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Home WormBoss Worm Control Program for Goats – East Coast Grazing Management for Goats in East Coast Region

Grazing Management for Goats in East Coast Region

Sheep and goats carry the same worms and when grazed together goats carry heavier worm burdens than do sheep, especially in the absence of browse. It is best to not run sheep and goats together, except in the pastoral zone where worms are not as important and where goats have access to browse, which they prefer. If you do run both goats and sheep in higher rainfall zones, run goats on different areas of the property from sheep. Goats also share common worms with alpacas. Goats can be successfully run with horses and cattle.

NOTE: goats can also be infected by the brown stomach worm (Ostertagia ostertagi) from cattle, unlike the situation with sheep and lambsUse adult cattle, who are generally resistant to worms.

Grazing management techniques that reduce the exposure of goats to worms are based on these four steps:

  • Avoid grazing on paddocks heavily contaminated with worm larvae.
  • Reduce contamination of paddocks with worm eggs.
  • Allow time for most of the eggs and larvae on the pasture to die.
  • Where possible, provide adequate browse.

If these practices are not practical then consider feedlotting and ensure that feeders and waterers are designed to avoid faecal contamination.

Which goats are most susceptible to worms?

  • Weaners in the months after weaning until about 18 months of age, when they develop a higher level of worm immunity. Paddocks used by young goats should be of the highest quality pasture as the first priority, ideally they should also be of low worm-risk. Bucks remain as susceptible as young goats.
  • Late pregnant and lactating does are highly susceptible to worms as their worm immunity is reduced in late pregnancy and through early lactation. This can contribute to the seasonal increase in worm numbers and later infection of kids at foot.
  • Adult or not lactating (dry) goats remain susceptible to worms as their immunity develops more slowly than it does in sheep, and is often incomplete.
  • Rangeland goats moving into higher rainfall areas are highly susceptible to worms as they have little experience of worm infection and hence their immunity is poorly developed. Paddocks used by these goats should be of low worm-risk.

How are low worm-risk kidding and weaner paddocks prepared?

Whether the paddock is for kidding does or for weaned kids the method of preparation is the same. However, the length of preparation will vary according to the time of the year the paddock first needs to be used. Refer to Factors contributing to pasture contamination (Appendix 3) to find out how long you need to prepare your paddock.

What if grazing management is not practical on my small farm?

  • The most effective grazing management under this constraint is to feedlot your goat, which separates them from pasture that contains the infective stage of worms. Many goats in small herds or kept in backyards already receive a lot of supplementary feed so when worm control costs are taken into account, going to a zero grazing (feedlot) situation may be cost effective, especially if existing pastures can be converted to growing browse for cutting and feeding.
    • There must be absolutely no grazing in the feedlot area by spraying out the grass and replacing with gravel, pine-bark or similar or leaving as compacted dirt.
    • Feeders and waterers must be designed so that there is no manure contamination of the feed by the goats’ feet or manure. Waterers must also be kept clean and in good order.
    • Grass can sometimes grow around waterers that leak and these plants should be removed as they would have high numbers of worm larvae.
  • Feedlotting is used by many commercial dairy goat producers due to milk withdrawal times and penalties associated with milk residues. It can also reduce the spread of Johne’s disease, which occurs in some dairy goat herds.
  • Feedlotting can also protect against dog attacks and paralysis ticks, which are also common problems in goats kept in peri-urban areas.

Preparing a low barber’s pole worm-risk paddock

Prepare low worm-risk paddocks for kidding does and weaners by preventing contamination with worm larvae in the 2–3 months before they are needed. Preparation will typically require 3 months if conducted during autumn and winter and 2 months if conducted during spring and summer.

Preparation to prevent contamination can use any of the following practices:

  • Spell paddocks from goats*
  • Graze with cattle or horses
  • Grow browse, crops, hay or new pastures
  • Graze with goats or sheep treated with an effective drench for up to 3 weeks after the end of the protection period (when it is killing worms).

*Where goats are referred to, include sheep and alpacas, as they can carry goat worms. While cattle also carry some goat worms, adult cattle tend to have very low burdens and contribute very little to contamination of pastures with worms affecting goats.

An alternative method of kidding paddock preparation is ‘Smart Grazing’, described here for sheep but likely to be effective for goats: Smart grazing for weaner worm control.

Other ways to prepare low barber’s pole worm-risk paddocks include rotational grazing with short graze periods alternated with sufficiently long rest periods which can greatly reduce the number of worm larvae on pasture, especially barber’s pole worm. Common watering points contained within small areas (e.g. up to 1 ha) that are grassed (i.e. not bare or gravel surface) should be avoided as these can become high worm-risk areas.  While these systems (e.g. planned grazing, cell grazing, techno-grazing and intensive rotational grazing) are outside the scope of this publication, they use the principles found in Factors contributing to paddock contamination with worms.

Preparing a low scour worm-risk paddock

Grazing management will be less effective in the parts of this region and times of the year when scour worms might be more prevalent and Smart Grazing may be of greater value.

The paddock(s) that will be used by the most susceptible goats after the autumn break should previously only be grazed by goats or sheep that have received an effective summer drench, or adult cattle (over 12 months old). To minimise contamination with worm eggs, graze for a maximum of 30 days after each effective drench is given (after which treated animals can begin to excrete higher levels of worm eggs from reinfection). A similar stocking rate to the continuous stocking will be achieved by stocking at 2½–3 times your normal stocking rate.

If there is excess feed, the summer drenches can be ‘staggered’ for different mobs so as to provide a longer intensive grazing period, as removing excess feed (i.e. graze down to at least 3 cm) enhances the kill of worm larvae due to higher temperatures, especially in the southern parts of this region.

To find out more relevant information, see: Roundworm life cycle and Factors contributing to paddock contamination with worms.

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