By Robert Johnson
Pine Cone Valley Goats
We have all heard that ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ and certainly this is applicable in dealing with the parasites of goats, for a great deal of folklore and outright misinformation about worms and de-wormers still circulates among goat owners. Although we have today a great variety of good anthelmintics (de-wormers) still, judging from the letters we get, some confusion exists about de-wormers and their use. Research is continually on-going; in our area, Dr. Sharon Patton and her staff and colleagues at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee at Knoxville are, fortunately for all of us, both involved and interested in the parasites of goats. It is at UT that some of the basic research on the small lungworm of goats, Muellerius, was done and some of the treatments now in use were developed there. After several years of these studies, some trends are showing up and some conclusions can be drawn. Based on these findings we offer here a summary of the handling of internal parasites of goats.
The common intestinal parasites of goats are (1) Haemonchus contortus, (2) Ostertagia circumcincta, (3) other Trichostrongylus species including T. axei, Cooperia, and Nematodirus, (4) Strongyloides, (5) Oseophagostomum (the nodular worm) (6) Eimeria (coccidia) and (7) Moniezia (tapeworm.) Dr. Patton’s easy guide to remembering the parasites of the stomach and abomasum is to think of H.O.T. (Haemonchus, Ostertagia, Trichostrongylus)–the ‘hot’ group, which in the majority of cases are the most important. Others such as the whipworm Trichuris ovis and Giardia are usually of less importance in terms of damage to goats. Bonosto-mum, a hookworm, is a voracious bloodsucker and a serious parasite–but fortunately, we have not seen a lot of it, at least in the southeastern states. Coccidia are reserved for discussion later. Most of the harmful parasites are susceptible to Tramisol (Levamisol) and the dewormers of the benzimidazole group, which includes TBZ and Omnizole (thiabendazole,) Camvet (cambendazole,) Panacur, Absorbine, and Safe-Guard (fenbendazole,) Telmin (mebendazole,) Anthelcide (oxibendazole,) Valbazen (albendazole) and Benzelmin (oxfendazole.) While all these have some action against most of the parasites, not all are equally effective against all species. It is important to rotate dewormers periodically, to be sure that those that are most effective against each species are included in your worming program, and to help prevent the parasites on your farm from developing resistance to a single dewormer.
There are three species of lungworm of goats. Dictyocaulus is the large lungworm, and it has not been a problem in goats in the southeast, although Dictyocaulus produces severe disease in some parts of the southwest. It was responsible for the development of Tramisol, which will eliminate it. Protostrongylus is one of the two small lungworms. However–the lungworm of goats that causes big trouble in the east is the small lungworm Muellerius, which Tramisol will not eliminate. The symptoms of Muellerius infection are often not visible until the goat becomes extremely ill. Some affected goats will cough; but others won’t until just before they expire. Muellerius infection doesn’t show up on routine fecals unless the vet is equipped to run Baermanns; if any at all–even just a few-–are found, indications are that the goat should be dewormed for them right away! While one certainly should not deworm for something that is not there, (or give antibiotics without good reason,) be aware that Muellerius infection is a very real likelihood, and make every effort to have fecals run by a laboratory that is equipped to detect Muellerius. The dewormers to use are either Fenbendazole (Panacur) or Oxfendazole (Benzelmin). Goats will eat the crumble form of Benzelmin readily enough, in our experience; the alternative is a drench. Panacur and Safe-Guard also come in small syringes of paste; however, you give twice the dose indicated on the syringe. These drugs are produced for horses; the horse dose is 2.3 mg/lb. but the goat dose is 4.6 mg/lb. The syringes have scales graduated by weight. If your doe weighs 125 lbs., you set the dial for a 250-pound dose. Panacur and Benzelmin are broad-spectrum dewormers and will handle most of the stomach and intestinal worms as well as Muellerius. However, remember that Panacur, Telmin, Camvet, TBZ, Valbazen and Benzelmin are members of the benzimidazole family, and some cross-resistance has been reported. This means that if a goat has parasites that are resistant to TBZ, they may also be resistant to Panacur, Benzelmin, and the other members of the benzimidazole group. For that reason alone, it is wise to alternate with Tramisol at least once in the pasture season.
