Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Topic of the Month: Diseases

There are several diseases that goats can get in this area. The ones I will discuss here are CAE, CL, and Johnes. These can be subclinical for part of their infection cycle which makes them hard to detect just by looking at the goat. Another reason they might not be easily recognized is that some of them share similar symptoms to other goat ailments. Due to this, a blood test utilizing an ELISA assay is one of the most effective ways to diagnose goats with these diseases. There are a few labs that will run an ELISA blood test on goats. BioTracking, Inc. will accept samples directly from goat owners (no veterinarian needed) and will run tests for CAE. This company is very well respected for having accurate results. You can check them out at Another company that will run ELISA assays for CAE, CL, and Johnes is Pan American Vet Labs, located in Texas. They will test blood samples that are mailed to them. They do not require a veterinarian to draw the blood or send the samples. They can be found at
Below is a description of each disease as I understand it:
1.       CAE – CAE (Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis) is a viral disease of the goat. It does not hurt humans in any way and is not spread to other animals, except very rarely in sheep. This disease is very widespread in North America and can be found in any type of goat. The symptoms are usually subclinical and don’t cause a problem unless the goat is weakened by other diseases. Symptoms can include paralytic encephalitis in kids under 6 months old, severe arthritis and lameness in goats 1-2 years old, very hard udders in newly freshened goats, and wasting/condition loss in older goats. The virus is spread through white blood cells to other goats. The most common way to spread the virus is from an infected dam to a newborn kid through the colostrum. Kids who are pulled from their dams at birth and fed heat treated colostrum and then pasteurized milk do not get the virus. Less commonly, adult goats can spread it to each other through blood to blood contact, ingestion/contact of infected milk during milking, through nasal secretions and mucous, or through sharing equipment between infected and non-infected goats. Many farms have been successful at eliminating the virus from their herds by bottle-raising kids on clean or pasteurized milk and by eliminating older, infected animals from the herd when they show symptoms of the disease. Taking care not to share unsanitized equipment between uninfected and infected animals is very important to the prevention of disease spread. Testing of all the goats in a herd on a semi-annual basis is the ONLY way to track infection.  Testing for CAE is a simple blood test. BioTracking, Inc. is one of the leading companies that perform CAE testing. You can order the blood tubes, needles, and needle holders from them. You take 2mL of blood from each goat that is over 6 months old and mail the blood back to BioTracking. If you send the blood on Monday, they will email you the results by Friday afternoon. The results will consist of a percent inhibition (0-100%) and a “positive” or “negative” rating. Goats that have 0-30% inhibition are considered negative and uninfected. Goats that have 30-40% inhibition are considered “suspect” of being infected and need to be retested in 6 months or less. Goats that score over 40% are positive and infected. Once you begin testing with BioTracking, it is recommended that you retest every 6 months in order to assess the true health of your herd.
Testing for CAE and following prevention is a personal choice. Since most goats do not exhibit symptoms of CAE during their lives, many people chose to ignore the disease. In the Adirondacks, it is uncommon for people to worry about CAE. Most goats in the area are not raised on CAE prevention and most of them are infected due to this. If you want your goats to be CAE free you must breed them, take their kids away at birth, feed them pasteurized milk, and then cull the adult goats that are positive. By starting over with a clean herd, you can eliminate CAE as long as you are careful. Although even with a “clean” herd you must test semi-annually to make sure that none of the goats develop CAE. Since it is largely subclinical, testing is the only way to know if goats have it.
2.       CL – Caseous lymphandenitis is a bacterial disease. Its symptoms include large abscesses located where the lymph nodes are. There can be external abscesses as well as internal ones. The bacteria spread from goat to goat through the pus from the abscesses. The pus looks like cream cheese. The internal abscesses can burst and the bacteria can spread through the infected mucous to other goats. A veterinarian can culture the pus and determine whether it is CL or an abscess for a different reason. Any time a goat has an unexplained abscess, a veterinarian should test the abscess for CL. CL is very contagious and very hard to get rid of once a herd has been exposed. Any goats that have CL abscesses should be euthanized immediately. There is no treatment or cure for CL. CL can spread to humans and cause localized abscesses. Whenever working with an abscess on a goat, be sure to wear gloves and be sure to burn or sterilize any materials that came in contact with pus from the abscess. The pus contains the bacteria so care should be taken to sanitize anything that has come in contact with it. You can have a blood test for CL done. The blood test looks for antibodies in the goat’s blood to the CL bacteria. Sometimes a goat can have CL but not have antibodies to it. The blood test is not entirely fool-proof but it can help you assess the health of your herd.

