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Goats are affected by nasal bot larvae

By Gloria Bake

COUNTRYSIDE: All of the material I have says nasal bots prefer southern states and warm climates, but they seem to be enjoying our northern Michigan farm just fine.

Also, I’ve never even seen mention of the fact that goats get them, except in our sheep books.

We have nine mature sheep and four mature goats, plus lambs and kids. All of our sheep and goats have a slight thin nasal discharge and each will go through a two to three day sneezing bout and the bots leave. My books say the bot fly lays larvae on the nose of the sheep or goat and the bots crawl up into the nasal cavity for three to eight weeks until they mature. Then they crawl out, making the animal sneeze and the bots go onto the ground to pupate.

Our goats will push their noses into my leg whenever they get the chance as if their noses itched, but except for the discharge and the sneezing they seem normal.

The only reason we found the bots was because we were having the scurs and scent glands removed from our bucks. When our vet sawed off the scur the bots came crawling out—14 of them. My books say they can have more, but these were big—there just didn’t seem to be room for any more.

I would greatly appreciate any information on getting rid of the bots. My shearer would object to tar on our sheep I’m sure, and the only wormer I’ve found that will kill them is very harsh with lots of warnings. I only want to kill the bots, not the animals.

As for the descenting operation, yes, it does work very well. But please tell folks to descent buck kids when they are disbudding them. The kid is already restrained for disbudding and the iron is hot. It only takes a couple of seconds to do and causes less than a second of pain as the iron quickly destroys the nerve endings and recovery of the cauterized patch is quick. Compared to the difficulty of restraining a mature buck, and the cutting, bleeding and mess associated with any surgery and the raw wound that’s left, descenting a kid is a breeze. I’d like to make everyone who refuses to perform that couple-of-seconds procedure watch all that the mature animal must endure when the descenting is done later in life.

Some folks might wonder why have it done at all. I’d like to have had them out here before the surgery!

Our bucks were getting a bath once a week in June. I even moved them to a new fresh yard. Some Nubians will be in heat year ‘round—our bucks were—and the smell was unreal. We’ve had descented bucks for more than 10 years so we’re used to bucks, but this was worse than any other buck we’ve had in November, their “normal” season. Lots of people were coming by to see our farm, people without goats, and those two bucks were strongly undoing any favorable impressions gained by the delicious milk given by our does… not to mention the odor every time we opened the windows to let outside air into the house.

We normally would not have done the operation during the fly season, but the odor made it a necessity. The wounds are healing nicely and should be all healed before our fall breeding seasons. Our bucks still smell like bucks, but the odor is down considerably! We’ve never had a doe reject a descented buck—but people will reject one not descented every time! — Gloria Bake

In Management and Diseases of Dairy Goats Dr. Sam Guss says bots, a common sheep parasite, only affect goats where they’re exposed to sheep that harbor it. He points out that goats are more terrified of the flies that deposit the larvae than sheep are, and will hide in a dark place when the flies are active.

The bot flies deposit the larvae in and around the nostrils without alighting. The larvae migrate up the nasal passage. The larval period, which is shortest in young animals, can vary from one to 10 months. Four to 10 larvae are commonly found, but the count can reach as high as 80 in a single animal.

Ruelene is the suggested medication, although Levamisole is also mentioned. The best time to treat animals for bots is within six weeks after the flies have been active in late spring and early summer.

Caprine terminology

As with any other specialized area, the goat world has its own terminology and key words. Here is an overview of some important definitions.

Doe: A female goat. Goat aficionados refrain from using the terms “nanny” and “billy.”

Buck: A male goat.

Kid: A young goat.

Doeling, buckling: Terms that are sometimes applied to goats that are not fully mature, but are older than kids.

Yearling: A one-year-old goat.

Polled: A naturally hornless goat.

Wattle: An appendage of skin, with no purpose, which hangs down on some goats, frequently on the neck, but potentially anywhere.

Udder: The mammary gland.

Teat: The nipples of the udder.

Purebred: A goat whose ancestors are all of the same breed, and are all purebreds themselves.

Pedigree: A document showing a goat’s ancestry.

Registered: A purebred goat registered with one of the goat registry associations.

Grade: A goat of unknown ancestry, usually not purebred.

Freshen: Giving birth and coming into milk.

Disbud: To burn out the horns of very young goats (three to 10 days old) with a disbudding iron or caustic chemical.

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