Goat Deworming

Apr 04, 2022

Goat deworming is one of the most highly debated and controversial topics of the animal health world.  It holds this dubious distinction for several different reasons. First, there are very few dewormers on the market that are labeled for small ruminant use and thus, there are no approved recommendations for use of the other dewormers that are being used off label. Consequently, goat parasites have developed varying degrees of resistance due to inappropriate or over usage of both labeled and off label products. Additionally, the goat is a host to Haemonchus contortus, a particularly aggressive parasite that has learned to thrive in even the toughest of environments. This parasite is aggressive enough to be the cause of widespread illness as well as death in goat herds. Sadly, this parasite also has developed resistance issues leaving no reliable alternate ways to eliminate it from the herd. Finally, the goat is not tolerant of overcrowding and poor animal management with respect to parasites leading to confusion about how to handle these animals.
            All of this concern for effective deworming programs for goats led to a method of deworming known as FAMANCHA. This method is based on deworming the goat according to its individual need as opposed to a calendar time frame when all the goats in the herd are dewormed. This method of deworming is only effective for the most common and most aggressive parasite in goats-Haemonchus contortus. It is not generally accepted as the control method for other parasites such as coccidia, the brown stomach worm (Ostertagia), or the mengial worm. In this method of deworming, each individual goat is examined and graded into a category of 1-5 by looking at the conjunctiva and sclera of the eye.  Grades 1 have pink healthy eye structures and grades 5 are pale and anemic. Indeed, this scale is a crude measurement of the degree of anemia caused by the parasite. This method recommends deworming goats that are in the 4 or 5 ranges and in some circumstances, grade 3 goats may be dewormed. Grades 1 and 2 are not dewormed at all. The premise behind this process is to only deworm the goats that really need it and to promote natural resistance to the parasites in goats by culling the goats that are repetitively in the Grade 4 or 5 categories. Another “rule” in this method is to use a dewormer that is effective and continue until it stops working. Working with a veterinarian and fecal egg count reduction tests can identify a dewormer that is effective in the herd. 
            There are a few drawbacks to the FAMANCHA method of deworming. It does require a certain degree of training to effectively evaluate the grades. Master Meat Goat Classes teach FAMANCHA and a certified FAMANCHA trainer can teach the process to beginners. Fortunately, there are laminated cards to help guide the decision-making process. In addition, there are a few principles that need to be taught along with the grades. The process involves examining individual goats and the frequency of doing so is still somewhat debated as this is dependent on management style as well as a other factors.  Consistency, good record keeping, and good lighting are also essential to effective grading. Finally, another deworming protocol may be necessary if parasites other than H. contortus are found in the herd. 
            Despite the drawbacks of FAMANCHA, the main premise of this type of deworming of trying to ensure that there will be effective dewormers to use in goats is important. This concept of deworming based on “need” and not on “the calendar” will help ensure that effective goat dewormers will be around for years to come. If you have questions about FAMANCHA, see your local veterinarian or a certified FAMANCHA trainer.  Your local Coop can also help you with dewormer choices after you are ready to begin the FAMANCHA method of deworming. 
            For more content like this, check out the latest issue of The Cooperator.

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