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ORIGIN: United States

Extension Goat Handbook

This material was contributed from collections at the National Agricultural Library. However, users should direct all inquires about the contents to authors or originating agencies.

DOCN 000000062
NO G-8
C. S. F. Williams; Michigan State U., East Lansing
S. B. Guss; Pennsylvania State U., University Park
Health and Disease Management

1 Taking goats to a show is like taking children to nursery school; they are at risk to every disease available. As long as this is understood, the positive aspects of showing can be balanced against the negative aspects and a decision can be made to show goats or choose some other method of promotion.

2 Predisposing Causes of Disease (Stressors) Protect animals during hauling from exposure to wind, rain, dust, excessive heat and cold. When traveling only a short distance to reach a show location, place compatible animals of a similar size together and allow enough space so they can help support each other while the vehicle is in motion. For long hauls, there should be lots of bedding and enough room to permit the goats to lie down. Open pick-up trucks, slatted horse trailers and campers with little ventilation offer differing but equal opportunities for stress on show animals.

3 To find out how stressful the ride is, try riding with the goats. If you are barely able to crawl out of the truck or trailer afterwards, do not be surprised if the goats don't show well or ''break'' with some infection following the show.

4 Reducing Stress at Shows Several factors may make showing less stressful:
1. Arrive at the show well ahead of time.
2. Be sure that a veterinarian has examined all animals entered and found them healthy.
3. Place animals in a clean, safe pen.
4. Provide plenty of familiar hay.
5. Make sure that animals have plenty of rest and quiet before they are brought into the show ring.
6. Do not overbag your doe so that her legs have to swing around her udder. At showtime, an udder should be filled to about the size and texture it reaches at peak lactation on twice daily milking.
7. Provide drinkable water - many goats refuse to drink chlorinated or other ''strange'' water at shows. Many who show goats bring from home a 10 gallon milkcan full of water to be sure their animals will drink enough. Sometimes, strange water can be made acceptable by adding a quarter cupfull of molasses or a tablespoonful of baking soda per three gallon bucket.

5 Individual Goat Stress Goats vary in their ability to withstand the stress of being on the show circuit. Some goats appear to thrive on it and eat well, maintain production and manage to look good most of the time. These animals are very likely to be some of the most reliable producers at home as well. The goat that is easily upset on the show circuit, and needs a lot of individual attention, will probably not show well, neither will she produce to her potential in a large herd.

6 In many ways, showing results in the survival of the fittest. An aged doe, with good conformation and the constitution, both mental and physical, to survive the stresses of production and showing is a truly admirable animal.

7 Diseases These can be divided into two groups. Firstly, there are those that occur during or immediately after a show, so there is little or no doubt as to where the disease came from. Secondly, there are the diseases which take a long time to develop and there is no reliable way of telling where they came from. You only know that goats have been in contact with goats from other herds and more disease problems are now present than you think are justified.

8 Acute Diseases The most obvious epidemic disease in this category is soremouth, a virus disease capable of infecting humans. Sores and scabs appear on the gums, lips and nose, and occasionally around the teats, tail, eyelids and feet. Sheep also suffer from this disease, and since many goats are housed in the sheep pens at fairs, it is possible for goats to acquire the disease by contact with scabs and virus on the pen walls. Handling of goats by judges and visitors will also spread the disease. Thorough examination of goats as they arrive at the show will not eliminate risk of this disease. A goat may have no lesions at all, when she arrives, but may be incubating the disease, and then the sores and scabs will appear on the lips a few days later. During this time, she has spread the virus to many other goats.

9 Pink-eye, or conjuctivitis, may be due to an injury if it only affects one eye of one goat. If it spreads from goat to goat, then it is an infectious conjunctivitis. Any pink-eye case will be aggravated by dust, flies and bright sunlight, and affected animals should be kept out of the sun and the wind with easy access to food and water.

10 Respiratory infections are very common after susceptible animals have been to a show, and the infection often spreads through the rest of the animals that did not go to the show, especially if there was no isolation of the returning goats. Goats will cough and have a nasal discharge. They may run a fever, be off-feed, and stand around, in a depressed state with drooping ears. There is no one specific infectious organism that causes this. Very likely there are several agents involved, similar to the shipping fever situation in cattle. After several shows and bouts of respiratory infection, most goats develop some resistance. After that, it is usually only the newcomers that will be affected. However, some animals may remain as chronic coughers, and these often relapse into pneumonia following stresses such as a sudden change in the weather.

11 If pseudorabies exists in the local hogs, then goats should not be housed near hogs, or transported in hog trucks to the fair.

12 Rotavirus infection has been reported to cause acute shorterm diarrhea in show goats, but the prevalence of this virus in US goats is not known. Digestive upsets may occur at the fair, but this is usually due to erratic feeding schedules and strange food and water rather than any infectious disease. Mastitis may occur as a result of injury to the udder during transport or the stress of overbagging.

13 Long Term Diseases It is highly unlikely that showing goats will expose them to any parasites that they did not have already. It is also highly unlikely that goats will contract tuberculosis or brucellosis because these diseases are extremely rare and subject to regulatory action.

14 The issue of abscesses and transmission via shows is controversial. The disease, caseous lymphadenitis, is caused by Corynebacterium ovis (pseudotuberculosis). These bacteria have been shown to be capable of causing an abscess in a goat, after being placed on the skin. Therefore, it is prudent to avoid contact with abscessed goats and sharing of potentially contaminated equipment such as collars, halters, brushes, clippers, etc. be tween herds.

15 A goat infected with this organism is a hazard to other goats. An abscess, regardless of the stage of development, should be sufficient to have the goat barred from the show under state laws prohibiting the exhibition of animals with signs of contagious or infectious disease.

16 Health Papers Before goats are shipped or shown in another state, health requirements for the state of destination should be followed. First, call the state veterinarian's office in your own state and ask what tests and documents are required at your destination. Most states require a Health Certificate written and signed by an Accredited Veterinarian stating that the animal(s) and the herd of origin are free from tuberculosis, brucellosis and any evidence of infectious or contagious caprine disease. Unfortunately, many health certificates do not represent a thorough examination of the animals shipped nor a clear knowledge that the herd of origin is free of disease. Therefore, a health certificate does not take the place of careful veterinary examination of consigned animals immediately before their entrance to shows and sales. Even so, the animals could be incubating an acute disease, they could be incubating a long-term disease like Johne's, or they could be carriers, yet show no signs; and the veterinarian is correct in accepting the health papers and accepting the animal for the show or sale. It is not safe to presume that goats are healthy, just because they have health papers.

17 Conclusions The experienced showman on a summer long circuit knows which goats can withstand the stresses, and that most of them have developed an immunity to the acute illnesses anyway. The novice, with a new show herd of highly susceptible animals will have far more problems with acute diseases.

ORIGIN;United States


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