Worms in goats are a major health issue which can significantly affect their welfare as well as economic outcomes. Worm larvae enter a goat’s gut after they eat infected grass, these larvae then mature into egg producing adults. Worm eggs are excreted by the goat in their faeces, which then develop into larvae and attach to grass which is eaten by the goats, and they become reinfected. Reaching for a drench may seem to be an easy fix, but with the increasing prevalence of drug-resistant worms and concerns over the use of chemicals, other solutions are worth incorporating into an effective management strategy.
Effective grazing management is accomplished by managing pastures in a way that will reduce the parasitic load. There are several ways to do this:
- Browsing above the ground
- Alternate grazing of goats with cattle
- Rotational grazing
When goats are run in a bush area with plenty of forage rather than just a pasture paddock, there can be significant benefits. By browsing, goats will not consume forage close to the ground where the parasite larvae are located. In addition, many browse plants have high tannin concentrations which have been shown to reduce faecal egg counts.
Most worms are host specific, that is, they are only able to infect either goats or cattle, not both. This means that grazing a contaminated pasture by cattle results in death of the goat worm larvae.
This method is based on graze periods in a paddock being sufficiently brief (4-10 days) to avoid autoinfection, or resting a paddock long enough to have allowed enough time for many of the larvae on the pasture to die (typically 40-80 days).
Want to read more?