As a child, I did not remember my father giving his goats any medications. I asked him about this recently and he said that he never wormed them. And that wasn't that long ago...ahem!
It seems that parasite problems are quite common and we have had our fair share. But, after moving to where we are now 4 years ago, it has not been that much of an issue. What is the difference and how did my Dad get away with never worming his goats?
Our goats have more pasture to graze, plain and simple. In the spring, summer and fall, they can eat all the grass and weeds they want. Not only do they have free access to this, but the grass is never eaten to the ground level in most areas. If it is, they have the freedom to move elsewhere.
The problem with parasites is that goats eat the larvae that was hatched in feces from another goat who did the same thing. The larvae enter the stomach and become adults, then have eggs that pass into the intestines. Goats will always have worms, but the count should be at a healthy low.
So, when they continually eat from the ground in a worn out paddock or pasture, you will get problems. If grain or hay is thrown on the ground, or if the grass is so tiny that they do not have a choice but to eat it, they will eat the larvae and will get a worm overload.
Parasites thrive in damp and/or wet conditions too. Your barn must be dry and the soil in the pasture needs to be well-drained soil, not moist and damp most of the time. We have sandy to sandy loam soil, so that does help tremendously with the worm load!
If you do not have access to pasture, make sure that the grain and hay are kept up off the ground.
Another important preventative measure to take is to make sure they have a mineral block or free choice minerals. I have read that a copper deficiency in a goat will make it more susceptible to worms, so make sure that your mineral block does have copper.
Parasites have become resistant to many of the chemical dewormers. That is why prevention is so important. We only deworm our goats in the spring, after kidding, as the worms come out of dormancy and become active in the gut. We use Positive Pellet Goat Dewormer, 6 Lbs, because we do not have to withdraw the milk or separate the kids.
But, what if a goat does not have a worm overload? Should we deworm them too? Well, no. That's like giving a child cold medicine and he does not have a cold. By only deworming ones that need it, we are also lowering the risk of the parasites becoming resistant.
Here is a FAMACHA chart that shows you what to look for in a goat and whether you should take action. By checking the goat's under eyelids, we can tell whether it is anemic or not. Anemia is a sure sign of a wormy goat.
I encourage you to check out Hoegger Farm Supply for a natural dewormer. This is my favorite website for anything goat related.
Remember, prevention is the key. Take a look at your goats and their living conditions and decide whether it is working for or against them. And, don't forget to keep copper-included mineral blocks in reach!
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