You should never wait for symptoms to develop (though, sadly, most people do) but should combine a regular deworming schedule with periodic fecal examinations, and frequent examinations of the goats’ mucus membranes. Look especially around the whites of their eyes and at the color of their gums. The eyes should not be white, but should be pinkish or red (unlike people’s eyes!) If they are white, and/or if the gums are pale pink or gray, the goat is anemic, and deworming is indicated. Muellerius, however, does not cause anemia; it destroys lung tissue. This is one of the reasons that it can be so devastating, as often there are few clearly visible signs until the animal is very sick. If you had regularly dewormed your goats with TBZ and Tramisol, the two most readily-available and often-used dewormers, you would probably think that you had the parasite situation under control–but you wouldn’t have had any impact on a Muellerius infection.
There is a specific treatment for Muellerius lungworm. Give a normal dose of Benzelmin or Panacur daily for three days in a row. This will not hurt the goat, though some few may go off feed and drop in milk production temporarily. Otherwise, consider ‘one deworming’ as actually two treatments, always two weeks apart. This is important, as the first dewormer kills off the adult parasites and then the young hatch out and the goat remains infected. You can alternate dewormers between these two treatments.
We hesitate to give a general deworming schedule, since there are so many variables; everyone’s situation is different. If you kept your goats in drylots or on wire with absolutely no browsing, you would probably never have to deworm them. A small crowded pasture may have a terrific load of parasites, and there are all stages in between. Some goats will browse more than others will; and susceptibility varies highly from goat to goat. You can breed for parasite resistance just as you can for milk production, (or anything else, ) though few breeders do. The parasite burden is also affected by the weather and the age of the goats as well as the stage of pregnancy or of lactation of the does. Does are highly susceptible shortly after kidding. A doe in heavy lactation is doing very hard work, and even a light parasite burden puts added stress on her. Young kids chew and nibble on everything in sight as they explore their new world; they will eat dirt (including fecal matter) and soiled, spilled hay and grain, and are thus exposed to all manner of parasites while they are still too young to have developed any resistance.
A deworming schedule that works well in our area – i.e. Tennessee/Georgia – is given below. Please consider this as just an outline, and adjust it according to your conditions, the results from your examinations of your own goats’ eyes and mucus membranes, from having fecal samples run, and the advice of your vet. Considering how the average goatkeeper keeps goats on small pastures or lots with far less than one acre per goat:
Two days after kidding: deworm with Albendazole
Two weeks later: deworm with Panacur or Tramisol
±One-two months later: (say, late May/early June) deworm with Panacur; or Albendazole; deworm the kids with Camvet or Albendazole and give the kids a second dose two weeks later.
Two weeks later: deworm with Tramisol if not used before, Panacur or Benzelmin
Midsummer, if additional deworming is called for, deworm with Albendazole–or, if you are having fecals run, deworm with the drug applicable to such problems as you may have.
Four weeks before breeding: (say, late August) deworm with Tramisol
Two weeks later: deworm with Ivermectin or Benzelmin
This regimen should cover the spectrum, and is pretty much a minimum where goats browse a small land area. If the following winter is not warm and wet, this should safely carry the does through to kidding without additional deworming required during pregnancy. Additional spring and summer deworming may be needed if infestation is heavy–crowded lots, wet weather, cloudy days and tall grass all increase the parasite burden. Ideally, goats should be offered hay free-choice and housed in very small lots so they will not be encouraged to browse. Mow these lots off very close, as the sunshine will help kill off the parasites, and let the goats outside their ‘home’ lots for browsing periods on larger land areas. If you are one of those fortunate few with more acres of grazing land than you have goats, this may not be necessary; even so, does in heavy lactation may tend to congregate closer to their home barn, particularly in hot, humid weather, and graze a smaller, more contaminated area. Nearly every goat book says ‘deworm the goats and move them to a new pasture.’ That is wonderful advice! Like many ideal things it is impossible or impractical for most of us. Very few folks have several pastures fenced off and lying idle most of the time. Also, these pastures would have to be rotated on an annual basis—not just every few weeks. Parasites are very persistent on weedy, tall-grass pastures.
