Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sad reminder about goat deworming

Annette has been coughing for several months.  Nothing bad, and it's usually only after rushing in to eat some "new" hay or after eating grain.  I just figured the coughing was caused by her eating too quickly, but then began to wonder if she had lung worm.  So I got my microscope ready & went out to get me some hot-outta-the-oven goat turds.  I didn't find any lung worm eggs, but I did find a surprising amount of barber pole (Haemonchus contortus) worm eggs, like three times as many as Nettie had on her recent test.  I had just wormed the entire herd with Positive Pellet Goat Dewormer on the 3rd of January and it is supposed to take care of that type of worm.  So either it did (and Annette had a lot of worms) or it is not working.  If you read any literature or articles about barber pole worms in goats, you probably already know that they have built up a resistance to many deworming medications.  There are many farms that will cull animals based upon their ability to be naturally resistant to them.

I went to the feed store to pick up another bottle of Ivomec injection as my supply was down to only half a dose.  When I got into the parking lot, there was young girl (maybe ten?) and her father carrying a Nubian doe out of the store and to their truck.  And the doe was making pitiful bleating noises.  Death noises.  I know this sound because I was there when one of our does was dying.  I asked him what was wrong and he said she was riddled with worms and that she was probably wasn't going to make it.  I wanted to ask more, ask if he'd try hitting her hard with a high dose of wormer, ask if he knew what kind of worms, etc., but the look on his daughter's face was so sad and despondent that I couldn't bear to hold them up any longer.  They carefully put the softly bleating goat in the back seat of the truck and drove away.

Now I was really, really determined to get something going for Annette's worm problem.  The grim reality of seeing that doe and hearing her pathetic groaning seems to give one a kick in the pants.

I bought a 200mL bottle of Ivomec injection and went right back home.  Although it is labeled for cattle and swine, it is used off-label for goats by just about every goat keeper I know of.  I put Annette in the milk stand with a handful of alfalfa pellets to keep her still and then gave her 3mL of the medication orally using my handy-dandy drenching gun (a must-have for administering meds).  Although the Ivomec is labeled as an injection, it is more effective to give it to the goats orally.

Since I did not run a fecal sample on Annette before giving the herd the Positive Pellet medicated feed at the beginning of the month, I cannot know how many, if any, worms were knocked out of her using that particular deworming medication.  Bad farmer, I know.  But now I have a baseline for "Before Ivomec" and will run another fecal on her in a few days and see if there is any noticeable difference.  Ivomec  claims that it will remove all types of stomach worms, but I have also read that an older type of wormer, Levamisole, is supposed to be able to knock out drug resistant worms and if her fecal shows up with lots of worm eggs again, I'll use that on her.

Besides doing fecal floats, I occasionally check the eyelids of my herd.  There is a color chart called FAMANCHA that gives you an idea of what the inner bottom eyelid should look like color-wise.  If it is pale (or white!) that means you probably have a heavy worm load.  This is because the parasites / worms literally drain all the red blood cells out of your goat and the normally pink pigment in the eyelid will be missing because of the nasties sucking it out of your goat, making the goat severely anemic.  Having said that about the FAMANCHA chart, I will say that I do not own one (it's just a little plastic card with the colors on them).  When first hearing about this method of checking for worm loads, I went out to my herd and almost fell over when I checked Nettie's color.  It was pale pink.  I immediately went berserk and wormed her.  Then after a while, I realized that I should have been checking the eyelids on a regular basis to establish a baseline.  Nettie just has paler eyelids than the rest of my goats, and after doing some internet searching found out that many other people said their white goats had paler eyelids than the rest of their darker coated herd mates.  There are also other signs of a high worm load such as reduced milk production, dull coat, diarrhea and in extreme cases, bottle jaw (lower jaw becomes swollen).

None of my goats are currently having any symptoms, but since I've got a saline solution ready and the microscope out I'm going to bundle up and go out to the goat pen to ollect samples from my Boer gals and see how they are doing.


  1. I sure hope all is well with your herd and that Nettie is going to be okay! I feel so bad for those folks with the goat at the feed store...

  2. So sad about the dying goat in the girls arms...I would have probably been in tears for her.
    On the other hand I do hope you are able to get a handle on these little suckers they can be rather devastating. someone I knew once upon a time kept losing her "prize" sheep and come to find out if she would have just wormed them proper she would have saved them all. It seems anymore the worms are getting more resistant to our everyday wormer, just means I guess the white coats need to get smarter!

  3. Awww, that poor little girl and her doe :( I hope Annette is feeling better soon!

    Truly, you are just stacking up the reasons not to get goats

  4. I had a VERY bad year when it comes to worms this year. In fact, it's one of the reasons I decided to get out of the goat business. I'm tired of the fight. I lost two very good goats because of it. I hope you kick those worms in their little wormy but.

  5. I did not know about the eye lid color - thanks for posting this, I am going to check the girls.

  6. Excellent post Carolyn. We all need a reminder to be diligent. So sorry to hear about the barber pole. Hopefully you've got it licked now.

  7. Good luck with the worm problem. I know my vet had told me that natural or organic methods just don't work with worms in goats. He had a client that was hard to convince until she lost lots of her animals.

    I wonder why they are such an issue with goats.

  8. Candy, I think everyone is pretty much ok, there haven't been any outward signs of stress or sickness so I'm hoping I kick this thing in the butt before it does become a problem.

    ME Masterson, I do hope I can get it under control. More testing, I suppose, and treatment from there.

    Ashlee, I suppose I should write a "Why NOT to keep goats".

    SFG, We've been pretty lucky so far. I can't imagine what you had to go through with a bad worm load....ick. And it seems that there's not much you can do for it if they are resistant.

    The Family, don't get too excited if they don't have bright pink membranes, some are just lighter colored than others. I have yet to see a bright pink/ red eyelid color....and I've even looked at ones at the County Fair!

    gld, I had somebody at the feed store tell me one day that goats are just born to die. Not very encouraging, hugh?