Internal parasites (worms) are a common problem in goats, and can lead to other serious health issues.
To keep your goats in good health, they will need to be on a regular deworming schedule. As this is such an important aspect of goat health care, there is a TON of information out there about various deworming practices.
What causes worms in your goats?
When worms are present, they lay eggs that are passed in the goat’s feces. The parasite larvae then develop on the ground (in the same pasture where the goats are grazing), and are ingested by the goats (YUCK), creating a cycle of infestation. Goats that are stressed, overcrowded, or have other health issues may be particularly susceptible to parasite problems.
So what should you do to control worms?
Aside from treating your goats, good feeding practices, and regular pasture rotation is important. Goat feeders should be off the ground, kept clean, and free from “contamination”. Avoid overgrazing and overcrowding your pastures.
Should you use a chemical or herbal dewormer?
There are many different opinions on the best practice for goat deworming. I have done a lot of my own research on this issue, and decided to use a Herbal Dewormer on my goats. There are several reasons I chose to do this:
- My goats are young and healthy (giving the herbal dewormer time to work, without having the need to fight an immediate infestation).
- The goats are in a new pasture (without having had goats in this area, there would not be any pre-existing worms in the soil that need to be dealt with). This also allows the herbal dewormer to act as a preventative treatment.
- I have a fairly large pasture for a small number of animals, so overcrowding is not an issue.
- The goats will eventually provide milk for my family (and I want to avoid as many unnecessary chemicals as I can).
Now, I will monitor the goats regularly, and if the Herbal Dewormer does not prove to be effective, I may have to look at chemical alternatives. However, I felt the benefits of starting my goats off with a more natural solution made the most sense for our farm.
Preparing the herbal dewormer
Now these are both essentially the same recipe, but each site has its own useful information.
Herbal Goat Dewormer
1 cup Dry Mustard Seed Powder
1 cup Psyllium Seed Powder
1 cup Minced Garlic Powder (I used DRIED minced garlic)
1 cup Black Walnut Hull Powder
2 cups Thyme, cut
2 cups Wormwood, cut
2 cups Sage, cut
2 cups Rosemary, cut
2 cups Diatomaceous Earth or DE
1/2 cup Cloves, chopped
Mix all together and store in an airtight container.
Administer as directed below for 7 days in a row, on a monthly basis.
- Standard-sized goats (Adults): 1 Tablespoon 2x’s a day (so 2 TBSP per day). Standard-sized kids: 1/2 the adult amount.
- Dwarf breeds (Adults): 1/2 Tablespoon 2x’s a day (so 1 TBSP per day). Dwarf kids: 1/3-1/2 the adult amount.
- I made half the above recipe for my miniature goats (the full recipe makes 12 cups, which seemed like a lot!).
- I used a small coffee grinder to process the cloves and dried minced garlic (and lightly processed some of the larger cut herbs too).
- The DE used was food grade, and I purchased it from an animal supply store (I’ve started using it in the chicken coop bedding, and also the goat’s barn, so I bought a 20 kg. bag – much more cost effective than the small containers).
- I had to special order the Wormwood and Black Walnut Hull Powder from a natural foods store. Very few stores in my area had heard of either of these.
- The other herbs were much easier to obtain – I found mine in a bulk foods store, except for the Rosemary and Sage, of which I had a large amount from my own garden.
- Do NOT use on pregnant goats!
How do you feed this mixture to the goats?
This was a bit more tricky, and a little more work than I expected.
Attempt Number 1:
I started off sprinkling the mixture on the goats’ food (grain), as directed by the websites I had read. The powdery mixture settled to the bottom of the feeder, and the strong smell (primarily due to the cloves) did NOT entice the goats to eat this once they finished their grain!
Attempt Number 2:
I had read that mixing molasses into the mixture would help (and in itself can be a good digestive aid for goats). However, this is VERY sticky stuff, and by itself does not combine well with the herbal mixture. So I mixed in a tablespoon of grain, and a small drizzle of olive oil (which helped to combine everything), along with 1/2 teaspoon of molasses and the herbal dewormer. The mixture stuck together quite well. When fed to the goats they were not TOTALLY enthusiastic about this mixture, but they did eat it eventually.
Attempt Number 3:
Another suggestion I had read about was to use peanut butter. I tried a combination similar to Attempt Number 2, but substituted peanut butter for the molasses. One of the goats, Leeloo, loved it! The other two did NOT! I even tried adding a bit of molasses to this mixture afterward to see if that would help. Apricot eventually ate most of it (it took a lot of coaxing, and hand feeding), but Primrose would not touch it. Peanut butter was definitely OUT.
Attempt Number 4:
Repeat of Attempt Number 2. This seemed to be the best solution for our girls. When we brought this same mixture out again, they ALL ate it with no problems. It might have just been a case of getting used to the smell or taste, but this time they were much more interested, and they even licked the bowls clean after they finished their grain/herb/molasses/olive oil mixture. Now, they completely devour this mixture each time, and the herbal mix sticks nicely to everything else so we know each goat is getting their complete dosage.
I may eventually try a few other combinations, but the molasses mixture is definitely the winner when it comes to feeding this herbal dewormer.
I’ve found that the goats sometimes need to “acquire a taste” for new things – often the first time we try feeding them something new, they may not like it. A good example of this was with Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (BOSS). Everything I had read said how much goats love these, but the first time I introduced these to our goats, they were not at all interested. A few days later I tried again, and they DEVOURED them. These are now a favourite treat!
So you might find that you need to try a few different things when feeding the herbal dewormer. Your goats may just need some time to get used to the smell and taste!