If goats are allowed to live as nature intended them, as browsers, they are rarely exposed to parasites.
They would rarely eat close to the ground where parasite eggs/larvae are found. However, most goat keepers don't have
enough browse to maintain their herds and their goats are forced to graze. In addition, their living habits lend themselves
to easy parasite transmission. Goats poop everywhere, in their feeders, in their water, in their minerals, in their house.
It is up to us to keep their environment clean to reduce the number of parasites that infect them. The most effective means
of reducing your animal’s parasite loads are removing manure on a regular basis and rotating pastures. It is also very
helpful if you can learn to perform your own fecal checks. Being able to monitor what parasites your animals are carrying
and what their parasite load is will be a HUGE help in determining which de-worming products to use. There are very
few products that are labeled for use in goats. Consult your local veterinarian for help in developing a deworming program
that works for your herd.
Adult goats should be vaccinated at least once per year. We use Cavalry 9 to
vaccinate our goats against clostridial diseases and tetanus. We vaccinate kids starting at ten weeks old with a booster given three weeks later. Other vaccinations
may be necessary/recommended for your area. Check with your vet for his/her advice on what is needed where you live.
We firmly believe that every
goat should be tested for CAE and CL. Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE) is a viral disease carried in the white blood cells
of goats. The most common mode of transmission is from doe to kid via colostrum but CAE can be spread in any body fluid that
contains white blood cells. CAE is not transmissible to humans. The majority of goats infected with the virus (80-85%) NEVER
show symptoms of CAE. Testing is the only way to know, for sure, if you have the virus in your herd. Please click here for more information on CAE.
Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL) is another disease of goats (and other animals). CL is caused
by a bacterium that causes abscesses, most commonly near the goat’s lymph nodes. CL is HIGHLY contagious to other goats,
animals and people. Antibiotics are not effective in treating CL because the abscesses form thick walls that do not allow
the antibiotics to penetrate them and kill the bacteria. CL abscesses that burst, allowing the pus to drain out, can quickly
spread the disease to your entire herd. CL abscesses can also form internally. Goats may live for many years with CL and never
form an external abscess. Again, testing is the only way to be sure that your goats are not infected. There are two types
of vaccine that can help protect your herd from this disease. Please click here for more information on CL.
Johne's (pronounced Yo-nees) is another disease that can affect goats. It is a wasting
disease that affects the goat's GI tract. Symptoms do not usually appear until the goat is over one year of age.
Click here for more information on Johne's disease.
We draw blood from our goats ourselves (you can have your vet do it, if
you prefer) and send it to Washington State University for testing. On the advice of our vet, we test annually. For more information
on submitting samples for testing and a list of fees, please visit the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory website.
There are three methods of castration for goats. We have
tried all three. While no method is completely painless, the least painful, BY FAR, is the Burdizzo method (in our opinion).
This method involves crushing the spermatic cord and blood vessels that lead to the testes. It is a "bloodless"
procedure. If done correctly, the skin is not broken. To castrate using this method, you will need a special clamp
like tool called a Burdizzo (also known by other names). We have tried a couple of these tools and the one we like best
was purchased from Premier1 Supply. It is called the Ritchey Nipper and is made in England specifically for sheep and
goats. Premier1 now sells their own version of this tool called a Side Crusher.
Another castration method is referred to as banding. This method involves using a special
tool (called an elastrator) to put a small, heavy-duty rubber band around the tissue above the goat’s testicles. The
rubber band cuts off circulation to the testicles and eventually all of the tissue below the band will die and fall off. After
using this method for one kidding season, we switched to the Burdizzo method. The kids that we banded were in considerable
pain for several hours afterwards. Not to mention the fact that it took several weeks for their testicles to fall off. Imagine
putting a rubber band around your finger and leaving it there until it dies and falls off. We can’t in good conscience
use this method of castration anymore.
Cutting is the last of the three methods. It involves cutting
off the lower third of the scrotum and pulling out the testicles. This method is, obviously, incredibly painful for
the kid and leaves an open wound which increases the chance of infection. While this method is the cheapest and most
reliable, we feel that the negatives outweigh the positives, by far. Therefore, we can not recommend this method of
castration either (unless performed by a vet, under sedation).
Disbudding and Dehorning
Disbudding is the removal of the horn buds on a goat kid. This procedure is done when the kid
is very young, usually under 14 days old. We do not routinely disbud our goats. There have been exceptions.
Any goats sold as market wethers must be disbudded so each year, a few of the boys are done. Starting in 2010, we will
no longer sell market wethers. This is only because of the requirement that they be disbudded. Because we
do not disbud, I don't feel comfortable describing the procedure. If you would like more information, Fias Co Farm has an excellent page on disbudding.
is another procedure all together. It involves removing a goat's horns after they have already grown in, either partially
or completely. It is a very involved procedure and MUST be done by a vet while the goat is under anesthesia. A
goat's horns are part of their skull. To remove the horns, a portion of skull must also be removed. This will
leave holes in the top of the goat's head that open into their sinus cavities. During healing, the goat must be monitored
closely to prevent infection. Additionally, goats have a large blood vessel running through each horn. Dehorning
is a very bloody operation. You CANNOT simply saw a goat's horns off!