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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Anderson,IN,USA
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    130

    Default Goat keeping (fecal examinations)

    Hello,
    I'm a new goatkeeper (boer/newbian mix) and was wondering if any other goatkeepers, sheep, etc do their own fecal examinations? I have a microsope and was hoping to save a little $ by doing my own fecals following worming treatments. Was also hoping to find some identification charts/posters to put on the wall for coccidia oocysts & other parasite identification.
    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Thousand Oaks, CA USA
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    I had a variety of pygmy goats for quite some time, and here's what the large animal vet told me: "Don't worm them as a preventative measure. Only worm them if they have worms."

    So, over the course of the years, my goats received no ivermectin (or any other worm meds). They never had worms, and most made it to a ripe old age for pygmies. Lost a couple males to that nasty urinary tract blockage males are prone to, but otherwise a perfect record in terms of disease.

    I know that doesn't answer your fecal exam question, but I just thought I'd pipe up about potentially unnecessary medications.

    Good luck with the goats--- they're a hoot.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Pikeville North Carolina
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    As one that has kept goats for many years (none now due to the price of feed) I never did a fecal examination myself. If I had a question I just collected a newly dropped sampled and took it to my vet. They told me what parasites were present and I treated accordingly. The best way to keep goats from maintaining a high worm count is to rotate them on the pasture. Remember the worm eggs can live for a long time in the pasture, and the goats just re-eat them it not rotated. Keep them dry, out of the wind, hay below their eye level, DO NOT overfeed, never keep less than two, fresh water and feed that is medicated for coccidiosis. My general rule of thumb was if their fur is smooth and clean, eyes clear, and hooves trimmed and always begging for food you have a healthy goat.
    An empty wagon rattles the loudest.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Hillsboro, Wisconsin, USA
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    Default

    Like Rob-bee, I take samples to a country vet if I suspect something is extreme. The vet is cheap for this service, and beats the alternative slide prep. That said, I know a large operator who does his own exams. But, if he doesn't keep up on it, he has a serious problem on his hands. I'm just a small operator.

    Rumins are always going to have parasites; when the count is higher than "normal" is when you have health implications. That said, I agree with rob bee - pasture rotations, clean stalls, water and fresh air helps. Even though it is a bit cold out today, for example, they are outside for a couple of hours to get some exercise and fresh air. You can visibly see problems with a sick animal, if you are tuned to their "health frequency". If they are a bit lethargic, hanging out by themselves, and develop a cough, quarantine them and get some tests done. Goats are like dogs - always on the lookout for a meal. If they don't express that vitality to go for the grain bucket, they are sick.

    MM

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    Greensboro, N.C.
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    5,080

    Default

    Along with the great advice above, one of the best and cheapest preventatives you can get is a "chaw" approx. a tablespoon of chewing tobacco twice weekly. It will remove practically any worm a goat will ever have, help keep flies and other parasites off, and make the coat smoother and shinier.

    PS....They love it.

  6. #6
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    Mar 2008
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    Ennis, TX USA
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    I don't think they have moved up to far north yet Sugar Bandit. But keep an eye out for the chupacabra. I'm no goat keeper, but they supposedly reak havok on the goat pop. in south Texas.
    Chuck Norris has a grizzly bear carpet in his room. The bear isn't dead it is just afraid to move.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Pikeville North Carolina
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    Quote Originally Posted by iddee View Post
    Along with the great advice above, one of the best and cheapest preventatives you can get is a "chaw" approx. a tablespoon of chewing tobacco twice weekly
    Interesting I have never heard of that before. Will have to check it out with some of my fellow goat keepers.
    An empty wagon rattles the loudest.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Loganville, GA
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    iddee don't have worms and you should see his slick shiney head!
    "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    Nevada County, CA
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    Congratulations! Goats are among the easiest keepers of the domestic herd animals. Depending on your objectives, you can pursue the diagnostic approach for parasites if you would like to do it for your own education, but good herd management will get just as good a result most of the time. You can pick up a good used parisitology book at the student book store of your state veterinary school, or possably even on ebay, that will have photos of the various eggs. With rumenants, you will find that every sample has an incredable variety of protozoa and worm eggs. Remember, not all of them are harmfull and some are symbiotic, which is where the problem is with excessive treatment. The basic principal is not just finding parasite eggs, but doing a quantitative count of how many in a given volume of sample. Unless there is an overload don't treat. As far as the economics, the cost of effective worm medications is usually a lot more than the cost of having a fecal run. Most of the medications are only available in bulk, so you end up discarding a lot that has gone out of date. I'm not sure of the efficacy of tobacco, but my experience is that almost all herbivores enjoy an occasional jolt of nicotine, and will quickly learn which pocket you keep the tobacco in, which can become something of a nuiscence.

