Diet is the number one disease preventative. However, it is crucial to vaccinate goats against certain diseases. Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE), Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL), and Clostridium perfringens (Overeating Disease or Enterotoxemia) are three of the most feared diseases in the goat world. Enterotoxemia is an especially deadly disease that acts fast and kills many goats each year.
Purchasing goats from herds that pay vets to come out and sample blood for CAE and CL and who vaccinate their kids CORRECTLY using the CD&T vaccine is the most important step when purchasing animals. CAE and CL can survive on pests/in the ground and is transferred easily, so your primary goal is to keep it off of your property altogether.
CD&T Vaccinations needs to be done in a series in order to be effective. A minimum of 2 shots as a kid, 3-4 weeks apart, as well as an annual booster each year are required to protect goats from Enterotoxemia and Tetanus. A single shot will NOT protect your goat, and it is important for both you and the breeder to communicate clearly on the goat's current vaccination status before your bring your goat home. Enterotoxemia flares up under stress (i.e. bringing a goat home, weaning, etc.) so you are playing Russian Roulette if you bring a kid home that is not fully vaccinated.
Pregnant does should be vaccinated 30 days before kidding (yes, this means you need to know when she was bred which is one of the reasons why we ONLY do controlled breedings). This first vaccine acts as the dam's annual booster, as well as provides protection for the first few weeks of the kid's life.
Kids should then be vaccinated at 3 and 6 weeks old. After this cycle, they can be considered fully vaccinated and should be protected from Enterotoxemia and Tetanus. They must receive an annual booster each year after to continue their full vaccination status.
Hoof growth rates vary from animal to animal and must be trimmed frequently. Overgrown hooves cause weak pasterns and can affect the structure of a goat (especially babies). When trimming, the hoof wall should be cut flush with the sole of the hoof. We trim hooves once a month on all of our goats.
Is my goat sick?
If your goat seems to be acting down, is not eating, or just seems "off" we recommend you call your local livestock veterinarian immediately. Generally, the veterinarian will first ask for the temperature of the animal over the phone which means you must be comfortable AND prepared to take a rectal temperature of your goat BEFORE you call. Goats should be between 102-103 degrees. Anything above 103 is cause for concern. Having a Livestock Veterinarian's phone number saved in your phone is an excellent idea and should be researched before purchasing a goat.
Responsible Ownership (**Hard pill to swallow**):
Over the years, I have watched many animal owners purchase an animal for hundreds of dollars, but then claim they "cannot afford a vet bill". If you cannot afford a veterinarian, you should NOT own any type of animal. Animals do not get to pick where they end up, but you make a decision to own one. Therefore, it is your responsibility to keep money aside for emergencies so you can provide care to your animal at all times, ESPECIALLY when they are sick. Additionally, it is realistic to have a financial limit for each animal set in your head ahead of time so you are prepared when talking to a veterinarian. Livestock is sometimes not worth the thousands of dollars it may take to fix it, and only YOU can decide what is realistic for YOUR situation. Sometimes, euthanasia is the most humane or realistic solution. I have had to make hard calls over the years, and I understand how devastating this decision can be. But please, be a good "steward of the land" and prepare financially before purchasing any livestock.