Parasites are one of the biggest problems that livestock owners face. The barber pole worm is one of the most deadly infestations that goat owners fight. Unlike a lot of stomach worms, the barber pole worm, or Haemonchus contortus, is a blood sucking stomach worm that feeds on your goat’s blood causing severe blood loss, anemia, diarrhea, and dehydration. Each of these symptoms, as well as a severe infestation, can result in death.
Signs of a Barber Pole Worm Infestation:
My first experience with the barber pole wasn’t with goats, but with our alpacas. Unlike goats, alpacas are a bit more solitary and stoic so by the time the symptoms of severe anemia were caught it was too late. Luckily, most goats love people so infestations are easier to catch early on before they become deadly.
The major signs of the barber pole infestation are:
- Anemia. You should be checking eye color at least weekly to catch the early signs of anemia. You can read more about that here: Diagnosing and Treating Anemia in Goats
- Bottle Jaw. Which is a swelling in the jaw and is an outward sign of anemia.
- Standing off alone and lethargy
Treating Barber Pole Worms in Goats Through Prevention:
The best way to keep your goats healthy is through prevention. Barber pole worm infestations can turn deadly quickly, so it’s best to keep them away to begin with. To prevent these worms if your herd:
- The number one way to prevent barber poles is through copper oxide particles. This is the same thing you give your goats in their copper bolus. This works by increasing the copper in the goat’s system which helps them fight the parasites, but the wires themselves cause damage to the worms in the stomach causing them to die off.
- Herbal De-Wormers. Herbs work by both killing worms and by creating an inhospitable environment for them to live in. I grow wormwood here on our farm and give it to our goats weekly. I have also used products such as Molly’s Herbals with good results. Jess, from the 104Homestead, just came out with Bite Me! Goat Treats that makes dosing herbs a breeze…and there’s a de-worming treat that would work well.
- Make sure to clean your feeders and waterers often. The worm’s eggs pass from feces to the soil and water, where they hatch and are ingested again. Disinfecting water and feed buckets can help disrupt this cycle.
- Rotate your pastures. If you have the space, allowing pastures to rest will help with parasites problems. Goats also ingest less parasites when they are eating taller grass tops than when eating close to the soil.
- Correct nutrition goes a long way in keeping your goats healthy. Make sure they have quality forage, hay and loose minerals at all times.
Treating Barber Pole Worms in Goats with Medication:
There are a few chemical wormers you can use when dealing with barber pole worms. I also recommend treating the anemia after you have de-wormed since it takes awhile to rebuild the blood cells after an infestation. Your chemical wormer options are:
- Ivomec Injectable, dosed 1cc/34 lbs. ORALLY. We used this for years with good results, but unfortunately it is starting to show some resistance and isn’t quite as effective.
- Cydectin Pour On, dosed 1cc/20 lbs, ORALLY. This stuff is pretty gross smelling and I don’t like using it, but it does work in our area against barber pole.
- Prohibit Drench, dosed 2cc/50 lbs, ORALLY. Prohibit works well with little resistance, but it is not as convenient as other wormers since it is a powder that must be mixed with water. So unless you have a very large herd there is some waste of the product or you have to carefully do the math to mix only a partial packet. Don’t overdose on this one!
- Safeguard. This product doesn’t work in most areas anymore due to resistance. It’s better go choose one of the above options.
Since barber pole worms lay somewhere between 5-10K eggs per day, it’s good to re-dose in about 10 days to catch any new hatchings. And I can’t stress enough to keep watching your goats- eyes, energy, etc- until all signs of anemia and worms are gone.
© 2016, Sarah R Toney. All rights reserved.