Coccidiosis Goats – What is it?

All about coccidiosis goats and how to treat it.  Coccidia are only one of the many parasites that occur that include other parasites such as round worms (nematodes), flukes (trematodes), tape-worms (cestodes) as well as a plethora of other bacteria, viruses and organisms. Every parasite type has a specific and different life cycle, and each has a different effect on the goat, and each is controlled using varying drugs and good herd management practises.

Coccidiosis Goats – What Does it Do?

Coccidiosis is a potentially fatal condition for goats.  It is caused by a microscopic protozoa located within the goats intestinal tract.  Coccidiosis is also one of the conditions that can have potentially significant economic impacts on a goat herd operation.  It can devastate your newly weaned kids and also cause you serious animal losses within the other herd age groupings. Coccidia will only cause serious disease when the numbers increase to a sufficiently high enough level that can cause pathological damage

Coccidiosis Goats – What Causes It?

Poor animal husbandry and herd management are the principal underlying causes that allows coccidia numbers to increase to excessive levels.  As a result coccidiosis is manageable and can be kept under control. There are two different forms of this disease, one has clear clinical indications whilst the other does not.

Typical signs are that a goat presents with extreme thinness or wasting. The goat may also have a lack of appetite, or show scouring or diarrhea and this is often tinged with blood.  You should take a stool specimen and have it analyzed by your local veterinarian to determine whether coccidia organisms are present.

Good sanitary management is necessary to control coccidiosis. Young kids are most susceptible and should be kept in well illuminated and dry pens.

Treating Coccidia

As a commercial producer with often several hundred kids on the ground we have had coccidia issues. When the scouring starts and you know it is not parasites then you need to act quickly before the dying starts. We have taken all kids into a yard and fed them our own mix of feed that includes a product with Monensin Sodium in it, which is a coccidiastat. We have also used Amprolium (Corid) in the water to further bring outbreaks under control. There are vet available treatments such as sulfanamide medications. Another important bit of research we came across recently is that kids with low Vitamin B12 levels are also more susceptible and we will start giving all kids at 6 weeks old when we vaccinate a B12 jab as well. It must be noted that anthelmintic drenches do not affect coccidiosis. We also know producers who use Baycox®(Toltrazuril)and Vecoxan® (diclazuril). Baycox® (1 ml/2.5 kg) is evidently highly effective at reducing oocyte shedding as the drug is highly  effective at all intracellular developmental stages, which is not the same as coccidiostats. We have enhanced our paddock rotation to reduce outbreaks and now have a rapid action plan.  

About the Coccidia Life Cycle

There are several coccidia species that may inhabit goat intestines, however there are two species athat re considered important pathogens and capable of causing serious damage: The Eimeria ninakohlyakimovae and the E. arlongi. Coccidia are what as known as intracellular parasites, which means that they live and grow within the cells that line the goats gastrointestinal tracts. The oocyst is an egg-like structure, and this is passed within the faeces of the infected goats. When these oocyst are first passed, they are not actually infective, and must go through a period of development, that is called sporulation, and this is about a 2-3 day time period.

Oxygen and moisture are prerequisites for the process of sporulation, which is the formation of sporozoites within the oocyst. The time that is required for sporulation is temperature dependent. This means that in warmer weather conditions the development also increases. The temperature may rise to a level sufficient for these organisms to thrive.

Once the process of sporulation is complete, the oocysts become extremely resistant to environmental conditions and off the shelf disinfectants are not able to kill them off. The only environmental factors that are detrimental to sporulated oocysts are direct sunlight and extreme desiccation.  A sporulated occyst is capable of surviving for up to 12 months or longer if they remain protected from direct sunlight. Areas under feed bunks and also around water troughs may harbor these infective oocysts for significant time period, so god disinfection is essential.  For more goat care information go back to the beginning. All about coccidiosis goats and a more about goat diseases.

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