All dewormers except Tramisol have a wide safety margin and can be given in double or even triple doses; but you should have a good reason for exceeding the recommended dosage. TBZ has been given in up to 10x the normal dose to horses. Tramisol should not be given in larger than 1.5x doses, and never by injection. Here are some general deworming rules:
(1) You should not deworm a sick and/or very wormy animal with Tramisol. Use TBZ, Telmin, or Panacur in a big dose first, then a couple of weeks later give Tramisol.
(2) Kids are more susceptible to tapeworm (Moniezia,) which Camvet (cambendazole) takes care of, but you give 5x the normal indicated dose! Since Camvet is a strong dewormer, and there is still a lack of hard data as to the harm tapeworms do, be certain that they have a large tapeworm burden to justify the risk.
(3) Telmin is a fine and gentle dewormer but there is one drawback. You won’t find this written on the barrel of the syringe, but only on the box if you buy a full case (a dozen syringes)–you have to give it daily for 5 days in a row. It’s good to use on heavily parasitized animals also; but I personally prefer a big dose of TBZ.
(4) Never deworm any doe the first half of pregnancy, or a buck after he has started serving. Get them all dewormed two weeks before breeding at the latest, so there is no chance of damaged sperm or eggs, resulting in either no conceptions, abortions, or kids born with defects. If you must deworm a pregnant doe, the last trimester is considered to be the only safe time; and we suggest TBZ, Panacur , Albendazole or Telmin. Camvet has produced abortion in mares, and there are reports of abortions in does from Tramisol, although we personally have used all these drugs on pregnant does with no ill effects.
(5) Know your goats; they differ, just as people do. Some goats will go off feed briefly, following certain dewormers, and you don’t want to give such does a dewormer that will send them off feed in the last stage of pregnancy; you’d be inviting ketosis. Test them out on different dewormers before they’re bred.
(6) When giving paste dewormers, be sure the goat is not chewing its cud and doesn’t have anything in its mouth. Hold its neck chain for a few moments to make sure it swallows anything it is chewing. Then give the paste in the back corner of the mouth, preferably on the goat’s left side, and watch closely, as some will shake their heads and sling gobs of the paste out. You can hold their muzzles gently and/or massage their throats until you’re sure they’ve swallowed the dewormer. Pastes stick to the mouth, but the goat has to ‘chew’ on the paste a moment and spread it around.
(7) Use boluses at your risk. Goats hate them, it’s hard to get intermediate dosages, and you just might choke one. Although many people have used them with complete success, I personally refuse to use them, as all the dewormers mentioned are available in paste, gel or crumble form. One alternate, drenching, is a bit risky, but is better than boluses; and drenching is something every goatkeeper needs to learn how to do anyway. It is a simple matter of following basic rules: A–give a little at a time, and allow the goat to swallow; B–give in the left-hand corner of the mouth; C–never raise the head–keep the muzzle level; D–be calm. E–give extra affection and a reward afterward. It’s probably not wise to deworm does with pastes or drenches while they are on the milkstand, lest they come to associate the milkstand with something unpleasant.
As to safety: discard the milk (or feed it to kids) for eight milkings (96 hours) following deworming. Adhere strictly to this for the milk you sell or give for human consumption. Most people can drink the milk immediately following deworming with no ill effects; after all, people are dewormed with Tramisol and TBZ. (The sequel to a human dose is not a pleasant experience, however!) A few might be allergic to one or more of the dewormers and for that reason you drink the milk yourself (if you’re not allergic) or feed it to kids, after deworming. The allergic reaction would be mild; don’t be afraid to try it on yourself. (This is not true for medications, steroids, etc.) Dewormers clear rapidly from milk. The intent of the published warnings is to cover those very few people that are allergic. Tiny babies, the elderly, people with ulcers, etc. don’t need dewormer residues in milk, even though it would probably not hurt them. However, some people that drink goat milk do so because they have some health problem already; so there is certainly no need to stress them with dewormer residues in milk, no matter how mild. Last—no, feeding kids milk from freshly-dewormed goats will not deworm the kids; the amount in the milk is much too small.
