Diseases of dairy goats

Main diseases affecting dairy goats in the UK

source: David Harwood
In Practice vol 26 no 5, May 2004
starts p248, 9 pages long

Milking goat herds have increased in size in the UK since the 1980s, with some herds comprising over 2,000 animals. Common infections include clostridial disease, with acute diarrhoea. Diet change and stress found in larger herds can make goats more susceptible. Listeriosis is rare, though serious if passed on to humans. Goats usually only suffer from this if they are in large, housed, commercial herds. Affected goats may suffer encephalitis and abortion. Caprine arthritis encephalitis is found outside the UK. Johne's disease, which leads to wasting and lower milk yields, is a problem in the UK, with most affected goats infected as kids, sometimes by contamination of teats with faecal material. Vaccination is available. Caseous lymph adenitis is more severe in sheep than goats, but can cause lesions, and other goats may become infected through abrasions. True masitis is rare in goats. Wasting is common, and may occur when goats are malnourished, or are  bullied in large herds. Fatty liver syndrome can affect obese goats that are kidding. Acidosis can occur after a rapid move to a high energy feed. Scrapie is rare in goats. Swayback affects some goat breeds, such as Angoras. Of other diseases, pasteurellosis can be combated with vaccines and ventilation. Tumours can affect older goats. Goats have resistance to many plants, but can suffer poisoning. Nutritional deficiencies are less common in goats than in cattle or sheep. Goats can suffer from foot conditions, such as footrot, so benefit from foot bathing and trimming. Lice, mange and flies can cause skin conditions, as can stalphylococcus dermatitis, which can be treated with antibacterial shampoos and antibiotics. Goats are more susceptible to worms than are cattle or sheep, and grazed land can become 'worm sick'. Good hygiene is important to prevent coccidiosis and crytosporidiosis, which can both cause diarrhoea.

Goats in oestrus can be vocal and dominant, leading owners to think they are in pain. Maiden goats may produce milk, especially those from heavy milking lines, and are usually best left alone. False pregnancy is common. Abortion can be caused by many agents, including Toxoplasma species, and sheep and goats can infect each other with these agents. The placenta should be lab tested, though goats often eat it before it can be retrieved.