Using Livestock Medicines for Goat Symptoms May Require Veterinary Supervision
by Curt Rush
Anyone raising goats for any length of time has had a sick animal, whether with goat worms or infections. Our primary concern is doing whatever is necessary to get the goat well, as soon as possible. Most of us can’t run to the veterinarian at the drop of a hat, for every runny goat nose, so we learn to doctor our sick animals ourselves.
Of course, major health problems still need the attention of a qualified vet. Determining which problems are major and which are minor depends upon your personal experience and knowledge of caring for goats. I am fortunate to know an outstanding vet that has taken the time to learn about goats. But a lot of people are not so fortunate; their learning has to come from other producers. I also tried to read almost every goat medicine article I could get my hands on, as well as perhaps the best book written on goat medicine: Sheep and Goat Medicine by DG Pugh.
Very few medicines are manufactured explicitly for goat worms and diseases, and not many medicines list goats on the label. When a label does not list goats, even if purchased at the feed store, using that medicine on a goat becomes “extra-label.” That means administering it needs to be under veterinary supervision.
Though I am not a veterinarian, nor have vet schooling, I developed a list of medicine tips from my 15 years of goat experience and gleaning knowledge from other producers who have had great success.
Vaccinations help prevent many devastating and often fatal goat diseases. They are not expensive and you or your vet can give them all in a matter of minutes. These are simply what I use currently in my operation.
Starting at birth, I give the newborns each 1 cc of a product called Inforce 3, and 1 cc of Once PMH IN, both vaccines sprayed up the noses. At four-five weeks of age, I give another 2 cc of each product.
I try not to band bucks until they are 90 days old; many breeders claim deferring castration until at least 3 months of age reduces the incidence of obstructive calculi (UC) by allowing testosterone to influence size and development of the urethral lumen. It also helps the urethral process separate completely from its attachment to the penis end. At this age, I worm both my banded buck kids and doe kids, then give each a shot of CD&T for Clostridium perfringens and tetanus, and then a booster 21 days later.
I only let my does kid once a year. After weaning the kids, they are allowed to dry up. Thirty days before I turn the buck out with them, I give each one a shot of Bio-Mycin 200. I feed them each one ounce of CTC (chlorotetracycline), for seven days, to clean out of any diseases such as chlamydia and toxoplasmosis. I then do a worm load check on each doe with the FAMACHA scorecard. I also run a fecal egg count on each doe, individual analyses on each doe, and any necessary hoof trimming.
Thirty days before I turn my buck in with the does, he undergoes the same protocol, along with a semen check from the vet.
Thirty days before each doe kids, I again give another shot of Bio-Mycin 200 and another seven days of CTC, one ounce per head per day, as a preventative measure against abortion from diseases they may have picked up during goat gestation.
Within 24 hours of kidding, I worm the mother. This is a stressful time and if she has worms, they will get more active.
One of the biggest profit robbers and problematic herd health issues is goat worms!
Cooper oxide wire particles (COWP) only control barber pole worms. There are several precautions involved: COWP should also not be given subtherapeutically to goats! It should also not be the only parasite control employed on a goat farm but instead be part of an integrated parasite management program including any of the following practices: pasture rest and rotation, genetic selection, browsing, taller forages, zero-grazing, minimum grazing heights, and selective deworming using the FAMACHA scorecard.
The FAMACHA system should be used to determine which animals receive a bolus. It is generally recommended that goats scoring 4 or 5 on the chart be treated for barber pole worm infection, whereas those scoring 1, 2, or 3 should not be treated. The most recent discussions about COWP concern copper toxicity from giving goats too much COWP. I don’t recommend nor use COWPs; I would rather use a manufactured wormer indicated to kill all goat worms or a vast majority of them.
Plants and or plant products have been used historically to treat cases of parasitism in animals. However, results reported have been in the form of observations rather than controlled studies. Pumpkin seeds and many other vine crops are believed to contain a deworming compound called cucurbitacin, which has been used to expel tapeworms and roundworms in domestic livestock for years. There is much we don’t understand about plants and plant-based products, so don’t be surprised when different people report different results. Also, remember that those with less-than-positive results are not as vocal as those who have positive results.
Diatomaceous earth consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled protist. It is used as a filtration aid, mild abrasive in products such as metal polishes and toothpaste, mechanical insecticide, absorbent for liquids, matting agent for coatings, reinforcing filler in plastics and rubber, anti-block in plastic films, porous support for chemical catalysts, cat litter, activator in blood clotting studies, a stabilizing component of dynamite, and a thermal insulator.
I found two studies using medical grade diatomaceous earth as a deworming agent in cattle. Both studies cited that the groups treated with DE did not fare any better than the control groups. Another four or five scientific studies consistently show that diatomaceous earth does not kill worms.
Dewormers are a class of drugs used for gastrointestinal worm parasites in animals.
The USDA regulates commercial anthelmintic dewormers. Only two over-the-counter dewormers are approved for goat worms and these have disease, dosage, and drug withdrawal periods for each species on the labels.
All remaining dewormers, while approved for both food animals and horses, are “extra-label-use.” This means the label does not indicate the animal species, wormer use, or dosage. Have a working relationship with a veterinarian so they and you are aware of using an “extra-label” dewormer.
Medications for goat worms have two problems: the lack of labeling for use in goats and drug resistance. Worms have developed resistance to many dewormers, due to the overuse and improper use. Therefore, in some herds, only one or two medications are still effective at killing goat worms, sometimes none. We need to use management practices that suppress parasites then use dewormers only when management is not adequate. Often, an effective dewormer is not approved by the FDA for use in goats and must be used in an extra-label manner.
Pour-on dewormers appear to work poorly in goats and should not be used. Injectable dewormers can promote resistance. If dewormer is given in the feed or water, or in the form of blocks, there is often a problem of non-uniform dosage of your herd.
Unfortunately, dewormer resistance is inevitable, but how soon it develops depends on your management. Using the FAMACHA chart will slow development of dewormer resistance, compared to conventional management practices. Since buying resistant worms is the quickest way to get them, treat animals you bring into your herd with two classes of dewormer. Give a full goat dose of each at the same time. Then a week later, do a fecal egg count on the goat, which hopefully will be zero or close to it.
One of the wormers I have used with great success, though completely off-label is using ivermectin for horses: the 1.84 percent solution. I dose at twice the goat’s weight. I also use Quest Plus Gel Horse Wormer with great results for tapeworms, but only when a doe kids. Again, this is off-label.
Next time you treat goat worms, do a fecal egg count to determine if your dewormer is working, If not, switch to another dewormer and check again. Use a proper dose of the drug and know the withdrawal period. Use the FAMACHA chart to slow development of dewormer resistance. Try not to buy dewormer resistance by treating all incoming goats with two dewormers. Use management to prevent worms, which reduces how often you deworm.
Curt Rush and his wife have been raising meat goats for 14 years. They sell to local 4-H and FFA kids as well as for both the show ring and breeding stock. Curt will soon attend ABGA Judges School in hopes of expanding his judging experience to become a Registered Sanctioned judge.
Originally published in the May/June 2018 issue of Goat Journal.