It used to be easy to know when to worm your goats. Goat dewormers used to be a part of monthly maintenance routine. Thanks to these over-worming practices, parasites have now become highly resistant to many of the chemical wormers that are available. Because of that, it’s important to approach worming in a more effective way using natural wormers for goats.
Internal parasites can take a huge toll on your herd. They affect dairy production. Inhibit normal growth. Deplete the immune system. Even kill your goats. Deworming your goats should be taken seriously, and done in an effective way.
Know Your Worms
Goats are always carrying parasites. It’s when particular ones invade, or experience a population “bloom” that they become and issue. Stress, wet pasture conditions, and poor health can all lead to a worm overload.
If you suspect your goats may be experiencing a parasite load, getting a fecal test done to identify the worms you’re dealing with is where you start. It’s easy to collect a fecal sample – usually about 8 poop pellets will do. You can collect samples from each goat, or do a pooled sample from your herd. Bag the samples in ziplock bags, label, and refrigerate them before shipping or taking to a lab. Most small animal vets will run fecals for you, but not all of them are familiar with goats, who’s fecal requires a long float time.
We ship our samples to MidAmerica Ag Research. This company is fast, affordable, and skilled at running goat fecal samples. Some people learn to run their own fecal exams with a basic microscope, slides and float solution. It can be easy and affordable to do on your own, but it takes a lot of practice to properly identify different parasites.
When you get a new goat, it’s important to run a fecal while they’re in quarantine. Moving can cause serious stress that can cause a parasite bloom, and the new goat may be carrying parasites your current herd hasn’t had exposure to. Running a fecal on new goats before they enter your herd is an important biosecurity practice.
In addition to fecals, it’s important to check your goat’s membranes for potential anemia. This is easy to do using the FAMCHA method – comparing eyelid membrane color to the FAMCHA card to see if your goat may be anemic. Anemia can be caused by barberpole worm, the deadliest goat parasite, and can let you know if your goat needs immediate intervention.
Natural Wormers for Goats
We maintain our herd with an herbal goat dewormer – Squirmy Wormy Bites from BiteMe! Goat Treats. There’s a wide variety of great natural dewormers out there, but we devised these treats to be easy and effective. There are a lot of herbal wormers out there, so do your research before selecting one. Make sure they contain proven effective ingredients such as wormwood or black walnut. Also be sure that you are comfortable with how they are administered and how often they need to be dosed.
Natural dewormers are a good way to keep your goats parasite free, especially if you’re raising goats for meat or dairy products. They also keep the parasites in your herd from developing a resistance to chemical dewormers. Maintaining your goats on natural wormers and running regular fecal checks can be very effective.
A newer, natural product that has recently made it’s way to the US is BioWorma. This is a new approach to parasite control that seems to be very effective. BioWorma controls parasite levels through a fungus that is distributed through the goats feces into the pasture. This isn’t a treatment for worm loads, but a preventative and maintenance product, like herbal wormers. This product is currently only available through Premier1 in the US. At the moment, it is fairy cost prohibitive for most farmers, but hopefully that price will come down as interest increases.
A lot of people use pumpkin seed as a natural dewormer for their goats. Pumpkin seeds do have anti-parasite properties, but the amount a goat would need to combat parasites effectively is unrealistic. They still make a great snack, and can contribute to an established dewormer, but do not rely on them to keep your goats parasite free.
Feeding your goats long needle pine can also help deter internal parasites. The tannins in long needle pine help act as a natural dewormer for goats. However, as with the pumpkin seeds, you can’t rely on this alone to keep your herd parasite free.
Chemical wormers have their place when you’re dealing with a severe, dangerous parasite load. Barberpole worm can not be dealt with effectively with natural wormers. Barberpole often requires a combination of chemical wormers to treat effectively.
There are several classes of chemical wormers available, and most of them are off label for goats. Before worming your goats with a chemical wormer, be sure you identify to parasite you’re treating for so you can select the right wormer for that particular parasite. Once you’ve settled on a wormer, be sure you have a reliable source for dosage instructions, as most wormers don’t having for goats. Consult your vet if possible or a reputable online resource.
If you’re dealing with a serious parasite issue, be sure you follow up your treatment with another fecal test in the following weeks to be sure what you’re doing is effective.