So you spent a bunch of money to BUY a new horned minion, what do you do to get that new goat into your herd?
- At least 2, but preferably 3 classes of dewormer
- Syringes with 20 or 22 gauge needles for administering vaccines
- Copper sulfate or “hoof and heal” for horses to treat hooves
- CDT vaccine if the goat doesn’t have the full vaccine regiment yet
- An area away from your herd that is secure for quarantine
- Blood tubes & supplies or a veterinarian to pull blood to send off to test for diseases
- Optional: B12 shot to help dewormed goat recover from worms
- Optional: Rabies vaccine
Step 1: DEWORMING
Deworming goats before letting them out on your pastures or in with your other goats prevents the new goat from bringing wormer resistant parasites into your herd. Think of it this way – if you had a bunch of preschool kids to look after, (and goats are kind of like looking after kids), and you suspected the newest addition to the insanity of your daycare had lice, would you drop that kid in with the others to play dress up and comb eachother’s hair? Probably not!
DRUG DEWORMERS SORTED BY CLASS
(sourced from: http://goatspots.com/articles/deworming-1/ )
WHAT TO DO: Deworm with as many classes of dewormer as you can (ideally 3, but two classes will work). Sometimes the seller of the goat will offer to deworm the goat for free, which can save you money and having to find at least one class of dewormer! Leave the new goat somewhere away from your other goats/pasture, (such as inside a garage or a barn stall) for several days after it is dewormed so that half dead worms that are expelled don’t end up on your pastures. After this quarantine you can put the new goat out. If you want, you can also give the goat an injection of vitamin B12 complex, (purchase online from livestock suppliers like valley vet or jeffers) to help boost their blood now that the burgeoning population of worms has been knocked down.
Step 2: CLEAN HOOVES
Hooves can carry foot scald or nasty hoof rot literally one step at a time onto your property. If you have wet or boggy pastures it only takes one new goat bringing in foot scald to make your life miserable as you fill pans full of zinc sulfate or copper sulfate and try to get your whole herd to walk through them three times a day or set fire to your pastures trying to burn it out of the ground. Its a lot simpler to just stop it all before it starts.
WHAT TO DO: Trim your new goats hooves (see my other pages for directions on doing this). Remove all the dirt from the hooves, and pick out any little pockets or pocks on the bottom of the hoof or between the claws, (claw= one half of the 2 part goat hoof). Then dowse the entire hoof and between the claws liberally with copper sulfate, horse “hoof and heal”, or zinc sulfate while wearing gloves. If active hoof rot or foot scald lesions are on the hoof this will burn and the animal will be uncomfortable. Otherwise, the goat will probably not react much. If you suspect an animal has a hoof scald/rot problem, dowse the hooves liberally multiple times a day for the entire quarantine period to try and kill what is on its hooves. Then use coal tar based disinfectants or creosols on the dirt floor of your quarantine area, (or bleach on concrete), to try and eliminate it from the quaratine area after the goat is removed. Do not allow the goat to hang out in mud or wet bedding or it will become reinfected again and again by the rot/scald because the disease can survive off the goat in moist ground.
Frankly, if you get a goat that has a severe hoof disease problem it is probably not worth breeding or hiking this animal because the disease will likely come back again and again, requiring you to trim and cut the hooves to the point where hiking will be uncomfortable for the animal. Even worse, the problem could potentially spread to your other animals. The only exception to this is if you get an animal that has hoof rot because it was kept in knee deep mud or some other really wet environment not typical of the environment you will be asking the goat to live in. However if you are dealing with FOOT SCALD and not hoof rot and you cannot seem to fix the animal, cull it. Foot scald is the devil to control or rid yourself of and best left off your premises.
Step 3: VACCINATION
Vaccination is like insurance. You get it and your renew it every year because while I don’t typically need to visit the emergency room every week, when I need insurance, I really need it. Vaccination is the same. It’s cheap insurance for an ‘oops’ management decision, (ex: CDT and perfringens), or a chance encounter that you could not have predicted, (rabies and tetanus). CDT is recommended for all goats; rabies is optional and I typically only use it on high value animals.
WHAT TO DO: You can purchase CDT from a farm store and rabies can be ordered online or through your local vet. Most states will require you to order through a vet, even if you can see the vaccine online for sale. I personally use the IMRAB rabies sheep vaccine, which has long term efficacy studies in goats. There is no rabies vaccine labeled for goats in the US. vaccination requires 20 or 22 gauge needles and usually a 6 or 3 ml syringe depending on the dose you will need to give.
