QUARANTINING GOATS: DISEASE PREVENTION, MANAGEMENT, CONTROL
The introduction of diseases onto your property should be a major concern of every goat raiser. Prevention is your goal, but in reality, control and management are going to be your focus. No herd can ever be completely "disease free."
Diseases can enter your farm/ ranch from many sources. Introducing new animals is the usual avenue but not the only way that illnesses find their way into your herd. Here are some of the ways:
1) Bringing new animals into the herd from offsite. Quarantine and handling procedures are covered in this article.
2) Offering stud service. This typically involves bringing other producers' does onto the property for breeding 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, skin, and hair; on the tires of 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) Your family members, livestock guardian animals, and pets.
Most of you are aware that you should quarantine new animals brought from outside your ranch property in order to protect your goats from the bacteria and viruses that the new animals might be carrying. However, the reverse is just as true: newly-introduced goats need to be protected from organisms present on your property to which they've never had their immune systems previously exposed. These goats are on a new property in a changed environment and often in a much different climate from which they have been previously adapted to living. From the moment they left their previous homes, these new goats' immune systems were under assault.
Set up a pen and shelter sized to accomodate your anticipated needs and locate it away from and downwind of pens and pastures where healthy animals are regularly kept. The pens 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 preferably 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. Everyone handling these goats should use disposable gloves.Quarantined and sick goats should be kept in these isolation pens. Goats new to the ranch should be quarantined for a minimum of four weeks, during which time they should be dewormed, vaccinated, udders and testicles examined, and hooves checked and trimmed, 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 your ranch is an avenue for infection. Before making a decision to offer such services, the producer should read my Article entitled "Pros and Cons of Offering Breeding Services" on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com. Decisions must be made and agreements put into writing before the first goat is allowed to arrive on your property.
Participating in goat shows can be a no-win situation with regard to disease. You 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. Administering oxytetracycline 200 mg/ml injections to prevent transportation and show stress isn't going to prevent the contraction of diseases like Johnes and CAE. Young goats are especially vulnerable because their immune systems are still immature. Sick goats should not attend shows and should not be allowed to participate. If they are, leave immediately. Don't 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, your helpers, and you can bring in infectious bacteria, viruses, and other organisms without ever realising 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 you know 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 to the 4H barn is a good source of contamination -- a fact that may never cross some people's minds.
Dirty pens, feed troughs, and water containers are excellent sources of infection -- worms and coccidia thrive in these environments. Flies, gnats, bees, and other insects are vectors of disease from goat to goat. Infected placentas left lying around after birthing are transmitters of abortion diseases. Many other diseases are spread through placental material and mucous secretions. Footrot, but not foot scald, is highly infectious and contaminated ground quickly spreads it. Viral diseases such as Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis (CAE), Soremouth, and some types of Pinkeye are quickly passed around in overcrowded herds. Incurable Johnes Disease is transmitted via infected fecal material. Cutting open and draining an active Caseous Lymphadinitis (CL) abscess (or any other type of abscess) and exposing the exudate (pus) to other goats and to the ground is one of the ways that CL is spread throughout a herd. Reusing contaminated needles, syringes, and scalpels is another way to transmit disease. Wood feed troughs and hay bunkers collect bacteria in the wood's grain; use plastic instead of wood whenever possible.
Raising quality goats requires planning and hard work. Advance planning will cut down on the amount of work each producer faces daily. THINK LIKE A GOAT™.
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, ONION CREEK RANCH, Lohn, Texas 5/10/13
Important! Please Read This Notice!
All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.
In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.
The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)
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