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Advocacy for Biodynamic Worming in Goats

 
edwin lake
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My blog post, Questions about Worm Cycles in Goats, has pictures and links to my research. I copied and pasted it here for comment and information purposes. I would love to hear what others think and maybe see any holes in my analysis.

The Story

We love our small herd of American Alpine dairy goats. Edna, pictured to the right, is a fantastic Momma goat. She likes to move slowly and has her own pace, which can sometimes frustrate impatient human beings.

Edna is a kind, gentle, and loving goat. She generously provides our family with 1/2 a gallon of milk every morning. She has been producing this milk for more than 18 months. We are thankful for Edna and love her. As her human caretakers, we are also responsible for the care of Edna and her goat family. That means it is our job as the human to do research and learn as much as possible about goat husbandry.
The Problem

Amicus is a dear American Alpine goat-raising friend who lives nearby. One of Amicus's goats became ill with a runny nose. She invited a Veterinarian to her property. The Vet ran fecal tests over a two week span and told Amicus the worm count was increasing. The Vet suggested the data argued that Amicus' herbal deworming treatment was failing that she should consider the traditional chemical deworming methods.

I was not surprised that a Vet, trained at a Chem-Ag university, would quickly advocate for chemicals. Amicus already told me the Vet was surprised when Amicus told her (on the Vet's first visit to Amicus' farm) she did not use them. However, I was not buying the Vet's fecal test conclusions yet. I already knew that research published at Fias Co Farms (where we buy our herbal dewormers) had convinced Amicus and I of the efficacy of herbal deworming. Comparing Alternatives for Controlling Internal Parasites in Dairy Goats Herbal vs. Chemical, Chrissy Orr.

BioDynamics and Lunar Cycles

When Amicus and I were talking about what to do, I wondered if the Vet's assumptions about the cause and effect of the increase might have been associated with the lunar cycle instead of Amicus's herbal treatment method. I took to the Internet to confirm my hunch by researching internal parasitic worm life cycles. (Oh, the fun!!!)


Turns out my speculation was confirmed by biodynamic farming researchers. First, I found an article by Jean Duval about de-worming goats.
"According to a traditional French practice, deworming treatments are performed preferably when there is a new moon. The worms are more active at this time and therefore easier to dislodge. On the other hand, Rudolf Steiner, the father of biodynamic agriculture, recommends performing deworming treatments during a full moon."


Ecological Agricultural Projects, AGRO-BIO - 370 - 04E, THE CONTROL OF INTERNAL PARASITES IN RUMINANTS, Jean Duval, agronomist, M.Sc. (Jan. 1994)

Next, I found a biodynamic website, BIO-DYNAMIC ASSOCIATION OF INDIA (BDAI), The Rhythms & their recommended Farming Activities, that recommended de-worming animals homeopathically for parasites beginning three days before the full moon.
Drench animals for internal parasites, on an empty stomach with, for example, garlic and cider vinegar. (48 hours before Full Moon)

Then, I found a horse husbandry site that cited homeopathic veterinarian C. Edgar Sheaffer, VMD. It advocated for worming in harmony with lunar cycles. Quoting Sheaffer:
most parasitic conditions can be addressed best with a natural wormer, used between the new and full moons.

The Holistic Horse, Worming in Harmony with Lunar Cycles

Dr. Sheaffer confirmed that the lunar cycle must be considered when evaluating fecal samples in horses:
Attention to lunar cycles is also important to fecal samples, Dr. Sheaffer says.
"We can't get lulled into a false sense of security with fecal counts." The most successful assessments collect fecal samples between . . . the new-to-full moon phases, when parasite egg-laying is at its peak. Samples taken between [the full-to-new moon phases] may not show eggs because it may not jibe with a parasite egg-laying cycle. Daily fecals, and quantitative egg counts could perhaps best document this cycle in an individual horse.

Id. It stands to reason that the same consideration applies for goats husbandry.
CONCLUSION

The Vet's assumption about worm count in Amicus's herd was premature and unscientific. Depending on when the sample was taken, the lunar cycle would have influenced the fecal test data. To reach an accurate conclusion, Amicus should analyze fecal samples taken at the same time during the new-to-full moon cycles.



In addition, individual worm species may have different life cycles. A farmer should identify the specific worm species with fecal samples, a microscope, and photographs before taking definitive actions.

Timing of herbal treatment is important. There is some conflicting information. Considering everything I have learned, the best time to treat is after the new moon and before the full. This period gives the best opportunity to interrupt the egg cycle of the internal parasites.

Finally, our current herbal only treatment may not be the most efficacious way to treat our goats. Maybe Amicus' Vet was right in this respect.

Dr. Sheaffer recommends alternating between herbal and homeopathic worming treatments for horses. Therefore, it stands to reason that we should consider incorporating alternating homeopathic and herbal treatments into our goat deworming plan.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Did the treatment work? any updates you could share?

Have you you ever tried sepp holzer's thing of letting the animals eat poisonous plants to treat themselves?

Thanks!
 
