Katherine’s Caprine Corner March/April 2020
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Q. Can I deworm my pregnant goats?
A. That is a great question! Not only can you, but you should! As always, my preference is sustainable high-quality herbal products. The reasons are simple. For one, many areas of the country experience increasing concerns with parasite resistance to chemical products. Another consideration is that intelligently blended products benefit the goat and unborn kids while creating an environment that parasites don’t cope with. Thirdly, in the last two to four weeks of pregnancy, the doe’s immunity drops until two to four weeks after she kids, which makes her exceptionally susceptible to parasitic growth. As weather begins to hit the 50s (Fahrenheit), parasite reproduction rises. Most livestock consumes new eggs or larvae from contaminated pastures or pens; goats more so because of their habit of sticking their goatberry-laden feet into their feeders. For those that use chemicals, always be sure, without any shadow of doubt, that it is “safe” for use during pregnancy; I’d never use them during first trimester, which has the highest risk for birth defects. Also avoid extracts (liquids) with wormwood or sage in them, at any time during pregnancy, due to risk of increasing thujone levels, which is addictive and can cause nervous system problems. My blog on my website has a great article about using the wormwood plant (whole herb, not extracts or essential oils) and its benefits during pregnancy, especially when combined in a well-thought-out whole herb blend. Sage left in whole herb form (not extracted or essential oils) is also fine if used with respect in small amounts.
Q. At what age should I deworm my kids?
A. When are they getting exposed to goat manure? I start my kids at about four days of age with herbal products, and I continue at least twice per week from then on. They have likely already consumed or inhaled larvae and or egg ovum by this age, if they are in the barn. The average parasite becomes a full egg-laying adult within three weeks and does damage inside of the kid, as well as leaving waste behind in the kid, during that entire time. Waiting for symptoms or for obvious damage is not an option if I want the best growth and genetic potential out of my kids (or other livestock/equines/pets). I don’t recommend using chemical products at these young ages due to the toxic load within the kid and its very young organs. I simply mix mine with goat milk and serve in lambars, bottles, or carefully drench. As they get older, I can mix with moistened supplemental grain and with their drinking water.
Q. How often should I trim feet, and when should I start trimming my kids’ feet?
A. Since we have mainly pasture and feed our goats very well, I like to trim our feet monthly. Sometimes I let them go six or eight weeks and that’s okay ONLY IF their feet stay dry (not packed full of mud) and their pelvic and leg structure allows the feet grow out straight without collapsing to a side or warping other than where it wants to roll under. If you get feet that grow out completely correct, congratulations on your breeding program. Those correct legs and feet contribute to longevity and increased production/rate of gain.
Q. Can I trim my pregnant goat’s feet?
A. Pregnancy is definitely a time to keep up on your goats’ feet. I do NOT, however, trim during the last month of gestation or do any maintenance that may make them jump or squirrel around. Doing so risks slipping kids off of the umbilicus in which case they will be stillborn. This is true for all livestock. Adjust the time for the length of gestation, such as two months out for horses and alpacas.
Q. Can I feed my goat when my goat is too cold, and how can I safely warm it up?
A. Yes, you can, but if it’s really hypothermic your goat is not going to eat. When we have run into that (like a doe ending up in cold stock tank in the winter) after pulling her out I will mix a large pinch of cayenne and a large pinch of ginger root powder with a liquid and carefully drench between the cheek and gum. A truly cold goat will have difficulty swallowing, so go slow. After that, we get them in warm bedding and blanketed. I also fill plastic containers with hot water and place them around the goat (without touching the goat so you don’t burn them) and then cover it with a wool blanket to make a warm tent. The oral herbs can be continued every 15 minutes if needed. Mixing these herbs with olive oil and CAREFULLY applying (do NOT massage in, just place on) to frostbitten ears or tails encourages circulation in those areas, as well as using the oral herbs. Kids can also be submerged in warm 100-degree F water until their body temperature comes up, but for me it’s safer and easier to just do the hot water bottles and tent. If a goat seems nearly or possibly comatose, carefully rub cayenne with olive oil onto the heart region as well as placing some on the gums. As long as the animal is still alive with a pulse, the cayenne races to the heart to give it endurance and life.
Wishing each of you, your families, and your farms an incredibly blessed spring and kidding season!
Katherine and her beloved husband Jerry keep LaManchas, Fjord horses, alpacas, and a myriad of gardens on their farm in the enchanted Pacific Northwest. Her training includes Master of Herbology, Aromatherapist, Iridology, Reflexology, Energy Medicine, and lifelong hands–on experience with pets, livestock, equine, and gardening. Goat, animal, and human wellness products, consultations, and her signed copies of The Accessible Pet, Equine, and Livestock Herbal, are available at firmeadowllc.com. She has a blog as well as a farm and wellness Facebook page (Fir Meadow LLC).
Originally published in the March/April 2020 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.