Deworming Your Goats
If you own goats you will most likely have to deworm them at some point (unless you opt for more natural ways to reduce their parasite load, but effectiveness of this method is sometimes subpar). Goats tend to always have some level of parasite infection and the objective isn't to get rid of all the parasites, but to reduce their numbers to a level that isn't harmful to the goats (especially to avoid anemia).
There are a lot of theories about how you should deworm your goats. The newest theory is that you should only deworm the goats that need it and not every goat on regular schedule (to cut down on the parasites becoming resistant to the medication). One way to do this is with the FAMACHA exam and fecal testing. (See how to do that here.) Another method is to use the same dewormer every time until it stops working, then switch to a different medication. (Check out our previous article about how to do your own fecal tests at home to see if your dewormer is working here.) Additionally, some people believe that you should alternate dewormers so that the parasites don't get used to one medication and become resistant. That is the big obstacle we're trying to avoid: medication resistance. Just like in humans, bacteria, viruses, and parasites can become resistant to a medication and make it less effective when you need it to work. That's why you are always told to finish your whole prescription of an antibiotic, so that it kills all the bacteria and doesn't leave any behind to adapt and learn how to outsmart the medication you just took.
Our Deworming Schedule
Over the last year we have found ourselves in many situations where we need to choose a dewormer that covers a specific parasite, or we need to make sure we use a dewormer that is safe to use during pregnancy, etc. Here is the schedule we use below. Remember, it is only a guide and sometimes we have to divert from the normal deworming schedule.
November: Valbazen (albendazole) Oral Drench
February: Safe-guard/Panacur (fenbendazole) Oral Drench
May: Cydectin (moxidectin) Oral Drench OR Ivomec (ivermectin) Pour-on (off-label use)
August: Safe-guard/Panacur (fenbendazole) Oral Drench
Our schedule is based on a rotating deworming schedule about every three months. Our goats have a lot of land to roam, but unfortunately they still tend to get wormy pretty regularly. Here is why we chose this schedule:
November: We deworm with Valbazen about 2 weeks before the beginning of November. We breed our goats starting November 1st and we have had good results with the Valbazen killing most of our parasites in most of our goats. Sometimes with the goats we have in our area the Safe-guard doesn't always work as well as we would like it to, so we prefer to use a different dewormer in between Safe-guard uses. If you didn't use Ivomec pour-on in May you could use that at this time instead of the Valbazen if it does a good job of decreasing your parasite burden (it does very well for us). Even if you did use it in May you could still use it again instead of the Valbazen if you prefer it.
February: Safe-guard is used in February because our does are pregnant during this time and it is safe to use during pregnancy.
May: We found ourselves swimming in lice last spring shortly after kidding season started. I had heard of sheep and goats having a lice problem annually, but it hadn't happened to us until last year. We used Cydectin oral drench to get rid of the lice. If you don't have a lice problem, but your goats get sore mouth around this time you could try deworming with Ivomec Pour-on (dosed by weight). This is an off-label use, but we did fecal testing after we dewormed with it and it was VERY effective at reducing the parasites in our goats. It did not cause any skin irritation either. We chose to try this method because our kid goats all had a very bad case of sore mouth (Orf virus) and we didn't want to be handling their mouths (in case you didn't know sore mouth can be spread to humans as well and it is very contagious). Just to be clear: the Ivomec doesn't treat or get rid of the sore mouth, it just allowed us to dose them on their backs instead of handling their mouths (where they usually get sore mouth blisters which are highly contagious).
August: We tend to use Safe-guard again in August because this is when we see our goats getting symptoms consistent with meningeal worms. (Go to our previous article all about meningeal worms here.) We were hoping it would be a freak infection last year, but we definitely saw it again this year, so we will always be diligent about watching for symptoms and treating ASAP since it is a fatal disease if not caught early. The Safe-guard doesn't work that well for stomach worms (most common type of worms in goats), but it is the best medicine to treat the meningeal worms and is safe during pregnancy, so we use it when we have to and then watch for goats that might need retreated with a different, more effective dewormer for stomach worms.
I hope this information is helpful for you. We are happy to share our experiences and mistakes if it can help someone else prevent those mistakes and learn and plan from our previous experiences.
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian and strongly advise you discuss any potential diagnoses and treatment options with your veterinarian first. This article is for informational purposes only. Riebel Farms LLC and its authors will not be held liable for any use of the information provided.