Tramisol is available in crumbles, in a powder form that you mix with water to make a drench, and a gel or paste form is available. This comes in the big syringes used for cattle and is expensive, but one syringe contains enough to deworm 7,500 pounds of goats! Controlling the dose is another matter, as the makers want to sell you a special gun that measures only large doses (200 lbs. and over) for cattle. A pox on that! Save your empty syringes of Panacur, Camvet, Telmin, Absorbine, etc. and you’ll find that one of the Tramisol gel cartridges will fill 6 of these syringes brim-full. (Be sure to mark on the syringe in indelible ink what you filled the syringe with and when.) Ignore the weight/dose scales; the distance from one notch to the next one is approximately a 90-lb. dose. Personally, I like to use these gels or pastes, as more types of dewormers are available in paste form; you can go through a pasture full of goats and deworm dozens of them in a few moments; also, you know exactly how much each is getting. Crumbles are good for the goats that you are individually feeding, as you can monitor them to be sure they will eat the whole dose. They are great for adult bucks that you may not wish to wrestle with. Most goats will eat Benzelmin crumbles out of your hand. But if they stop eating before getting the whole dose, you’re in trouble—it does no good to give them the rest of their dose at the next feeding. You must start again after 24 hours with another full dose and hope they eat it all. You see why I like the pastes!
Keep records! Human memory is a fragile thing, and even though you may have only two goats, it is well worth the little time it takes to write down when you dewormed, what you used, and the size of the dose.
If you have a goat with a chronic cough, and no other symptoms, and if you are not having fecal samples run to check for Muellerius, then to be on the safe side you could deworm it with Benzelmin or Panacur. Give a single full dose, wait two weeks, then give the 3-dose lungworm treatment. Why the lungworm treatment dose later? If you give a very wormy goat a big dose of a strong dewormer, great numbers of the parasites will die off and withdraw from their attachment to the intestines of the goat. Some parasites secrete an anti-coagulant and each of these thousands of little spots where they were attached may bleed–the goat can bleed to death if it is already very anemic, and enough parasites withdraw at once. If the goat is very heavily infested with lungworm and you kill them all off, what your goats have are lungs full of masses of dead parasites, which can cause a mechanical pneumonia which can kill as surely as the parasites themselves can. Be careful with the first dose of lungworm dewormer you give a goat that is coughing. Better to kill some off and let the goat cough them up and get rid of them, and then kill off some more with a second application, rather than literally ‘drowning’ the goat in a mass of dead Muellerius. Don’t panic-—this won’t often happen. It depends on the goat-—the parasites—and the dewormer and dose strength. The Trichostrongyles that live in your goats may be different in terms of resistance from those that live in other herds. Normally this is not a problem; you give a dose, a great number of parasites die and are shed in the feces (the goat’s gut is evicted in 24 hours) and the goat starts to recover; meanwhile a new batch is hatching and those that survived the first dose are still there; so you deworm again in two weeks and get these. A coughing goat should get a normal dose first.
Keep in mind that there are goats that are allergic to specific dewormers. It is very rare, but remember that when you give a new dewormer, the first dose may not be the one that sets off the reaction-the first may sensitize the goat, and the second one precipitates the reaction. If they go through two dewormings with no reaction, they’re probably not allergic. (It’s the same with blood transfusions without type-matching; the first is usually OK; later ones can cause serious trouble.)
