- When goats feed by grazing, they pick up worms very easily.
- Goats are very sensitive to worms of all types. The worm parasites of goats are divided into three groups namely roundworms, tapeworms and flukes.
- Some worms migrate into body tissues such as the lungs, liver and even brain and damage these organs to the level they cannot function.
- Dewormers also come with conditions of use due to their toxic effects on developing foetus and varying tolerance levels in different animal species.
Goats are browsers, preferring to nibble at the soft juicy parts of plants well above the ground. It is only when the animals have no option that they graze like sheep and cattle.
The feeding habit and adaptation of the goat has a lot of survival implications for the species. When we rear goats in confined space and in situations where the animal has to feed on the ground by grazing, we expose it to unfamiliar challenges.
Kioko, who has a herd of about 250 goats in Kitengela, came across some of the challenges recently.
I visited his farm in February at his request to review the health of his herd and advise on a management programme.
The animals were all in good health but I noted he would have to heavily supplement the feeding with feeds from outside the farm since the area was rapidly drying up.
He had started the farm in September last year. In his draft programme, I noticed the goats had been dewormed in the first week of February but there was no record of the dewormer used or the person who dewormed mentioned.
Normally, goats should be dewormed every three months but in cases of heavy worm challenge, they may be dewormed every two months.
In farming, issues of cost minimisation are critical because it is not possible to predict the final cost of the operation. I, therefore, advised Kioko to run the course of three months and deworm his goats again in May this year since the animals were healthy and thriving.
As part of our working plan, I also brought Mike into the picture. He is a reputed veterinary paraprofessional working in the area and running an agrovet shop.
In my practice, we always work with veterinary paraprofessionals. These service providers are closer to the farmers and they respond to the day-to-day disease control issues on the farm while we deal with complex matters beyond their technical scope such as disease control programmes, livestock nutrition, surgical interventions and difficult cases, among others.
This kind of work relationship between the veterinary doctor and the veterinary paraprofessional is what is envisaged in the training of these two cadres of veterinary service providers and the law on provision of veterinary services.
It is akin to the relationship between the doctor, clinical officer and nurse in human medicine.
VERY SENSITIVE TO WORMS
Before I left the farm, I agreed with Kioko he would always contact Mike before calling me for any cases on his farm.
Mike would in turn liberally contact me if he had difficulties on the farm or if he thought the case reported was beyond his scope.
Mike called me mid-March and reported Kioko’s goats were dying and many of them were weak and unthrifty. He had received the report that morning and since the problem appeared to be affecting the whole herd, he thought of reporting to me before responding.
We agreed he would visit the farm and brief me on site once he had assessed the situation. An hour later, he sent me a WhatsApp message with pictures of two goats showing long segmented worms recovered from intestines.
The picture caption read, “Kioko’s goats dying of tapeworms. No other problem detected.”
We fully discussed with Mike on phone and I was in agreement with his diagnosis and suggested treatment, an all-round dewormer that kills tapeworms, roundworms and flukes.