March 2019 Issue
IN THIS ISSUE:
SKIN DISEASES IN GOATS
Skin diseases are the most difficult illnesses to diagnose in goats. You cannot diagnose skin problems by visual observation, especially distinguishing bacterial from fungal infections. If you mis-diagnose and treat incorrectly, you will make it worse. For example, if you treat a fungal infection with steroids, the problem gets much worse very fast. You must have a vet take skin plugs, put them under a microscope, and diagnose the problem accurately before treatment is begun. This will save time and end the goat's suffering sooner. Goats are pretty stoic animals, but skin diseases make them visibly miserable.
Skin diseases in goats fall into four categories: bacterial, fungal, parasitic, and viral.
Staphylococci bacteria often invade skin lesions on goats. Infection can be generalized over large areas of the goat's body or localized in pustules on areas such as a doe's udder. Treat by cleaning the affected area thoroughly with Chlorhexidine or Betadine solution, then applying an antibiotic cream topically. Five consecutive days of injections of long-lasting Benzathine Penicillin (five cc's per one hundred pounds of body weight given sub-cutaneously (SQ) over the ribs with an 18 gauge needle) is appropriate. Your vet might also recommend the use of injectable steroids in certain cases.
Ringworm is a common fungal disease in goats. It is a fungus, not a worm, and appears during prolonged periods of wet weather. As is the case with other skin conditions, keeping the loafing and sleeping areas clean and dry will help reduce the occurrence of this organism.
Ringworm can be located almost anywhere on the goat's body. It takes the form of a rounded patch of hair surrounded completely by a hairless ring. Left untreated, it gets bigger and bigger. Ringworm is contagious both to goats and to humans.
Wearing disposable gloves, you must thoroughly wash the area with a topical skin disinfectant like Betadine solution, then wipe the cleansed skin surface dry and apply non-prescription 1% Clotrimazole Cream to the affected area. Repeat this treatment daily for at least two weeks until the ringworm is gone. While ringworm usually doesn't bother the goat, it can take as long as a month to eliminate.
An alternative treatment for many fungal diseases involves the use of 97.8% lime sulphur concentrate diluted and applied in dip form to the goat's body. In some areas, this product may require a vet prescription.
Ticks and Mange (mites) are difficult to eradicate, requiring topical treatment with the appropriate external insecticide once a week until evidence of infection is gone. Pierce's All Purpose NuStock in a tube (Jeffers, 1-800-533-3377) works well to get rid of mites.
Lice infestation is common in goats. Sometimes only one or two animals have them, but everyone in the herd must be treated and then treated again in a week. If a goat with a scruffy goat has been recently de-wormed and the deworming has been verified as successful by doing fecal counts, it may be that lice are the problem. (Just because you de-wormed does not mean that it worked.) Lice are usually visible to the naked eye.
There are two types of lice, biting and blood-sucking, and microscopic examination is necessary to determine which kind is present on the goat. Treatment, however, is similar, so assume it is the blood-sucking kind that will cause anemia if left uncontrolled and treat immediately with Synergized De-Lice, Cylence, or similar product topically. Young kids and pregnant/lactating does should be topically treated with either puppy-safe/kitten-safe flea powder, 5% Sevin Dust or Diatomaceous Earth (DE), taking care to keep the product out of eyes, ears, mouths, and nostrils. For does that are being milked, choose one of several medications on the market that have either very short or zero milk withdrawal times. Jeffers carries a selection of these products.
Keds is a wingless blood-sucking fly that burrows into the skin of the goat. Insecticides used for lice control are also effective against Keds.
Screw worms are fly maggots that are deposited into body openings or wounds, including broken horns. Usage of fly repellents and insecticides cut down on the likelihood of screw worm infestation. A screw worm deposit should be cleaned out with a mild solution of pine oil or similar product and a topical antibiotic like Triple Antibiotic Cream applied until the infected area is healed. Then a fly repellant should be used. Jeffers carries screw worm control products as well as aerosol fly control sprays that are safe to spray directly onto the goat.
Warbles is a condition caused by the burrowing of the heel fly into the skin. Read the article on how to treat Warbles on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com and in the Archives section of MeatGoatMania.
Soremouth (contagious ecthyma) is a common viral disease afflicting goats. In most cases, it is not debilitating, but the appearance of soremouth in a herd when young kids are nursing can be deadly. Soremouth (sometimes called Orf) affects mucous membranes such as lips and teats, making nursing difficult and can cause the dam to reject kids because nursing is painful to her. Kids can starve to death if you don't intervene to make sure that they get fed.
Soremouth blisters appear, usually on the goat's lips or teats, and when they scab over and drop off, the ground becomes infected. Some goats may be carriers of the disease but not get sick. Once a goat has had soremouth, it will not likely catch the disease again for about seven years because the immune system builds up resistance to the virus. However, once your property has been infected with Soremouth virus, it is there for a long time and there is nothing you can do to eradicate it. Learn to deal with it. This is part of raising goats.
Treat Soremouth with the topical application of Gentian Violet, an old-time remedy that is both cheap and effective. It is usually kept behind the pharmacy counter. Wear disposable gloves, since Soremouth is zoonotic (contagious to humans) and Gentian Violet stains purple. Also effective in drying up the blisters are CamphoPhenique and Tea Tree Oil.
A LIVE virus vaccine exists to prevent Soremouth. The downside is that if a herd doesn't already have Soremouth, the vaccine will introduce it to all of them. You will have to decide for yourself if you wish to vaccinate against Soremouth. I will NOT use this vaccine on my goats because I think it causes more problems than it solves.