Deworming is only half the cure-—once the goat is unburdened of its parasite load, it needs help in rebuilding its red blood cells. An anemic goat should be helped along in this by getting-–in addition to a good diet of legume hay and concentrates-–extra iron, copper and cobalt. There are various ways to accomplish this. You can drench a really anemic goat with an oral iron/copper/cobalt preparation like Ferro-coppergan or any of the dozens of products made for baby pigs. (Avoid those that contain sucrose.) Drench an anemic goat every day for a week, then every other day for another week, using the dose suggested on the container, and all the time make sure that the goats have a loose, complete trace mineral mix containing iron, copper and cobalt available to them free-choice at all times. Severely anemic goats can be helped with injections of liver/iron/B-12 given no more often than twice a week, along with B-complex vitamin injections, which can be given daily. The last resort to save a very anemic animal is blood transfusions. There comes a point eventually at which the bone marrow simply ‘gives up’ and stops producing red blood cells, and goats that have reached this stage may die despite transfusions of blood, blood protein, and iron. A normal goat’s blood packed-cell volume should be 35-40. (Your vet can draw a small blood sample and determine the pcv reading.) Below 30 you have an anemic goat; below 20 you are in the danger zone; the longer it stays below 20, the less likely the goat will recover. But goats do differ greatly. A young Pygmy buck went to the vet hospital at UT with a packed-cell of 7, and was still walking around! Blood transfusions saved him and he bounced right back. His pcv reading probably fell very suddenly; that is, he probably had not been anemic for a long period of time.
Goats cough for a great variety of reasons, and one should not automatically run out and deworm a goat that is coughing. Check for other possibilities first. If you give the lungworm treatment with Panacur or Benzelmin and they still cough, you have a different problem. They can cough from upper respiratory, bronchial or lung infections or abscesses, irritants such as dust, etc. IBR and PI-3 can cause a persistent nasal congestion; so can feeding corn in the summertime, or any moldy hays or grains. Some goats may survive pneumonia with impaired lung function, and will cough occasionally for no obvious reason. Such goats usually will ‘pant’ in hot weather and following mild exercise. Extra vitamin E added to the feed will materially help any lung problem. Finally-–just in case you haven’t been warned–never turn a goat upside down; it can quickly drown in its own rumen contents, which spill over into the lungs. For the same reason, keep a check on a goat that has been put to sleep with an anesthetic, until it wakes. Prop it up so that it can’t roll over. Some goats will thrash around, get up and stagger a bit, then fall down again, as they come out of anesthesia; and they must be watched and restrained until their co-ordination is fully recovered.
If you are having fecal samples examined and certain species of parasites turn up in greater numbers, the following dewormers have more specific action against the parasites listed:
TBZ (thiabendazole) Haemonchus, Ostertagia, Trichostrongylus remember the HOT group! (many Haemonchus are resistant to TBZ, however)
Telmin (mebendazole) Ostertagia, Nematodirus, Trichuris (it is not really necessary to treat Trichuris)
Panacur (fenbendazole) Trichostrongylus, Bonostomum, Muellerius
Camvet (cambendazole) Trichostrongylus, Strongyloides, Trichuris, Moniezia (tapeworm,) There are reports that it also has an effect on Muellerius but this has not been the case in Dr. Patton’s experience.
Benzelmin (oxfendazole) Haemonchus, Trichostrongylus, Ostertagia, Muellerius
Tramisol (Levamisol) Haemonchus, Trichostrongylus, Ostertagia, Dictyocaulus
All are fairly broad-spectrum and will have some effect on all the common stomach and intestinal worms. We reserve a special mention for Albendazole (Valbazen) which is the most broad-spectrum of all the dewormers. You might use it across the board and not worry about the others, but: (1) rotation is a good idea so resistance doesn’t develop; (2) it is expensive, and (3) if you refrain from using it regularly, it will be more effective when you might badly need it. You may notice that we have not so far mentioned the newer dewormer Ivermectin. Many goatkeepers are using this on their goats, and many veterinarians are now recommending it. There is not, at this date, sufficient hard evidence as to which parasites it is effective against, and how safe it is, etc. There is, however, increasing evidence that Ivermectin is not very effective on the stomach and intestinal parasites. Using Ivermectin on goats may involve some risks. Remember, you use all the benzimidazoles except TBZ at your own risk. Although they are widely used on goats, none except TBZ have been officially approved for goats.
