Friday, January 2, 2009

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programing...

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.


dND said...

Liver fluke is top of the list here to explain the death of my alpaca last month. Again, waterlogged pasture. That said, when we looked at the liver there didn't appear to be any visible damage. It's really frustrating when you're having to guess all the time and the animals keep dying. Good luck with your goats.


dancingfarmer said...

not sure how your copper experiment went for you but we had barber pole issues with our sheep (of course). We raised Icelandics until recently and used copper sulfate to treat them after going through many issues trying not to use too much wormer and stay at least somewhat chemical free (we milked too).
Icelandics seem to tolerate the copper much better than other breeds of sheep. We dosed ours twice a year with gel capsules purchased empty that we loaded with 1 gram each of the ground up copper sulfate. We ground ours with an old hand grinder (found in an antique store for cheap). Adults usually got from 2 to 4 capsules (depending on size, previous dosing and worm load at the time) and lambs just one, sometimes two if they were older and larger. Anyway...I would LOVE to hear how your copper experiment went. I think too few people understand it. We are using it on our companion goat now and it is working fine for us. But..we just have one goat and lots of acreage so that says nothing really :-)

Alan said...

This year I've been giving each adult goat 1 teaspoon in her grain ration each week. This seems to be about the right amount for most of them. Our summer fecal test came back good, very low parasite numbers. I think the dry year, the improving pasture quality, and the copper have all helped. I'll post a bit more about this soon.


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