Suzanne W. Gasparotto
Lohn, TX 76852
Originator of Tennessee Meat Goats
DISEASES OF GOATS: PREVENTION, CONTROL, AND MANAGEMENT
A major concern of responsible goat producers is the introduction of diseases onto their property. Prevention is of course the producer's desire, but realistically speaking, control and management are most likely to be goal.
Disease can enter the producer's farm or ranch from many sources. Introducing new animals is the usual avenue but definitely not the only way that illness finds its way into the herd.
1) Bringing new animals into the herd from offsite. Quarantine and handling procedures will be addressed in this article.
2) Offering stud service. This typically involves bringing other producers' does onto the property for service by an on-site buck.
3) Goat shows. A huge source of infection and illness, shows are like children's day-care centers -- incubators for disease.
4) Visitors. Infectious materials can enter on visitors' shoes, clothing, and hair; on the tires of their vehicles; in hay, water, tubs/buckets, feed and other supplies that visitors have brought with them.
5) Unclean conditions in pens and pastures.
6) Poor health management practices within the herd.
7) The producer's family members and pets.
Most producers are aware that they should quarantine new animals brought from outside the ranch property in order to protect their goats from whatever diseases the new animals might be carrying. However, the reverse is just as true: newly-introduced goats need to be protected from organisms present on the ranch to which they've never had their immune systems previously exposed. Recognize that these goats are on a new property in a changed environment and often in a much different climate from which they had been previously adapted for living. From the moment they left their previous homes, these new goats' immune systems are under constant assault.
Set up a pen and shelter sized to accommodate the producer's anticipated needs and locate it away from pens and pastures where healthy animals are regularly kept. The pen should be large enough to provide space for proper exercise and should have at least a three-sided shelter with roof to protect the new goats from bad weather. Nearby but not within this pen/shelter area, there should be several smaller gated pens and sheds where sick and/or contagious animals can be confined for observation and treatment. Place a shallow plastic cat-litter pan and a gallon of bleach outside each pen and require persons entering and exiting to wet the soles of their shoes in the bleach. The producer and all other persons handling these goats should consider using disposable gloves.
New and/or ill goats should be kept in appropriate parts of these "sick pens." Goats new to the ranch should be quarantined for a minimum of four weeks, during which time they should be dewormed, vaccinated, and otherwise examined, based upon the producer's management practices. If blood testing for specific diseases is part of the program, do it while the goats are in quarantine. If the tests come back positive and the new goats are already running with the main herd, exposure to disease has probably already occurred.
Offering breeding services on the ranch is an avenue for contamination. Before making a decision to offer such services, the producer should read this writer's Article entitled Pros and Cons of Offering Breeding Services on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com. A lot of decisions must be made and agreements put into writing before the first goat arrives on the servicing ranch.
Participating in goat shows is almost a no-win situation with regard to disease. The producer must take extraordinary precautions to protect both goats and human participants from exposure to contagious bacteria, viruses, and other organisms. Animals and people, both young and adult, present risks to all in attendance. Consult an experienced goat-show participant to find out what steps to take to protect you and your goats from taking "unwanted visitors" home with you. At the very minimum, sick goats and ill people should not attend shows and should not be allowed to participate. If they are, leave immediately. Don't even unload your animals. The health of your goats is much more important than a forfeited entry fee or a winning ribbon.
Visitors, relatives, children, pets, and even the producer can easily bring to the ranch infectious bacteria, viruses, and other organisms without ever realizing it. Using a shallow plastic cat-litter pan and a bottle of bleach, the producer should have all visitors step through the solution. This is the very minimum protective action that goat ranchers should take. If the producer knows that visitors or family members have had direct access to goats from outside the ranch, then those folks should be asked to change clothes and shoes before they enter your property. A visit by kids to the 4H barn is a good source of contamination -- a fact that probably never crosses peoples' minds.
Unclean/unsanitary pens, feed troughs, and water containers are excellent sources of infection -- worms and coccidia oocysts thrive in these environments. Flies carry disease from goat to goat. Less often recognized is the exposure to disease that occurs when infective birthing materials are left in pens/pastures for healthy goats to contact. Infected placentas left lying around after birthing are transmitters of abortion diseases such as chlamydiosis; many other diseases are spread through placental material and mucous secretions. Footrot/footscald is highly infectious and contaminated ground very efficiently spreads these diseases. Viral-borne diseases such as some types of Pinkeye at quickly passed around in crowded herds. Caprine Arthritic Encelphalitis (CAE) is a viral disease that is spread through body fluids and mother's milk. Cutting open and draining an active Caseous Lymphadinitis (CL) abscess and exposing the exudate (pus) to other goats and the ground upon which they walk is one of the main ways that CL is spread throughout a herd. Reusing contaminated needles, syringes, and scalpels is another easy way to transmit disease.
Raising quality goats requires planning and hard work. Doing the planning part in advance will cut down on the amount of hard work each producer faces daily.
How to select a healthy goat
by Patricia Stewart
Picking a healthy goat is very important whenever you are bringing a new goat home. There are some nasty diseases with no cures, and once they get established in your soil, there's nothing you can do but start over on a new piece of land. Start out by just observing behavior and general coat condition. A healthy goat should have clear eyes and nose, a shiny hair coat with no bald patches, and a twinkle in its eye. Bald patches may be a sign of a mite or lice infection, causing the goat to rub due to irritation.