3.       Johnes – Johnes (pronounced “yo-nays”) disease or paratuberculosis is commonly found in cows. It is a bacterial disease that can be found in all ruminants and is very contagious. It causes rapid weight loss in spite of the animal having a hardy appetite. It can also cause long-term diarrhea. The bacteria do this by creating inflammation in the intestines that limits nutrient absorption. Johnes can be tested for through a blood test or fecal sample. The disease is uncommon in goat herds but many people chose to test for it when they take blood for routine CAE and CL tests. Johnes can lay dormant in a herd and not show itself for many years. Once you have it in your herd it is impossible to get rid of because it spreads easily and can live in the soil. Culling infected animals and starting over with a clean herd in a new location is ideal.

Due to the wasting nature of Johnes and CAE, it is easy to confuse the symptoms of these diseases with other goat ailments. Parasite overload can also cause wasting and death in a relatively short amount of time. Tetanus and meningeal worm have neurological symptoms that are similar to what can be seen in these other diseases. Testing your goats routinely for CAE, CL, and Johnes can help to diagnose what is going on when a goat is sick. It is hard to determine exactly how many goats in the Adirondacks have these diseases since most people do not test for them. Also due to the lack of adequate veterinary care in the area most people do not have a necropsy or diagnostic tests run after a goat dies from an undetermined reason. It is unknown how many goats die from these diseases or die due to other ailments that have similar symptoms. Testing is the only way to get an idea of what diseases are in your herd.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

ADK Goat Club Meeting - January 14, 2012

The next ADK Goat Club meeting will be on January 14, 2012 from 11am - 2pm at my house in Vermontville. We will have a potluck lunch, a raffle, and door prizes! Please spread the word to others with goats in the Adirondacks so we can have a good turn out!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Topic of the Month: Minerals

This month's topic is a discussion on mineral supplementation for your goats.

All goats need mineral supplementation added to their grain, hay, and pasture rations. Due to goats being browsers by nature, they have evolved to eat a wide variety of different vegetation. This wide variety of vegetation supplies goats with a natural variety of vitamins and minerals. Sheep and cows, which are grazers by nature, have evolved to eat mainly grass. Thus goats need more mineral supplementation in a confined pasture situation than other ruminants.

The best form of mineral supplementation for goats is to provide them with loose, granular mineral blends that are designed specifically for goats. Goats have small mouths and soft tongues which make mineral blocks and mineral tubs too hard for them to utilize fully. This is why loose, granular minerals are most important. Mineral blocks use salt as a binding agent to make them hard. This means they contain much more sodium than a goat needs daily. Sodium is a limiting factor in the goat's diet so a goat will only lick enough of a mineral block to satisfy its sodium needs for the day and not its other mineral needs. Loose minerals do not have excess salt in them. While we are on the topic of sodium, some people put out baking soda all the time for goats to eat to balance their rumen pH. This causes the same problem as excess sodium in mineral blocks by satisfying a goat's sodium needs, causing them to shun their minerals. If you put out baking soda and loose minerals together all the time, the goats will eat the baking soda first and then not as much of the minerals as they should.

