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Internal Parasites to Watch Out For in Your Goats

Raising goats can be part of a green lifestyle, but you have to learn to deal with the internal parasites that are common in goats. They mainly affect the goats' digestive system, although a few migrate to other parts of the body. Here are some of the parasites to watch for.

Coccidiosis

These single-celled organisms are always in the goat's environment and are normally carried by all goats. When they reproduce and overwhelm a goat that isn't resistant to them, they become a problem. Kids under the age of six months are at highest risk of coccidiosis. The main sign of coccidiosis is diarrhea, although in some cases, an affected goat becomes constipated and dies.

If an adult goat suddenly dies for no apparent reason, have it checked by a veterinarian for coccidiosis and treat the whole herd if coccidiosis is found.

If you are bottle-feeding kids, you can add Deccox to the milk to prevent coccidiosis.

Common worms

The worm that causes the biggest problem, particularly in rainy, warm areas, is Haemonchus contortus, or the barber pole worm. It is red and white striped, and it sucks the goats' blood and reproduces rapidly. Anemia is the most common symptom produced by the barber pole worm. Barber pole worm can cause bottle jaw, a swelling below the lower jaw.

Other worms that may take up residence in your goats include the following:

  • Brown stomach worm and bankrupt worm: More common in fall and winter, these stomach worms cause diarrhea, rough coat, and thinness and inability to gain weight. Treatment of these worms depends on dewormer resistance.

  • Tapeworms: Tapeworms are easy to identify without a microscope because they drop off white sections about the size of a grain of rice in the feces. They cause young goats to get pot-bellied and to develop poorly because the parasites absorb their food. They can also cause diarrhea. A cold freeze can stop the tapeworm cycle in a pasture, but otherwise they can survive in the ground for a year. Treat tapeworms with Valbazen.

    Valbazen can cause birth defects if you give it to does in the first 30 days of pregnancy.

  • Meningeal worm: This worm is more common in the fall and winter and needs wet weather. The meningeal worm causes neurological problems in goats, including partial paralysis, circling, blindness, and difficulty walking. If your goat develops these symptoms, contact a veterinarian.

  • Liver fluke: This fluke invades the liver, where it causes internal bleeding and anemia. These parasites affect goats in the winter and spring. In severe cases, the goat will lose its appetite, lie down and not get up, and ultimately die. Less severe cases can cause thinness, rough coat, rapid heart rate, and bottle jaw. The only dewormer that is effective against all stages of liver fluke is Chlorsulan. Valbazen can be used to treat mature liver flukes.

  • Lungworms: Lungworms are cool-weather parasites; hot weather and freezes kill them. Lungworms can cause painful breathing, chronic cough, failure to gain weight, and death. When you have a goat with a chronic cough and no fever or other signs of pneumonia, consider lungworms.

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