Caprine Herpesvirus is occasionally seen in goats and generally has to run its course. This virus, if present in pregnant does, is likely to cause abortions. In these cases, high fever accompanies the Herpesvirus infection. There is a genital form that is believed to be venereal and bucks do not have to show obvious signs of infection in order to spread Herpesvirus. Oddly, neither the goats' ability to reproduce nor their conception rates are negatively affected by this disease.
The hardest diseases to diagnose properly are skin diseases. Especially with staph and fungal infections, which are hard to identify visually, you must have a vet take skin plugs, put them under a microscope, and diagnose the problem accurately before treatment is begun. Topical applications of medication must be done with special care when pregnant and/or lactating does and young kids are involved. Skin diseases are not something you are likely to be able to diagnose accurately without veterinary help. It is extremely difficult to distinguish between staph and fungal infections just by looking at them and a mistaken diagnosis leads to a lot of suffering by the goat.
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, ONION CREEK RANCH, Texas 3.2.19
Four years after I had begun raising fullblood Myotonic meat goats and about nine months after I imported a trio of Boers from New Zealand, I began to wonder why people were so excited about Boers as "meat" goats. My Myotonics had far more meat on them, were much easier to manage, kidded easily, and were cheaper to feed. I asked myself this question: Why can't I take the more heavily muscled fullblood Myotonic bucks that I trademarked as Tennessee Meat Goats™, breed them to Boer does, and begin the development of a new meat goat breed that put more MEAT on the offspring (coming from the TMG sires) and with a bit faster growth rate and frame size (contributed by the Boer females)? So in 1995, I began the multi-year process of creating the superior commercial meat goat breed that I trademarked as TexMaster™. A new breed was in the making.
A minimum of seven generations of breeding is required to produce animals that breed "true." Breeding "true" means that breeding pairs reproduce offspring with consistent characteristics, i.e. they produce traits that replicate themselves from goat to goat with enough consistency of configuration to be called a BREED. I have been producing TexMasters™ for over 20 years. That's a lot of breedings and cullings.
Important: TexMasters™ are not simply a cross breed of Myotonics and Boers. TexMasters™ are the result of many years of crossing, evaluating, re-evaluating, re-crossing, and heavily culling in every generation. More importantly, TexMasters™ are the product of Onion Creek Ranch Tennessee Meat Goat™ genetics and specially-bred Boer and TMG-Boer cross does produced at Onion Creek Ranch in Texas.
Over the years, I've improved the TexMaster™ breed by removing much Boer influence because I learned that it didn't take much "Boer" in the mix to reduce the meat produced on the offspring. Only Tennessee Meat Goat™ bucks were used as foundation sires. I used just enough of the Boer on the maternal side to increase slightly both the growth rate and frame size of the offspring. The precise formula is proprietary, i.e. Onion Creek Ranch's trade secret. The MEAT on the TexMaster™ comes from Onion Creek Ranch Tennessee Meat Goat™ sires; the meat does not come from the Boer females. The TexMaster™ breed retains the hardiness of the Tennessee Meat Goat™ with excellent mothering instincts, ease of kidding, lower maintenance, and most importantly higher meat-to-bone ratio than any breed other than fullblood TMGs. TexMasters™ are in use in many commercial herds across the USA. TexMasters™ are also used by many folks in the show-goat business. Go to www.texmastermeatgoats.com to read testimonials.
Pedigree International currently operates the TexMaster™ registry. You can breed and register percentage TexMasters™ by using fullblood TexMaster™ sires. You can breed up to purebred status but you cannot produce fullblood TexMasters™ without breeding fullblood TexMaster™ to fullblood TexMaster™ -- just like any other breed.
I created TexMasters™ to be the meatiest commercial meat-goat breed by using specific genetics that I carefully selected and evaluated in every breeding. If you want to produce commercial goats, you should buy and use these specific genetics as herd sires. You should not use "bred-up" crosses as sires because you will be using genetics of other breeds and you will lose the MEAT advantage provided by Tennessee Meat Goat™ sires that make TexMasters™ so desirable as a terminal product. Example: If you buy a percentage TexMaster™ buck because a producer is close to you or it is cheaper than you can buy a fullblood TexMaster™ buck from Onion Creek Ranch genetics you will be getting a goat that is the offspring of a TexMaster™ buck and does that are not the specially-developed Onion Creek Ranch genetics that produce superior meat-goat offspring. Such offspring would be a 50% TexMaster™ since the sire is a fullblood TexMaster™. But that 50% TexMaster™ isn't going to have anything close to the amount of meat on it that a fullblood TexMaster™ out of Onion Creek Ranch or Bending Tree Ranch genetics has on it. Crossing with other breeds decreases the "meatiness" of the offspring compared to what you can achieve with fullblood TexMasters™.
I am constantly fine tuning the TexMaster™ breed, thereby improving it. You should buy your TexMaster™ herd sire out of genetics that I have developed to breed to your other breed does. Your buck is at least 50% of your herd and actually 75% if you keep any replacement does. I recognize that costs and distances affect goat purchases but you should always be working towards acquiring better genetics, especially for your herd sires. Don't be cheap about buying your herd sire. Buy the best you can afford. Stretch a little financially and you will get more "bang for your buck." Quality never comes cheap.
If you are interested in purchasing fullblood TexMasters™, come to the source. Contact Suzanne W. Gasparotto at Onion Creek Ranch in Texas or Pat Cotten at Bending Tree Ranch in Arkansas. Suzanne can be reached at 512-265-2090 or email her at email@example.com, and Pat can be reached at 501-679-4936 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or PM her on Facebook. If you cannot reach one of us, contact the other. We are in contact daily, share information about inquiries, and work together to fill orders.