The loose minerals should be designed specifically for goats because other species of animals have different mineral requirements. Sheep can not have added copper in their diets. Usually, minerals that are labeled "All Stock" will be formulated with sheep in mind and will not contain enough copper to keep goats healthy. Goats need a lot of copper in their diets. Some people with sheep and goats housed together prefer to put out loose mineral that is formulated for sheep and then supplement their goats a couple of times a year with a bolus of copper. Copper boluses are large pills that you feed orally to the goat. The pill sits in the goat's rumen and slowly releases the copper that is in the pill. Unfortunately there is not a brand of copper bolus available specifically for goats so most people that want to bolus their goats must take cow Copasure boluses and resize them manually for their goats. 

A good goat mineral blend should have a 2:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio. This ratio should be considered when feeding the goat its grain ration and alfalfa ration. Processed grains are high in phosphorus, alfalfa is high in calcium. If your goats are getting lots of grain or lots of alfalfa daily, then look for a mineral blend that will balance out the calcium to phosphorus ratio to 2:1. 

Another thing to consider when supplementing goats with minerals is the mineral content of the water they drink. If their water is normally very high in iron or calcium or some other mineral, then it is best to look for a loose mineral that is low in this particular mineral. This way the amount of the mineral the goat receives daily will balance out. Too much of one mineral in the diet will cause a deficiency in other minerals. Minerals compete for binding sites in the body and if there is an imbalance, the mineral in abundance in the diet will win out. A goat could be on a balanced mineral blend and still have a deficiency due to too much of a certain mineral present somewhere else in the diet.

Please post a comment if you have any additions or subtractions to the above information. I welcome any discussion on the topic!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Farm 2 Fork Festival!

The Adirondack Goat Club will be at the Saranac Lake Farm 2 Fork Festival on September 3, 2011. The Fest is located in Riverside Park in downtown Saranac Lake. It will be an all day event from 9am to 5pm. This event will be the culmination of the "Week Of Eating Local" celebration throughout the Tri-Lakes. The Fest will include samples of delicious local food, food recipes, workshops on growing and preparing food, and other food and farm related events. The ADK Goat Club will be there with some goats and goat information. We will also be hosting the "Goat Workshop" from 11:30am to 12pm at the Fest. Come and learn all about goats!!

Come support your local farmers and food producers by stopping by the Farm 2 Fork Festival for some delicious food and some education on how to grow your own food and where to get local food.

I hope to see you there!!!!

Friday, July 22, 2011


Wow, I bet you are wondering what happened to the Club? Well, it's not forgotten or disassembled. It's just on hiatus for the summer. With all the fun goat stuff going on during the summer it's hard to sit and plan a meeting. I hope to resume the Club in the fall and get some great meetings going.

Please stay tuned for future meetings. See you in the fall!!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

1st Meeting Wrap Up

Unfortunately due to the glorious weather on Saturday, June 18, not many people showed up to the inaugural goat club meeting. I don't blame them, it was beautiful outside and not a drop of rain in sight. For the few who did show up we had a good time and ate some good food and had a good discussion about all things goat. The raffle was post-poned until a better attending meeting is held. Added to the raffle items were the book "American Farmstead Cheese" and a DIY goat packing saddle kit. These were donated by the attendees.

Another meeting will be scheduled for a later date. I am thinking it should be a dinner meeting so that people don't have to take time out of the middle of their day to come. I will keep you posted! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Topic of the Month: NYS Laws and Regulations

For those who are interested in playing by the book, here's a list of some of the New York State dairy and livestock regulations that might effect goat farmers.

Fencing laws -- These are terribly archaic and probably haven't been updated since 1900 but they still hold up in court and apply legally today. This link also has regulations that apply when your animals do property damage on someone else's property and vice-versa.

Dairy regulations regarding the sale of milk and milk products -- These are some complex laws that make it very hard (actually, pretty much impossible) for someone to legally sell raw or pasteurized milk or milk products from their farm.

Of particular interest to goat farmers may be this set of regulations on production, processing, and distribution of milk and milk products.

Here are some specific rules on raw milk sales.

Here's the rules on interstate transfer of goats.

These are the rules for showing goats in the State Fair and County Fairs. I believe these rules also apply to goats that are on public display and exposed to the public (petting zoos, local farmer's markets, etc).

