THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Goat farmers in the state have cause to cheer as the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Science University has developed an 'Anaemia Eye Card', which will help them differentiate between anaemic and non-anaemic animals in their herd by just looking at their eyes.
The card will help the farmer know when to deworm a goat by looking at its inner eyelids, as one can determine if the animal has a parasite problem with the help of the card.
Parasite infection is one of the major issues faced by goat farmers in Kerala. Gastro-intestinal parasites, particularly nematodes, pose serious impediments to goat production in the state.
The only control measure currently practised against parasitism is the administration of drugs or anthelmintics. This, however, is hardly an ideal option as the indiscriminate usage of drugs has paved way to the development of drug resistance and issues with drug residues in the goats.
"If a farmer owns 25 goats, he usually gives deworming tablets to all of them. Only around 20% of the goat population might have actually been affected and the rest of the herd may be free of the disease.
However, it is difficult for a layperson to identify the level of parasitic infection in each goat, and so
the farmer ends up giving the deworming tablet to all goats in the herd.
As a result, the parasite in the intestine track of these goats will develop a resistance to the dewormers, which can cause more serious health issues for the goats," said K Syamala, assistant professor, Department of Veterinary Parasitology, College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (CVAS), Mannuthy, who developed the eye card as part of her doctoral research.
"The Anaemia Eye Card is an easy way to determine whether the animal is anaemic or if it is losing blood due to a worm infection. The eye card highlights different colours of the eyelid, and by placing the card close to a goat's eyes, the farmer can easily identify the parasite load in his goat by just comparing the colour differences. The photographs in the eye card have been classified as per anaemia scores and used for the development of a customised eye colour card for the goats of Kerala," she said.
The card will allow the farmer to understand which animal can repulse the worms, and which ones keep getting infested, thus helping him make breeding and culling decisions.
The farmer also need not spend more money on dewormers, as the scores in the card would help find out which of the goats in the herd actually need deworming.
According to experts, around 20% of goats in the state carry approximately 80% of the parasites, while the farmer usually ends up giving the drugs to all animals in the herd. The card can help reduce the usage of anthelmintic among the state's goat population by 72.35%, say experts.