    The advice given about rotating pastures is the best in the long run. Goats are browsers, not grazers. That means that if they have a choice, they will feed off the brush and leaves in preferance to feeding off the ground. This minimizes their reinfestation rate. Good management should provide them with that choice by keeping them in areas where there is about fifty percent brush as opposed to developed pasture. If you check around you may find that you have plenty of neighbors who have fields that are partially overgrown with brush they want to get rid of and are more than glad to have a few goats rotate through their land. Be careful to only put them where there are good fences however because goats are great at escaping and are vulnerable to stray dogs and wild predators. In my area, mountain lions take a goat or two every two or three years. Coyotes are a serious problem in most of the US, but wild dogs running in packs probably do the most damage expecially in kidding season. If there are a lot of deer in your area, be alert to ticks. Goats and deer share a lot of paracites and the deer tick doesnt seem to cause them any problem but it can cause you serious problems if they transmit a Limes infected tick to you or a member of your family.
    doug

  10. #10
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    Mar 2005
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    Pikeville North Carolina
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bizzybee View Post
    iddee don't have worms and you should see his slick shiney head!
    Ha Ha Ha that was a good one!
    An empty wagon rattles the loudest.

  11. #11
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    Jul 2006
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    Nevada County, CA
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    One thing I forgot to mention. Don't spend too much time playing with the kids when they are young. There are few things more unpleasant than sitting down in the shade in August after repairing the fences your goats have pushed down, and suddenly having a sixty lb. kid make a four point landing in your lap. Also, don't spend a lot of money on fancy landscaping. Goats have gormet taste and prefer to eat the most expensive things you plant.
    doug

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Anderson,IN,USA
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    130

    Sad Thanks for the advice

    Hello and thanks for all the advice.
    I had kept pygmy goats several years ago (10 total).Back then I was more of a “goat haver”, meaning, I didn't follow a worming, tetnis and other med and general care schedule. I have never milked a goat. I did muck stalls, supplemented with grain and hay as needed, gave them draft free & dry shelter and water access year round. Then slowly over the next decade they started dying off and never replaced them. I never kept a buck and

    I never had any major problems as a "goat haver".
    Last year I wanted to start back again with milking/ meat goats I wanted to commit to better management and care techniques and am wanting to learn how to milk, breed, butcher and make other goat products like cheese, lotions soaps etc.Wanting to take this seriously and become a “goat keeper” not just a “goat haver”. So I’ve been reading some books, asking lots of questions at the fairs & shows.

    I know I need to be better prepared for the bad situations because the vets in this area are at an all time high $ premium. I live near an area where horses, lamas, and alpaca’s are the priority.

    One day after work last spring I found one of my boer goats suffering from bloat. I frantically made several calls to 4 different vets in this area (3 counties). The goat died a couple hours later and only one vet called back…two days later (very frustrating). A bad learning experience. A few months ago I found another one of my goats hanging in the top of a tube gate (with cattle panel) by her back leg. Called the vet as I thought was broken. No return call. We stopped the bleeding, called a farrier friend who suggested making a cast by cutting, shaping (heating with a torch) and forming a piece 1.5” PVC pipe. This would support the hock area while the torn ligaments and tendons healed. After miles of vet-rap, batting, and re-building 3 PVC cast and 3 months the leg has healed nicely and the muscle mass is slowly coming back. A good learning experience.

    Now I’ve got a goat (6mo old) with some bad diarrhea. Tried treating with some kaopectate for a couple days but doesn’t seem to help. Her apatite is still good. Eats hay, grain and drinks well. I did my 1st fecal yesterday morning and found what I believe to be some fluke worm eggs using a test-tube floatation method with about (I’m guessing) 2 grams of diarrhea poo. A local vet who treats cats & dogs says she worms cats and dogs with any signs of worms or eggs. I know goats will always have these presents but I know something’s going on. I’m not sure how to address. The tobacco sounds like great idea but at this point I’m trying to identify the problem before running to the medicine cabinet.