I am looking further into the issue of whether or not goats must be vaccinated for rabies if they are going to be exposed to the public. I have heard people say that it is a law that they must be vaccinated. The problem is that there is currently no vaccine for rabies that is officially approved for usage in goats. There is a sheep vaccine, but most veterinarians won't certify its use in goats because this is an "off-label" usage of this vaccine. It's a catch-22 because if you really do need goats vaccinated, you can't because there isn't a vaccine available. I will report back if I get a good answer from the State Health Department or Ag and Markets. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Raffle Items!

I have wonderful raffle items for the ADK Goat Club meeting on Saturday at 12pm:

Hoegger's Goat Supply sent me a complete hoof trimming kit with trimming guide for the raffle. Thank you Hoegger's for your generous donation!

There's a new copy of "Goat Song: A Seasonal Life, A Short History of Herding, and the Art of Cheesemaking" by Brad Kessler. Anyone who loves goats should read this beautiful ode to the dairy goat and small herd farming.

I have two jars of Bully Goat Jelly. This is a delicious sweet spread made from Bully Hill "Love My Goat" wine. It pairs wonderfully with fresh chevre!

There's an assortment of handmade Goat Milk Soaps made by me. The assortment will include one bar of Balsam Forest scent, one bar of Vanilla-Oatmeal scent, and one bar of Citrus Breeze scent.

I may add more raffle items as the time draws near, so come to the meeting to join in the raffle!

All raffle tickets will be $1 or 6 for $5. The proceeds will go towards funding for the club.

There will also be door prizes for lucky club members. Everyone could be a winner!!!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Meeting Agenda

The agenda for the Adirondack Goat Club meeting on June 18, 2011 is as follows:

12pm - Potluck lunch (please bring  a dish to share)
1pm - Formal introductions for everyone -- a good way to get to know everybody
1:30pm - Business meeting -- updates on future meetings and workshops, raffle and door prize drawings
2pm - Open discussion on goat care basics -- what works for you, what works in this area, what's important for all goat owners to know
3pm - Farm tour

I hope to see everyone there!!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Raffle and Door Prizes!!!

For another reason to come to the first Adirondack Goat Club meeting, there will be raffles and door prizes! Raffle items will include new and gently used goat equipment and books. Hoof trimmers, disbudders, goat collars, buckets and dishes may be in the raffle.  Raffle items might even include a goat!! You will have to come to the meeting to find out! Door prizes will be handmade, all natural, goat milk soap by Rose's Goats. The soap is made with goat milk and olive oil. Each bar is lightly scented with fun scents. Each bar is colored using natural or approved soap colorants.

The meeting will also include a barn tour of my farm. I have several dairy goats on a 45 acre woodlot in the Northern Adirondack Mountains. Come visit the goats and have a good time!
I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ADK Goat Club Goals

The goals for the ADK Goat Club are thus:

1. To create a network of local goat owners and enthusiasts to share their knowledge about goats with each other.

2. To maintain a resource for goat owners to share equipment, goat care needs, and techniques.

3. To provide a source of information on goat care in the Adirondacks including workshops, newsletters, and lectures.

4. To have fun with goats!

Friday, May 20, 2011


Welcome to the new Adirondack Goat Club! The club is open to all people living in the Tri-Lakes area (and beyond) who own goats or who are interested in owning goats. The club will meet on a bi-monthly basis at locations around the Tri-Lakes. This blog will be updated on a weekly basis with goat and goat club related information. Hopefully the club will grow to include guest lectures on topics such as goat packing, artificial insemination, milking, soap-making, etc. Hopefully this blog will grow to include guest articles on varied subjects of the goat realm.

Join us for the inaugural meeting on June 18th at 12pm in Vermontville, NY. Please bring a dish to pass. Potluck lunch will be followed by the meeting at 1pm. For more information and directions, please contact Rose Bartiss at rosesgoats(at) Thanks and I hope to see you there!!