Hints for Vaccination:
- When you buy your vaccine keep it cold! CDT can survive some increase in temperature and still be good. Rabies cannot! So always be cautious and store your vaccines in the fridge and keep them on ice whenever they are not in the fridge. This means don’t leave them on the counter/work table without ice while you are vaccinating an animal!
- Always use a clean needle to draw up a vaccine from the vial. However, it is acceptable to use a ‘dirty’ needle already used to inject vaccines in one or more animals on a new animal, (ideally this should be a new needle as well to avoid accidentally spreading disease from animal to animal, but penny pinching is not uncommon). If you reuse an injection needle occasionally switch it out for a fresh needle as needles develop burs and dull from repeated use.
- Check the withdrawal times for meat and milk. Vaccinations have carriers and immune antagonists in them that will contaminate meat and milk and make them unsuitable for consumption. Read the label.
- Determine whether the vaccine is subQ (that is, injected under a tent of skin) or intramuscular (stabbed into the meat).
- If your animals may become meat one day, vaccinate behind the ear to avoid the prime cuts. If they’ll live and die as pets, you can vaccinate them on the shoulder or neck, but avoid vaccination where the saddle or straps go. Vaccines often cause abscesses on goats. An abscess, (even a healed one), under a pack saddle is a recipe for a horrendous rub spot and saddle sore.
- If your vaccines are stored in dusty conditions, keep them in plastic bags in the fridge. Dusty vial tops are not very sterile, and you want to keep things sterile and clean!
- When performing a subQ injection, pull the skin up into a ‘tent’. Stick the needle into the skin at either “end” of the tent, not through the side. If you stick through the side of your tent you will likely go through both sides and shoot the vaccine out into the air.
- When performing a subQ injection, ALWAYS PULL BACK on the syringe plunger. If you see blood being drawn into the syringe, you have nicked a vein. If you inject some vaccines and some other medicines into the vein the goat can go into anaphylatic shock and die (unless you have some form of epinephrine on hand to inject and prevent the shock from killing it). Since most of us don’t have epinephrine pens or bottles of the stuff around, always look for blood first. If you don’t see blood, finish the injection. If you do see blood, pull out your needle without injecting and choose a new spot. If you are paranoid you can buy epi pens or purchase epinephrine from a veterinarian to keep around, but still, a ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Step 4: QUARANTINE AND BLOOD TESTING
It is always a good idea to quarantine an incoming animal whose disease status you don’t know. Since you are not your neighbor, the seller on craigslist, or the guy at the ADGA sale, there are probably things about your new animal that you aren’t aware of and didn’t think to ask about. Quarantine allows you to find out that your new goat has an abscess, or suspiciously foul smelling hooves that turn out to be covered in transmissible hoof rot or foot scald BEFORE you introduce costly, annoying, and difficult to eradicate problems onto your premises. I usually do quarantine for the time period it takes for blood tests to be drawn and the results returned, (about 3-4 weeks). By the time the tests return and I know science has demonstrated the goat to be healthy, I have also visually confirmed for several days that the goat is not obviously sick, abscess covered, or has something off with its hooves.
WHAT TO DO: Take your new goat and place it in an enclosure that is goat proof. This often means having 4 walls and a roof, but may also require a floor. Place this enclosure some distance from your other goats, preferably outside where air flow should help avoid passing things like pneumonia from your new purchase to the old guard. The best enclosures have disinfectable concrete, but dirt or a spot of grass is fine. So long as you realize certain diseases (i.e. Johnes and CL) may get into the soil and require burning or other extreme forms of eradication. I usually pull blood the morning after I purchase an animal and send it off to be tested. Then I wait…and when the test results come back negative and the goat doesn’t seem to be sick…I put it out with my herd. For more on pulling blood, see my other pages.
If you have an animal come back positive on a blood test – ask yourself if it is worth risking your other animals and managing the disease this critter has. If you come back positive for tuberculosis or brucellosis, these are reportable diseases, (that is, the government has to know about them), and they can be given to humans! The goat has got to be axed if it’s mine! However, I have known people with herds where they manage infestations of CL, Johnes, and CAE. I don’t do it, I don’t recommend it, and frankly, its expensive and not worth it in the long run, but it has and is being done.
