What is Coccidiosis? Coccidiosis is a parasitic infestation in goats caused by the parasite Coccidia. Coccidia is not a worm, it is a protozoa. This means that regular dewormers (chemical ones, in particular) do not affect it. Luckily, natural dewormers work very effectively for Coccidia.
Coccidia (aka Cocci [pronounced Kok-see]) has been known to cause issues in young kids, stressed animals, and immune-compromised animals. Most goats will live with a small level of Cocci in their systems, but their immune systems are able to keep these levels within safe ranges, and the goats never show signs of a problem. However, young kids do not have fully developed immune systems, and Cocci can cause very serious issues. Any other stressed, ill, or immune-compromised goats may also be very susceptible to a bloom (overgrowth) of Cocci.
Symptoms of Coccidiosis:
Blood or mucus in stool
Diarrhea – may be light to dark brown/black, or tinged with blood and mucus.
Fever – on occasion
Please note that diarrhea is not always present when a goat has coccidia.
NATURAL PREVENTION FOR COCCIDIOSIS:
These formulas can be started at 4 days of age.
GI Soother in particular is what I think is best to help prevent Cocci.
Starting on these herbal formulas at 4 days of age, giving GI Soother a minimum of 3x weekly and every day that it rains, is my first line of defense.
Next, at 3-4 weeks of age (around when Cocci issues first become apparent with their life cycle) I also recommend starting kids on essential oil deworming IF you see signs of coccidia or have a history of bad coccidia problems. Otherwise, wait until weaning. You can read my complete deworming blog post HERE — techniques in that post do fight against Coccidia. But do make sure to focus on the essential oils of cinnamon and clove. Remember to use only high quality essential oils (I recommend only DoTerra or YoungLiving). If I could only choose three oils to prevent coccidia, they are clove, cinnamon, and oregano. You can use OnGuard blend from DoTerra or Thieves from Young Living in place of the single oils cinnamon or clove. For young kids, mix 1 drop of each oil into 6cc olive oil and feed 3cc of that mixture via syringe individually. For adults, mix 1 drop each oil in 3cc olive oil and feed directly. For prevention, give once weekly. For treatment, give for 3 days straight, then back to once weekly. (Do not use cinnamon, clove, or OnGuard/Thieves oils in pregnant goats).
Raw garlic is wonderful to give to goats both young and old on a regular basis to keep their immune systems strong enough to fight off Cocci. I recommend starting small quantities at 4 weeks old.
REMEDYING ACTIVE COCCIDIOSIS NATURALLY:
If there is a known Cocci infestation, I would give GI Soother at a double or triple dose at least 2 times daily for 10-21 days. Sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the severity. The first few days may be given much more frequently, and you can consult the label on the bag for “acute dosing” or feel free to send me a message, as I am always available for emergency consultations.
For treatment purposes, essential oils discussed above can be given once daily for 3 days straight, then break for 4 days, and then repeat again for 3 days, and so on until you feel the situation is managed.
I also recommend this herbal tincture, Kochi Free, for a 10 day treatment program.
What if you don’t have herbal dewormers on hand?
If you are in an emergency situation with no time to order items online, you can give your goat my recipe called “Tummy Trouble Paste” which can be used for regular digestive issues OR Coccidiosis support.
Tummy Trouble Paste:
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne, cinnamon, slippery elm bark powder, and ginger (can be substituted for a slice of raw ginger the size of a quarter about 1/2 cm thick). Blend with 1 raw clove of garlic, molasses, apple cider vinegar, and enough water to drench; or press garlic and ginger in a garlic press, then mix with remaining ingredients.
Give 2-4 times daily.
Natural methods are very effective against Coccidia. However, if you choose to treat or prevent coccidia using chemical dewormers, it is important to know how to do this correctly!
CHEMICAL TREATMENT/PREVENTION FOR COCCIDIOSIS:
It has been recommended throughout the years by most goat farmers to keep goat kids on a Coccidia prevention medication program. This consists of a Coccidia medication dosed every 21 days. This has proven to be effective as long as the medications are dosed properly (to prevent resistances). I urge you to use natural methods for prevention, and keep chemical methods only as a backup in your tool belt if truly needed (if fecal tests or symptoms indicate). But should you decide to use chemical prevention or treatment, know how to do it the right way!
