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Home News Feature articles Managing Worms in Dairy Goats with Zero Grazing

Managing Worms in Dairy Goats with Zero Grazing

24 Apr 2023

Gastrointestinal parasites or worms are an important disease of dairy goats as they lead to production losses, clinical disease and cost a significant amount to treat. They are particularly problematic for dairy goat farms as they can often be small niche enterprises resulting in high stocking rates, minimal use of rotational grazing, and an inability to incorporate grazing with other species into the production system. One of the other constraints for farmers is that there are limited drenches registered for use on dairy goats as the milk is used for human consumption, farmers must comply to Milk Withholding Periods.

The lack of registered drenches points towards a practical solution for producers, which is zero grazing/feed lotting of dairy goats. Zero grazing prevents goats from becoming infected with worms, thus eliminating the need for ongoing worm control intervention. This strategy works as zero grazing effectively breaks the worm’s life cycle. If there are worms in the system or introduced over time (e.g. fresh grass cuttings) they will eventually die off. Eggs deposited onto soil may be able to hatch under the right conditions but as these systems have no grass, the larvae will not survive in the environment and be ingested by the goats.

When zero grazing goats, there are a few fundamental elements to remember. It is important that the system has absolutely no grass in the yards when the goats are introduced. Therefore, spraying the yards with chemicals, in the beginning, will be essential. It is also important to make sure the environment is clear of moist warm areas by gravelling around troughs and removing any spoilt hay or feedstuff.

The provision and location of feeders is important to prevent the goats from gaining any contact with contaminated soil while eating- this will include them putting dirty feet near their feed, so raised troughs are ideal.

Introduction of stock initially or new goats entering the system will require a quarantine drench if possible, being careful to consider milk withholding periods. However, if a worm egg count is low, worms will naturally die off over time as zero grazing breaks the life cycle of the worm by not allowing goats to ingest infective larvae.

Monitoring goats with worm egg counts periodically and ensuring that the feedlot area is kept clean by removing old feed and forage will be essential for success.

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