    Since I started taking this goat keeping more “seriously” over the last year, it seems like I’ve been having more troubles. Never had this kind of trouble with the pygmies.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Columbia, South Carolina USA
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    Default

    A couple of things:

    Don't rely on the number of eggs in a standard fecal sample as a method of quantifying the degree of infestation in the goats. This is often inaccurate. They do not always shed, nor do they shed a consistent amount for a given level of infestation.

    There are situations where routine rotating de-wormers are helpful, it depends on stocking density and mangament style. Lots of goats in smaller areas with little rotation of pasture will increase the risk of infestation and move one along the spectrum to treating routinely. Moderate numbers on larger tracts with the ability to rotate can be a different story.

    Pets vs production: Different expectations lead to different feeding styles, management styles and deworming schedules.

    Everyone knows someone who never dewormed their <insert species here> and it did well. This is often not the case for grazing animals, particulalry production critters, so be smart and take a look. Fecals by a vet are generally pretty cheap once you have a relationship with the office in question. Goat poop is easy to collect.

    Can you do this yourself? Sure, but I will throw this out there - most of the mistakes made by newbie parasitologists are in over-calling every pollen grain, incidental finding, and grain mite egg than by missing a real parasite. So if you invest in a scope (and you only need a cheap one) and a text book or two, slides, coverslips and such, conscentratioing/floatation solutions etc, and then pay to have some samples re-run so as to not over call something, you might find it is not worth it in terms of cost. Not that is not the only reason to do this - if it gives you a sense of pride to do things for yourself - have at it. It is really not that hard at all, it just takes some time to have seen enough pseudoparasites to avoid mistakes.

    If you have a cheapo digital camera and a good relationship with a vet you might be able to snap a photo of a questionable object and email it to him/her for evaluation until you get comfortable with what you are seeing. UYou litterally hold the camera up to the objective and click. It works much better than you might expect.

    No single fecal sample is accurate - if something is amiss, evaluate at least three separate samples. Even then some parasites such as M. capillaris can be tough to find unless you do a baerman.

    And what may be the most important advice ever imparted to me by Dave Sherman: Don't park a new vehicle in the goat yard, unless you want small hoof shaped dimples all over it.

    Keith "I like goats, but I don't own my own" Benson
    Bee Sting Honey - So Good, It Hurts!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Columbia, South Carolina USA
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    2,598

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by sugar bandit #2 View Post
    I did my 1st fecal yesterday morning and found what I believe to be some fluke worm eggs using a test-tube floatation method with about (I’m guessing) 2 grams of diarrhea poo.
    Can we say poo on here?

    Have the local cat and dog vet take a peak - they can spot a fluke egg as well as any large animal vet.
    but I know something’s going on.
    Sure sounds like it
    I’m not sure how to address. The tobacco sounds like great idea but at this point I’m trying to identify the problem before running to the medicine cabinet.
    Flukes - there are meds available specifically for that. If the goat has the runs I wouldn't shy away from the medicine cabinet - goats with diarrhea can get into some difficulty.

    Take a fecal to the vet you mentioned earlier and let them have a look - they can prolly get through to the large animal people for doages and such if it is necessary.

    If that doesn't take care of the diarrhea, then you will need to look further. Any weight loss?

    Since I started taking this goat keeping more “seriously” over the last year, it seems like I’ve been having more troubles. Never had this kind of trouble with the pygmies.
    That is because pygmies are not production goats. You are not asking the same things of them.

    Keith
    Bee Sting Honey - So Good, It Hurts!

  15. #15
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    Jul 2006
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    Nevada County, CA
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    Any time a goat has diarrhea for more than four or five days you have a problem. If at possable isolate her in a stall or small pen that can be throughly cleaned and feed her off the ground to prevent re-infestation. Don't punt on the diagnosis, and use the appropriate paraciticide for the causative agent. The most important thing is to keep the rest of the herd from feeding on the ground where she is kept or you are likely to have a major problem. Herd health is 99% husbandry and 1% veterinary.
    doug

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Indian Valley, Virginia
    Posts
    587

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    You should take a fecal sample to the vet and for a small charge ($10) they will examine it and tell you what you need. If you want to do it yourself it sounds like you need more training than what you have. Worm medicine is very cheap and a small charge to get the fecal sample checked by trained experts instead of being an amateur guessing at whats going on sounds worth it to me.

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