Lessons Learned

Below are some of the lessons I have learned along the way of purchasing and raising Boer goats, they are my opinion and should be viewed as such. 

The Exposed Doe

While trying to build my herd I thought I would purchase bred does, thus, enabling me to have a kid crop sooner rather than later.  I found that purchasing an "exposed" doe means absolutely nothing in regards to whether or not the doe is actually bred or pregnant. 


The story goes like this: I purchased 3 does from a breeder who advertised them as being exposed to a buck, a buck who's bloodlines and color were of my liking.  I knew I would not be able to breed to the buck with one of my own does because of the distance between our farms--3 states away. Being a horse breeder first, I asked the question I would normally ask of a horse breeder when they have a bred mare for sale. The questions I asked the goat breeder are below.


1. Are the does bred? When asking this question of a horse breeder,  if a mare is bred, it is a simple yes or no answer, if yes, then it equates to the mare being pregnant. If the answer is no, then the mare would not have been advertised as bred. In addition, the breeder would give you the date the mare was bred and how far along she was in the gestation period. However, when asking this question to the goat breeder the answer was "she is exposed".  

2. What does "exposed" mean? The goat breeder informed me the does have been running with the buck for the last 90 days and through at least 2 heat cycles and she assumed the buck bred the does.  In horses, we do not "run" our mares with stallions out in a pasture.  In horses, mares and stallions are hand bred.  First lesson learned, was the idea of having bucks run with does in a pasture during the breeding season. Second lesson learned, some goat breeders run the bucks with the does in a pasture and other breeders hand breed their does.


3. OK, so back to the original question, I asked the goat breeder  "How do you know if the does are bred and can you have them pregnancy checked?  I also stated I would be happy to pay for the does to be pregnancy checked.  The breeder informed me that she could not do a pregnancy check, it was too time consuming and it would take 10 days to get the answer back. 


4. My response was, if you do not know if they are bred or pregnant, I am not interested in paying your asking price because I only want to purchase them if they are pregnant.   What type of assurance do I have from you, the breeder, that they are  bred and/or pregnant if you will not have them pregnancy checked? Do you offer a refund of the stud fee if they are not bred? Do you offer a re-breed if they are not pregnant?. The aforementioned questions are those that would be asked when purchasing a bred mare.  In the horse world if you purchase a bred mare and she comes up open (not pregnant) you get either a refund of the stud fee or a re-breed.  This is not the case with this particular boer goat breeder.  Her response was, " the does are priced they way they are and I want to sell them now and I saw the buck breed them and I am sure they are pregnant."


5. Well, I said OK, and still being new to the goat world, I paid her the asking price and an additional $750 dollars to have the 3 does shipped to North Carolina.  On their registration papers it stated the does were exposed to the buck with a date range.  Five months passed and none of them were pregnant. I had spent my hard earned money on does that I thought were pregnant.  I informed the breeder and her response was, oh well, I told you they were exposed, that's a shame. 



1. Do not pay more for a doe because she is "exposed" to a buck. In other words, I thought I was purchasing pregnant does and thus willing to pay a higher price for them.  "Exposed" means absolutely nothing and you should never pay more for a doe that is "exposed" as opposed to what you would pay for her if she were open.

2. Do not purchase an "exposed" doe if the breeder is not willing to have it pregnancy checked, especially when you are willing to spend the money to have it pegnancy checked. Be advised the doe has to be at least 30 days into gestation before you can have her pregnancy checked.

3. Do not purchase an "exposed" doe if the breeder is not willing to either re-fund the stud fee or offer a re-breed.

4. Do not purchase an "exposed" doe if you want to purchase a pregnant doe--your better option is to purchase a "confirmed bred" doe.  However,  a "confirmed bred" doe does not necessarily mean she will carry to term and produce live kids. 



Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL)

I have attended many sales and the one time I did not attend the sale in person I got a lemon.  I wasn't able to make the drive and take the weekend off and decided I would use the video auction of the sale.  My thinking was the Show Stopper sale has a good track record and the goats are produced by well-known breeds and I thought all would be OK, right, wrong. I purchased 2 does from Show Stopper Sale XIV.  Lot 61 seemed to go rather cheap based on her pedigree and I was the lucky winner and was able to purchase her.  I was thrilled and excited and couldn't wait to see her in person. 

