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Reduce the worm potential by 80% & Cull Smarter

There are three major activities that you can do to make a major difference in your parasite problem.

Reducing the parasite eggs in a pasture by 80%

If all of your animals produced the same amount of  parasite eggs in their pellets and you had 100 animals, you would have to get rid of 80 animals in order to reduce the potential parasite eggs in your pastures. That would be dramatic. However, researchers indicated that only 20% of your animals are producing 80% of the parasite eggs in your pasture. If you can identify those animals that are more likely to be producing the majority of the eggs, you can make a major difference in improving the health of your herd.

One of the first things we have started to identify the animals causing the most problems is to have a monthly evaluation of our entire herd. Once a month, each animal has their condition checked and recorded. (see monthly management). Also, any sickness is recorded on the animal's individual chart. Animals that have had bottle jaw and had a difficult time getting over it are identified. Animals that constantly have pale eyelids indicating being anemic are identified. These are some of the animals that make up the 20% causing 80% of the parasite eggs in your pasture and the sooner they are culled, the sooner the parasite eggs in your pasture will be reduced.

Animal Resistance, Resilience or Immunity to Parasites

During our monthly management check, we also find certain animals that always have better color in their eyelids, better body/coat condition and don't need to be de-wormed as often. Many times we will see that a doe with good eyelid color may also have kids with the same.

Some goats seem to have the genetics to be much more resistant to parasites than other goats and are better able to survive parasite levels without showing any of the symptoms other goats have. Other goats may be dying with the same level of parasites that does not seem to bother the animal with more resistance to the parasites.

We believe it is critical for breeders to identify these goats with the genetic resistance when selecting their breeding herd. A herd with these types of genetics will make a major difference in a breeder’s life and their business profitability.  

An animal’s age and stage of growth play a big part in how likely they will be affected by parasites. The older an animal becomes, the more they have been exposed to parasites and the more they may have become resistant to them. 

 Genetics affect an animal's ability to resist infection, as well as withstand infection. Resistance is defined as the animal's ability to resist parasite infection. It is measured by fecal egg counts (FEC) and is 20 to 30 percent heritable. Resilience is defined as the animal's ability to withstand infection. It is measured by blood hematocrit or packed cell volume (PCV). It is less heritable than resistance. This can be generally measured by checking the color of the eyelids.

 When the parasite attaches to the lining of the stomach, the goats’ major defense mechanism against that is the immune system. When infectious agents enter the body, the immune system reacts through a series of activities that mobilize various components (antibodies, killer cells, etc) that then attack and kill the invaders. These components act on the parasites in the lining of the stomach.  How strong the immune response is depends on several factors.

The immunity or resistance to parasites is often penalized at times of nutrient scarcity, and the belief is that this is because scarce nutrient allocation is prioritized to growth and/or reproductive . Indeed, an increased supply of protein, from various protein sources reduces the level of round worms in both growing and doe kidding or nursing.

Nutrition in fighting Parasites

The effects of parasites can be influenced by the nutritional status of the goat. It is well known that well-fed animals can better withstand parasite infections than animals on an inadequate diet. It is also true that parasites interfere with the ability of the host to utilize nutrients efficiently. Therefore, it is important to understand this see-saw effect.

 The better an animal is fed the better it is able to tolerate increasing infection levels, but eventually a point is reached, depending on the worms and the conditions involved, where parasites overwhelms the goats ability to function properly. The more parasite infection, the more damage is done to the lining of the stomach which will result in reduced absorption of nutrients, thus making the host utilize more stored body reserves.

 Proteins are the building blocks of the goat’s immune system so as less protein is available, the more the goat’s immune function is compromised  Protein and minerals, as well as energy, are important in resisting the effects of the round worm because new red blood cells must be generated to replace those lost to the parasites..

Nutrition in early pregnancy increase fat stores and has been shown to increase the immune response to parasites. Does receiving increased protein levels during late gestation are better able to mount an immune response to parasites.