Su Ba
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It has been my experience that adult goats develop a fairly good resistance and tolerance to intestinal parasites. But young goats under one year of year are more susceptible to succumbing to those parasites. Good pasture management on my homestead has been helpful in controlling intestinal worms in my adult sheep and goats. One of the things I do is rotate different livestock species through the pastures, helping to eliminate the larvae specific to a particular species. Horse, cow, sheep/goat, pig. And I attempt to keep the pasture depth higher than 6 inches when to sheep and goats are reintroduced because most of the active larvae will be closer to the soil. That's fairly easy to do during rainy times, and that's the time that parasites are a major problem for them. The idea is to prevent the livestock from consuming large numbers of larvae. I also allow a good assortment of herbs and slightly toxic plants to grow in the pastures. Goats especially will consume some toxic plants which I suspect helps in parasite control.

My young sheep and goats are dewormed using chemical dewormers. I cannot afford to lose livestock needlessly. In my situation, I will lose stock that I don't deworm. it's happened. I have had neighbors using "natural" dewormers lose plenty of kids and lambs. I just can't tolerate that myself, both because of the loss and also knowing that I could have prevented their death but didn't. That's neglect as far as I'm concerned.

Another one of my neighbors made the mistake of grazing her flock on the same pasture all the time and "deworming" them with DE only. One small pasture. After a few years the pasture was highly infested with larvae. Over the next three years she started losing her kids. Then one adult after the other. Finally she had just one left, which she gave away. She had called me to help her a couple of times, but each goat had been too far gone by the time I saw it. They were at the point that only a blood transfusion could have given them the faintest chance of survival, but even that most likely wouldn't have worked.

Rather than using fecal egg counts, I rely upon two practices.
1- routinely deworm youngsters on schedule especially after rains.
2- evaluate adults using an anemia chart or by doing a hematocrit test. The chart is a color chart where you match the color of the inside of the lower eyelid to the chart. I prefer to run a hematocrit myself which is fast, easy, and accurate. Either way, when the animal reaches a certain degree of anemia, it's time to deworm to bring the worm count down.

Herbal dewormers may very well work for some people. I guess it depends upon your situation. Do whatever successfully works. Since eating somewhat toxic plants seems to help my goats, I can see value in plants controlling parasites. But eating toxic plants alone hasn't saved my kids, thus the reason I use chemical dewormers at times.
 
edwin lake
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We didn't try the homeopathic drench this month. We still have one 1 year old whether that has a dry cough (lung worms). We treated him this week with the herbal method.

I am a big believer in planting the right set of herbs in our pastures. Unfortunately, our property is still recovering from being over-grazed by horses three years ago. We have installed one swale in one pasture that we planted with comfrey. I do also feed my goats comfrey from time to time.

I would like to start some wormwood herbs and plant them around some of my pasture edges. I agree that animals (horses and goats for us) will use the herbal medicine chest to deworm themselves naturally. Any other herb suggestions?

The story about your friend is alarming. Reminds us that pasture rotation is also a good plan that we must incorporate. We have three pastures of about an acre each and we do some rotational grazing.

Currently we are at the end of our wet season. We get about two months of dry before we begin getting fall rains. I am in the NC piedmont, which gets around 60 inches a year so ours is a wet environment.

The paddocks we work hard to keep picked. We also use DE in the paddocks. I will post more updates later. Thanks for following the thread and keep the comments coming. Love them.
 
Kris schulenburg
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Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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my experience is with sheep not goats but it may be helpful. I have a ewe that is siseptable to barber pole worms. Last year i used Cydectin as a last resort 2x and she barely made it with B-12 and lots of pampering. I also found dead Dung Beetles shortly after Cydectin treatments and the last treatment barely helped her anyway.
So this year I am committed to chemicals as an absolute last resort.
The end of May I gave the sheep and lambs Copa-sure capsules. (copper wire particles) In the middle of July the ewe's eye lids got really pale so I gave her another capsule and they brightened up. Too much copper is toxic to sheep so i was not sure if it would do more harm than good but she is still doing well (fingers crossed because that can change fast).
We just got rain and it's hot so I won't know if it is a long term solution till mid september.
Its not Biodynamic but it is better than chemicals.
We also rotate pastures and work on plant diversity so that helps too. Good Luck

 
Darin Colville
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I learned to make goat & sheep cheese in Europe,then got good at it with Nancy at Coonridge in NM. We alternated garlic and diatomaceous earth with great success. We also used the moon signs. It also works well on sheep in the wetter midwest. Wormwood is very effective also. Easy to grow but must research the dosage.
 
Darin Colville
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Grazing poultry with ruminants is also hugely beneficial. Even if it's just 5 or 6 chickens. Poly face pasture works. Thanks Joel!
 
Sue Rine
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Location: New Zealand
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Grazing for short periods of time, 4days or less, and resting paddocks for 6-7 weeks helps to break the parasite cycle. Using different kinds of animals, as mentioned by others, is also good. Feeding tree foliage is helpful too. It obviously doesn't harbour worm eggs and the tannins are helpful in clearing worms. Goats are natural browsers rather than grazers anyway.
 
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