By Donna Pearce : 3/25/12
CAE is Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis virus. It is a retrovirus that effects goats and spreads through the milk from infected dams to uninfected kids. 80% of goats are suspected of being infected. It is very common in dairy goats. Boer goats are starting to show infection due to being crossed to dairy goats. The virus doesn’t affect humans at all.
Symptoms of CAE are neurological problems in kids under 1 month old. Older goats get big, arthritic front knees and rock hard udders at freshening. It can take up to a week to get the udder to soften enough to get milk from it.
CAE is spread through the milk mainly. It is suspected of being spread through licking. It may be sexually transmitted. Infected goats that are showing advanced symptoms of CAE may be able to spread it to other goats through casual contact and sharing of equipment and goat supplies.
The best way to test for CAE is a blood test sent to WADDL (Washington State Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab). The test is about $6 per sample. WADDL is the most accurate lab for CAE testing. It is best to test once a year because the test is only good on the day it was taken. A goat could test negative for a while before it finally tests positive. Never assume your herd is completely negative without testing negative animals regularly.
To prevent CAE from spreading, tape the teats of goats that are going to kid so the babies can’t nurse if you aren’t present to keep them from nursing. Only one suck of raw milk can infect a kid for life! Pull the kids from the doe at birth and do not let her lick the babies. Clean the babies and bottle feed them heat treated goat colostrum or raw cow colostrum from a Johnes-free cow herd.
To heat treat colostrum, take an insulated thermos and fill it with water that is 145F. Be sure to test the thermos before using it for colostrum to make sure the thermos can hold a steady temperature for one hour. Slowly heat up your fresh colostrum on the stove in a double boiler. Heat the colostrum to 137F. DO NOT LET COLOSTRUM GET HOTTER THAN 140F!! If it gets too hot, colostrum will congeal to a thick pudding that is not useable. You will have to throw it out and start over. Be sure to stay with the colostrum to carefully watch that it does not overheat. Once the colostrum is 137F, pour the hot water out of the thermos through the funnel you will use to put the colostrum into the thermos. Preheating the funnel will help to keep the temperature of the colostrum at the right degree as you transfer it into the thermos. Once your preheated thermos and funnel are ready, pour the 137F colostrum into the thermos. Wipe the inside of the thermos with a clean towel so no extra colostrum is around the edges. Seal the thermos and leave it for one hour.
The goal is to have all of your colostrum at the same temperature for one hour. Any colostrum that does not hold the 137F temperature for one hour could carry the CAE virus and infect any kids you feed. Be very careful to clean any raw colostrum off of your milking equipment and keep it away from your heat-treated colostrum. Once the colostrum is heat treated, it can be fed immediately to the kids or frozen for up to one year.
Heat treating colostrum can take a while to do so don’t be worried that the kids will not get their first colostrum feeding for over one hour. If the kids are good and strong at birth, they will not suffer if they do not get colostrum right away while you are heat treating it. Do not tube feed healthy kids if they won’t eat at first. Tube feeding is only for very weak kids or premature kids. Once you put the tube down the kid, put the other end of the tube in a glass of water. If bubbles come out of the tube then the tube is in the lungs and not in the stomach. Pull the tube immediately and reposition it into the stomach. Do not force milk through the tube. Let the milk flow by gravity from the syringe into the goat. Once the goat has received one or two ounces of milk, pinch the tube tightly and whip it quickly out of the kid. If you don’t pinch the tube, the milk can spill out while pulling the tube and go into the lungs. Whipping the tube out quickly will also help keep milk out of the lungs.
To pasteurize regular goat milk, heat it to 180F in a double boiler. Remove it from heat immediately and keep it separate from any raw milk. Be sure to keep raw milk and any utensils used on raw milk separate so as not to contaminate the pasteurized milk.
Be sure to check your thermometers regularly so they are reading the correct temperature. Be sure to check your thermos that it is keeping a steady temperature for one hour.