Coccidia is a parasite that infects the intestinal tract of animals. While a goat may have some coccidia in its fecal sample, if the count becomes too high and the burden becomes too great, we say the goat has "Coccidiosis". Diarrhea is the primary symptom of coccidiosis.
An Essential Step To Raising Healthy Goat Kids
Coccidia prevention is very important to raising healthy kids. Once you see diarrhea (resulting from coccidia), you have time to treat the kid and save it, but damage will have been done to its rumen. Prevention is key.
There are many medications used to prevent coccidia.
When we had a small herd, our prevention of choice was Di-Methox. We use the 40% bottle shown in the link. You pull the medication up with a needle, then remove the needle and squirt it in the goat's mouth. The goats hate the taste of Di-Methox, so hold their mouth closed for a few moments so they don't spit it right out.
Coccidia prevention with Di-Methox begins when the kid is 20 days old. We often give it to younger kids so that multiple kids are all getting their prevention on the same day. For example, if we have 20 kids born in a 5 day window, we medicate all of them when the oldest turns 20 days. This way they are all on the same medication cycle.
Di-Methox is given for 5 days and then repeated again 20 days later. On Day 1, the goat gets 1cc per 10 lbs orally. On days 2-5, the goat receives 1cc per 20 lbs orally.
Now that we have a much larger herd (we had 149 baby goats born in 2017), we use Deccox M for our initial coccidia treatment. Deccox M must be started with the goat's first milk bottle (not colostrum bottle). If you do not bottle raise your goats, I do not recommend Deccox M.
We put the Deccox M medication into the kids' morning bottles. It does make the milk taste funny, so they don't like to drink it. But we've found that they are hungry enough in the morning that they drink it even with the medicine in it.
The trick, of course, is to make sure that each individual goat is getting their fair share of the medication. This is easy to do if you are giving the baby goats individual bottles. If you are using a lambar system as we do, the medicated milk consumption needs to be closely monitored. That is the biggest drawback to this method. And for that reason, once most of our baby goats are sold, and we're down to the number that we are keeping, we stop using the Deccox M and switch back to Di-Methox. Also, if we have a baby goat that is not gaining as much weight as we like, we will treat them with Di-Methox as a further precaution.
The Deccox M dosage increases as the goats grow. For our alpines, the first month we give 1 tsp per kid, once a day. The second month we give 2 tsp per kid once a day. And the third month we give 1 Tbsp per kid, once a day. By this time we usually have them switched over to Di-methox.
Years ago, there was a shortage of Di-Methox, so we used Corid for a short time. Corid is available in a liquid* or a powder*. We calculated the dosages (see below), but if you are using Corid, you may want to check our math.
Length of Treatment
We provide the baby goats with coccidia prevention until they are 6 - 8 months and ready to be bred. We also pay attention to the weather. If we've had a very wet year or a very mild winter, we do prevention longer. If it has been a very cold winter or if we are in a drought, we may stop a month or two early. We've never had an adult goat present with a coccidia burden, but if I did, I would use the same treatment dosage.
As I mention repeatedly, prevention is key when it comes to raising healthy goats. But even with your best efforts, sometimes a baby goat will still contract coccidia. If you see diarrhea from a baby goat that is not a result of over-feeding milk (which can and regularly happens if you are bottle feeding), I would immediately take a fecal sample to a vet and have it checked for coccidia.
If we have a fecal sample with a heavy coccidia burden, we treat the goat with the Day 1 Prevention dosage (1 cc per 10 pounds Di-Methox orally) for 5-7 days. This usually clears it up, but it is important to remember that the health of the goat's digestive system has probably been compromised in some way.
Prevention is Key
I can't stress enough how important it is to prevent coccidia. Many times I have heard from beginning goat farmers who have never used coccidia prevention. They are fine for the first year or two, but eventually the coccidia builds up (even if they rotate pastures) and they have serious health problems with the goat kids.
Coccidia prevention does take time and it does cost money. It is worth it however as it will keep your goats healthy and able to live up to their genetic potential.
Disclaimer: This information is provided as an example of how we personally raise goats at Goat Milk Stuff. We are not veterinarians and any information on the GMS website should not be taken as veterinary advice. Please seek the advice of a professional vet before making any changes to your herd management or individual treatment of your goat.
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