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Avoiding Worms in Goats

Grazing management

Managing and spelling pastures at the right times and for the necessary length of time is a proven method to reduce the level of contamination on paddocks.

However, moving goats between pastures each few weeks will do little to reduce the worm-risk, especially in high-risk barber’s pole worm areas.

Grazing management methods are not presented here because few smallholders are in a position to apply these options effectively, however the link is included below for refernce.

More information on grazing management to avoid worms can be found:

Browse feeding

Providing a large proportion of the goat’s diet as browse or taller crops, shrubs or trees (where edible parts are above 20 cm height) greatly reduces intake of worm larvae, as the larvae rarely ascend more than 15 cm above the ground.

If this is grazed by the stock, be aware that as it becomes eaten out and the animals start to eat close to the ground or need to eat more low-growing pasture, then they will pick up more worm larvae.

Browse can also be cut and provided in racks for the animals to feed on. The page pasture and browse for worm control in goats has more information.

Feedlotting of goats

Feedlotting is a highly effective means of avoiding worms. Goats are separated 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. 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.

In situations where paddocks are heavily contaminated with worms on an ongoing basis (and in some cases, drenches are no longer very effective), feedlotting becomes the only viable option to prevent illness and death from worms. 

Requirements for feedlotting:

  • There must be absolutely no grazing in the feedlot area. You can ensure this 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 contamination of the feed by the goats’ feet or manure. Waterers must also be kept clean and in good order, without leakages onto the surrounding area. Daily trough cleaning is recommended in even the smallest feedlot to prevent coccidiosis; this is a severe risk in feedlots with poor hygiene.
  • Grass can sometimes grow around waterers that leak. These plants should be removed as they would have high numbers of worm larvae.
  • The ration must not include cut pasture that has had goats, sheep, alpacas and ideally cattle, grazing it.

Feedlotting can also reduce the spread of Johne’s disease, which occurs in some dairy goat herds.

It can also protect against dog attacks and paralysis ticks, which are also common problems in goats kept in peri-urban areas.

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