September 2010 Issue



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Warbles are the third larval stage of the botfly (genus Hypoderma), also known as heel flies and grubs. Although there are no reported cases of warbles in goats in the scientific literature, a goat at my ranch in central Texas had a botfly infection in the late 1990's and my vet removed it. Since much of the botfly's life cycle occurs under the skin of its host, it is technically an internal parasite.

The botfly lays its eggs on the hairs of cattle and sometimes deer and goats. When the eggs hatch, the larvae travel up the hairs to the skin. The larvae pentetrate the skin, and once inside, they migrate through the connective tissue. Third-stage larvae wind up under the skin of the back and the chest, where they form bumps (warbles) and make tiny holes in the skin to allow air entry. The tunnels made through the connective tissue reduce the value of the meat and the air holes damage the hides, making them less commercially valuable. Fly activity around the animal can be irritating enough to cause weight loss and decreased milk production.

It is currently unknown whether it is the cattle botfly or the rodent botfly that occasionally infests goats. Back drenches like Synergized Delice may be used to ward off botfly infestation. Topical application of 1% Ivermectin on the legs of goats may be helpful. Subcutaneous injections of 1% Ivermectin will help get rid of botfly larvae that have already entered and are migrating through the animal's body.

It is best to treat preventatively in the late summer rather than wait until peak botfly infestation in the fall. In cattle, treating with 1% Ivermectin at advanced stages of larval development can cause bloat and hindquarter paralysis as the maturing larvae die. No studies have been done to determine if this occurs in goats. Anticipate a problem and treat preventatively with 1% Ivermectin in late summer, during the migration phase of the botfly. Treating in this timeframe is safer for the goat, because it is after the major fly activity is over and before warbles have appeared.

If a warble has already appeared, the producer should open it, clean out the botfly larvae, and flush with antiseptic or iodine. There are a variety of topically-applied insect repellents that are safe for use on animals that can be helpful in preventing reinfection.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto
Onion Creek Ranch
Lohn, Texas

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Buy your winter hay now, while prices are lowest, supply is greatest, and quality is high. If you don't have enough storage area, build it. You cannot raise goats doing just-in-time purchasing. Bad weather in hay-producing areas and a bad economy worldwide will affect your ability to feed your goats over winter.

Using Products Off Label/Extra Label

There are many products which Jeffers carries and sells that are not specifically approved for use with goats.

What does "off-label/extra label" actually mean to goat raisers? Are medications used off-label/extra-label illegal to use with goats?

Administration of products which are not labeled for use in goats is called "off label/extra label" usage. This does not mean that such usage is illegal. It simply means that the manufacturers of these products have not spent the time or money to complete and submit expensive detailed research studies to obtain government approval to label them for use with goats. Using products off label or extra label is NOT illegal as long as the producer has a good working relationship with a veternarian and the vet has advised the producer on proper use and dosage of the drugs. Develop a good relationship with your vet so that he/she knows about, supervises, and approves of your drug management and usage practices.

Suzanne Gasparotto and Pat Cotten


A hematoma is a collection of blood that has leaked out of a ruptured blood vessel and into body tissues. It looks like a really bad bruise, but there is swelling and discomfort associated with the hematoma.

The cause is usually the result of some sort of trauma. Examples are violent shaking of the head because of an ear infection, resulting in an aural hematoma; unexpected severe sneeze or cough; twisting of a leg that results in blood vessels breaking; being hit by another goat; hitting a blood vessel when collecting blood samples.

Sometimes commonly called a blood bruise, the hematoma contains a red odorless fluid. Draining the fluid is possible but oftentimes not recommended. Draining can make it worse if bacteria gains entry through the needlepoint and into a medium that is perfect for its rapid reproduction.

Symptoms of an aural (ear flap) hematoma include the goat's holding its head to one side, the shaking of its head from side to side as if trying to dislodge a foreign object from its ear, and pawing at the ear. Much of the time hematomas resolve themselves without intervention. A large and/or bleeding hematoma should be examined and treated by a licensed veterinarian.

Do not confuse hernias with hematomas. Hernias occur when there is a break in the skin and part of the goat's internal organs poke through. Hernias can only be fixed by surgical repair. Depending upon where the hernia is located and how big it is, sometimes the goat can live without surgical repair. Long-eared goats that get wet in freezing climates can develop ear damage. This is not a hematoma but rather frostbite.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto
Onion Creek Ranch
Lohn, Texas

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