Coccidiosis is a gastrointestinal disease (affects the intestines) of farm animals. Coccidiosis is costly to livestock farmers due to high treatment expenses and a high mortality rate among animals after contracting this disease. Coccidiosis is caused by Eimeria spp, also called Coccidia spp, and like E. arloingi, E.christenseni, and E. ovinoidalis, is highly pathogenic in kids.
Eimeria are protozoa, a unicellular microorganism naturally found in the soil. Coccidia are host-specific, which means that Coccidia of cattle and chicken are specific to these species and do not cause disease in goats or vice versa. However, Coccidia of goats can affect sheep. There are numerous species of Coccidia that are naturally found in the goat intestine. Although the infection can occur in any goat herd raised under semi and intensive management practices, it is most frequently observed in kids 2 to 4 weeks post weaning. Goats are born withoutCoccidia in the intestine.
- The infection occurs naturally by ingesting occytes, a resistant form of the parasite, when grazing.
- Another form of infection is acquired with poor goat management practices that occur when feed and water supplies are contaminated with goat faeces.
- The intensity of clinical signs of disease depends on how many intestinal cells are damaged by invading organisms, the susceptibility of the animal, and the body condition.
- Watery diarrhoea with or without mucus or blood
- Lack of appetite accompanied by fever
- Dehydration as a result of diarrhoea
- Emaciation caused by weight loss
Treatment and control
The control of coccidiosis relies on management practices:
- Improve hygiene of facilities, pastures, pens, and feeding and water sources.
- Avoid moist areas without direct sunlight, such as under feed bunks and near water troughs.
- Avoid crowded pens and pastures.
- Quarantine before introducing new animals to existing herd.
- Minimize weaning stress. If needed, creep feed to adjust the kids to a new diet prior to weaning.
- Predict possible outbreaks during severe weather and pos tweaning.
- Add coccidiostat to concentrate as a feed additive. Coccidiostat suppresses the full development of the life cycle of the Coccidia and allows immunity to develop.
- Replace fluids as soon as possible. Administer liquid nutritional supplement orally by nipple bottle until the animal is rehydrated. Animals that have lost 5 percent of their body weight may require intravenous (IV) and/or electrolyte therapy. Treatment may include IV or subcutaneously (SC) fluid therapy with a physiologically balanced electrolyte such as Ringer’s, Plasmalyte-A, or Normosol-R. Administer the solution (2 to 5 milliliters per pound) one to three times daily until the animal is rehydrated.
- Sulfas such as Albon, Sulmet, or Di-Methox, can also be mixed in the drinking water or as a drench for individual goats. An alternative is CORID (amprolium).
NB: Producers must follow feeding instructions as recommended by the feeding company on the feed tag. However, the herd manager should assess his/her feeding plan to determine if the regular feeding program will result in goats consuming enough feed to get the recommended daily dosage. You do not want to overfeed just to meet the daily mediation rate. An alternative treatment and prevention plan needs to be considered.