Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
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Goat producers often ask me if there is something they can spray on their pastures to control and/or kill the barberpole stomach worm (Haemonchus contortus) that feeds on blood, causes anemia, and can kill goats.

The simple answer is NO. Here is why:

While it might be possible to develop some type of pasture application to reduce worm larvae, a lot of worm larvae remain in the feces (goat "pills"), oftentimes for weeks (when rain is scarce), where they would be protected from any pasture treatment.

Due to environmental concerns, it is not a good idea to use a long-lasting agent like DDT or Round-Up, which is what would be necessary to continually kill the larvae as they emerge from the feces in the pasture. In addition, resistance to the agent would develop faster.

A short-acting agent (more eco-friendly) would have to be applied repeatedly, perhaps once a week, and this would be both labor- and cost-prohibitive for most goat raisers. Both ground and aerial application are expensive.

Finally, the worm population in the goats will continue to add contamination to the pasture, making this concept neither practical nor affordable.

My thanks to Dr. James Miller, Parasitologist at Louisiana State University, for assistance in preparing and compiling the information contained above.

Here are some suggestions that come from me:

What you can do to try to improve your pasture conditions is to shred it to a height of 5 to 6 inches. Goats aren't going to eat the tall grasses (except when they have seeds) because they are less digestible, but will instead go directly to ground level to eat the tender new growth -- right where the worms are waiting to make a quick trip into your goat's rumen. Allow the sun's rays to dry the ground by mowing the tall grasses down to five or six inches. This won't eliminate worms, especially if you you have too many goats, but it will help the pastures dry out and hopefully reduce the bacterial count that can cause diseases like pneumonia. Additionally, new plant growth will be stimulated, producing better quality nutrition. Don't cut the grass blades shorter than five or six inches; if you do, the worms will crawl up the grasses and wait for your goats to ingest them.

Combine pasture mowing with the tried and true management practices of NO OVERCROWDING and keeping pens and paddocks clean and dry. Remember that you populate goats based upon how you can control the worm load -- not on how much there is to eat in the pasture. You determine the correct population by starting with a few goats and increase your numbers slowly as you determine what your land can support.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 8/14/15

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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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