2008 was a really tough year for our goats. We lost two adult goats and half of our kids to some ailment that hit them fast and didn’t seem to be curable. We struggled all year, making sure they were all up to date on vaccinations, that their feed was good quality, that they had access to a well balanced mineral supplement, that they were wormed regularly, everything we or the vet could think of, and still they died. It was very frustrating and heartbreaking. Finally, this winter after losing two more kids, we found an answer. Liver flukes. They thrive in wet pastures and we have lots of that, and had even more this past year. They are also not common in our area, and the eggs (which are what you look for when you test) look almost identical to the Barber pole worm. The worms respond to most of the wormers that are readily available, but the flukes only respond to a rather expensive, vet prescribed wormer. It’s pretty harsh, but we are prepared to use it now that we know what the problem is. I’ve also read some articles that indicate that an increase in copper sulfate will solve all the internal parasite problems, including liver flukes. I’m going to try that first, and have them tested again in a few weeks. If it works it will save us lots of money and keep the pasture toxin free. If it doesn’t work quickly we will do what ever we must to keep the herd healthy. Now that we ( our vet included) are keyed in on what to watch for we should be able to solve this problem for the future of our farm and herd. It is easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it specifically. The symptoms and the eggs of the fluke are very similar to other parasite problems, but it doesn’t respond to any of the common wormers.
Barber pole worm eggs
Liver fluke eggs
Besides the increased copper we will be improving drainage and fertility in the pasture this year. More on that later.