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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Goat Parasites

Parasites are all about the immune system. A healthy immune system fights off parasites, and is stimulated by the presence of a small number of parasites.

If the immune system is not the key, then how can you have a field of goats, all exposed to the same parasites, and some show symptoms while others thrive?

Copper is especially important for immune function. And, because minerals act both synergistically and antagonistically, you also have to look at other minerals that interact with copper. Mulder’s Chart expresses the relationships visually.   To learn more about mineral interactions, also visit Albion Minerals.

Parasite go through phases of activity that are linked to the moon phases and the time of day. Fecal tests should be done at the same moon stage and same time of day for consistent results. Deworming at the full moon is the most effective, when cell fluid pressure is at peak. If I am doing a multi-day 3 or 7 day deworming, I make sure the full moon falls at the middle of the process.
Rather than deworming by the calendar, deworm as the goats show signs of parasite overload, or if a fecal test reveals a high fecal count.

Dewormers in order of least toxic to most toxic:

1) Montmorillonite/bentonite clay & food grade diatomaceous earth (DE)

2) Herbal dewormers

3) Chemical dewormers

*Piperazine, Thiabendazole, Oxfendazole

*Fenbendazole

*Pyrantel

*Anthelcide & Oxibendazole

*Ivermectin

*Moxidectin

*In order by reported deaths, with no deaths for Piperazine/Thiabendazole/Oxfendazole to most deaths for Moxidectin

Montmorillonite/bentonite clay has a long history of being used for detoxification and parasite removal. Additionally, this clay is on the FDA Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) list. The clay, when wet, carries a strong negative charge which attracts positively-charged toxins and repels parasites.

Food grade diatomaceous earth works mechanically, by scraping the parasite exoskeleton, causing the parasite to dehydrate and die. There is debate whether DE is effective for goats. For large goat operations, the DE can be milled into the grain, or fed free-choice. DE can be safely fed year round. Always use food grade. DE is also FDA GRAS.  (Studies show mixed results using DE.)

So far, parasites do not appear to develop resistance to mechanical/physical control by clay or DE. I use clay and diatomaceous earth on my pregnant does.

Herbal remedies are an entire article by themselves. There are many brands and many herbal combinations, using garlic, wormwood, walnut and other herbs. Fiasco Farm sells herbal dewormers and has a good section on parasites. I personally use Dynamite Herbal Tonic, except on pregnant does.

With a heavily parasitized goat, start mild and work your way up. Starting with the big guns can lead to a massive parasite die-off, releasing toxins that can kill the goat.

Support the gut after a chemical deworming. Feed a good pre/probiotic (I use Dynamite DynaPro) that balances gut pH and encourages healthy gut flora. Also consider adding zeolite (I like ACZ Nano brand) and/or montmorillonite clay (I use Dynamite Miracle Clay or Excel) to the diet for several days, starting 24 hours after the chemical dose, to absorb any residual chemical.

Work on clearing parasites from the soil. Clean up manure if possible, and compost. Try free range chickens, to break up manure, eat parasites and let the eggs dry out. In small areas, spread diatomaceous earth to kill parasites. Rotate pastures, and alternate between browsing and grazing species to break up the life cycle. Certain fertilizers trigger premature egg hatching, killing the parasites. I personally use Dynamite Humi-Zyme or Prescription Treatment For Soils & Crops.

In summary, my personal parasite control program is daily DE. I feed good-quality amino acid chelated minerals with adequate copper. I rotate pastures with horses and manage parasites in the soil and manure. As needed, I use Dynamite Herbal Tonic and Miracle Clay for 7 days (except on pregnant does). If necessary as a last resort, I use a triple or quadruple dose of pyrantel (per my vet), sometimes for 3 days in a row. I use Dynamite DynaPro during and after the 7 day herbal program, and add clay after using the pyrantel.

drug chart


Reference article about chemical parasite control


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your goat’s health program. Many drugs mentioned above are not FDA approved for use in goats. Consult your veterinarian about non-approved drugs.



Copyright Carrie Eastman, 2012