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 causing anemia, and kills goats. Note: Coccicidiosis, another internal parasite, is a protozoan, and does not respond to dewormers but requires a completely different medication.
All dewormers used with goats must be given orally. No over-the-back pour-ons and no injections.
FAMACHA is a valuable field test only. 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 developed to begin sucking blood. Microscopic fecal egg counts are essential.
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 exactly what is going on.
Don't use feed-based dewormers or dewormers that you top-dress on feed or "organic" or "all-natural" or "homeopathic" dewormer with goats. Some folks want to believe it, so companies sell them, but goats must be dewormed with ethical dewormers made by pharmaceutical companies to keep goats healthy. Goats have a strict pecking order. The goat needing deworming the most will be the one who gets the least amount to eat.
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.
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 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(tm) at Onion Creek Ranch every October to receive microscopic fecal egg count training and FAMACHA certification.
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 sizeable market for vets or pharmaceutical companies, so many goat raisers have to learn about goat care from other reliable sources. You definitely need a vet for prescription medications, surgery, and broken bones. Do your best to find one.
Find a mentor who knows goats. Educate yourself, with that person's assistance, to better care for your goats.
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 6/5/17
Important! Please Read This Notice!
All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.
In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.
The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)
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