May 2020 Issue

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Subscribe FREE now! Monthly issues with new articles and other educational information on meat goat health, nutrition, and management written by Suzanne W. Gasparotto of Onion Creek Ranch and Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch. In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither Suzanne Gasparotto nor Pat Cotten are veterinarians. None of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

DEWORMING BASICS

If you have recurring problems with stomach worms in your goats, then you have too many goats on too little acreage OR you are trying to raise goats in a too-wet climate OR both.

Across most of the USA, Haemonchus contortus (barberpole stomach worm) is the primary internal parasite causing illness and death in goats. This worm has a short life cycle producing many generations per year, sucks blood thereby depleting red blood cells that carry oxygen to the body's major organs (including heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, brain and muscles) resulting in anemia and death. Note: Coccidiosis, another deadly internal parasite, is a protozoan, and does not respond to dewormers but instead requires a completely different medication. See my article on Coccidiosis on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.

All dewormers that we give to goats are used off-label from another species (usually cattle) and MUST be given orally. We never pour dewormers over their backs and don't give dewormer injections for stomach worms. Pay no attention to label directions; they are not written for goats.

FAMACHA is a valuable field test only. It is an indicator of a possible problem. Do not rely on it as a first or only line of defense. The color of the inner lower eye membrane reveals only those stomach worms that are already sucking blood and causing anemia. FAMACHA does not tell you how many worms are in the goat that haven't yet molted into the stage that sucks blood.

Microscopic fecal egg counts are essential. Green-gridded McMasters-type slides must be used so you can count eggs per gram.

Do not rotate dewormers. Use one dewormer until it quits working, then change to another class of dewormer.

The white-colored dewormers (Safeguard/Panacur, Valbazen) don't kill blood-sucking stomach worms in most of the USA any more. Vets will recommend them because of short withdrawal time in meat and milk residue, but that is irrelevant if the goat died from worms. The "white" dewormers do kill tapeworms, but these worms do not suck blood. In some parts of the USA, the 'mectins (Ivomec and Cydectin) are no longer effective against stomach worms. Doing fecals is critical to finding out the worm loads in your goats.

Don't use feed-based dewormers, dewormers that you top-dress on feed, or "organic" or "all-natural" or "homeopathic" dewormers with goats. Some folks want to believe that they work, so some companies sell them, but they do NOT work. Goats must be dewormed with ethical dewormers made by pharmaceutical companies. Goats have a strict pecking order. If feed-based or top-dressed-on-feed dewormers are used, the goat needing deworming the most will be the one who gets the least amount to eat. ALL dewormers MUST be given orally to goats.

Accurately dose dewormers. Under-dosing or over-dosing allows worms to survive the dewormer. Everything we use for goats is off-label, so you must learn accurate dosing from a knowledgeable source. Proper usage and storage of a dewormer affects its effectiveness.

Use "Smart Drench" techniques. Only deworm goats in need of treatment. Use FAMACHA, fecal egg count, and clinical signs of infection (bottlejaw, rough hair coat, depression, off feed, diarrhea, etc) to identify infected goats. Use a drenching nozzle (not an injection syringe) to place the dewormer dose over the back of the tongue. Dewormer deposited in the front of the mouth doesn't get into the proper part of the goat's stomach and also may be spit out.

Fast the goats. Take goats off feed for 12 hours before and keep them off feed for 12 hours after deworming. Do not ever take goats off water. Obviously, this is not good for nursing does, so schedule de-worming around lactation.

Sometimes you have to use two different dewormers at the same time. When a single dewormer isn't working, combinations of dewormers may be necessary. This will increase the overall worm kill. However, if the goat population is too dense and/or the climate is too wet, this will not solve the problem.

Deworming does not mean it worked. The only way to know if the dewormer actually worked is to do fecal egg counts under a microscope before and after treatment. If you de-worm and the dewormer did not kill 95% of the worms in 7 days, then it did not work and you need to start over with a different class of dewormer. Killing less than 95% of the worms simply means that it killed the susceptible worms and the resistant worms survived.

Frequent deworming makes the wormload worse. Stomach worms develop resistance to dewormers very quickly. We have few choices and new dewormers are unlikely.

Do fecal counts under a microscope regularly. Doing fecal egg counts randomly at least once a month and FAMACHA every two weeks from late spring to early fall will help identify goats needing treatment. The only way to know what kinds of worms and what wormload exists is by doing fecals. Fecal egg counts are the first line of defense in the war on worms.

Learn to do your own fecals. Buy an MSK-01 microscope (corded, not battery powered, and usually available on www.amazon.com) and the necessary supplies. "How do do your own fecals" is on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com. For further parasite training, attend GoatCamp™ at Onion Creek Ranch each October to receive microscopic fecal egg count training and FAMACHA certification by Dr. James Miller, DVM, PhD, parasitologist, Louisiana State University.

Over-crowded conditions and/or climate too wet = death sentence for goats. Under such conditions, you can de-worm repeatedly and not solve the problem. Some locales are simply not suitable for raising goats.

You can't count on finding veterinarians for goat advice and care. Goats are a minor ruminant species (less than two million in the USA in 2013 and declining in numbers, down from 12 million in 1990), so vets don't receive much formal education about goats. Goats are not a sizable market for vets or pharmaceutical companies, so goat raisers have to learn about goat care from other reliable sources. You definitely need a vet for prescription medications, surgery, and broken bones. Find one.

Find a mentor who knows goats. Educate yourself, with that person's assistance, to better care for your goats.

If you are having a recurring problem with stomach worm loads in your goats, you have too many goats on too little acreage and it is likely too wet in your area to raise goats. It is that simple.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas, May 1, 2020

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Twin sister of TexMaster™ kid born 5.8.20.

Note the smaller birth size for ease of kidding and fast growth as shown in picture of kid born 4.22.20

TexMaster™ kid (twin) born 5.8.20

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TexMaster™ kid born 4.22.20

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Tennessee Meat Goats™ and TexMasters™ are the cream of the meat goat industry. Contact us for availability, ages and pricing by calling 512-265-2090 or emailing onioncreek@tennesseemeatgoats.com

 

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