Drug Resistant Parasites in Goats (Part I)

9 Sep

Anyone who has had goats know that they seem to be more susceptible to parasites than any other animal on the plant.  Add to that worms that are becoming increasingly resistant to chemical wormers, and that’s the stuff that keeps me awake at night.  Sadly, that’s true.

I shared in July that I lost a couple of kids (three total), and I sent Potsie to Iowa State for an autopsy.  When the results came back that he had “lots” of roundworm (Haemonchus) and coccidia, I was devastated.  I rushed home and gave Art, who was still not doing well but improving, a different class of wormer from what I had used on all the kids just a couple of weeks earlier.  Luckily, he is doing quite well now.

Art Osboer

Art Osboer

There are three main wormers that are used on goats for roundworms.  Your “white” wormers (like Pancour, Valbazen or Safeguard), Ivermectins, and Cydectin.  I am at a point on my farm that the only one of these chemical wormers that will do anything is Cydectin.  It’s the last line of defense (Cue scary music).

Two years ago, I told you about Pam and Stormy and their struggle with worms when the Ivermectin chemical wormer had failed them.

Stormy Sue Street

Stormy Sue Street

My first time of dealing with failure from a chemical wormer was clear back in fall, 2007, when I almost lost Millie and Bam Bam.  This was the first time I had ever wormed my herd.

Bam Bam

Bam Bam quite recovered

There’s a couple of goats that I can look back on now, and it makes me wonder if drug resistant parasites played a part in their deaths as well.  It’s hard to know what to do to keep the goats healthy because there is so much contradictory information on worming that you get from different sources.

Mabel and Flower

Mabel and Flower

Talking to different vets in the same clinic will get you different information.  Don’t even start me on all the misinformation you find on the Internet.  (I religiously avoid goat chat groups on Facebook.)

Then you deal with the ISU vets that are great in a crisis because they can give a blood transfusion and save a life.  They will however, accuse you of neglect, lie to you, do fecals you don’t give permission for because they just lied to you, be condescending, arrogant and judgmental.  They also tell you any fecal is inaccurate except theirs (including my local vet’s fecals), and I’m obviously not smart enough to tell if a goat is anemic by looking at their eyes because I don’t have a Famacha chart in my hand.  However, I’m very grateful for the lives they’ve saved.

Moose Osboer

Moose Osboer

Famacha Eye Chart

I’ll give you my thoughts on the Famacha chart here.  This chart was developed in South Africa to use the color of the goat’s eye membranes to predict worm level.  They found it effective, and the drug companies thought we should use it here in the United States to determine when to worm based on eye color.  Some people thought it should be tested in the United States to see if it was effective in the different climate.  There was one study done in the south and Barbados.  I have not been able to see the actual study, only the report that it was effective.  Now, I might be crazy, but my climate in Iowa is no more like the climate in Florida than it is to South Africa.  I wonder how it works in a temperate climate.  I also don’t know how the goats were fed–dry lot or pasture.  I really think that might have an impact as well.  I’m not sold on this as being as effective as they claim, but I’ve had vets recommend it and read enough to try it.

normal and anemic

normal and anemic

I tried to use eye color, but my experiences haven’t been very good with it.  I actually do check quite frequently, even if it isn’t every day.  Trust me, when you start to check every day, after about day three, Dolly will not let you anywhere close to her.  I can also use Dolly as an example of how it isn’t accurate (if you believe I can tell the difference without the chart in front of me, which the ISU vet doesn’t).  Dolly was pretty much completely white (and I hardly ever say that).  I got a fecal sample, and she had 35 eggs on the slide.  I wormed her with Valbazen.  I couldn’t get another sample ten days later, but two weeks later, she had 15 eggs and was still completely white.  A couple weeks later, I was happy to see she had a bit of pink in her eye membranes and figured the extra handfuls of  corn and herbal wormer was helping.  A couple days later, I got another sample and even though her eyes were still pinker, there were so many eggs I couldn’t count.  I weaned her boys and waited for my consultation with the vet (end of story later).

