Unlike sheep, goats remain susceptible to internal parasites (worms) throughout their lives.
High levels of internal parasites may cause ill-thrift, scouring, weight loss, anaemia and sometimes even death. Young goats, underweight animals or goats suffering other health problems are particularly at risk.
Treating with an anthelmintic or ‘drench’ can remove worms but it is important to get the dosage and type of drench right. Using a single active drench for goats is not recommended as drench resistance is widespread in New Zealand.
Drench doses are weight dependent. Underdosing is likely to be ineffective and may encourage drench resistance. Overdosing can result in poisoning, particularly with levamisole (‘clear’) drenches or mineralised drenches containing selenium.
Careful management can help reduce your reliance on drenches to control internal parasites:
- Use cattle Use cattle or horses to cross-graze pastures as these do not share the same parasites as goats
- Avoid grazing goats with lambs and hoggets. Both goats and young sheep are very susceptible to internal parasites and share the same worms.
- Allow goats to graze longer pastures. Forcing goats to graze very close to the ground increases their parasite larval intake.
- Feed supplements such as hay, silage or commercial pellets/meal. This will reduce your goats’ pasture larval exposure and keep them well fed.
- Avoid overstocking and overgrazing. Too many animals on a property results in short pasture covers and increased pasture larval contamination.
Parasite management involves many factors. Talk to your vet about the best parasite management plan for your goats.