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Goat Health

Animal Health Australia (AHA) works closely with the Australian goat industry to deliver the Goat Production Conditions Project (GPCP), which seeks to address the issues of lost production in the goat value chains, to protect goats from endemic disease and support the trade in goats and goat products. The GPCP provides technical information about a number of diseases and animal health conditions as well as biosecurity and associated communications to assist with disease control.

The GPCP has the flexibility to include multiple projects when they are identified by the goat industries and is  managed by AHA.

Parasites and endemic diseases such as lice, footrot, Johne’s disease, caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE) and resistant worms have been in Australia for many years. They can impact the health of goats, causing lost production for the goat industry and significant losses for some individual farmers.

Unintentionally purchasing infected goats can seriously affect herd health. Endemic diseases can continue to spread as a result of stock purchases and goat movements if owners and buyers can’t get the right information to manage the risk.

The Goat Industry Council of Australia (GICA) has sponsored the development of a National Goat Health Declaration (NGHD) and a National Kid Rearing Plan to assist prospective purchasers evaluate the animal health status of stock offered for sale or agistment.

Managing goat health

Animals can become infected with a number of diseases especially in the first weeks and months of life.  Two important diseases are Johne’s disease, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium paratuberculosis (Mptb), and Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE) caused by a retrovirus.

Reducing the exposure of young goats to potential sources of infection and increasing their immunity early in life can significantly reduce their risk of becoming infected and spreading infection to others. One method of reducing the risk of these diseases is to snatch-rear kids. GICA has developed a set of technical notes for veterinarians on Snatch Rearing and Pre-weaning Kid Management in Goat Enterprises and a similar fact sheet titled Snatch Rearing and Pre-Weaning Kid Management for producers.

The goat industry has also developed the National Kid Rearing Plan to provide additional assistance to producers to minimise exposure of kids to Mptb and CAE through potentially contaminated colostrum, milk, water, feed and ground.

National Goat Health Declaration

The National Goat Health Declaration (NGHD) is designed to guide vendors through the necessary steps to complete the declaration, and includes:

  • personal details—name, property identification code (PIC), address and other details
  • calculation of goats’ assurance rating for Johne’s disease
  • animal health status for all the other conditions listed on the NGHD
  • signature and date.

A completed NGHD is a legal document under state laws. It can be audited and there are penalties for false declarations. A false declaration could leave a producer liable to legal action.

The NGHD covers:

Vendors can use the NGHD to promote the favourable health status of their animals.

Prospective goat buyers can use the declaration to assess the risk a line of goats represents to their own herd.

Buying or agisting goats without a signed NGHD is considered a risky business, as very little may be known about the incoming goats.

Johne’s disease in goats

Johne’s disease is a serious wasting disease of goats, which can lead to loss of production and death. The disease is caused by a bacterium (Mycobacterium paratuberculosis) that lives mainly in animal intestines, but can also survive in the outside environment for several months. Johne’s disease affects animals by causing thickening of the intestinal wall resulting in a reduction in the normal absorption of food.

Johne’s disease is seen more often in dairy goats than meat or fibre goats, but all breeds may be infected if they come into contact with the bacterium.

Goats acquire infection at an early age through eating contaminated pasture or drinking contaminated milk or water.

The signs of disease develop slowly and the disease is rarely seen in young animals.

In Australia, the disease occurs more frequently in the southern states. Western Australia (WA) and the Northern Territory (NT) have no known infected goat herds.

Of the two recognised strains of Johne’s disease in Australia (cattle strain and sheep strain), the cattle strain is more common in goats and mainly associated with dairy goats. Fibre and meat goats are more likely to be exposed to the sheep strain.

The goat industry program is part of the National Johne’s Disease Project (NJDP).

Johne’s disease factsheet and poster

AHA and the Goat Industry Council of Australia have developed a number of tools and produced a poster and fact sheet to help producers understand, avoid and manage the impacts of Johne’s disease JD in their goat herds.

Both the fact sheet and the poster have been provided as professional, print-ready PDF files that can be downloaded for free and are formatted to be printed by a professional printing company in a finish and style of your choice or they can simply be printed from the home or office printer.

Image of fact sheet

Low resolution fact sheet (pdf 537kb)

High resolution, print ready fact sheet (pdf 1.2mb)

poster images

Low resolution poster (pdf 246kb)

High resolution, print ready poster (pdf 1.7mb)

Goat risk rating for Johne’s disease

To assist producers identify the potential risk associated with buying goats GICA, in consultation with the state departments of primary industries, has developed a risk rating scale for Johne’s disease.

The goat risk rating scale has been incorporated in the National Goat Health Statement (NGHS) so prospective buyers can better understand the health status and risk associated with purchasing particular lines of animals offered for sale. Australian Johne’s Disease Market Assurance Program for Goats (GoatMAP)

The Australian Johne’s Disease Market Assurance Program for Goat (GoatMAP) is a voluntary quality assurance program for producers to identify and promote animals with a very low risk of having Johne’s disease.

Producers whose herds have entered the GoatMAP have developed a farm biosecurity plan, regularly test livestock, and carefully evaluate and monitor any introductions of livestock to their herd.

Vaccination

Vaccination of kids at the approved age does not prevent M ptb infection in all animals, but it does reduce the incidence of infection and the severity of Johne’s disease in the minority of goats that do become infected.

GudairTM vaccine is registered for use in goats. Goats should be vaccinated at 4–16 weeks of age to be considered ‘approved vaccinates’.

Be careful handling and injecting the vaccine as it causes inflammatory lumps, which can be severe. People who accidentally inoculate themselves should seek immediate medical attention.

The National Goat Health Statement recognises goats vaccinated after 16 weeks of age as approved vaccinates when a GoatMAP-approved veterinarian confirms that they have not been exposed to Johne’s disease.

Related links

 

Page reviewed: October 27, 2016