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2015/16 Heavy Worm Burdens

Rob Collins - Sunday, May 15, 2016

This season has seen a number of goat, sheep and alpaca producers in the heavy rainfall areas struggling with worm burdens in their stock.  For some, it appears that within a very short time after drenching their animals show signs of worm re-infestation.

This is apparent particularly in the young stock, that show intermittent or ongoing scouring and or retarded growth rates.  It is a situation that has proven the value of faecal egg counting.  

Many producers rely on the Famachia check (examining the colour of the membranes around the eye) to assess the worm burden of an animal but this check is only a guide to the presence or absence of anaemia (which may be caused by blood sucking worms such as Barbers Pole worms), however, in our experience, this is not a reliable stand alone assessment of a worm burden in an animal.  Faecal egg counting is the only way to objectively gauge the level of worm infestation.  The following examples illustrate this point.

Case study one; Boer goat female aged 7 months old displayed good coat and condition, excellent eye colour and a good appetite, had a faecal egg count of 2800 eggs per gram (epg).  This doe was drenched as soon as possible.

Case study two; Boer goat female aged 6 months in the same group as case study one, displayed excellent coat and good condition, excellent eye colour and a good appetite, had a faecal egg count of 450 eggs per gram (epg). 

 Case study three; Boer goat female aged 7 years of age, lactating with two kids at foot displayed slightly dry coat and good condition for her situation and a good appetite.  A Famachia check showed a very pale eye colour, an subsequent checking indicated that she had a faecal egg count of 1200 eggs per gram (epg).  This doe was also drenched as soon as possible.

Animals can display varied signs of worm infestation and importantly, in our experience operating Zerocount and as Boer goat producers, animals have different tolerance levels to gastrointestinal worms.  The best approach to manage worms in your stock is to test objectively through faecal egg counting, rotate paddocks and change drench chemicals periodically.








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