Valley Goat Herd Owner Worried Parasites Could Hurt Production

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WESLACO – Ranchers are on alert for a parasite that could affect a Rio Grande Valley favorite, cabrito.

Nicole Sosebee raises about 100 goats on her Weslaco property. She says she likes the peaceful lifestyle that comes with working on a farm.

However, she says if her goat herd was harmed, it would make things very stressful.

Sosebee is raising three children on this farm. She says her goal is to eventually hand it all over to her children.

"We bought this farm back about two years ago. My grandparents owned it, my great-grandfather farmed it and it had fallen back to the bank. So we bought it back and we're trying to bring it back to life," she explains.

The herd of goats she raises produces milk to sell. She also uses her goats for cabrito at the meat market. But a new alert from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension got her attention.

It explained the need to protect goats from parasite growth during hot spring months. She tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS this could hurt her farm's profits.

"We have a lot of males that are also born that we try to get to be a really good weight to go into the cabrito market down here. If they get parasites, they just won't grow. They'll stay really runty. They'll have diarrhea a lot," Sosebee says. "They don't eat well and sometimes they'll just kind of peter off because all of that blood's being sucked by the parasites so that none of the nutrition is staying in the animal."

Though Sosebee would like to learn more about how to protect her herd, she says she's taking steps now to help out these animals.

"The number one thing that everybody recommends is pasture rotation. The life cycle of a parasite is 21 days from the time they lay until the time they're ready to lay eggs again. So you don't want them to be on the same grounds within that 21 days or they can ingest larvae or eggs," she notes.

We reached out to Ronnie Zamora, a goat market expert with Prairie View A&M University. We wanted to know how Sosebee can further prevent her herd from being devastated by parasites.

Zamora tells us pasture rotation will work, but more steps need to be taken to keep the animals away from danger.

"Just something as far as being up-to-date with your vaccines to make sure that you control the amount of parasites found on your goats, because some parasites can cause death on animals. So you have to make sure you have proper vaccines to get them healthy," he explains.

Zamora says Sosebee can get information on the vaccines her goats need from her personal veterinarian. 

He adds a healthy goat herd today can create healthy offspring. If parasites devastate a herd, it can hurt production now and in future generations, says Zamora. 

Sosebee says, for now, she's going to make sure her goats' vaccinations are up-to-date.

Those interested in learning more about protecting their goats from parasites are invited to a workshop Thursday in Weslaco. Several goat industry experts will be at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Center to answer questions about goat healthcare, parasite control and the goat market.

Registration for the event will begin at 8:30 am at the location on 2415 U.S. Highway 83. The workshop starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m.

For more information, call 956-383-1026.


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