Parasitism is one of the primary causes of death in goats, especially in young animals under six months of age. Treatment depends on the type of infestation.
A common protozoan disease called coccidiosis infects the intestinal tract causing severe weakness, decreased feed intake and diarrhea which is frequently blood tinged. Typically a problem in young kids, it is potentially fatal.
The eggs of internal parasites are passed in the feces of infected goats and develop into infectious larvae which are ingested by other goats where they mature and reproduce. The cycle then repeats. Undernourished goats are particularly susceptible.
Symptoms of internal parasites can include weight loss, dull or rough coat, anemia, decreased milk production, diarrhea, lethargy, and poor feed intake.
TREATMENT / PREVENTION
A veterinarian can diagnose the presence of internal parasites by examining feces. If internal parasites are present, goats are usually dewormed and then put in safe, parasite-free pastures to avoid reinfection.
Treatment and control of internal parasites cannot be achieved by drugs alone. Good management practices, and proper sanitation and feed management can minimize parasite ingestion. All food and water should be kept clean and away from feces. Adults and kids should graze in different pastures and goats should be put on routine worming schedules.
Kids are usually wormed at 3-4 weeks and again at three months of age and should be kept in well-lighted, clean dry pens since sunlight is known to be one of the most effective coccidiostats. Goats should be dewormed at breeding and 2-3 weeks prior to kidding. Any new goats should be dewormed and separated from other goats for at least a week.
Treatment of coccidiosis includes medicated feed or medicated drinking water — which is usually successful. Prevention requires the use of medicated feeds containing a coccidiostat such as Decoquinateä.