For the Love of Goats
If you have a worm problem with your goats, and rotational grazing is not an option, we now have a new tool that can be helpful in breaking the life cycle of the worms. BioWorma came on the market in the U.S. in 2018 and is available through Premier 1 Supplies.
BioWorma is not just another chemical dewormer, which worms can become resistant to. It’s Duddingtonia flagrans, a natural fungus that eats the worm larvae in manure. Fungal spores are added to the livestock feed and go through the animal’s digestive tract unchanged.
After the manure lands in the pasture, the fungus goes to work eating the larvae as the eggs hatch in the manure. This breaks the life cycle of the roundworm, which gets out of control because animals are continually re-ingesting larvae from the pasture. (That’s why pasture rotation is so important.) In fact, it is estimated that 90 percent of worms on a farm are actually in the pasture rather than inside animals.
In this episode, which is sponsored by Premier 1 Supplies, we are talking to Dan Morrical, one of the “Ask an Expert” specialists at Premier 1.
Because this fungus is a very picky eater, you don’t have to worry about it upsetting the balance of anything else in the environment, such as earthworms or soil nematodes. The fungus only consumes roundworm larvae in manure of grazing animals, so it won’t work with poultry. Since it is eating the larvae, not killing them, it’s unlikely the larvae will become resistant to them the way they become resistant to chemical dewormers. (Has anything ever become resistant to being eaten?)
It’s also important to understand that the fungus does not consume 100% of the larvae, so things like pasture rotation can still help. Animals have lived with parasites inside their bodies since the beginning of time, and it’s not an entirely bad thing. We just don’t want the worms to get out of control and make the animals sick, and that’s exactly what the research showed. The fungus reduced the worm load enough that animals did not need chemical deworming.
This product won’t be for everyone, but I do see it as a lifesaver for those who are losing animals to worms because of dewormer resistance. In this episode we are talking about how to get started with Bioworma, as well as what works and what doesn’t.
Because it’s important to get the wormload in goats as low as possible before you start using Bioworma, download our cheat sheet to be sure you are using the latest information on how to use dewormers correctly.
For all the latest information on using dewormers in goats, check out this podcast episode.
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Transcript – BioWorma for Goats
For the love of goats! We are talking about everything goat. Whether you’re a goat owner, a breeder, or just a fan of these wonderful creatures, we’ve got you covered. Today’s episode is brought to you by Premier 1 Supplies, sheep and goat equipment that works from folks who use it every day. And now, here is Deborah Niemann.
Deborah Niemann 0:28
Hello, everyone, and welcome to today’s episode. This episode is in direct response to questions that I get a lot, and it is one for which I have no personal experience. Luckily, we got control of parasites well over 10 years ago, and we keep control of parasites by rotational grazing and other management practices. But, rotational grazing is not always possible for everybody. And, in those cases, there is a new product on the market called BioWorma. And, lots of people have asked me about that. I know, if you’ve asked questions on Facebook or Instagram, you might have gotten a response from Tammy Gallagher. She lives down in Texas; she helps me answer questions, and she has been using BioWorma and absolutely loves it so much. And so, I decided to ask the wonderful people at Premier 1 Supplies about doing an episode on this, because they are the exclusive distributor of it in the United States.
Deborah Niemann 1:30
And so, today, we are joined by Dan Morrical, who is one of the “Ask an Expert” specialists at Premier 1 Supplies, and he is a retired sheep specialist from Iowa State University, where he worked for 33 years. Welcome to the show!
Dan Morrical 1:45
Thank you very much. I’m glad to be here. I got the short straw, so you guys have to listen to me. Sorry.
Deborah Niemann 1:52
No problem! I’m really excited to have you here today. Because, like I said, this is a question I get a lot. So many people have a problem with worms, and they can’t really do rotational grazing because of, you know, whatever unique aspect of their pastures or their farm or whatever. And so, this is a really great option for them. But again, like I said at the beginning, it’s not something I have any personal experience with. So, first of all, a lot of people think, “Oh, it’s just another drug,” which, it is not a drug at all. So, can you tell everybody exactly what BioWorma is and how it works?
Dan Morrical 2:25
So basically, what BioWorma is is a fungus. And so, you feed the fungus to the sheep or goat or donkey or horse or cow, the fungus survives the digestive tract, and it’s deposited in the feces. So, as the eggs are shed in the feces, and then they develop into larvae, the fungus attacks the larvae and kills the larvae. So, we aren’t repopulating the sheep, goats, other ruminants with live larvae. So, we’re trying to hold down the relative reinfestation from the pasture.
