In this article, we will do some basic talk about general deworming strategies for small ruminant herds (goats and sheep). We are seeing a lot of babies on the ground already this spring and strategic deworming can help get these kids to thrive and survive. Not all farms require all strategies. We can help you to find the right method for your flock and your situation with a visit to the farm and conversation.
Remember: The number one cause of diarrhea in adult goats is parasites!
We see a lot of Haemonchus worm diarrhea, especially in recently weaned kids. This worm lives in the gut and sheds eggs in the stool that are picked up again by mouth during grazing. When sick, kids will not grow well and may become anemic or develop bottle jaw and will eventually die if uncontrolled.
Kids and lambs that are confined to a small pen are more likely to pick up the worm eggs, vs. large pen or pasture where they are less crowded. Dry lots make a difference, too. When conditions are dry, the eggs tend to stay trapped in the fecal pellets and are less likely to be eaten by the goat kids. However, when the environment is wet (on rainy days or in flooded areas), the eggs are released and goats pick them up easily as they eat.
Strategies for preventing Haemonchus worms:
- Feed lambs or kids indoors or in dry pens.
- Deworm dams before kidding and repeat monthly through kidding season.
- Do not overcrowd lambs in pasture (dilution effect).
- Check normal appearing stool for worms regularly (at least twice a year) at your veterinarian’s office and deworm as necessary. Your veterinarian can quantify the number of eggs and advise you on strategic deworming.
- Check all diarrhea for parasites at your veterinarian’s office as soon as possible.
- Deworm before sending out into pasture in the spring.
- Deworm before moving to dry lot in the winter.
- Rotate pastures, ideally leaving a pasture vacant for 3-6 months before moving goats onto it.
- Use one product for a year, and then switch products the next year to help prevent resistance to dewormer.
- New flock additions should be kept in a dry lot for 3 weeks and dewormed at least twice with two different dewormers during this period before allowing contact with the rest of the flock.
Coccidia is another parasite that we see cause diarrhea and death in young kids or sheep. Older animals will shed these but do not act or look sick, but babies will pick up the parasite and get diarrhea, get weak and stop eating, typically at 1-4 months of age. This parasite is another one that can be picked up easily on a fresh stool sample under the microscope and can be treated if caught early enough.
Please give us a call, we can help you strategize a system for parasite control on your farm!