Dolly Ann Street "I don't want to smile for the camera."

Dolly Ann Street “I don’t want to smile for the camera.”

Millie has also twice been completely wrong.  When her girl, Bambi, was a baby, Millie was completely anemic.  The vets did a fecal that was clean.  There was no real reason for it other than CAE goats tend to be anemic, and she gives everything to her kids and gets run down.  When Miranda was little, two years later, she was pink, but had a respiratory infection (from the CAE).  The vet examined her and saw no reason to suggest worming.  The next day, she ended up with diarrhea and I took a sample to the vet’s office which showed she was full of worms.  That’s too many times being wrong to trust.  Don’t even start me on how unhelpful it is with the kids.

Millie Ann Saanen

Millie Ann Saanen

Causes of Drug Resistant Worms

How did I get to this point?  What causes the resistance to wormers?  Overuse.  It’s that simple.  Sadly, people worm goats at the drop of a hat.  Every time they worm needlessly, it exposes the worms and gives them another opportunity to become resistant.  Sadly, I swear a vet will tell you to worm every single time anything is wrong.  When Millie was anemic but had no worms, I was still told to worm her.  Honestly.  I also had a vet tell my brother-in-law to worm a goat with a swollen jaw.  Now, I know bottle jaw comes from worms, but when the goat has an open abscess, you need antibiotics, not a wormer.  There’s also that cycle of a goat that has bad worms and you end up worming every couple of weeks and then switch drugs.  The vets will tell you to do this too.

Annie Belle O'Boera

Annie Belle O’Boera

My vet shared that we didn’t have much of a problem with drug resistant worms in my area until just recently.  That’s when there was a change from primarily dairy goats to meat goats.  People brought Boer goats up from the south knowing they already had problems with drug resistance.  They mistakenly thought that our cold winters would be enough to control the situation.  Our cold winters do keep the numbers down, but it does nothing to help with drug resistance.  It simply brought that problem to Iowa.


Bambi Blackboer

So, another way you can end up having problems with drug resistant worms is buying an animal (or three adorable little does) that brings them to your property.  You’ve probably heard to isolate and worm before you integrate them with the herd, and I did that when I bought my little Boer does.  I did not do the fecal tests to confirm that the wormer had killed the parasites, and the rest is history.  This is not a problem I caused, but it will be my problem for as long as I have goats.

Tuesday, Part II:  The Bad Advice

Thursday, Part III:  My Best Advice

Sharing with Clever Chick’s Blog Hop, Farmgirl Friday and, Homestead Barn Hop

26 Responses to “Drug Resistant Parasites in Goats (Part I)”

  1. Mary Ann September 9, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

    Teresa, this is helping me so much as a new goat owner. I have worried and worried about worming. I only have two little wethers, but I want them to be on the right foot, and not ridden with worms or even worse, drug resistant worms. I can’t wait to read the next two parts. Your goats are gorgeous.

    • Teresa September 9, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

      Thanks. I know how hard it is to find information, so I do hope this can help.

  2. Jen September 9, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    I’m so glad your posting and talking about this… I’ve had a bad goat year and some weeks I think I’m gonna go crazy and sell everyone! I read so much my head spins… sometimes I think its a big guessing game. I’m gonna share this post on my farm page.

    • Teresa September 9, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

      I do hope I can help you figure it out. It really does keep me up at night sometimes.

  3. Candy C. September 9, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    I always learn so much from you about the goats, thanks Teresa! I’m looking forward to the rest of the installments.

    • Teresa September 9, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

      It really can be confusing to sort through all the information out there. I hope my (bad) experiences can be put to good use.

  4. tracy September 9, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    I just stumbled across your blog and love it. I too have a blog and I have dedicated several pages to goats. Were all still trying to figure this worm stiff out. I don’t have a helpful vet either. He’s better with our dogs and cats than goats. I’ve just had to read and read and read. It has taken me three yes to just know what I know now. I have been thankful to find a face book group that is very helpful and not judgemental. We all try to help one another. Next thing I’m going to learn is how to do my own fecals. You can check out my blog if you like. Its http://4dfarms.WordPress.com

    • Teresa September 9, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

      I do have a tutorial on doing fecals (you can find a lot of useful links on my goat page). I’ve had goats now for ten years, and I’m still learning.

