4S Goat Expo updates producers on resistant parasites
for The Fence Post
Producers learned about developing goats tolerant to parasites during the 4S Goat Expo in North Platte. Brian Vander Ley, veterinary epidemiologist with the Great Plains Veterinary Education Center with the University of Nebraska, was on hand to discuss ways producers could protect their herds from parasite infestations.
“Parasite resistance is here to stay,” he tells producers. “Timed, blanketed deworming does not work. Goats can not be cured of parasites.”
Only two goat deworming products remain on the market that still work to treat parasites. Vander Ley said chances are slim of another product becoming available. “Resistance is defined as the inability of the deworming product to reduce the fecal egg population by 95 percent,” he explained.
After a deworming product is used, Vander Ley said 100 percent of the goats with resistant parasites will be left on the pasture to shed eggs from resistant worms. “While we still have a few products left that work, we need to use that time to develop goats that are tolerant to parasites,” he said.
“Only 20 percent of the goats in a given population are infected with parasites,” he said. “Producers should only deworm the goats that are infected.” He doesn’t recommend isolating infected animals because it creates another location on the farm where animals can shed eggs and create more problems. “You should leave those goats in the herd so they can shed eggs that will mate with resistant worms, and hopefully help develop animals that can tolerate parasites,” he said.
“Don’t blanket deworm all animals. It only creates resistant worms, especially in a new area,” he said. “It can kill the kid goats if they are in that area, because they are exposed to nothing but resistant worms, and they don’t have the immunity to fight that.”
Vander Ley indicated to producers that deworming products should only be given to goats orally by mouth. “Never use a pour-on or an injectable with goats,” he said. Using pour-ons or injectables spread out the duration of the dewormer, killing all the worms except the resistant ones. “The duration is so long, it actually selects for resistant worms,” he said.
The veterinarian recommended administering the dewormers in combination with one another, and alternating classes for the most impact. He also recommended putting as much selection pressure on parasite tolerance as possible.
What about other goat diseases?
When producers import goats into their herd, Vander Ley encouraged them to do their research on parasites, as well as other diseases that can affect goats. “Test your current herd, before you worry about what you are bringing in,” he said. “Quarantine and test all new animals, and then monitor the herd routinely. Screen any sick animals, and post any goats that have died.”
Producers should also keep in mind that some diseases can be transmitted from goats to people. Ringworm and sore mouth can infect people, but the worst one, according to Vander Ley, is Q Fever. In immunosuppressed people, it can cause heart valve disease and blood vessel abnormalities. In healthy people, it typically causes flu-like symptoms. “A lot of goats shed this bacteria, especially at kidding time,” Vander Ley said. “Wear gloves, especially if you are working with the placenta.”
“If you have animals that die, keep it from being a complete loss by gathering as much information from that animal as possible,” he said. “Get a post-mortem exam to gather as much information about disease potential, and other problems in the herd.”
By identifying susceptible populations, producers can minimize and even eliminate exposure risks. Water tanks should also be cleaned regularly, Vander Ley said. “Tanks are an ideal location for disease to spread,” he said. “We use tanks as a sampling area for viruses, and to detect viral shedding.”
He also encouraged producers to avoid using feeding equipment for manure handling, and to feed hay off of the ground. Lastly, he encouraged fly control, because they can spread disease.
Vaccines also need to be given at the right times. “Do not vaccinate sick animals,” Vander Ley said. “It can make them a lot worse. Treatment decisions should be made by you and your veterinarian, but choose effective treatments.”
Other speakers at the conference were Lee Dana of Double D Boer Goats in Clay Center, Neb., discussing the benefits of purchasing quality genetics, and Bronc Nicholson of M & N Boer Goats of Chadron, Neb., discussing marketing goats in Nebraska. Twenty youth competed in the goat judging contest. Winners were: Hailey Hunzeker, champion, and Khloe Cuttlers, reserve champion in the junior division; and Kaitlyn Kleinknecht, champion, and Ryley Johnson, reserve champion, in the senior division.
Dana also showed the audience how to fit a goat for show prior to the meat goat show and sale that was held the next day. Randy Saner, University of Nebraska extension educator, also trained participants on Famacha. ❖
— Clark is a freelance livestock journalist from western Nebraska. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.