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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Deworming Goats

I am a volunteer expert on the subject of goats on a question website. A few days ago a goat owner asked: “Can you tell me when to worm and what to use for does who have been bred and those who have already kidded?”

My answer: Ideally, you would collect the goat berries and send them to a lab for fecal testing to see whether they even have parasites to the degree that they need to be dewormed.

If you can't do that, you can deworm the day after they kid or if they show signs of parasites. The wormer depends on your area, what there is resistance to, what the goats have gotten in the past, etc.

I often use Safeguard, which is safe for pregnant moms, inexpensive and they don't mind the taste. All wormers except Moxidectin should be given orally, even when they say injectable.

Valbazen should not be given during the first 3 months of pregnancy because it can cause birth defects. If you are using the milk you also need to be aware of the milk withdrawal times for each, too. (My book has all that info) If you decide on a dewormer and need to know about milk withdrawal, let me know and I can give you that info (my italics; note that I offered to give her the info from my book).

Sorry, this is so much information and it may be hard to decide what to give. I bought a microscope so I could do my own fecal exams, and I tend to deworm less than a lot of other people. I hope this helps!

The reader’s response: This is not much of an answer and feel it is more an ad for your book. Thanks anyway, I look further on the net.
I think that the real issue the questioner had was that I suggested she only treat goats that actually have worms! What a concept. Much like the resistance to antibiotics that we are seeing today (70% of all antibiotics are used in food animals), widespread resistance to dewormers has become a real problem.

So what’s stopping people from appropriately treating their goats—is it time? Or is it cost? Or is it laziness? I think that the time spent collecting poop (you don’t even have to catch the goat), mixing solution and doing the lab work is probably a trade-off with the time spent catching goats and giving them medication.

If the issue is money, consider this: A good microscope for this work costs as little as $84; supplies may run up to $20 more. You can make solution from sugar or Epsom salts, both inexpensive and available. OR, the cost to send samples to WADDL (veterinary lab) is only about $33 for one sample and $12 (in Washington) or $18 (out of state) for additional. If you are treating all animals for parasites anyway, a group test (berries from various goats in thee herd) would cost only $33. And how much does dewormer cost?

Actual costs will vary by dewormer. For example, fenbendazole, which kills stomach, intestinal and lung-worms is about $10 for 10 doses. The hidden cost is increasing resistance by giving it repeatedly. Rather expensive Dectomax, 100 ml, is broad-spectrum and $85 or more. It is safe in pregnant animals but has a long milk withholding time. One bottle is equivalent to the cost of a microscope, and microscopes don’t have a expiration dates.

Ivomec injectable, 50 ml, should be given orally and has about 25 doses per $38 bottle, or more than the cost of a group test. Safe-Guard liquid dewormer, which many will not use due to resistance, is inexpensive at about $21 per bottle, has from 40 to 100 doses, depending on the size of the goat.

Anyone who is serious about goats should make the investment in their health: If you are concerned that they may have an overload of parasites, get them tested and treat those with problems. And remember, goats should have some parasites in a healthy digestive system. Only when they get out of control is there a problem. Trying to keep all of the worms dead all of the time is asking for trouble.

Finally, while a person could choose to drink milk from or eat a goat with a drug residue, it is a violation of federal law to sell a goat with drug residues in it, when you know that it may be food, or to sell milk that has residues. So be aware of withdrawal times.


  1. what (besides sugar and epson salt, will make water heavy enough to raise the worms? is there others?

  2. Just regular salt. Fiasco Farm has all the info needed.

  3. Awesome- this is great! My man and I were just talking about this tonight- debating on whether or not to get the gear to do our own egg counts, or see what it would cost at a local vet. My main hesitations are 1-that I don't know what to look for on the slides (but that I can learn) and 2- I lack confidence that I could make the solution work and get a good count so I don't kill my goats. We have been rotating through 3 pastures and rotating wormers, given every quarter: Safeguard liquid, EquiMax paste ($13/12 goat doses, ivermectin and praziquantel), and Morantel-containing feed (Ivesco, < $1/dose). We look at their eyelids and they all look pretty pink. We'd have never considered doing egg counts instead, but it's strongly advocated in "Storey's guide to raising sheep". Oh, just realized you posted this a year ago...hope you're still on here!