Dan Morrical 3:00
So, as we think about a pasture—depending on where you’re located. Today, it’s a nice balmy 10 degrees in central Iowa, where I live. You would think that we wouldn’t have any parasites survive the winter, but we’ve got a lot of snow cover on. So, we may have some larvae that develop next spring from eggs that did not develop into larvae that were late in the fall and just went into hibernation. So, our pastures always have some larvae out there. So, if we think about goats going out in the spring, there’s a relatively low level of parasitism on the pasture. But, as we go through May, June, and July, we keep building up those numbers of larvae out there, so the goats get hammered worse and worse and worse.
Dan Morrical 3:46
And so, you know, we tend to think that, “The Boer goats came from South Africa. They’re supposed to be parasite resistant.” Well, that’s not really true. They don’t have any worms in South Africa, because it’s so dry. And, if goats are browsing where they normally would graze, up in the trees and brush, the parasites can’t get that high. So, in many cases, we put goats on native pasture, short grass, right down there where all the worms are. And, that’s why we keep having problems with goats and reinfestation.
Dan Morrical 4:20
And so, when we think about BioWorma, it’s an actual fungus that lives in the feces that kills the larvae as they develop. So, the problem we’ve got is, if we want it to work, we’ve got to feed it every day. Because if it’s like, “We fed it once a week,” well, the poop that’s got some of the fungus in it, yeah, those larvae will get killed. But, the other three or four or five or six days where we don’t have enough fungus, then the larvae survive, we get the goats reinfected, and then we have problems. You go, “That BioWorma, it doesn’t work.” Well, it does work if you use it judiciously, every day.
Dan Morrical 4:56
The real problem with BioWorma, to me, is it’s too expensive. And, it is very expensive, because it’s not an easy process to get it developed, get it grown, get it harvested, get it packaged, and get delivered, too. So, if I was going to try to judiciously use BioWorma, I’d try to use it May and June. I’d try to stop that pasture buildup in the spring, so that the animals come July, August, maybe, are a little better shape in terms of pasture contamination and don’t get reinfected so badly. The other place that a lot of people have really liked BioWorma: They’ve got 30 nannies on 2 acres. Well, they’ve got a really dense population of goats; pastures are highly contaminated. Doesn’t make a difference if they deworm all the time, there’s still going to be worms out there, because they build up resistance. Can’t get them to a fresh, clean grass. So, it works best in those really small areas where we’ve got a lot of contamination.
Dan Morrical 5:52
And so, if you think about the effectiveness of it, sheep are actually the poorest at 68% efficacy on killing the larvae. Goats are a little higher at around 70%-72%. Horses are actually the highest. It’s not a foolproof system. But, it will drastically reduce those pasture larvae load, so we have less reinfectivity.
Dan Morrical 6:16
I would use it May and June. You know, once we get to the point in the winter/fall that we’re not having larvae develop—especially in northern climates—we probably don’t need to be using BioWorma. So, that will help us save someone money, as well.
Deborah Niemann 6:30
Exactly. And, for people who haven’t listened to some of my other episodes on parasites, it’s really important to understand the parasite cycle, and that is that eggs do not hatch inside the goat—which a lot of people misunderstand. A lot of people think that, and we’ve discussed that repeatedly on different episodes, that the eggs hatch on the pasture. And so, what BioWorma is doing is it’s interrupting that lifecycle. So, the goat poops out the eggs; the longer they are staying on a pasture, the more eggs they’re pooping out. And, all of those larvae are hatching on the pasture. And, larvae can survive for months if you’ve got regular rain. It’s mind-blowing to me how long larvae can survive if you’re getting a lot of rain. Their enemy is dehydration, so, you know, if you’re in a drought situation, that’s good in terms of worm control. Not so good for your grass. But, that’s why the BioWorma works, is because it’s interrupting that lifecycle and reducing the number of larvae on the pasture.
Dan Morrical 7:32
And, your comment about the larvae being able to live a long time, when I want to try to have a safe pasture for livestock, like for sheep and goats, I don’t want any sheep and goats out there for six months. So that, to me, is: July 1 to December 31, or January 1 to June 30. So, at that six months, then, we’ve got a chance to have a clean pasture. So, we can do that by using hay ground. Switching our hay ground from our grazing ground, if possible,. We can do it with grazing cattle on one half of our pastures and goats on the other, and then flip-flopping them after six months. So, that’s a couple other ways we can do that.