In his book ‘Goat Husbandry’ MacKenzie reports that the case for garlic as a dewormer is ‘proved,’ although he does not state which of the parasites it works against. Many do feed garlic and believe it is effacious as a dewormer; likewise, there are various herbal preparations on the market for which similar claims are made. Since these have not, to our knowledge, been subject to controlled tests, we cannot recommend them. Feeding garlic to does in milk can cause milk-flavor problems; and there is some slight evidence that garlic administered outside its normal growing season can cause abortions. At present, too little is known to draw conclusions or offer advice on usage. A small number of goats with a large pasturage available to them might do well with just herbal dewormers, primarily because the pasture parasite burden would be small.
Coccidia receive much attention in the goat ‘press’ as there are cases where they strike a herd with devastating suddenness; kids can appear to be perfectly normal one day and be dead the next, leading one to suspect the killer with the bad reputation, enterotoxemia; and an entire year’s young stock has been known to be wiped out when coccidia become rampant in a herd. Usually coccidia give some warning of their presence, scours in kids being the usual syndrome seen. Bloody diarrhea is mentioned in many articles on coccidia which may be referencing data on cattle and sheep, but in goats this is not a reliable sign of heavy infestation; plain diarrhea is more usual. Coccidia may also be suspected when kids show weakness, lack of appetite, listlessness, and/or have a rough hair coat; however, it is important to remember that hair takes time to change. A rough hair coat is only an indicator of general ill health, whether from internal and/or external parasitism, malnutrition, disease, or other causes; and usually means that the problem/s have been present for some time. Goats can pick up a lethal burden of parasites and expire before their hair coat has a chance to change from glossy to rough, especially kids.
Coccidia are actually tiny protozoa, of the genus Eimeria. There are separate species of coccidia that are host-specific for different species of mammals and birds, and one need not worry about the coccidia shed by dogs, cats, most birds, rabbits, foxes, opossum, squirrels, rats and mice, cattle, horses, and the other living creatures that are often visitors (welcome or unwelcome) in the goats’ environment. However, there is some indication that there may be a cross-contamination between coccidia and avian tuberculosis, and until more information is available from research, mixing chickens with goats is probably not a good idea. Coccidia eggs, called oocysts, normally inhabit the environment, and as they age, goats develop resistance to the harmful effects of coccidia; but they continue to shed the oocysts, thus contaminating the environment. It is largely due to coccidia that goat-raisers have been advised to separate kids from their dams, house them in a clean enclosure and bottle-feed them rather than allowing them to nurse and run with the does. Arguments on the merits of hand-raising versus allowing kids to nurse have been going on for decades and will doubtless continue; there are merits and demerits to both methods, and both systems work for many people; we will only point out that there are really only two overall ‘therapies’ for coccidia and they are: cleanliness and good immune systems (resistance.) Where a few kids are confined with a number of adult does in a small area with damp bedding, dark corners, spilled straw and wasted hay, feeders that the kids can jump in and/or the adults can put their feet in and/or defecate in, coccidia burdens will be heavy and kids, exploring their new world and nibbling, without discrimination, on everything they can reach as they learn to browse, can pick up a killing burden quickly. On the other hand, if all feeders and water sources are protected from contamination (such as by keyholes,) the goats are not crowded and the bedding is kept fresh and dry, and if fresh air can circulate and sunshine penetrate to the barn recesses, the coccidia burden may be reduced to the point that kids will pick up enough to enable their natural resistance to develop but not enough to overwhelm them.
