Gastrointestinal Parasites in Sheep and Goats

(Metre, 2010) Depending on the parasite, signs of gastrointestinal parasitism can range from weight loss, diarrhea, anemia with pale mucous membranes of the eyes and mouth, “bottle jaw” (edematous swelling under the jaw), generalized weakness and eventually death.

Because most gastrointestinal helminthes are transmitted directly from one host to another, many parasitism problems arise from overstocking, or simply having too many animals on a given section of land. Overcrowding contributes to added stress on the animals as well as added competition among the animals held in small confined areas. This is particularly true when sheep and goats are grazing small pastures.

Your veterinarian can test the feces of your sheep and goats to determine the level of parasitism present in your animals, and he or she can then custom design a deworming strategy to fit your situation. There is no single schedule for deworming treatments that fits all of the needs of all farms and ranches. To avoid treating your animals when they don’t need it, and to avoid delaying treatment until animal health is compromised, consult with your veterinarian on how best to use these medicines. Haphazard use of deworming medicines can induce anthelmintic (dewormer) resistance of the parasites, and the medicines may permanently lose their efficacy to kill the gastrointestinal parasites found in sheep flocks and goat herds. Loss of anthelmintic efficacy becomes especially important if these drugs are over-used.


Metre, D. V. (2010, May 1). Colorado State University. Retrieved from Colorado State University Extension:

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