animal & human wellness,  goats & sheep,  nutrition

Goats & Parasites – Excerpt from The Energetic Goat by Carrie Eastman

Holistic practitioners have been using contact reflex diagnosis, muscle testing, and dowsing to improve human health for centuries. For lifelong alternative medicine practitioner Carrie Eastman, applying these methods to her goat herd was just common sense. All living things are made up of electrical energy. Learn how to harness this energy to work with your goats in a way that is convenient, inexpensive, and safe for your herd.

The Energetic Goat provides step-by-step instruction on the basic techniques, including common variations, as well as guidance on how to adapt other techniques to suit your personal preferences. Newcomers to alternative veterinary medicine will find the many photographs, diagrams, and sample case histories particularly useful, while veteran practitioners will discover new tricks and techniques to add to their repertoire, from the never-before-in-print human reflex point chart (used for surrogate testing) to the cross-reference chart of common goat health problems and popular treatments.

This book also includes a timeline for transitioning your animals from conventional to holistic herd management, including tips on minerals, nutrition, and dealing with parasites.

If you’re ready to see your herd thrive without the use of harmful chemicals, just keep an open mind, examine the success stories of the techniques, and explore how these tests can be used to improve your own herd, right now, with whatever philosophy you follow.

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 8, page 82 of The Energetic Goat, discussing parasites. Additionally, the video below features Eastman herself discussing parasites in further depth. Follow along with your own copy of The Energetic Goat or in the excerpt below.

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Parasites are all about the immune system. A healthy immune system fights off parasites and is stimulated by the presence of a small number of parasites. If the immune system is not the key, then how can you have a field of goats, all exposed to the same parasites, and some show symptoms while others thrive?

I cannot say enough about the importance of copper. Goats must have healthy copper levels for strong immune function to fight off parasites. And, because minerals act both synergistically and antagonistically, you also have to look at other minerals that interact with copper.  Copper can be added to feed, offered free choice or bolused. I personally prefer free choice so the goat can choose the most appropriate levels. I have used both copper sulfate dissolved in water and dry copper sulfate added to my free choice mineral mix. Boluses are also very popular among many producer, either partial doses several times yearly to keep the copper levels consistent or given biannually.  Research supports that chelated minerals are safer because the excess is easier to excrete. However, copper sulfate has years of use behind it as a free-choice option for goats and other livestock.  If parasites are a problem, the coat looks bleached out, the hair is fishhooked at the end, or the goat’s tail looks like a fishtail, the goat may be suffering from a copper deficiency. Animals with black skin may need up to eight times more copper than animals with pink skin.

Parasites go through stages of activity that are linked to the moon phases and the time of day. Fecal tests should be done at the same moon stage and same time of day for consistent results. Deworming at the full moon is the most effective, when cell fluid pressure is at peak.  For three- or seven-day deworming, the full moon should be day four.  Deworm only when goats show signs of parasite overload, or if a fecal test reveals a high fecal count.

Dewormers in order of least to most toxic:

  1. Montmorillonite/bentonite clay; food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE)
  2. Herbal dewormers
  3. Chemical dewormers
  • piperazine, thiabendazole, oxfendazole
  • fenbendazole
  • pyrantel
  • Anthelcide (oxibendazole)
  • ivermectin
  • moxidectin (moxidectin has a very narrow margin of error and should not be used on overweight or underweight animals)

Montmorillonite/bentonite clay has a long history of being used for detoxification and parasite removal. Additionally, this clay is on the FDA Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list. The clay, when wet, carries a strong negative charge (paramagnetic), which attracts positively charged toxins and repels parasites (parasites are diamagnetic). Parasites cannot become resistant to clay.

Food-grade diatomaceous earth works mechanically, by scraping the parasite exoskeleton, causing the parasite to dehydrate and die. While there is debate whether DE is effective on internal goat parasites, most agree that DE is helpful as feed-through fly control and also externally. For large goat operations, the DE can be milled into the grain or fed free-choice.   Always use food-grade DE, which is also recognized by the FDA as having GRAS status. Parasites cannot develop resistance to DE because the action is mechanical. Goats should not breathe in DE dust, so the DE should be dampened with water or otherwise kept from becoming dusty.  Mixing DE with a little natural salt as a free choice works well, and the salt keeps the DE moist.

Herbal remedies are an entire book by themselves. There are many brands and herbal combinations using garlic, wormwood, walnut, and other herbs. In general herbal dewormers should be given as needed and in mixtures, rather than singly or on a schedule.  Some herbs are not safe during pregnancy, so use professionally prepared mixes or consult with a professional herbalist.

Many folks find that pumpkin seeds are effective against parasites. Acorns, certain types of pine, garlic, cloves, organic black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS), and lespedeza are all mentioned as being effective against parasites.

With a heavily parasitized goat, start mild and work your way up. Bringing out the big guns too early can lead to a massive parasite die-off, which can release toxins capable of killing the goat.

Support the gut after a chemical deworming. Feed a good pre-/probiotic) that balances gut pH and encourages healthy gut flora. Also consider adding zeolites and/or montmorillonite clay to the diet for several days, starting twenty-four hours after the chemical dose, to absorb any residual chemical.

Address parasites in the pastures also. Clean up manure and compost. Use free-range chickens to eat parasites and break up manure to let the eggs dry out. Spread diatomaceous earth to kill parasites. Rotate pastures and alternate between browsing and grazing species to break up the parasite life cycle. Feed the goats from feeders and hay racks rather than on the ground.

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For more details, get a copy of The Energetic Goat and also join us in our free Facebook support group, or schedule a private consult for your goat(s).

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