ADS 4221: Capstone: Parasite management in dairy goats

Our producer has Nubian and Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats, and the operation has been in existence since 2001. There are 52 acres of land in all, but only 9 are fenced in for the goats. The farm’s biggest assets are the acreage of land and the superior genetics within the herd. The production’s primary revenue is showing and selling the offspring.  This has helped promote cheese and milk that is produced on the farm. Our producer is trying to provide feedstuffs to the goats that will give the milk a more desirable flavor for the consumers.  Therefore, many peculiar methods have been implemented to achieve this goal.  For example, our producer’s dairy bucks are prone to accumulating urinary calculi, which is not uncommon. In order to minimize this occurrence, ammonium chloride is supplemented to the bucks. Other supplements that our producer adds to their feed are 12% alfalfa oat pellets, baking soda, sunflower seeds, Purina show feed, beet pulp, and apple cider. With this being said, the main goal is to achieve overall heath for the herd.

The operation’s main challenge that it faces is internal parasite control. Due to goats being a grazing species they are very prone to numerous endoparasites including: nematodes, coccidia, various protozoa, liver flukes, and also various ectoparasites.  Parasite infections may cause goats to be out of production and subsequently detrimental to a farm’s income.  Therefore, our group’s task is to develop a worming protocol that will minimize parasites in the herd.  The producer informed us about the parasitic symptoms affecting the goats. She sstated that ill goats became anemic, coughed repeatedly, and also were prone to pneumonia.  Due to our group’s animal science background, we recommended a possible diagnosis of a barber pole worm infestation.  These parasites are nematodes responsible for anemia, bottle jaw, and death of infected ruminants mainly during summer months in warm, humid climates.  Their nutrient supply is a result of the adult worms attaching to abomasal mucosa and feeding on the animal’s blood.

Once our group investigated possible causes to increased number of occurrences in their farm, we realized that the primary cause was from poor rotational grazing methods.  The goat’s pastures were approximately 5 acres housing around 25 goats.  Therefore, if it is at all possible to expand pastures and implement a better rotational grazing method the parasite occurrence should diminish considerably.  Adequate treatment options include:  selective treatment, culling the infected animals to reduce eggs and the consequent infective larvae and pasture infection level, and also implementing a better pasture rotation protocol.

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