Sheep and goats carry the same worms and when grazed together goats carry heavier worm burdens than do sheep, especially in the absence of browse. It is best to not run sheep and goats together, except in the pastoral zone where worms are not as important and where goats have access to browse, which they prefer. If you do run both goats and sheep in higher rainfall zones, run goats on different areas of the property from sheep. Goats also share common worms with alpacas. Goats can be successfully run with horses and cattle.
NOTE: goats can also be infected by the brown stomach worm (Ostertagia ostertagi) from cattle, unlike the situation with sheep and lambs. Use adult cattle that are resistant to worms.
Grazing management techniques that reduce the exposure of goats to worms are based on these four steps:
- Avoid grazing on paddocks heavily contaminated with worm larvae.
- Reduce contamination of paddocks with worm eggs.
- Allow time for most of the eggs and larvae on the pasture to die.
- Where possible, provide adequate browse.
If these practices are not practical then consider feedlotting and ensure that feeders and waterers are designed to avoid faecal contamination.
Which goats are most susceptible to worms?
- Weaners in the months after weaning until about 18 months of age, when they develop a higher level of worm immunity. Paddocks used by young goats should be of the highest quality pasture as the first priority, ideally they should also be of low worm-risk. Bucks remain as susceptible as young goats.
- Late pregnant and lactating does are highly susceptible to worms as their worm immunity is reduced in late pregnancy and through early lactation. This can contribute to the seasonal increase in worm numbers and later infection of kids at foot.
- Adult or not lactating (dry) goats remain susceptible to worms as their immunity develops more slowly than it does in sheep, and is often incomplete.
- Rangeland goats moving into higher rainfall areas are highly susceptible to worms as they have little experience of worm infection and hence their immunity is poorly developed. Paddocks used by these goats should be of low worm-risk.
How are low worm-risk kidding and weaner paddocks prepared?
Whether the paddock is for kidding does or for weaned kids the method of preparation is the same. However, the length of preparation will vary according to the time of the year the paddock first needs to be used typically longer in winter than in summer.
Preparing low worm-risk weaning paddocks
Weaners are the class of goat most susceptible to worms, especially when they go through their first winter. The following practices or a combination of these can create paddocks with less worm contamination and lower worm-risk and are most important in the South-East and Higher Rainfall Mediterranean zones, but can also be used in the Lower Rainfall Mediterranean zone
- In the 6-8 weeks prior to weaning prevent contamination with goat* worm eggs by spelling paddocks, or growing browse, crops, hay or new pastures, or grazing with cattle or horses or grazing with goats or sheep up to 3 weeks after the protection period of a drench known (from a DrenchTest) to be effective on your property.
- Rotational grazing. This system typically involves creating a higher stocking rate with larger mobs (at least twice the set-stocking density) and introducing them to the paddocks when the pasture is about 7 cm high and grazing down to 3 cm high. Aim to have a non-grazing rest period of at least 2 months in winter and 3 weeks during the active pasture growth phase.
*where goats are referred to, include sheep and alpacas, as they can carry goat worms. While cattle also carry some goat worms, adult cattle tend to have very low burdens and contribute very little to contamination of pastures with worms affecting goats.
To find out more see Roundworm life cycle and larvae survival, Factors contributing to paddock contamination with worms.