Critter Ridge
Hardy Boer Meat Goats
kencandy@critterridge.net

Internal Parasites in Boer Goats and Meat Goats

Goats are a lot more vulnerable to internal parasites (worms in the intestinal tract) than other species of livestock. Internal parasites are a major problem when raising goats in warm wet climates. In these warm wet climates internal parasites are the primary cause of death in goats. If you live in such an area we highly recommend you learn as much as possible about management practices for reducing internal parasite problems. There are four excellent publications available free of charge on the internet. One is published by Langston University at http://www.luresext.edu/goats/training/parasites.html. Another is published by the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service at http://www.attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/parasitesheep.html. The third one is published by Dr. Joan Burk, USDADale Bumpers Small Farm Research Center, Booneville, Arkansas, and is available at http://www.attra.org/downloads/goat_barber_pole.pdf. The fourth one is published by Ann Wells, DVM, Springpond Holistic Animal Health, and is available at http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/livestockipm.html. If you plan to raise goats in a warm wet climate, we recommend that you download and study all four of these publications. Study them over and over again because repetition is the key to learning... The information given in this article is based on a few things we have learned from our 45 years experience raising goats in Northern Arkansas. It is not intended to be complete for your situation. That is why we strongly urge you to read and study the above four publications.

Boer Meat Goats on Pasture

Research done at Langston University in Oklahoma, at the Dale Bumpers USDA Research  Station in Arkansas, and at Heifer Project international in Arkansas has shown that Serecia Lespedeza and Chicory help control Internal parasites in goats. Based on our experience we believe that Hop Clover, Korean Lespedeza, Crab Grass, Green Pine Needles, and Acorns also help to control worms in goats, but scientific data is not yet available on these plants. We are sure that there are many other plants out there which we do not know about, that help with parasite control. Goats will eat these plants readily but only Hop Clover, Crab Grass, and Acorns will survive in heavily stocked goat pastures. Since cattle do not eat many of these plants, running both cattle and goats together is a good way to insure their survival and to reduce parasite problems in both the cattle and the goats. Internal parasites that infect cattle will not infect goats and those which infect goats will not infect cattle.

Research done by researchers at Fort Valley State University, Louisiana State University, the Dale Bumpers USDA Research  Station in Arkansas, and Auburn University, show that sericea lespedeza hay is also an effective wormer for goats. Back in the 1960’s when we first moved to northern Arkansas some of our neighbors who had milked goats in the 1940’s and 1950’s claimed that one could not keep goats healthy without sericea lespedeza hay. Back then little was known about internal parasites in goats and no effective worm medications were available. In the late 1960’s we found that our dairy goats seemed to milk better on sericea lespedeza hay and hop clover hay than they did on alfalfa hay.

As mentioned earlier common sericea lespedeza will not survive when grassed intensively. Auburn University and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station have recently released a new variety of sericea lespedeza called AU Grazer. AU Grazer can tolerate grazing or frequent clipping and has thinner and more pliable stems. This variety can make young, tender and more nutritious forage available to animals, with less likelihood of loosing the stand from over grazing. However, we have not had an opportunity to try it under our pasture conditions. Sericea lespedeza has also been found to reduce methane emission in goats 30 to 57% depending on how it is measured.

Feeders and water tanks should be built in such a way that goats can not contaminate their feed or water with their droppings or their feet. The feet of goats always contain droppings. See our article on feeding for details on how to do this. When water tanks are frozen over in the winter goats will contaminate the ice with their feet, looking for water. The best way to prevent this is to not let the water tanks freeze. This is also important to prevent renal calculi (kidney stones) in bucks and withers.

Our twelve years of experience in breeding full blood Boers has shown us that the heritability of resistance to internal parasites in Boer goats is much greater than we originally thought it would be. We have made great progress in improving our herd for this trait. When we first started breeding Boer goats twelve years ago, we did not worm more than three times per year. Over the past ten years we have achieved enough genetic improvement for parasite resistance that we now worm only once per year. Individual Boer goats which require more frequent worming are culled. If one worms too often, one is breeding superior worms, not superior goats.  

Because the Kiko breed of goat originated in New Zealand which has a warm, wet climate many Kiko breeders insist that Kikos are more resistant to internal parasites than Boers. This might possibly be true when looking at averages, but some of the research done trying to prove this is flawed. No person who has a basic understanding of population genetics, biometrics, and the history of these two breeds would even try to prove such a thing. Both of these breeds were developed very recently by crossing very diverse types of goats. Very little line breeding has been done within either breed to fix certain traits. Thus the differences between individual goats within each of these breeds for resistance to parasites are much greater than the differences between the breeds. Most of the Kiko breeders in our area are worming their Kikos more often than we worm our full blood Boer goats.


Come Visit Us and See Our Herd


We are located in north central Arkansas, twenty miles south of Missouri.

Ralph is four miles south of Yellville, Arkansas, on Highway 14.
We are two miles west of Ralph on County Road 5040.



kencandy@critterridge.net        (8700 449-6789

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