The kids are all right

Disease prevention in goats

source: Jenny White
Country Smallholding December 2003
starts p31, 2 pages long

Goats tend to be difficult patients, so disease prevention is important. Goats are especially vulnerable as very young kids, and after giving birth. Good husbandry helps prevent many problems, and this includes ensuring that the goats are properly fed, well housed, and they have enough exercise and fresh air. New stock should be isolated, as should stock that has been with strange livestock, for example to mate, or at shows. Johne's disease and Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE) have very long incubation periods, so goat keepers should check that these diseases are not present in locations where they buy stock. CAE negative certificates are also desirable. Kids cannot be CAE tested at under six months, but they should be free of disease if the dam is CAE free, and they have not been in contact with other goats that could harbour CAE. New goats can be tested for Johne's disease, and this involves submitting a 10g sample of faeces to a vet. There is also a relatively new disease which has recently been imported into the UK, Caseous lymphadenitis (CL). Goat keepers should check unusual swellings. CL swellings often occur under goats' chins, and are not as prone to bursting through skin as are common or garden abscesses, so if regular bathing with a warm saline solution produces no result after a few days, the vet should be called.

Other common problems include listeriosis, from contaminated pea straw or damp hay, and enterotoxaemia, which goats are vulnerable to after eating too much concentrate. Worm control is important for goats, and is easier if clean, sheep-free land is available.

Sick goats tend to produce less milk, and their coats may be affected. The normal temperature of a goat is from 39 degrees C to 39.5 degrees C, while the normal pulse range is from 70 beats a minute to 90 beats, and the normal breathing rate ranges from 15 breaths per minute to 25 breaths. Goat keepers should call their vets if they are in doubt over the health of a goat, and cannot obtain help from keepers with more experience.