Chemical Coccidia Medications:
There are many medications for Coccidia, here are the most popular ones, in a general order of my own preference (based on frequent experience with these products, client experience, and scientific evidence):
(not currently recommended due to batch quality concerns) Toltrazuril/Baycox (toltrazuril) – 1cc per 5lb. Booster in 10 days for treatment purposes. NOTE: I do not recommend this in an every 21 day prevention program because resistance to this drug can build up quickly, as reported by others and in my own experiences as a mentor. This drug acts independently compared to the other coccidia medications, and is best used as one single dose prior to any coccidiosis symptoms presenting: usually around day 21. It should not require a repeat. This drug may not work as effectively if used for treatment purposes; and would not be my first choice for that. If it is used, use it along with natural methods. It is fantastic as a prevention with only one dose needed and works in a safer way than most medications, which is why it is at the top of this list.
Read more on why Toltrazuril is a safer option here:
“Toltrazuril is quite lipid soluble so absorption and distribution into tissue is very good. Toltrazuril 5% has a unique mode of action and there is no reason to be concerned with an adverse reaction or a drug-drug reaction. As Toltrazuril only has activity against protozoa, there is no effect on upset of intestinal flora and the formulation is very well tolerated. ” – https://horseprerace.com/toltrazuril-5-200ml/
Marquis Horse Paste (ponazuril) – 1cc per 20lb. Single dose for prevention, booster in 10 days for treatment. Same notes as above (ponazuril and toltrazuril are very similar).
Albon (sulfadimethoxine) 40%/SulfaMed – Day 1: 1cc per 5lb. Day 2-5: 1cc per 10lb. 5 day treatment
Albon (sulfadimethoxine) 5% – Day 1: 2.5cc per 5lbs. Day 2-5: half the dose of day 1. 5 day treatment
Dimethox 12.5% (sulfadimethoxine) – Day 1: 1cc per 5lb. Day 2-5: 1cc per 10lb. 5 day treatment
Sulmet (sulfamethazine) – Day 1: 1cc per 5lb. Day 2-5: 1cc per 10lb. 5 day treatment
Corid (amprolium) – 5 day treatment. UNDILUTED LIQUID: Mix 6 tablespoons with 16 oz water. Dose at 15cc per 50lbs. POWDER: Mix 3oz to 1 quart water. Mix and shake well before use. Dose at 15cc per 50lbs.
(any of these meds that are sold as injectables (such as albon 40%) should be given orally)
A note on Corid:
Corid works by mimicking thiamine (B), which is a vitamin that Cocci requires to live. The drug ‘tricks’ the coccidia into thinking it is thiamine, and then when the coccidia use it as they normally would, they are killed. While the drug itself is not noted to be a “thiamine inhibitor,” many scientific studies have noted that Corid has caused thiamine deficiencies in animals, and I have heard other testimonies from individuals on Corid’s thiamine inhibiting effects. Its possible inhibiting effect on thiamine has been known to cause polio in goats. While this is very rare, it is still possible—and if you are using Corid, you must watch closely for any symptoms of polio, and stop Corid immediately and treat with thiamine if you see any. While it may sound like a good idea to give thiamine during Corid treatment to prevent polio, it is important note that this will interfere with the Corid treatment.
Do not give baking soda during treatments with Sulfa-based drugs.
Be very cautious of under-dosing. Use accurate weights for calculations.
Medicated feed – medicated feed against coccidia is only successful if fed at the correct label dosage. Most goats are not consuming exactly the label dosage of feed, nor should they. This can lead to resistant parasites.
Do not add any medications to water. Dose individually.
These coccidia medications are used either for 21 day prevention, or treatment purposes. If you want to treat/prevent coccidia using chemical medications, that is a perfectly respectable personal choice. However, hopefully this post has given you many options–especially natural tools–that will help keep your herd healthy and happy!
DISCLAIMER: I am not a vet, nor am I a licensed professional. I am in no way a “goat expert” and my opinions are only that of personal experiences, and my insights shared are not medical treatment suggestions, care suggestions, or any directions for raising goats at all. I am simply sharing my own personal opinions. Any and all changes to your goats’ health regimen, care, etc. should be approved by a veterinary professional or licensed professional.