Farmers' Views and Tools Compared with Laboratory Evaluations of Parasites of Meat Goats in French West Indies

Animals (Basel). 2023 Jan 26;13(3):422. doi: 10.3390/ani13030422.


Gastrointestinal nematodes (GINs) are a major health problem in tropical goat husbandry. The control of GIN has been nearly exclusively reliant on the use of anthelmintic treatments. Their wide use has provoked the appearance and diffusion of anthelmintic resistance. Therefore, there is a need to use anthelmintics only when they are really needed. This strategy of targeted selective treatment (TST) has been recommended. The selection of animals to be treated has been based either on the objective measures of GIN intensity (fecal nematode egg counts) performed in the laboratory or on indirect assessment such as anemia (FAMACHA©), diarrhea score or weight gains, particularly in sheep. The roughness of hair has also been proposed in goats. These indicators can be handled by the farmer. Their opinion on the importance of GINs, and the indicators that they are ready to accept and use have very rarely been studied. Goat for meat production is important in the French West Indies (especially in Guadeloupe) and GIN infection may significantly alter this production. Eighteen farmers participated in semi-directive interviews in order to appreciate their relation to goat GIN infection and the solutions they considered. Seventeen farms were investigated for fecal nematode egg counts, FAMACHA©, body score, and roughness of hair. The average infection by GINs was high (average fecal egg count 1562 and standard deviation 2028) with a wide range from one farm to another (from 0 to 25,000 eggs of GIN per gram of feces). The Haemonchus genera was predominant (54%), followed by Trichostrongylus (37%) and Oesophagostomum (9%). Young goats were less infected than adult goats since they were not yet grazing; males were more infected than females; and the Creole breed was more infected than the other breeds. Among the farming types, the professional ones were less infected compared with the traditional or mixed agriculture and husbandry farms. Those using targeted selective treatment did not have a significantly higher GIN infection than those treating the whole herd. Most of the characteristics were related and multivariate analysis could not match the intensity of GIN infection with any parameter. The frequency of anthelmintic treatments was negatively related to the use of body score, FAMACHA©, and hair roughness. The use of semi-directive interviews provided a wider understanding of the strategies and problems of farmers. The farmers valued their animals very much and diseases, in general, were a preoccupation, whereas parasites were not a major issue for traditional farmers. This is due to the important use of indicators and the belief in their value that gives comfort to the farmers that the parasites are being controlled. The extension services have well diffused the practice of indicators to the goat farmers of Guadeloupe, with some depending less on anthelmintics to control the gastrointestinal nematodes by using targeted selective treatments.

Keywords: farmers’ views; gastrointestinal nematodes; goats; parasites.

Grants and funding

M. Mercier is a grateful recipient of a Master grant from the French National Agency for Research (ANR) Dynrurabio project. Part of the cost of research was funded by the Integrated Management of Animal Health (GISA) Strep (drastic reduction of anthelmintic treatments) project from INRAE.