PREVENTING DISEASE IN GOATS

I have been raising goats for thirty years.  My own education regarding the diseases that afflict goats 
started thirty years ago, when I began bloodtesting my goats.  All the main goat diseases can be found by bloodtesting (excluding TB which is a skin test).  A person must bloodtest, as you cannot tell if a goat has a disease just by looking at it.  Diseases can be passed through the feces, placenta, saliva, coughing, breeding and milk.  It just depends on which disease your dealing with.  We will try to explain to you how we keep diseases from entering our herd.
 

 
First, we never buy from a sales barns or auctions.  We also don't buy goats that are vaccinated for CL.  The vaccine interfers with the testing.  When we do buy stock here is what we do:  We don't co-mingle two separate farms of goats during transportation or during the quarantine and test periods.  We take them right from the truck and put them in a specific area away from the other goats.  We then scrub them down from head to toe with a medicated shampoo for any soremouth scabs that may be on their body, lice, mites, etc.  We inspect their bodies from head to toe.  We trim their hooves.  We thoroughly clean the hooves, between the toes and also the dewclaws to get rid of any debris, dirt, fecal matter etc from the other farm.  Then we rinse the feet with a bleach water solution.  The goats are then put into a quarantine pen. 
 
In the quarantine pen we worm them and give the CD/T, regardless of what the other farm told.  This is basically for the tetanus, and this way we know for sure that the goat is covered.  This also allows us to know how we handled the vaccine here, that the appropriate amount was administed, and that the goat received it according to the directions.  We pull blood for testing if the goats are 6 months of age or older.  CLA, CAE, and Johne's are the three main diseases that concern goats.  There is also TB and Brucellosis.  We are also watching closely for visible signs of soremouth, pinkeye and hoofrot.  Deworming and fecals can be done at this time in the quarantine pen to ensure that the parasites already residing within the goats will be gotten out during the quarantine, so as not to propagate resistant parasites on your farm.  This includes coccidia.  Treating for lice is repeated in 10-14 days.  The quarantine goats are checked every day TWICE a day for soremouth, snotty noses, coughing, fever, knots/lumps etc.  With hands on inspection, you can feel a knot coming on even before it is visible, and before it will rupture.  This inspection also includes the body, teats, and inside the mouth for any sores that could be breaking out.  We have learned that soremouth sores inside the mouth can appear at the evening inspection, which were not there at the morning inspection.  If it has soremouth breaking out, we immediately remove it from the property and it does not come back until it has completely healed and no other complications exist.  When (if) it does come back, it starts at the beginning and goes through quarantine again.
 
If the goats are younger than 6 months, they stay in quarantine until they are old enough to test.  If they are older than 6 months, they are bloodtested and stay in the quarantine pen a MINIMUM of two months.  (Soremouth can incubate for three weeks after you purchase your new goat).  Any animal that is positive on the bloodtest is removed immediately from quarantine and sent for slaughter, or disease research, or is euthanized.  It is a tough love policy.  I love them, but will not let one animal hurt or infect all the rest of our herd.   
 
The new goats are then re-tested (for CLA) approximately two-three months after the first initial test.  If any test positive, it is immediately removed from that quarantine pen and treated as we wrote above for a positive animal.  That group from that farm must then be retested again for CLA in another two-three months after a positive is found. 
 
Once the goats are past the quarantine stage, have tested negative for diseases, and show no signs of illness they can then go into their OWN field.  They are not mixed with our existing herd.  And so if one becomes positive (which we have not run into) that whole group would go through quarantine once again.  When you keep them separated from your herd, this method will let you know the origin of a disease from a specific farm that you purchase from.  They are also still being inspected every day.  I personally do visual and hands-on inspections for knots/lumps on all our goats.  Its ingrained in my head, and I have trained myself to check them while I am looking at them or petting them.   
 
Finally- if the goats are clean and of breeding age, a buck is put in with them in their field.  And the buck stays with that group for an extended amount of time.  Later on, we monitor for Chlamydia infection as well.  We have ten different fields with their own shelters.  The fields have no-climb fencing and are also separated by electric wire on both sides, so the animals don't touch noses between the fields.
 
Is this alot of work?  Yes.  Have we ever come across disease in the quarantine?  YES.  But I know of no other way to keep a disease free herd.  This system has worked to keep diseases out of our herd for 30 years and we have had a closed herd for years now.  With the recent Johne's outbreak in Myotonics, you can find alot of information regarding that disease on the www.Johnes.org site.  CLA is nothing compared to Johne's.  Johne's will require diligent testing.  If you start off on the right foot, it will save you an untold amount of heartaches and economic loss.
 
 

Lisa Johnson
1999

 

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