Cleanliness, then, is the best control. There are treatments for coccidia; however, one must remember that their utility is limited to clinical cases of coccidiosis; and once the course of treatment is completed, the kids can immediately pick up another load of coccidia. Corid (Amprolium) mixed at the rate of 1 ounce ato 16 gallons of water and put out as the only source of water for the kids for 5 days has met with mixed success. The sulfas once were the most-used and most reliable; sulfamethazine, which most of us know as Sul-met, is definitely effective, but now unavailable in many areas due to new Federal regulations. Medicating the feed or drinking water is poor practice, for several reasons–(1) you never know how much each goat drinks and therefore how much medication each gets; (2) the animals that are the most ill and that most need the medication are the least likely to drink, particularly anything with a suspicious taste; (3) the use of all or any drugs for prevention is very poor practice; (4) all medications have some side effects; the sulfas, for example, are hard on kidneys and the auditory system. The individual goats needing treatment should be drenched. A three-day treatment of Sul-met (12.5% sodium sulfamethazine) will usually handle clinical cases of coccidia. The first day, drench at the rate of 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) per 100 lbs. body weight. (1 tablespoon = 1/2 ounce = 15cc per 16.6 lbs.) The following two days, give half this dose, 3 tablespoons (1-1/2 ounces) per 100 lbs. or 15cc per 32 lbs. Roughly, 1cc per pound of body weight the first day and 1/2cc per pound the following two days, is accurate enough for kids. In sulfa therapy, be sure that kids have access to plenty of fresh, clean water, and as with any sick animal, they should be isolated and removed from any stressful situation, and not required to compete for their share of feed, hay and water. The scours caused by coccidia will usually diminish following the first dose of sulfamethazine and stop by the third day; however, as with all medications, always continue the therapy for the recommended time–stopping treatment in the middle of a sequence because the animal looks better can cause a relapse of more severity than the initial infection.
Rumensin (monensin sodium) added to the feed at the rate of 20mg/ton will control coccidia. It has been used with varying degrees of success. There is an abundance of literature indicating that it does have the effect of suppressing coccidia; that is, preventing the clinical stage of the infection from developing. We have used it on our herd for some years; results were inconclusive, in that the absence of clinical coccidia is not proof that the Rumensin was working, as other years we have had a similar absence without Rumensin. On this subject I would only like to add that we have raised many kids on their dams and have rarely had kids scour from any cause; routine fecals that the University of Tennessee has run for us has indicated that the kids, yearlings and adults shed Eimeria oocysts in quantities from insignificant to ‘many’ but the clinical form of the infection has rarely appeared. We do use keyhole-type and covered feeders, but our goats would definitely be considered ‘crowded’ in terms of pasture area per goat. Anyone who has experienced problems with clinical coccidiosis would be doing all of us a service if they would experiment with Rumensin feeding and report if they noted any significant improvement.
Liver flukes (Fascioloides species) are not a major concern to goatkeepers in our geographic area; though be aware that they are a problem in other parts of the country, particularly the Pacific northwest, and breeders buying stock from the west coast could bring liver fluke into their herds where, if conditions were right, it could become a problem. They require an intermediate host, a snail, which thrives in marshy or boggy lowland areas, and after heavy rainfall may increase in numbers. The University of Tennessee has reported only one case of liver fluke, from northwestern Tennessee. Liver fluke seems to be more of a problem to sheep, who graze closely, than to goats. Old-time remedies for fluke involved the use of dangerous products like carbon tetrachloride. Telmin (mebendazole) used at the dose level of 5 mg/lb. body weight, once a day for 5 days, has been effective; also, the new drug Albendazole, not licensed for use in goats, has shown effectiveness against flukes. The dosage is 15 mg/kg. body weight; however, we suggest that you have a fluke diagnosis confirmed before applying treatment.
External parasites of goats include lice, mange, ear mites and ticks. Lice are by far the most common. There are two types specific to goats; the sucking louse, which does pierce the goat’s skin and suck blood, and the biting louse, which burrows into the skin and hair and feeds on the skin. Both of these cause severe itching; in numbers, they can make a goat anemic, cause weight loss and decreased milk production, and yet are easy to control. Wet tufty patches of hair where the goats have been biting at themselves, and scratching and rubbing against fences and buildings are indicative of a lice infestation; a dull, rough hair coat that doesn’t respond to deworming can mean a long-standing and heavy lice infestation. Fortunately, lice must live on their host–so you need not worry about treating the environment. Many goat keepers are now using Ivermectin which is effective against lice. Messier but more effective are rub-on dusting powders like Co-Ral; Ivermectin, remember, only kills those lice that are attached and sucking blood; it has no effect against the eggs, whereas the dusts do. Also, the dusts can be used just on the areas where the lice are; often kids will develop lice in tiny patches around their ears and protected areas of the body like leg joints, and the powders can be applied topically to just these areas thus preventing the need for total systemic treatment. Lice are primarily a winter problem.