Dan Morrical 8:32
And, a lot of people talk about rotational grazing. So, I’m going to ask you the question: You control it with rotational grazing, so what’s your rest period?
Deborah Niemann 8:41
It depends on which thing you’re talking about. And, it’s funny. I hear some people go, “Oh, I can’t do rotational grazing because we have a lot of trees and hills and stuff.” So do we. And, we have a creek that cuts through.
Dan Morrical 8:51
I know a company that sells fence that’ll work on that! Besides BioWorma.
Deborah Niemann 8:55
Exactly. Exactly. And so, like, somebody asked me the other day on Facebook, like, “How many pastures do you have?” I’m like, “You know, I’m not really sure.” Because, we’re using ElectroNet to create temporary pastures. And so, you know, it depends on, like, so many things—and they’re not a bunch of perfect little rectangles. And, they’re not even geometric shapes, you know? And so, one thing that we use… So, this is my thing for my baby goats, is that baby goats do not go out on pasture until about the middle of April, when the grass is finally over 6 inches tall. And, they go out on our front yard—using ElectroNet—and nobody goes on that front yard except baby goats with their mamas every April. So, there is no larvae there. There has been no goat poop there for 11 months—
Dan Morrical 9:46
Except for the escapees.
Deborah Niemann 9:49
Luckily, that so rarely happens—and it would be, like, one goat, you know? Or one sheep.
Dan Morrical 9:55
And, it’s one day. Or minute. Yeah, so it’s okay.
Deborah Niemann 9:59
Dan Morrical 9:59
All right. So, in that case, you’re probably running those kids out there till August?
Deborah Niemann 10:03
Dan Morrical 10:03
When do you wean?
Deborah Niemann 10:04
So, the kids are only on that front yard for two or three weeks, and then they go into other pastures that are now tall enough. See, the other ones are behind—the regular goat pastures are behind—because they were grazed too short. And so, it takes that grass a lot longer to regrow than the stuff on the front yard, which hasn’t been touched since—
Dan Morrical 10:29
Deborah Niemann 10:30
Dan Morrical 10:31
So, my comment about rotational grazing is it helps immensely in parasite control. I think it helps way more, because we provide the goats better nutrition, protein, and energy, so they can fight off the parasites much better. And, I do a lot of grazing management stuff as well. And ideally, if we were going to try to manage the grass, we’d rotate back in at, like, 28 days. Well, that’s right in the lifecycle of the larvae. So, they’re at peak reinfectivity. So, a short-duration rotation doesn’t really control the larvae as much as it just makes sure the goats got a lot to eat so they can still produce and do work.
Dan Morrical 11:14
Okay, so then we get back to BioWorma, one of the things that it warns us about is not to feed it with medicated feed. We’ve got to understand why this is. It’s out of Australia, and they don’t have any medicated feeds down there. So, they didn’t test it with medicated feeds. So, our FDA, being very cautious, doesn’t want them to sell it that way. Really, the only thing we would worry about is if you would put it with a fungicide—medicated fungicide—because then we kill the fungus and we don’t get the larvae control. So, you know, our typical Bovatec, Rumensin, Deccox—those aren’t going to impact the fungus.
Deborah Niemann 11:53
That’s really interesting, that it’s labeled that you shouldn’t use it with medicated feed. Is there anything else that people need to be aware of in terms of, like, any kind of contraindications? Or, and at what age…? Like, kids start nibbling on food when they’re a few days old if they’re with their mom, you know, imitating her.
Dan Morrical 12:10
Yeah, but getting enough intake to really treat them, probably not. Okay? But, theoretically, you shouldn’t have a kid with worms—
Deborah Niemann 12:17
Dan Morrical 12:18
—till they’re 21 to 28 days old.
Deborah Niemann 12:20
Dan Morrical 12:22
Or, at least shedding eggs.
Deborah Niemann 12:23
Dan Morrical 12:24
Yeah. So, we got to be careful. Definitely.
Deborah Niemann 12:26
But there’s no danger? Like, because I know somebody’s gonna ask in the comment section of the show notes, like, “Can we feed this to kids?” So there’s—?
Dan Morrical 12:34
Deborah Niemann 12:35
Dan Morrical 12:35
There’s no safety factor there.
Deborah Niemann 12:37
Okay. Yeah, because, like I said, if they’re with their mom, they’re gonna start nibbling on whatever she’s eating, you know, from the time they’re a few days old.
