"Management is what is going to save you the most money,” Ann Wells, DVM, out of Prairie Grove, Ark., said.
“The key,” she said, “Is to think about how you can avoid purchasing hay, medicine, feed and antibiotics. You are often buying these because you’ve run out of pasture or hay, or because your animal has gotten sick.” But it all boils down to ineffective management, she said.
It’s about managing the system, Wells said, “it’s a holistic approach.” Pasture management, she explained, ties strongly into nutrition. “The most important thing is to inventory what you have. Ask, ‘are my goats going to eat this?’ ‘What will we have in another month (in the pasture)?’ Think: cattle prefer grass, sheep prefer forbs and goats prefer browse. If goats don’t ever have to put their head down, they’re happy.”
Wells' "Few good animal husbandry practices"
1. Sanitation – goats actually prefer “clean and dry,” she said.
2. Observation – Very few animals die acutely with no other symptoms.
3. Vaccinations – What animals does the vaccination treat and what disease does it prevent?
4. Quarantine – New arrivals must be quarantined for 10 days to two weeks, and examined carefully before commingling.
(Check for pink eye, sore mouth, foot rot (mostly in sheep), eyes, mouths, hooves, no lumps, no skin infections.)
Wells noted that stress acts on the animal’s body, causing imbalance. “Under stress, the body produces a reaction which may give rise to symptoms in its attempt to regain equilibrium,” she said.
Wells said energy is a limiting factor here in the Ozarks, which goats need to bring them out of stress.
Six Parasite Management Steps
Wells stressed the importance of managing parasites, because, “dewormers are losing their effectiveness,” she said. The six areas you can best manage parasites are:
1. Pasture Management
2. Selecting for less parasites (goats more resistant to parasites)
3. Keep a low stocking rate, don’t overwhelm your system.
4. Keep the height of the forage they’re grazing high, so they don’t have to ingest the part of the plant where the parasites are living
5. Utilize frequent pasture rotation
6. Graze with multiple species if possible to break up the life-cycle of parasites.
Three Coccidia Tips
One common parasite is coccidia. “It’s everywhere, so it must be a managed disease,” Wells said. She noted that most coccidia problems are the result of a lack of sanitation and overcrowding. Some ways to to offset the threat of coccidia:
1. Keep goats from camping in the same place every night;
2. Move their shelters if possible;
3. Treat and isolate affected animals.
Alternative Parasite Treatments
Because of drug resistance, many producers are looking for other methods. Wells’ first suggestion is when one drug stops working, switch classes of drugs. If an animals gets no worse after a deworming, “give TLC, not more dewormer,” she noted. And then, there are other methods, alternatives to drugs. Utilization of high-tannin forages can reduce the need for dewormer.
Some natural parasite fighters Wells suggested producers try were chicory, serecia lespedeza and birdsfoot trefoil. These have shown to have a negative impact on worms, Wells said. Other home-remedies include copper oxide and garlic juice.
Wells suggested several websites for goat management information, holistic methods for parasite treatment and clinical information on disease. Please refer to www.ozarksfn.com for a listing of these resources.