Tag Archives: Haemonchus

Drug Resistant Parasites in Goats Part II

10 Sep

The Situation

Remember, I was talking about the problems I have with worms being resistant to two of the three main 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.


Goliath (before he recovered)

Rotating Wormers

There are all kinds of theories to avoid resistance, and one I’ve known several people to practice is to rotate through the different classes/brands of wormer.  The theory is that by rotating, it will take longer to develop resistance since they will be exposed to each class of wormer less frequently.

In reality, if you kill ninety percent of the worms with a pancour wormer, you have some that have been exposed to it still living and passing eggs to the rest of the herd.  The next time you worm, you use an Ivermectin product, and now ten percent of those that survived before have now been exposed to both.  It doesn’t seem like much, but it does compound the problem.

This means it will simply make the worms resistant to all the wormers as you progress.  It might make it more difficult to know which resistant worm (or worms) is in each goat, so you end up with a game of Russian roulette, wondering if this is the wormer that will take care of the problem.

Boer/Saanen cross buck

recovered and all grown up

Sadly, this is what can also lead to that cycle of worming every two weeks when you get a goat that has gotten full of worms and run down and they continue to re-infest the goat.  Even though vets will tell you to do this and rotate wormers as the only possible way to save a goat’s life, it does exacerbate the problem of drug resistance.

More Bad Advice

No matter whom you speak to, you get the advice to worm goats.  It’s a vicious cycle.  I already wormed them, and nothing works but Cydectin, but if I use Cydectin it will be ineffective within two years (according to one ISU vet).  She suggested I  send a big conglomerate of goat feces to them, and they will send it on to Georgia, where they will actually hatch the worm eggs and do testing to see which chemical wormer will most likely be effective.  Well, that’s all well and good, but I have kids that could drop dead without any warning, and the time it takes to do that isn’t going to help.  Also, I know the wormer it will tell me to use is Cydecitn (oh no, you can’t use that).  Also, it won’t tell me which goat it won’t work on, so I’m really back to where I was before.

Goat Poop

There has to be a way to tell if a wormer is effective or not without the goat drop dead or having to have a blood transfusion.  There is.  You take a fecal sample and send it to Iowa State for a McMaster’s fecal test.  On the same day, you worm the goat.  Ten days later, you get a fecal sample from the same goat and send to Iowa State for the same test.  If 90% of the worms have been killed, then the wormer was effective.  Okay, last I knew, it was $35 for that one fecal exam, so you’re at $70 plus either postage or driving the samples to Iowa State and the wormer.  We’re at $80 or more, and that would have to be done for each kid.  That means, with the forty-two kids I started with, it would cost over $3300.  Not to mention, ten days is too long to wait if it isn’t working.  They’ll be dead.

Little Bit Osboer

Little Bit Osboer

Then mention that it’s difficult to train goats to poop on command, and you get told that you have a finger.  I’m not even going to mention how impractical and likely to cause injury that is on some smaller kids.

Complicating Matters

To make things even worse, for the first time this year, I’ve had kids that the wormer worked on, but they grew increasingly anemic and weak.  The first kid I lost was Simon.  I had wormed him, before he showed any signs, with the rest of the kids.  A couple of days later, he had diarrhea, and I did a fecal.  He had just a couple round worm eggs and a few coccidia.  By all accounts, this shouldn’t make him sick, but it did.  Keep in mind, that it requires a completely different wormer to treat coccidia.



Sadly, it was too late to help Simon, but a vitamin cocktail (B complex and A,D&E at 1cc each/20 pounds) and probiotics helped Art.  He also got IV fluids subcutaneously.  It helped but still left him dumpy.  The reason they continued to decline even though I wormed them is probably because they already had a heavy load by the time I first wormed them.

Gray Osboer

Gray Osboer

Another factor is the coccidia.  I never had coccidia in my goats until after the chemical wormers started failing on the roundworms.  Because I didn’t know about the failure or this secondary invasion, the worms reproduced freely spreading eggs all through my soil.  Coccidia are a secondary invader, taking advantage of a weak or sick animal.  The presence of just those few can be enough to cause an already fragile goat to fail.

Herbal Wormer

Then, as soon as I say, “herbal wormer,” to a vet, I can hear the eye rolls through the phone.  However, I started using the herbal wormer after I nearly lost Millie and Bam Bam because the chemical wormer only eliminates worms in one stage of the life cycle.  That means it doesn’t take long before the goat can be filled just as badly as before they were wormed.  You can end up in a cycle of worming every two weeks that still sees the animal failing and causing more problems with resistance.

herbal wormer paste

That’s what was happening with Bam Bam (see Part I), and then I started him on the herbal wormer.  He thrived from that point forward because the herbal wormer makes them an “inhospitable environment.”  The worms won’t attach to the lining of their stomach and simply pass out of their body.  You can actually see live worms in their feces if they are just getting started on the wormer.

worms on goat pellets

Sadly, the herbal wormer is not a panacea, and because nobody has done studies, you’re pretty much on your own trying to figure out the fine details of using herbal wormer.   It works very well for a nice healthy adult.  Some times to  watch a goat closely and be leery as to whether or not the herbal wormer is working:

  1. If a goat is not feeling well, it doesn’t work.
  2. I also have to watch and make sure each goat is getting their fair share.  Like chickens, they have a pecking order, and not all goats get the same amount of food.
  3. I have some moms that are so busy trying to avoid their kids that are relentless in trying to nurse that they don’t get enough to eat.
  4. They have to have a fully functioning rumen.  That means it is not effective on kids until they are about two months old.  By this time, they can already be full of worms (Potsie/Simon).

What’s a Farmgirl to Do?

Thursday, I’ll give you my best advice from a lot of reading and consulting with my vet in the final installment of worm resistant drugs.  Well, it will be the final installment until the worms change the rules on me again.

I promise no more poopy pictures for the Part III on Thursday.

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

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