Dan Morrical 12:47
And, as we talk about parasites—we always talk about parasites—young animals are the least resistant. So, those young kids are probably shedding the most eggs, because they’re not resilient, and they’re small, and they’re not used to it. So, they get hammered quicker than anything. That’s why we see… Get into that July-August time period, then we start having kids die from parasitism, because they’ve just built up to the point where they’ve eaten enough grass, they’ve gotten exposed to enough larvae, they’re infected enough to where it gets them.
Deborah Niemann 13:16
Yeah. Yeah. And, that’s why I love the ElectroNet, and the fact that it gives me the ability to, like, put my kids in the front yard. Because, I haven’t had to deworm a kid in probably 10 years now, because they’re going out onto pasture that is legitimately clean and not getting a big load. People ask me a lot of times, like, “At what age can you put, you know, kids outside?” And, it’s like, “There’s a lot of levels to that.” And, my big most important thing is, even if they were born, you know, on a lovely May day, when it’s beautiful weather, I’m not gonna put them on a pasture with a bunch of mature goats that are pooping worm eggs that are gonna hatch into larvae that’s going to infect that kid, you know, right away.
Deborah Niemann 13:56
So, back to Premier 1’s other awesome product, your temporary electric netting: To me, that’s, like, the best option. But, if people can’t do rotational grazing, BioWorma is definitely a really great option, too, because it’s going to reduce the amount of infection. And, that’s why I pointed out earlier that eggs don’t hatch inside the goat. And so, your goat is not going to keep worms reproducing inside of their gut endlessly, because the worms are in the goat, and then they die, and then they go away, and the goat doesn’t get more worms until they eat larvae from the pasture.
Dan Morrical 14:32
And, generally, they don’t get reinfected in dry lot.
Deborah Niemann 14:36
Dan Morrical 14:38
You know, if your dry lot’s got some grass growing along the edge, so there’s places larvae can grow and develop, yes, maybe. But, generally, if it’s a manure pack, they’re not getting reinfected in the dry lot. Now, in Iowa, we say “dry lot,” and it’s a “mud lot” some of the year, so it’s really not good. And then, we get into coccidia, which is a whole different parasite.
Dan Morrical 14:59
Okay? So, as we think about BioWorma again, we’ve got to get enough into them. We’ve got to do it continuously. Obviously, the kids are the high-risk animals. May-June is probably the time to for sure treat them to try to prevent that mid-summer buildup of parasite larvae.
Deborah Niemann 15:19
Dan Morrical 15:20
The other thing we’ve got to realize is, if we’ve already got heavily parasitized goats. We’ve got to get the worms out of those goats for BioWorma to work, because we’ve got to get the load down so that the goats aren’t negatively impacted, they’re not shedding as many eggs, because our pastures are already contaminated.
Dan Morrical 15:38
And, as we think about deworming goats, if we have to deworm, there’s some really unique work from the Small Ruminant Consortium looking at combination dewormers, copper oxide wire particles with dewormers, to where we can increase the efficacy of those dewormers and get a higher percent killed so that the goats are cleaner. So, maybe we would use Tramisol and Ivomec together; we might use Valbazen and Ivomec together, and then give them a copper oxide wire particle on top, because it tends to be synergistic and make those dewormers work better. So, we get the goats cleaned out, and we can use BioWorma, then, to maintain that lower level of parasites out on the pasture. So, I’d probably start two to three days before I was going to turn out, just so we got the fungus going through them, because the rate of passage on the goats is about 48 hours. So, when they hit the pasture, we want there to be fungus in the pellets so we can get those larvae killed.
Deborah Niemann 16:38
Thank you so much. This has been really helpful!
Dan Morrical 16:42
And, if people that watch this, they have questions, comments, concerns, they can contact Premier at the “Ask an Expert;” they’ll get ahold of me, send the message on to me, and then we can have a further discussion, follow-up specific to their individual operations and how to try to combat parasites, because they are a problem that just never goes away.
Deborah Niemann 17:05
Excellent. That is really awesome. Because, as I always tell people every time, there is no “one size fits all” plan for parasite management or nutrition or anything, because every farm is different. So, it’s really great that Premier 1 has the option for people to contact you and talk about their specific situation with using BioWorma and rotational grazing and all of those tools that we have at our disposal now. Thanks so much for joining us!
Dan Morrical 17:31
Thank you! Glad it worked out.
Deborah Niemann 17:33
Yeah, this is gonna be really helpful for people.
Deborah Niemann 17:36
And that’s it for today’s show. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to hit the “subscribe” button so that you don’t miss any episodes. To see show notes, you can always visit ForTheLoveOfGoats.com, and you can follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/LoveGoatsPodcast. See you again next time. Bye for now!