Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas Suzanne W. Gasparotto 300 Happy Ridge
Lohn, Texas
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The primary cause of anemia in goats is the Barberpole stomach worm (Haemonchus contortus). The Barberpole stomach worm feeds on blood, destroying red blood cells which deliver oxygen to all of the organs in the goat's body, including the brain and muscles. Oxygen depletion can be so severe that the goat's muscles cease to work and its brain and other organs fail. Too many goat raisers don't realize how life threatening the Barberpole worm is to goats.

Hypoproteinemia is the protein depletion that results from a rapid reduction in red blood cells. A common external symptom is bottlejaw -- a swelling under the chin that worsens as the day passes and may seem to disappear by morning, only to re-appear the next evening. Edema is the term that refers to the swelling that is the result of fluid leaving blood vessels (caused by hypoprotenemia, i.e. severe protein deficiency) and pooling under the chin.

Anemia is a life-threatening illness to goats from which they will not recover until you have administered the appropriate dewormer to kill the worms causing the problem and begin a long-term treatment with Vitamin B 12 injections and iron supplements. There is no quick fix for curing anemia in goats.

The easiest way in the field to diagnose anemia caused by Haemonchus contortus is to use the FAMACHA field test for worms. Using a thumb or index finger, pull down the lower eyelid and look at the color of its inner membrane. A healthy non-anemic goat has a bright red to bright pink inner lower eye membrane. Light pink is not good. White is definitely anemia and immediate treatment is required or the goat is going to die. Repeat: A goat with a light pink or white inner lower eye membrane is anemic and is going to die without immediate treatment.

Goat raisers should attend a workshop teaching proper use of FAMACHA. Dr. Jim Miller, parasitologist at Louisiana State University, provides FAMACHA training at GoatCamp™ at Onion Creek Ranch in Texas each October. Go to www.tennesseemeatgoats.com to the GoatCamp™ page for information.

Do not solely rely on FAMACHA to determine worm load. The only accurate way to know what you are dealing with is to do fecal egg counts using a microscope and a McMasters slide. You must know the number of eggs per gram and that is only possible by doing fecal egg counts with a McMasters slide under a microscope.

LIVER FLUKES can cause anemia, but liver flukes by themselves usually disrupt just a few blood vessels and feed on the pooled blood. Over a long period of time anemia can slowly develop from liver fluke infection, but at nowhere near the level or speed that it occurs from the Barberpole stomach worm. FAMACHA does not reflect liver fluke infection but rather solely Barberpole stomach worms. : The presence of liver flukes cannot be detected by a normal fecal test; a fecal sedementation test using the Baermann technique is required.

Other sources of anemia may come from external parasites such as blood-sucking LICE, TICKS, and FLEAS. However, the blood loss from external parasites pales in comparison to that lost from internal parasites, with the exception of anaplasmosis.

ANAPLASMOSIS is not the usual cause of anemia in goats but it is showing up in some areas of the United States as an external parasite problem that causes anemia. Anaplasmosis is passed from goat to goat by insects (ticks, fleas, biting flies) that feed between infected and susceptible animals. Symptoms are generalized and often include extreme sensitivity to stress and overall listlessness to the point of weakness.

The organism, Anaplasma ovis, can also cause abortions. This parasite enters and destroys red blood cells, thereby causing anemia. Diagnosis is done through blood testing. Treatment involves oxytetracycline 200 mg/ml (LA 200 or equivalent) injections Infected goats should be isolated and treated individually. Eliminating the vectors (ticks, fleas, biting flies) that carry anaplasmosis is very difficult, so it is wise to treat all animals in the herd at the same time. In large herds, individual dosing of every goat is recommended since it isn't possible to isolate each animal.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, ONION CREEK RANCH, Texas. 10.1.20

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All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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