If you are buying from a breeder, ask them if they test for CAE, Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis. This disease has been an issue for a long time in goats, and thankfully, conscientious goat farmers are finally taking it seriously. There are three blood tests, any of which will give you a heads up if there's a problem. Any possibly "positive," should be automatically checked with one of the other tests to verify. CAE shows up after awhile with stiff and swollen legs, awkward walking, sometimes a click from the knees of an infected goat. The udder is often hard and the animal's coat may be oily or scaly. If you are buying from a large farm, ask if they practice CAE prevention, which means the kids are bottle fed, never nursing off of mom. CAE is most commonly spread in the milk, but often doesn't show up as an illness for many months or years.
If you see any signs of swelling beneath the jaw or any oozing sores, do not buy that goat. Do not buy a goat from that farm, and wash your hands immediately. Caseous lymphadentitis, CL, is a highly contagious disease spread by discharge. The abcesses swell up in the lymph glands and as they pop, they spread the disease.
Always ask the seller what type of vaccinations they give. When was the last time the goat was wormed, and what kind of wormer was used. A healthy goat should not have visible ribs or backbone. It should have healthy pink eyelids and gums and manure that comes in pellets, individually. A goat that is passing runny or clumpy manure is not at its best. It may just be a rich diet or stress, or it may have a severe case of worms.
Keeping a goat healthy is really pretty easy. Good hay, adequate grain, fresh water and draft free home. But curing a sick goat is often impossible. I would not recommend ever buying from a sale barn, as those animals are exposed to many different germs under high stress conditions. This makes the more susceptible to bringing a problem home with them. Often times, the animals are taken to the sale barn because they are sick, or old, and the owner can't, or doesn't want to invest in healing them.
It's a good idea to keep any new goat in isolation from the existing herd, for at least two weeks. Usually, if something is "brewing" that is enough time to see how the animal does, without endangering the rest of the herd. But remember, goats are herd animals, so if possible, buy two new ones, at least, so they can keep each other company during the quarantine. They'll be much hardier and happier that way.
Introduction to a Meat Goat Quality Assurance Program
and HACCP Roger Merkel
Biosecurity PPP #1 - Establish a biosecurity plan for your farm
Consider your production operation and devise a plan to ensure your animals are protected from diseases entering your herd. Potential ways in which diseases could enter your farm include: visitors, feed deliveries, new animal acquisition, and show animals returning to the herd, stray animals, rodents, birds, and others. The potential risk from these various areas should be examined in the context of your production situation. Plans should be made to protect animals from identified risks and to deal with animals that become ill so that diseases occurring on your farm are not transmitted beyond your farm gate.
Biosecurity PPP #2 - Minimize or avoid contact between your animals and animals not on your farm
Many diseases are transmitted through animal to animal contact. Avoiding contact with animals not on your farm will reduce disease outbreaks. Consider the location of pastures and grazing areas in relation to your neighbors’ animals. If new facilities are planned, consider the location of neighboring livestock barns and pens. Do not build facilities in or near drainage areas from livestock facilities. If your animals are very valuable, for example breeding males whose semen is collected for sale; consider double fencing along adjoining property lines to further protect them from neighboring animals. At exhibitions, house animals using solid partitions to minimize contact. Control stray animals, both domestic and wild. Maintain quarantine procedures. Do not haul other animals with your own and clean mud and manure from livestock trailers.
Biosecurity PPP #3 - Establish a quarantine protocol for animals entering your herd
Preventing diseases entering your herd from new animals begins during purchase. Be sure to ask the seller for health and production records on animals you plan to buy. Ask about the disease or herd health program followed. Also, look at the whole herd, not just the few animals you plan to purchase. This will give an indication of the health program followed. Upon arrival at your farm, place new animals in quarantine for a minimum of 30 days. Consult a veterinarian for a quarantine vaccination and deworming protocol and any diagnostic tests that should be performed. Buckets, shovels, fencing, etc., used in the quarantine area should not be moved and used in the general herd. Feed and care for quarantined animals last and do not re-enter your herd before changing clothing and washing boots to prevent carrying diseases from new animals to your herd. As an example, if a quarantined animal has a caseous lymphadenitis abscess that bursts, a person may inadvertently step in the pus from that abscess and carry that on his or her boots. If that person then reenters the farm herd, he may contaminate the ground or other animals.
Quarantine animals upon return from exhibitions or fairs if they have had contact with other animals. Follow the same quarantine guidelines for these animals as with purchased animals. Do not haul animals other than your own to and from shows.
Biosecurity PPP #4 - Establish a protocol for visitors to your farm
Many visitors to your farm will likely be producers themselves. To ensure that diseases are kept from entering your farm area, establish a protocol for any visitors and their vehicles. Control traffic entering your farm and have a separate parking area or ensure that vehicles are clean of mud and manure. This includes livestock trailers, feed delivery trucks, and veterinary vehicles. Consider having disposable boots available for visitors who wish to tour your facilities and herd. Alternatively, have a footbath with disinfectant where visitors can clean their shoes before and after seeing your animals. Have a wash basin or facility for visitors to wash their hands before and after handling animals. Explain that your procedures protect not only your herd, but theirs as well.
Biosecurity PPP #5 - Do not allow persons who have had contact with livestock in foreign countries on your farm, or bring clothing or other items from them to your farm, for a period of 5 days after their arrival in the U.S.
Largely in response to outbreaks of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in other countries, the USDA published guidelines for persons from, or who have traveled to, foreign countries where FMD is present. These persons are encouraged not to have contact with livestock for 5 days after entering the U.S. Some states or institutions, such as Langston University, recommend a 10-day waiting period. The virus causing FMD can be carried in hair and nasal passages, clothing, luggage, shoes, etc. Following this PPP helps safeguard the entire U.S. livestock industry. Outbreaks of FMD, while not a threat to humans, result in the necessary destruction of all infected and potentially infected animals with enormous industry and economic consequences.
Preventing or minimizing contact between foreign travelers and your herd for the period after their arrival may also prevent the spread of other diseases as well.