inhabits the abomasum.


Visible signs of worms include lethargy and collapse, weight loss, damage and inflammation of the gut resulting in diarrhoea (scouring), hypersensitivity of the gut resulting in diarrhoea (scouring). Death can result.

Image: (Left) Normal surface of the small intestine (Right) The wall of the small intestine damaged by black scour worm (Source: Dr Ian Beveridge, University of Melbourne)


The only accurate way to diagnose worm infections before productivity losses have occurred is to conduct a WormTest (worm egg count). Also request a larval culture. The results allow you to make the best choice of drench for the situation.

Visible signs of worms only occur after significant production loss has already occurred. Also, these signs can occur with other parasites and diseases.


There are many options to treat for this worm and your choice will depend on:

  • the current size of the burden of this worm
  • which other worms are also present and in what proportion
  • which drenches are effective on your property and the length of protection you are seeking
  • the likely worm-risk over the next few months
  • the likely level of worm contamination on your pastures
  • the class of sheep or goat affected and their susceptibility to worms
  • the last drench group/s you used on this (and other) mobs
  • the time until these sheep or goats are sold/slaughtered and the withholding period and export slaughter interval of drenches you might use

Your decision can be assisted by using the Drench Decision Guide, a simple tool that considers some of the points above:

You can also review the drench pages on the ‘Treat’ tab of this site to find out more information about drenches, including choosing and using drenches, drench groups and actives, length of protection, which worms they treat, withholding period, export slaughter interval and manufacturer, and using drenches correctly and legally in goats.

Note: only a few drench types are registered for use in goats.

The negative impact of this worm can also be reduced through browsing and grazing management strategies and by using one of the integrated worm control programs that have been developed for different regions across Australia:

Subscribe to the Boss Bulletin

Subscribe the the Boss Bulletin for monthly updates and articles about all things parasite management

Subscribe here

Notice: you are leaving the ParaBoss main website

www.wecqa.com.au is a secondary ParaBoss website hosted by the University of New England (UNE). Whilst this is still an official ParaBoss website, UNE is solely responsible for the website’s branding, content, offerings, and level of security. Please refer to the website’s posted Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.