  As always I quarantine all my goats for a minimum of 30 days and have my vet inspect them upon arrival.  When lot 61 arrived she was well fed, in good spirits, and looked healthy, she was lovely.  However, I and the vet noticed an old abscess and small scar on the left side of her neck by her ear--which was not identified when she was in the sale ring and was not in the area where you normally have a “vaccination bump”. This may be why she sold for less than half the price of her sister that was in the sale.  While Lot 61 continued in quarantine status along with the other doe I purchased, I saw another abscess start to appear. It was a submandibular abscess on her neck and hidden under her ear. It was not large; in fact it was less than1/2 inch long and just a few centimeters high.   I asked my vet to lance it and send a sample of the pus to the lab for culture and testing.  We sent a blood sample as well.   The sample test came back positive for Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL), but the blood test came back negative.  This is a common problem with the blood test; it does not test for the presence of the bacteria, Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis -- the causative agent of the disease. The blood test can only tell you if the goat has made antibodies to the bacteria. A goat will make antibodies to CL in two situations, one it was vaccinated for the disease or two it became naturally infected with the disease. The blood test cannot tell you if the goat is, or has, or once was infected with the CL bacteria.  The blood test also becomes an issue when you vaccinate your herd for CL, all goats would be positive for CL even if they have never been infected.  

There are two options when dealing with CL, euthanize the infected animal or manage the problem.  Each breeder will handle the situation differently, some will decide to treat and manage CL and other will euthanize the animal.  Years ago I choose to euthanize the infected animal, today, however, I manage the problem. There are two vaccines available to combat CL and have proven to be an effective management tool.  The problem with CL is it is easily transmitted from one place to another.  All it takes is for the goat farmer down the road to have an infected animal with an oozing abscess to spread the disease to another, yet, unsuspecting farm.  The scenario would go like this, the pus from the CL abscess gets onto a feed tub and then a fly or a bird lands on that feed tub to fly away to another farm. So, until every goat in the world is vaccinated, the disease is here to stay.  I vaccinate my entire herd and all the kids for CL and this is the first step to protecting the herd.   

It should be noted, not all abscesses are CL.  In the Boer goat world, most of the time the CL abscess appears in the area of jaw, the submandibular lymph node.  However, there are other places a CL abscess can form that are not readily visible. In the dairy goat industry the biggest concern is CL abscess that are hidden within the udder.  If you do see an abscess please contact your vet so he or she may help you with determining your treatment options.  

There is an article by Gezon, Bither, Hanson and Thompson in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 1991; 198:257-263, which reported Actionmyces  pyogenes was cultured 3 times more often than C. pseudotuberculosis (CL) in goat herd with a history of internal and external abscesses.

  A few basic facts about Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis (CL).  

1.    Primary mode of infection is direct contact with pus or the secretion from abscess that contains the CL bacteria. 

2.    It is possible for CL bacteria to remain in the soil of a semi-arid environment of for up to two years.

3.    The CL bacteria enters the body of people or animals through the skin, by ingestion or inhalation, or by coming in contact with contaminated hay and feeding equipment, housing facilities, pastures, feed and water tubs, etc.

4.    Goats can be infected anytime in their life. Does can transmit the bacteria through their milk and infect their kids if a CL abscess if found in the mammary gland.


Lessons Learned:

1.       I will not purchase goats at a sale through the use of an on-line auction service, unless I personally know someone at the sale who can do a visual inspection of the goat and make an honest evaluation as to the goat’s health as well as other goats in the sale. 

2.    I will vaccinate all my goats against CL

3.    I will not knowingly  sell any goat that has any visible sign of CL

4.     All goats available for sale will be subject to a vet inspection should the buyer request it. 


Suggested reading for those who want to learn more.

Alabama Cooperative Extension

Onion Creek Ranch

Goat World