Wormers and Worming

We have now had goats for over five years. Our first worry when we got into goats was keeping predators from killing them. After a few months with goats, our worry was keeping parasites from killing them. We bought into the worming on as schedule, no matter if the goats showed signs of needing it or not. This continued for about the two years. Then we started noticing that not all goats showed signs of needing to be wormed.

We attended several seminars on goats and parasites; and, well, on your way out of the seminar, the only thing we wanted to do was rush home and worm the herd. We were almost convinced that it was almost hopeless. We started asking questions and looking around at other goat folks in the area and from out of the area. We listened to them, started looking at the thing they were looking at in their goats, and discovered maybe we didn’t need to worm as often and especially didn’t need to worm all our goats every time.

On one of our visits to our vet, Dr. Galbraith, we asked about worming; and he told us to check the gums. If the gums were pink, we could skip worming that goat; but if the gums were white or light pink, then she should be wormed. About a month or so later, we attended a seminar on goat parasites, and there was a new push - FAMACHA. The FAMACHA system is basically the same as Dr. Galbraith told us to do long ago – he just didn't have charts showing the different shades of pink. We listened very closely to what was being said. This made sense to us….looking for a sign of the worms, not just worming for the sake of worming or because we hadn’t wormed in a while.

When two or more goat owners are together, I’m sure the conversation eventually will turn worms, wormers, and how you control parasites. Wormers are the second most expensive item you buy for your goats with the first being feed. Ok, before you can control parasites, you need to know what kind of parasites you have. In our area, southern middle Tennessee, Haemonchus (barberpole worms) and Moniezia (tapeworms) are our biggest parasite problems. Externally the parasites to be most concerned about would be flies and lice.

We control external parasites, i.e., lice, mites, and flies, using Durasect, a pour-on that is on-label for goats. Durasect is an excellent product to eliminate lice and protect the goats from biting flies. This is a pour-on that really works! We also sometimes use Gordon's Goat & Sheep Spray (insect control for goats, sheep and other farm animals). Lightly spray or use 2 oz. per adult goat; avoid eyes.

We try to control internal parasites by rotating paddocks so the goats are grazing on grasses/weeds over 6 inches high. Parasites have a hard time surviving in tall grasses. Also, we restrict grazing outside the immediate barn area until after the dew is off the grass. We feed the goats at browse level so they aren't eating grains off the ground.

We worm only when necessary. The wormer we chose is selected based on the parasites that show up in fecal analysis. There is no need to use a wormer for tapeworms if the goat has an overload of barberpole worms. By not worming on a "schedule," the parasites don't develop immunity to the wormer. The various wormers we use include: Safeguard for Goats, Valbazen (but not on pregnant does), injectable Ivomec, …..and several other wormers. By not over worming and/or under dosing, the parasites have less chance of becoming resistant to the drugs. We have heard folk say, “I worm with Cydectin every 30 days no matter what.” We strongly disagree with them. If, as we are told, Cydectin is in fact "the wormer of last resort," and we do not use Cydectin too soon, we stand a better chance of controlling the resistance problem.

NOTE: If you are testing your goats before and after worming and find the only way to control the parasites in your herd is by worming with Cydectin every 30 days, or 21 days, by all means you should continue to do so. But do test!

It should be noted most wormers we have been using were developed for cattle as pour-on wormers and are off label to goats. We give these orally to our goats. That is, of course, with the exception for the new Safeguard for Goats and Positive Pellets.

As part of our experience with wormers we have tried Cornerstone Positive Pellets Goat Dewormer. It is great when you can control how much each goat is eating, but impossible with a large herd where the herd eats together. The bigger, more aggressive goats are going to get more of the medicated feed. We have used it successfully with separated doelings and bucklings being weaned, for our quarantine pen, and for yearlings who have not rejoined to herd. It seems to work well, but…. for us the cost seems high.

Once again, we do not normally worm that often. The last time we wormed the entire herd was March 2003.

Now I did not say we had not wormed, but we have not, for the sake of worming, wormed the herd in over a year. There are times when we do worm as a rule:

1. Each does gets wormed the day or day after she kids with Valbazen or one of the wormers in that family. If it is given to a pregnant it can possibly cause abortions or birth defects, and the one day you know she is not pregnant is the day she kids.

2. When we do our check of eyelids and gums and determine the color is not dark enough.

3. When we bring a new animal into the place, we worm them twice over a week period with two different families of wormers. Normally we do the oral then a top dressing. Again, watching to make sure we don’t have a problem.

4. Diarrhea – When diarrhea is observed, we normally take quick action. But we also think of what feeding changes have occurred, new/or changed paddocks, change of food, over eating, but we do consider worming. The first check when diarrhea is discovered is looking at those gums and eyelids. If they are light in color, we have, most likely, parasites; and we worm the goat with diarrhea, but we also take a look at several of the animals that share the paddock. Again looking for the color of the gums and eyelids, if the checked animals are pink or darker, then they do not get wormed.

We normally worm with a clear wormer, rotating the wormer so as not to give the worms a chance to be come resistance to a participle wormer. A long time ago our vet told us to be sure to worm with enough wormer to do the job and not to skimp. Skimping on wormer (under dosing) will cause resistance to the wormer.

We base the amount of wormer to be given at one time to when we only had a few goats and would go to the Vet to get our wormer. He would ask what each goat weigh, and would measure out the amount of wormer for us. Over time he determined we were a little smarter than he once though and would let us take home a container. Finally we started purchasing from the Tennessee Farmer’s Co-op/TSC or at various goat shows and seminars.

If you are with your animals a lot, you get to know how they act. If you find a moppy goat who is normally cheerful, then she needs to have her gums and eyelids checked. If the hair texture does not look “right” for her, then check gums and eyelids. Any change in the behavior should be investigated. Normally those sweet things will tell you what is wrong with them if only given the chance. Some of the other signs to look for in a goat that needs worming are: clumpy stools, dull coat, off feed, dehydration, listlessness, temperature (either up a little or down a little), fluffed hair, and dry cough (especially after running)

We have used the following wormers:

Note: We use a white wormer at least once in every four wormings.

Valbazen (white) - 1 cc for every 22 pounds. Note: do not use on doe during her first 45 days of pregnancy. We always worm with Valbazen the day the doe kids. Valbazen is the best wormer we've found for getting rid of tapeworms.

Panacur (white) - 1 cc for every 22 pounds. We normally get this wormer from our vet.

Epernix (clear) - 1 cc for every 22 pounds.

Eqvalan (clear) - 1 cc for every 60 to 70 pounds.

DVMectin (clear) - 1 cc for every 60 to 70 pounds.

Ivomec Sheep Drench - 1 cc for every 13 pounds.

Safeguard for Goats – 0.6 cc for 25 lbs (2.4 cc for every 100 pounds).

Cornerstone Positive Pellets Goat Dewormer. A wormer through feed. Feed 1 lb. per 100 lbs. of body weight. Feed as sole ration or top dress other feed. Contains Morantel Tartrate for control of most worms.

We do not use Cydectin. Every vet at every seminar we've attended has said that Cydectin is the wormer of last resort. Only use it if no other wormer works. According to the experts, there is nothing "coming down the pike" to replace it.


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Ken and Pat Motes
Clear Creek Farms
33 South Clear Creek Road
Fall River, Tennessee 38468
Phone: (931) 852-2167
Fax: (931) 852-2168


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