Important note on CL blood testing: For those new to CL testing it is important to realize that the CL blood test gives you a reaction level, not a definitive “yes he is diseased” or “no he is not diseased”. A reaction level that is very low means the animal probably doesn’t have CL, (or the CL infection was not active at the time the blood was drawn). A big reaction (80, 250, etc.) is a sign of an active infection. CL lesions can be entirely internal – you may have a goat come back positive who doesn’t have a single bump on it! I had the doe of a kid I was looking to purchase come back positive with a huge and escalating response, (she was tested 2x a few weeks apart and the response was much greater the second time). Externally she appeared perfectly normal! Caveat emptor!
INTRODUCE IT TO ITS COWORKERS!
Turn your clean and tested goat out with the rest of the herd and watch the fireworks. Usually every goat will have a go once or twice with the newbie. If you feel bad for the newbie you can introduce it to the herd on the other side of the fence first. This way the headbutting hits the fence instead of your 4 month old $500 doeling.
BOMB PROOF IT!
Once the herd accepts the newbie and the pecking order is more about order and less about headbutting or pecking, it’s time to roll out the training program for your newest member! For more on training pack goats, see my other pages.
So you spent a bunch of time waiting, and now your horned minions have become MORE horned minions:
A non-exhaustive list of baby goat processing supplies:
- Iodine intended for dipping baby animal teats. Found at feedstores or online livestock catalogs
- Towels that you don’t want back
- Latex or similar disposable gloves
- CDT vaccines
- Optional: Rabies vaccine
- Optional: Ear tagger (if you ear tag)
- Optional: Dehorner (if you dehorn – I don’t, so it won’t be covered here)
Step 1 DIPPING THE UMBILICAL CORD
After a baby goat is born and the mother has dried it off and appears to be bonding with it it is time to dip the umbilical cord. If the kid is still sticky, dry it off with an old towel you do not want back, (i.e. not your husband’s favorite beach towel). Get out your iodine and pour some into a small container such as a pill bottle. Wear gloves because iodine can stain your skin pretty badly and the marks take days to come off. Direct the umbilical cord into the jar of iodine. Swirl it around a bit, and lift the jar with the umbilical cord inside till it touches the bottom of the goat. This makes sure you get the whole umbilical cord coated. The iodine will dry the cord out preventing it from turning into a nasty wet wick sucking germs into the goat’s body cavity.
Step 2 TAGGING THE KID
If you have a larger number of animals that all look the same and you won’t remember later what kid goes to what mother, I suggest you tag your kids. Using scrapie tags is the simplest method, and you can get these tags and an applicator for free from the government once you sign up for a premise ID and enroll your herd. You will need these tags to sell animals through auction or some other means, so again, if you use the scrapie tags you only have to put the goat through the agony of getting his ears pierced once! Look into it!
To tag the goat, place it between your legs, put the tag into the holder as demonstrated in the scrapie brochure. Place the tag/applicator around the ear. Avoid tagging through any of the cartilaginous ridges running inside the ear. You want to tag in the center of the ear in between them. If you do hit a ridge it is more painful and there will be some bleeding or swelling. Also avoid tagging at the very bottom, very tip, or the very top of the ear – this will make the tag prone to being ripped out. Imagine having a hoop earring ripped from your own ear! Not fun! The tag should be placed so that the stuck out round bit of the tag ends up on the INSIDE of the ear and the flat side of the tag ends up on the OUTSIDE of the ear. If you tag an animal backwards that stuck out round piece could get hung on brambles and the tag may be ripped out of the goat’s ear. Again, not fun. Once you are in the right position and you have your goat secured so it won’t move, clamp down hard and fast on the applicator. You will feel a sort of “click” as the tag locks together. Then release your grip, and wiggle the applicator till it slides away from the ear. The goat will, (just like a human), scream when you do this. Reward with grain to distract it and destress it afterwards.
Step 3: VACCINATE THE KID
When the kid is at least a month old you can give it is first CDT vaccine. You must then wait 4 weeks and give it a second booster injection of the vaccine. See the preceeding section on how to vaccinate and tips to do so successfully. Rabies may be given to a goat at 3 months of age.
If you have a kid that was unable to get colostrum, (the milk produced in the first 24 hours after birth by a lactating doe), from a mother vaccinated with CDT and you live in a boggy area or one prone to tetanus consider giving the kid tetanus antitoxin . This will provide tetanus protection for up to three weeks in place of the maternal antibodies it did not receive.