Disease Testing

There are many different philosophies when performing disease-testing. Some people test every goat for every disease every year. Some do NO testing. Some spot-check goats within the herd. Some draw their own samples and run the tests through a commercial laboratory, and some do everything through the local vet. When purchasing goats, please make sure that you understand what “herd-testing” means to the owner, and decide if that is acceptable to you. If not, don’t be afraid to ask for more testing, but be prepared to absorb the cost. There may be an occasion where you need to take possession of a goat prior to having test results. If this is the case, please quarantine the animal until you can be reasonably sure of its health.

Size Matters only purchases goats from disease-tested herds and performs annual disease testing. We also maintain a G6S normal herd. What does that mean? Here’s what we test for and why:

Johne’s Disease:

Who: Everyone over the age of 18 months

How Often: Annually and prior to joining the herd

Type of Sample: Fecal, run at the Colorado State Department of Agriculture

Johne’s is a nasty wasting disease that affects cows and goats; it is highly contagious. There is no cure and it can linger on your property for years, even after infected animals have been removed. It has been linked to Crohn’s disease in humans, so this is one that you really don’t want in your herd. It can take up to 18 months for goats to develop antibodies after exposure, so testing goats UNDER 18 months old won’t tell us much. We submit 2-3 pooled fecal samples for testing annually. We make sure each goat over 18 months is represented in the samples and our vet sends them to the Colorado Department of Agriculture. For more about Johne’s, click here

CAE:

Who: Everyone over the age of 2 weeks

How Often: Annually and prior to joining the herd

Type of Sample: Serum (blood), run at the Colorado State Department of Agriculture

Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis is a virus that is transmitted via bodily fluids and affects the brain, joints, mammary glands and lungs. There is no cure. It will show up on blood test as early as 2 weeks after transmission, but it can take years for symptoms to develop. The most common source of transmission is dam-to-kids via nursing. This prompts many breeders to separate mothers from babies and bottle-feed pasteurized milk. We prefer to test all of our goats annually for CAE and dam-rear the kids. It is an inexpensive blood test that is run at the Colorado Department of Agriculture. We test all of the goats who are part of our herd at testing time. For more about CAE, click here

CL:

Who: Everyone over the age of 6 months

How Often: Once and as needed; also prior to joining the herd

Type of Sample: Serum (blood) for baseline, culture in the event of an abscess; run at the University of California-Davis

Caseous Lymphadenitis is a bacterial disease that spreads through the body via the lymphatic system. Most commonly, it causes respiratory problems, but can affect almost any organ system. It is eventually fatal and there is no recognized cure. It is characterized by large abscesses both under the skin (easy to see) and within the body (not usually visible). When these abscesses rupture, they leak a cheesy, thick, yellow-green exudate that can infect other goats. There is a vaccine, but using it means the goat will always test positive for CL. Herds that have been vaccinated for CL typically have a history of being exposed to CL. Blood testing for CL testing is not terribly reliable. It can take 6 months after exposure for antibodies to develop, so testing goats under 6 months can result in false negatives. Negatives are reliable after the 6 month window. The test also has a fairly high rate of false POSITIVES. Because of the relatively high rate of false positives, we only do one blood test for CL to establish a negative baseline on each goat. If the animal develops an abscess, the wound is cultured and tested directly. This is the most reliable method of testing. To date, Size Matters has never had a positive CL test. We test all goats over the age of 6 months once for CL. For more about CL, click here

TB:

Who: Everyone over the age of 6 months

How Often: Every 3 years, and prior to joining the herds

Type of testing: Skin test performed by veterinarian

Tuberculosis in goats is like tuberculosis in people, and can be transmitted through drinking raw milk. Exposure to avian tuberculosis (usually by chickens) can cause a false positive, but further testing can determine which strain the animal is reacting to. Since Size Matters offers raw milk to the public through our herd share program, we test for TB. Per the Raw Milk Association of Colorado guidelines, we TB test all animals entering the herd, and every three years thereafter. As part of the TB eradication program, all results are reported to the State Department of Agriculture.

Brucellosis:

Who: Everyone over 6 months old

How Often: Every 3 years, and prior to joining the herd

Type of testing: Blood (serum) sample, run at the Colorado State Department of Agriculture.

Brucellosis is present in many species of animals and can be transmitted via bodily fluids, including raw milk. Its main symptom is miscarriage of an otherwise healthy fetus, but there are other symptoms as well. Since Size Matters offers raw milk to the public through our herd share program, we test for Brucellosis. Per the Raw Milk Association of Colorado guidelines, we test all animals entering the herd, and every three years thereafter. For more about Brucellosis, click here.

G6S

Who: Everyone with an unknown status

How often: Once

Type of Testing: Genetic testing run on a hair sample at the University of California-Davis

G6S is a recessive genetic disorder carried by Nubians and Nubian crosses. The disease causes multiple immune problems and failure-to-thrive; stricken animals appear normal at birth but rarely live longer than 6 months. Those with the disease need to have a copy of the gene from each parent in order to manifest the disease. Those with only 1 copy of the gene are silent carriers – they do not have symptoms. For more about G6S, click here. Many breeders believe that as long as their bucks are negative, they do not need to test the does. Size Matters prefers to only produce G6S normal kids, so we establish G6S status on each herd member prior to breeding. If the status of both parents is “Normal”, kids do not need to be tested. The Miniature Dairy Goat Association has begun printing G6S status on the registration certificates at the owner’s request (and if documentation is provided). This is a great idea to help track disease status.


Here are the current results for our herd as of Sept 2019. Lab results available upon request.  A * indicates that this animal was not old enough for this test at time of testing.

Screen Shot 2019-10-19 at 20.10.18

 

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