All of these drugs are coccidiostats, which means that they slow down rather than kill the coccidia. Thus, if a kid is very heavily infected when treatment is begun, medication may not help that kid much. The drugs will greatly reduce the contamination of the environment, and thereby give other kids time to develop immunity. After kids have become immune to the disease they still continue to shed oocysts. Fecal exams may reveal thousands of coccidia per gram of feces. Medicating these older kids or adults will temporarily reduce the passage of oocysts but will not improve growth rate. Within 2 or 3 weeks after medication is stopped, coccidial levels will return to pretreatment values. Thus, except for protection of younger kids, it is a waste of time and money to treat older apparently healthy animals that don't show diarrhea. It is far better to separate the young kids from these older carriers.
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Medication of apparently healthy animals is necessary for kids on large farms with previous problems with coccidiosis. The aim is to prevent damage to the intestines rather than waiting for diarrhea to occur. For instance, it may help to treat the kids with anticoccidial drugs on a daily basis for a week or more before stressing them by weaning or moving onto pasture. In some herds, a drug such as amprolium may have to be given daily beginning at 2 weeks of age and continuing until the kids are several months old. Amprolium levels of 25-50 mg/kg daily should be used. This is approximately 10-20 mg per round, and is 21/2-5 times the treatment level recommended for calves. Amprolium is not approved for use in goats in this country. It can be given to each kid individually or it can be mixed with the food or water. As an example, if there are 50 pounds of small kids in a pen, 500 mg of amprolium is mixed with the water, milk or feed that they will consume in one day. The larger kids, by eating more, get more of the drug than
do the smaller kids.
Other newer coccidiostats may be mixed with the feed, but most of them have not yet been adequately tested on goats. Rumensin R (Monensin) at 15 ppm in the starter grain has eliminated the coccidiosis problem on at least one large goat farm. This drug is very toxic to horses, so the medicated feed should not be left where a horse can eat it. Another potentially useful coccidiostat, now available only for poultry, is lasalocid. This drug has protected experimental lambs at 2-4 mg/kg/day. The poultry industry has found that the coccidia often become resistant to a drug after 1 or 2 years. Goat owners may also need to change drugs if the one in use ceases to be effective in controlling coccidiosis.
In summary, although most goats carry coccidia and will have positive fecal exams, normally only the young kids become sick with coccidiosis. Deaths and stunted kids result. Raising kids separately from adults, keeping pens clean and dry, preventing fecal contamination of water or feed, and, in some herds, continuous preventative medication are necessary to prevent the disease. It is neither possible nor desirable to completely eradicate coccidia from the adult goats. A low level infection with the parasite serves to keep these goats immune to the disease.
About the author: Thanks to Jack & Anita Mauldin Boer Goats for working together with GoatWorld to bring helpful information to the goat industry. Please visit JackMauldin.com for more helpful and up-to-date information regarding goat health.