Goats Grazing During Rainy Days

When it rains, it likewise pours diseases.

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) said that goats, for instance, may continually be infected with worms throughout the year, but clinically apparent signs occur mainly during the wet season.

Goats, especially growing kids, the PCARRD explained, succumb to respiratory diseases, diarrhea and worm infestation during the rainy season. Worms reduce the production of meat and milk, and reduce the animals resistance to infections. Infected animals excrete worms.

The council noted that it is during the rainy season that eggs of worms transform into infective larvae in 3.5 days, since eggs survive only in an environment that is warm and moist. During rainy months, these eggs mature into infective larvae and travel to moist leaves of grasses and shrubs. When goats are let loose or tethered just after the rain or early in the morning when grasses are still moist with dew, they are able to eat the leaves laden with infective larvae. These larvae then mature into full-grown worms in the stomach of the animals, the council explained.

To alleviate this goat health problem, PCARRD advises farmers not to graze their goats during rainy days or even during very early hours of the morning when the sun has not yet dried up the dew. Farmers can confine their goats in pens during the wet season, do strategic drenching with chemical de-wormers or go into rapid rotational grazing.

More farmers are now implementing these technology options through the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the PCARRD project sustainable endoparasite control for small ruminants, likewise of ILRI, PCARRD and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

PCARRD suggests that farmers use the rapid rotational grazing (RRG) since the method is an effective strategy to control worms.

RRG is a scheme originally intended for farmers with access to large grazing areas. It involves subdividing all the available and possible pasture areas into 10 grazing areas and allowing goats to graze in each paddock for three to four days before moving on to the next paddock. The goats should not be returned to the same area within five weeks after rotation. In dividing pasture into paddocks, it is more important to consider the amount of available forage more than the size area.

However, the scheme also works for smallholder farms. This can be done through rotational tethering or tying the animals to different grazing spots every three to four days.

Tethered animals are transferred to nine to 10 different areas in a month. Other animals are not allowed likewise to graze the previous areas for 30 days. The objective is not just to improve the condition of the pasture but also to minimize parasitic infection by avoiding the infective stages of the parasites left in the grazed areas.

Eggs begin to be infective only after the fourth day. If goats can avoid ingesting them at this stage, the parasites will be left in the soil without a host. Without the proper environment, they will eventually die and their life cycle ended.

RRG is successfully used for goats in regions I and III. It is also adopted at the small ruminant center of the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) as well as in the San Miguel breeding farm in Leyte.

Farmers and farm caretakers attest to the fact that rotationally grazed animals have lower worm count than those that freely graze the pastures. Further RRG reduces the frequency of drenching by using chemical dewormers; hence production cost is reduced.

Author: Ana Marie Alo, www.pcarrd.dost.gov.ph

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