FAMACHA (Or “How to Assess for Anemia in Goats and Sheep”)


1. It’s FA-MA-CHA, not Famancha (who I imagine is a sassy, earless goat).

2. It’s an easy, excellent method for assessing anemia in goats.

And why do we want to assess anemia? Well, most of the rest of the country has issues with Barberpole worms which are nasty little parasites that live in the goat stomach and suck all their blood. These worms do NOT cause diarrhea, so anemia is often the first indicator of an infection. We used to be advised to worm goats routinely to avoid these little vampires, but we are now seeing a resistance to the 3 classes of wormers that we have. In parts of Georgia, there are NO wormers that work. If we assess for anemia, and run a fecal on the goats who look suspicious, we can target those with worms without increasing the risk for resistance. Barberpole has not traditionally been an issue in Colorado, but as we import goats from other locations and continue to struggle with climate change, we are likely to see more of it. Furthermore, anemia is present in other disease processes, not just Barberpole, so it’s really handy to know how to assess for it. Anemia can be present if a goat has coccidia, liver flukes, ticks, fleas, lice, poor nutrition or strain from pregnancy/nursing. You should consider FAMACHA a goat vital sign, just like temperature, rumen activity and poop quality. Below is a link to learn all the hows and whys of FAMACHA. It’s well worth the time to watch the videos and earn your FAMACHA test card. Our veterinarian Dr Balch has recommended all goat and sheep owners participate in this free program.


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