Herd Management

Preventive Health Care

A preventive health care program can increase the quality of your goat's life. It can also decrease the likelihood of your goat's getting a transmissible disease.  An efficient and effective three-part program for preventing many common goat diseases includes vaccinations, medications and a clean environment.

Vaccinations help prevent many devastating and often fatal diseases. They're not expensive, and you or your veterinarian can give them all in a matter of minutes. Most vaccines should be given annually, although kid vaccinations must be given in a series.  We vaccinate our goats, for clostridium perfringens types C and D and tetanus (CDT). The vaccine we use prevents tetanus and enterotoxemia that's caused by several different bacteria.  We vaccinate our goats against several types of Pneumonia causing organisms, such as Pasteurella multocida and Mannheimia Haemolytica pneumonia, and other pathogens.  We also vaccinate against "CL or CLA" , Cornybacterium pseudotuberculosis.   We have found some breeders don't vaccinate their goats for CL  and some do. There are several goat breeders with large herds in Texas that vaccinate their goats for CL. 

My livestock experience is based in the horse industry.  From my perspective, I equate CL in goats to a similar disease in horses called "Strangles".  An old horse breeder said to me many years ago, it isn't a question of "if" your herd will be infected, it is a question of "when".  At the time, I did not think much of his statement and did not vaccinate my horses against Strangles.  It was 15 years later that I saw my first outbreak "Strangles" at my friends horse farm and it spread like wild fire from horse to horse.  Since that day forward I have vaccinated my horses against strangles and I, therefore, vaccinate my goats against CL.

Medications and insecticides help to keep your goat healthy and safe from external and internal parasites. Intestinal parasites, such as Liver Fluke, Tapeworms, Lung worm, Meningeal worm, Brown stomach worm, Barbepole worm, coccidia and Whip worm, etc. can be devastating and even fatal in goats . By providing a clean, parasite-free environment you can help control the spread of disease. That means having a place to isolate sick goats, the ability to disinfect the area and by practicing good forage management techniques, such as pasture rotation. We have four pastures in which to rotate our goats and two isolation areas for sick goats that can be completely disinfected if required.

Environment  and age play a big part in determining the health care needs of your goats. Vaccinations and fecal examinations are needed more frequently by kids than by older goats. As for environment, certain climates are more conducive to parasite infestations. We live in the south east and have a warm wet climate, a perfect environment for intestinal parasites to thrive and multiply. If parasite infestation is ignored, it can become a primary cause of death.    Our goats are checked for internal parasites at least four times a year. We do not deworm our goats without first determining the parasite load via fecal check.  Over use of dewormers can lead to parasite resistance, thus, we first determine the type of internal  parasites we dealing with and then use the appropriate anthelmintics.

Health Records

Your veterinarian will keep medical records on your herd and you should, too. Health records help you remember when your goats were vaccinated and for which diseases. Keep a record indicating when you had the goats checked for worms and any prescribed deworming procedures. Keep a record of clinical signs, illnesses, prescribed medication and your goat's reactions and you and your veterinarian will be able to make a better assessment of recurring problems. Good health records also provide ready information for another veterinarian should you move or when you sell a goat.

Important Reminders About Medication

Medication can play an important part in your goat's health and well-being, but it must be used correctly to do its job. If given incorrectly, medicine may not be as effective or may be dangerous. So, don't deviate from your veterinarian's dosing instructions. Don't give a drug prescribed for one goat to another without checking with the veterinarian first. Never assume that two pills appearing to be the same are, in fact, the same exact medication. Remember to read the label on medications!

Choosing a Veterinarian

Thousands of veterinarians are out there, and several are right in your neighborhood. How do you find a veterinarian just right for your goat? The best way is to ask people with goats which veterinarian they use, what they like or dislike about the veterinarian and why they use that particular one.

The next step is to try the veterinarian. If you don't like one veterinarian's style, try another one. Look for a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about goats.  A good veterinarian should explain health conditions, procedures and medications in a way you can understand. He or she should take the time to answer questions without making you feel stupid.  The good ones keep current on new procedures and medications, attend seminars and review plenty of literature to keep up to date. Don't be afraid to ask what the veterinarian does to keep up with what's new in veterinary medicine. Your veterinarian should be honest about what they know or don't know and be willing to find the answer.  Don't be afraid to ask the veterinary what his or her travel rates are or if they are available for emergencies!

The best veterinarians are always friendly and willing to establish a relationship with you and are readily available in case of an emergency. Don't wait for an emergency to choose your veterinarian. Make an appointment for a routine examination to get to know your new veterinarian. If you have established a relationship with a veterinarian, it will be easier to have a phone consultation and be seen when you have an emergency.

I am very lucky,  I have two veterinarians both specialize in small ruminants, are available 24 x 7,  live about an hour and half away, and one has a mobile hospital for things like emergency c-sections.

My vets are specialist in small ruminants:

Dr. Shannon Baker: Hoof and Horn

Dr. Allen Cannedy: Small Ruminant and Camelid Mobile Veterinary Services'