By JAMES TABABA
Goats have long been an integral part of the Philippines’ agricultural landscape. As an adaptable and resilient livestock species, they can be found across the country, thriving in diverse climatic conditions. However, the onset of the rainy season, which typically starts in the month of June, brings about unique challenges for goat raisers due to the increase in rainfall, resulting in wet grass fields, and muddy conditions. These conditions can be detrimental to goat health and productivity if not properly managed.
The rainy season brings about damp conditions that create a favorable environment for the proliferation of parasites, including gastrointestinal worms like liver flukes. These parasites can pose a significant threat to the health and productivity of goats.
When goats graze on wet grass fields, they may accidentally consume the infective larvae of these parasites, which can develop into adult worms inside their gastrointestinal tract. The adult worms feed on the host’s blood and nutrients, causing a range of negative health effects. The most immediate symptoms include weight loss, anemia, and stunted growth, as the parasites deprive the goat of essential nutrients needed for optimal development. In severe cases, heavy parasite loads can lead to diarrhea, dehydration, and even death, particularly in young, weak, or malnourished animals.
Parasitic infections can also compromise the immune system of affected goats, making them more susceptible to secondary infections and other health issues. In lactating female goats, high parasite loads can lead to reduced milk production, impacting the growth and health of their offspring. Furthermore, infected goats may exhibit poor reproductive performance, resulting in reduced fertility rates and fewer offspring.
To combat liver fluke infections, it is essential to use products specifically designed to target these parasites. Flukicides such as triclabendazole or closantel are effective options. Consult a veterinarian for appropriate recommendations and dosages to ensure the safe and effective treatment of liver flukes in your goat herd.
When introducing new goats to your herd, it is essential to quarantine them and treat them with appropriate flukicides before allowing them to mingle with the existing herd. This practice helps prevent the introduction of liver flukes to your goat population and ensures the health and well-being of your entire herd.
Regularly check for signs of liver fluke infection such as weight loss; anemia; and bottle jaw, a soft, fluid-filled swelling under the jaw and in the lower part of the neck. Early detection and treatment are crucial to prevent severe liver damage and other complications. By closely monitoring your goat’s health, you can promptly address any potential issues and minimize the impact of liver fluke infections on your herd.
Cut-and-carry feeding system
The cut-and-carry feeding system can be an effective alternative to grazing for goat raisers during the rainy season. This method involves harvesting forage such as grasses, legumes, or tree leaves, from a field or nearby location and bringing it to the animals to consume in a designated feeding area.
By providing fresh forage directly to the goats in a controlled environment, you can minimize their exposure to parasites commonly found in wet grass fields. This reduces the risk of gastrointestinal worm infections and other health issues associated with damp conditions.
Alternative feed sources
By providing alternative feed options, goat raisers can minimize their animals’ exposure to parasites present in wet grasses, reducing the risk of infection and promoting overall health. Supplementing their diet with alternative feed sources can help ensure that goats receive the necessary nutrients to maintain optimal health and productivity. Alternative feed options for goats include hay, silage, and concentrated feeds.
Hay can be used as a supplement to grazing or as the primary forage source when pasture availability or quality is limited.
Silage is a fermented forage that has been preserved under anaerobic conditions. It can offer a consistent and nutritious feed source for goats during periods when fresh forage is scarce or of poor quality. Common silage options include corn silage, grass silage, and legume silage.
Concentrate feeds typically contain a mixture of grains, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. These feeds can be purchased commercially or formulated at home and fed alongside forage sources to balance the nutritional needs of the goats.
By using effective parasite management techniques, providing alternative feed sources, and employing a cut-and-carry feeding system, goat raisers can ensure the health and productivity of their herds, even during challenging rainy conditions.