May 2020 Issue



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Internal parasites are the biggest health management problem facing goat raisers. Stomach worms and coccidia kill more goats than all other illnesses combined. In fact, stomach worms compromise a goat's immune system to the point that it is susceptible to diseases like pneumonia and listeriosis.

The internal parasite that causes most health problems with worms in the USA is Haemonchus contortus (barberpole stomach worm), which sucks blood, causing anemia and death. Anemia is the loss of red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to all internal organs (heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, brain) and MUSCLES. A severely anemic goat cannot think or even stand. You should schedule routine monthly microscopic examinations of goat pills (feces) for worms and coccidia. Do not wait for a problem; prevent it.

Doing fecals is easy. All you need are a few supplies and some goat poop. An inexpensive yet suitable microscope is the MSK-01 by C&A Scientific (10X-40X-400X) with a movable stage. The movable stage allows the user to move the slide from side to side when looking through the monocular (single) eyepiece The MSK-01 microscope, either corded or battery operated, is available on the Internet on and other sites. Don't buy a high-powered microscope; it will allow you to see trash and will confuse you.

Additional supplies needed are:

1) 50 ml ((cc) test tubes with caps

2) 125-150 ml (cc) cup

3) McMaster green-gridded slides Chalex Corp. carries a generic version of these green-gridded slides.

4) Fecal floatation solution (sodium nitrate solution can be obtained online or from a vet)

Note: You can make fecal floatation solution from sugar and water, but it is a messy operation and doesn't keep well. Buy the proper product. Don't make working with feces a more unpleasant task than it has to be.

5) Stirrer (tongue blade or popsicle stick)

6) Eye dropper

7) Block of styrofoam hollowed out to hold the test tubes upright

8) Chart depicting worm eggs and cocci oocysts. A dog internal parasite chart showing strongyles and cocci oocysts will work.

Catch the goat whose feces you want to check and collect fresh pills. Use a fecal loop to gather feces from inside the goat or go inside with a disposable-gloved hand, grab several pills, exit the body, then turn the glove inside out to hold the feces. This gloved method is definitely necessary when diarrhea exists. Do not use dried-out pills when doing fecal examinations. Empty prescription bottles are good for collection and labeling.

Put four or five fresh goat pills or the equivalent amount of loose feces into the cup. Mash the pills with the tongue depressor or popsicle stick. Pour 15 ml (cc) fecal floatation solution into the cup, then mash/mix the solution as much as possible. Transfer the solution to the 50 ml (cc) test tube and add fecal floatation solution to the 30 ml (cc) line. Put the cap on the test tube, making sure it fits tightly, then shake the tube for 30 seconds to further break up the pills. Put the tube in the styrofoam test-tube holder for two minutes to let the bubbles dissipate.

Run water through the McMaster slide to wet the inside chamber, then dry both top and bottom of slide. Gently rock the test tube back and forth several times to make sure its contents are thoroughly mixed. Open the test tube and remove some solution with the eye dropper. Dispense the solution into one side of the McMaster chamber, making sure the solution covers the entire area under the green grids.

Place the slide onto the microscope's stage and using the 100X (10X eye piece and 10X objective), find one corner of the green grid and scan up and down the six lanes, counting all the worm eggs you see. Use the worm egg/coccidia oocyst chart for identification. Multiply the number of worm eggs you see by 100 to get the Fecal Egg Count (FEC), i.e. eggs per gram of feces. Also note whether you see few or many cocci oocysts. The darkened "zeroes" with a small white pinhole center are water bubbles.

Dispose of the contents of the test tube and wash for re-use. Rinse the McMaster slide in water for use with the next fecal sample.

Almost every goat has a few worms and some coccidia to stimulate its immune system response. An FEC (Fecal Egg Count) below 500 isn't usually an issue, so deworming may not be needed. If a FEC of more than 500 exists, or if many cocci oocysts are in your fecal sample, take appropriate corrective measures by medicating the goat properly. Note: Coccidia is a protozoan, not a worm, therefore dewormers do not affect it. Sulfa-based products like Albon must be used to kill cocci.

This simple and easy-to-do procedure will tell you what you need to know in order to control the worm and cocci loads in your goat herd. Establish a schedule of regular (monthly) random fecal checks to keep a handle on the fecal loads that your goats are carrying and treat as indicated by these tests.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 5.1.20

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.


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Chemical vs. "Natural" Deworming

There is no scientific evidence that any "natural" product, including Diatomaceous Earth (DE), is effective against internal parasites in goats.

In addition to "natural," "herbal," and/or "organic" dewormers being unproven for effectiveness, these products can have the additional drawback of being dangerous because effective and toxic levels can be very close.

Example: Wormwood is a plant-based "natural" product believed by some to have deworming properties. But for wormwood to achieve any level of effectiveness, the dosage has to be so high that it can kill the goat.

Plants protect themselves from pests by producing high levels of toxins. Chemical compounds occur everywhere. Because something grows untouched by human hands ("naturally") does not mean that it is safe. Arsenic is a good example; there are many more.

"Natural," "organic," and "herbal" products can and do vary in product composition, safety, and effectiveness, and mean different things in different states and geographical areas.

There are a few plants which you can cultivate for goats to eat that have some documented success in controlling worm loads. Serecia lespedesia is one of them, but it is not successfully grown in dry climates.

Worm-trapping fungi (Dunningtonia flagrens) is new non-chemical method to control worms in goats. There are some serious limitations to it use and the cost may be prohibitive. See my article on this topic on the Articles page at

Bottom line: ethical chemical dewormers must be used with goats to control stomach worms. Although companies sell some "natural" dewormers because people want to buy them, they do not work.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 5.1.20

BendingTree Ranch TexMaster Goats

Pat Cotten 501-679-4936
Bending Tree Ranch located near Greenbrier, Arkansas

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