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Managing your Pastures Better

During the warm months of the year enormous numbers of larvae can build up on your pasture. Your pastures are the primary source of the round worm larvae for your goats. Parasite larvae can live for long periods of time on your pastures. You can’t eliminate completely parasites in the pasture.

 The magnitude of pasture contamination is affected mainly by

 Pasture management is done by the following:

 Change the Browse

Goats are browsers. Goats love to browse and prefer shrubs and forages to grass.  That means goats can be found sampling plants at all levels. Round worm and similar parasites will be found on grass. The larvae normally only travel  2-4 inches up a blade of grass. The higher your animals are grazing above the ground, the less likely they will ingest the larvae.  Allowing goats to browse on other vegetation at higher levels will reduce the goat’s exposure to these worms. Incorporate browse plant species when possible..

There is growing evidence in work from New Zealand and Europe that grazing or feeding of plants containing condensed tannins (CT) can reduce the fecal egg count, larvae development in feces, and adult worm numbers in the stomach and small intestine.

Researchers are exploring the use of plants to control round worms with medicinal plants having anthelmintic properties. Forages, such as clover, vetches, chicory, and Sericea lespedeza, contain condensed tannins. Condensed tannins can reduce the number of stomach worms and egg production. Some of the forages that may have anti-parasitic effects include Birdsfoot Trefoil, Chicory, Sericea Lezpedeza.

 Rotate the pastures

 Rotating your animals to different pastures may help reduce the number of larvae available to them. The longer you can wait before grazing your herd in a pasture again, the better the chance that some of the larvae have died thus reducing the number of larvae that your goats may ingest to start their life cycle again.

 As long as your goats are on the pasture, they are continuing to drop their pellets with millions of parasite eggs just waiting to hatch. The longer a pasture is resting from goats on it, the more larvae die and no new eggs are being dropped for future hatching.  However, the main reason many breeders use pasture rotation is not for parasite control but to provide the most nutritious forage for growth and development. If grazed correctly, most forages reach the next most nutritious stage in about 30 days, so many rotation schemes have the animals returning to pastures at around 30 day intervals. Unfortunately, this 30 day interval is also about the same time necessary to ensure that the previous worm parasite contamination has now been converted into the highest level of contamination for the next grazing group.

  Thus, 30 day rotation schemes may actually lead to increased worm parasite problems. In fact, heavy exposure over a short period of time can lead to disastrous clinical disease and losses. Rotation schemes of 2-3 months have been shown to have some effect on reducing pasture contamination in tropical and subtropical environments but in more temperate environments, contamination can extend out to 8-12 months depending on the conditions. For the most part, it is impractical to leave pastures ungrazed for such extended period of time.

Rotational grazing generally does not help to control internal parasites unless pasture rest periods are long enough (> 70 days). In fact, management intensive grazing (short duration, high intensity grazing) may exacerbate parasite problems in goats because the goats are grazing low to the ground right where the larvae are living..

 A Clean or Safe Pasture