  5. Margaret September 9, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    Your Boer goats are so gorgeous… I understand a bit about worming. Some horse people worm monthly. My vet does not recommend this. Even though we are at a barn with a lot of horses, he will test them and give wormer when indicated. I also know the farm itself works closely with UNC (I think that is the university) and they will worm at certain times everyone — I think it might depend upon the results of the poop they test. I will have to talk with the barn owner in order to be better informed.

    Yes, as with all antibiotics, we are seriously in trouble. People worry about vaccinations, but our imminent threat, by far, is from becoming resistant to bacteria fighting meds!

    People should NOT buy anit-bacterial soap, etc unless, perhaps, if a family member is sick. Then buy a bottle, wash, wash, wash hands – cover sneezes, WASH… etc.

    I will be reading your follow-ups…

    • Teresa September 9, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

      It really is a problem in a lot of animals, but it is really a serious problems with worms in goats.

  6. ERIKA September 9, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    Sorry about all your goat sicknesses. 😦 As a mom to guinea pigs, Ivermectin is used on guinea pigs to treat mites or fungus. I am surprised its considered used for worms. Love the goat pics. 🙂

    • Teresa September 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

      Ivermectin products are very commonly used in animals for worms (cattle, goats, sheep), but it can be fatal for some breeds of dogs, so it should never be used without consulting a vet.

  7. Pat September 9, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    Interesting post. I didn’t know goats were so susceptible to worms. I love these portraits of your beauties.

    • Teresa September 9, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

      Thanks. People think they are really tough animals, but they are actually quite fragile.

  8. Nancy Claeys September 9, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

    I had no idea there was so much to know about raising goats THE RIGHT WAY. Your goats are blessed to have you as their maaa. 🙂

    • Teresa September 9, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

      It is a lot more work than people realize, but they are worth it!

  9. becca givens September 9, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

    Such an informative post sharing your experience with other owners or “would be owners …
    I do not know anything about goats … except for loving their sweet nature, photos of them showing their personalities, and the lovely products that contribute to producing (milk, cheese, soap).

    Would something like diatomaceous earth work as a wormer for goats?

    • Teresa September 10, 2013 at 6:37 am #

      Some claim it does; others say it doesn’t. Sadly there are no real data on the herbal wormers, but that is more for parts II and III. 🙂

  10. Alica September 10, 2013 at 5:19 am #

    When we had the vet out to check out Jenna’s goats the other week, he was talking about this…how the drug resistance is becoming quite a problem all over. Cycdectin was the one he recommended too, and what we used this time. I’ve heard…and who knows if it’s accurate or not…that having chickens in the same area is good, because they eat anything they can find, which can include the worms and the things that they like.. Have you heard of this?

    • Teresa September 10, 2013 at 6:38 am #

      It does help to mix different animals. Birds will end the life cycle of a roundworm when they eat it. That being said, I have a lot of geese. It helps, but it isn’t going to completely cure the problem. Hope you tune in for parts II and III. 😉

  11. ramblingsofahomeschoolmomma September 10, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    Awesome information. We are currently looking for land to start raising goats. Can’t tell you how helpful this was!!

    • Teresa September 10, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      I do hope you come back for the next two in the series. They will have a lot more real information.


  1. Drug Resistant Parasites in Goats Part II | Eden Hills's Blog - September 10, 2013

    […] Remember, I was talking about the problems I have with worms being resistant to two of the three classes of chemical wormers available for goats and how this situation came to exist on my farm.  If you haven’t read Part I, you can find it HERE. […]

  2. Drug Resistant Parasites in Goats Part III | Eden Hills's Blog - September 12, 2013

    […] Part I Part II […]

  3. Raising Kiko Goats (2020): Ultimate Guide for Beginners - August 5, 2020

    […] SOURCE […]

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