The best way to find out whether your goats have parasites is through fecal analysis, which involves collecting a sample of goat berries, mixing them with a solution, and viewing the resulting sample under a microscope to see whether they contain too many parasite eggs.
Unfortunately, most goat owners rarely have their goat feces analyzed. For years, the common practice was to deworm goats regularly, sometimes as often as every month, and to rotate the dewormers used to treat the parasites. This led to the parasites becoming resistant to available dewormers in some areas. Rather than blindly treating for parasites, the better solution is to analyze the feces to determine whether a problem really exists.
Unless you have a problem with parasites, twice-a-year testing is adequate. One of the most important times to test your does is right after they kid. The stress of the birth can make them more susceptible to parasite problems. If you cannot test your does at this time, deworm them as a preventive measure.
Randomly testing some of the kids during their first six months is a good idea. They’re more likely to have high numbers of parasites during this period because their immune systems are not yet fully developed.
All you have to do for fecal testing is collect a few goat berries, put them in plastic bags, and take or ship them to a veterinarian or veterinary lab for analysis. Ask your vet what he prefers and what paperwork is required. Some veterinary labs may require a referring veterinarian, but others allow you to print out the paperwork from their Web site and submit your own samples.
To do your own fecal tests, you need a microscope that has at least 40X power (you can get one for less than $100 from American Science & Surplus, and a few other supplies). Fias Co Farm has detailed, step-by-step instructions for testing, and it has photos of the different parasite eggs.
After you have determined what kind(s) of parasites are afflicting your goats, you need to deworm them. The following table lists the dewormers that are effective against specific parasites. Whenever you deworm, always give the dewormer orally at twice the cattle dose (by weight), except Moxidectin, which is more effective given by injection. Don’t rotate dewormers frequently; use only one dewormer until it no longer works in your herd and then switch to a dewormer in another chemical family.
|Roundworm, such as barber pole worm, brown stomach worm
|Valbazen, Ivermectin, Safeguard, Morantel
|Valbazen, Ivomec Plus
Another kind of testing related to parasites is called the Drenchrite test, which can determine which dewormers will be effective. This test is conducted only at the University of Georgia parasitology lab, and it’s expensive. This test came about in response to the serious problem with parasites and resistance to dewormers that has evolved in the southern United States. If you have a problem getting control of parasites in your goats or dewormers aren’t working, visit the Southern Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control Web site to get information about this test.