Our goats' health is very important to us. When I was building my herd and buying new goats, I always asked a lot of questions about herd health, because I didn't want to bring an unhealthy animal into our herd. So, here are the answers to the questions that were important to me. If you have questions not answered here, please ask!
- We maintain a closed herd. We bought our last does in 2005 and attended our last show in June 2008. Since that time, none of our goats has left the farm. In 2009, after more than one year with no outside contact, we tested our herd for CAE, CL, and Johnes, with all negative results. The ELISA test was used for CAE because it is more sensitive (has fewer false negatives) than the AGID test. We purchased two new bucks in 2010. Both came from CAE negative herds and subsequently tested negative for CAE. In 2013, we did blood tests to determine pregnancy on about half of our does, and using the same blood sample, we also tested for CAE, all of which were negative.
- Our goats receive free-choice Sweetlix MeatMaker goat minerals, a separate selenium-E blend, kelp, and baking soda in separate feeders, so they can eat as much or as little of each one as they require.
- We are enrolled in the USDA's scrapie eradication program.
- Illinois is a certified TB-free and brucellosis-free state.
- Our goats have never had any type of abscess.
- We do NOT give any drugs routinely, including dewormers. We follow the FAMACHA protocol for dealing with parasites. This means that we only use a dewormer when goats are exhibiting signs of anemia. Copper-oxide wire particles (also known as COWP or copper boluses) are our first choice for treatment. If that doesn't work, we will use a chemical dewormer. We have tried Hoegger's, Molly's, and Fir Meadow herbal dewormers, as well as diatomaceous earth in the past but found that they do not work very well for a goat that is already anemic. We are currently experimenting with wormwood.
- Our first line of defense against internal parasites (worms) is management. We rotate pastures to avoid egg and larvae build-up on the pasture, and we plan kidding during months of the year when the parasite load is lowest so that we can avoid using dewormers in the does. We have several does that have never had a dewormer in their lives. We do NOT do this to save money. We do it because there are only three classes of dewormers in the United States, and parasites are rapidly becoming resistant to them, which means that they should not be used unless absolutely necessary, so that they will work when they are truly needed. Our ultimate goal is to breed goats that are naturally parasite resistant.
- All kids are disbudded and tattooed, and wethers are castrated before sale.
- Although we originally vaccinated all goats for CDT, we have changed our protocol and no longer do this. We stopped vaccinating our own goats after about three years, and in 2009, we stopped vaccinating kids we sell. Vaccines are simply against our personal philosophy, but if you want to vaccinate your goats, we will be happy to explain how it's done and where to buy the supplies, which cost $5 to $10 for vaccinating 1-20 goats.
If you have any other questions about our herd health, please don't hesitate to ask. We are happy to explain what we do and why we do it.