Fighting TB on another front - Veterinary Practice
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Fighting TB on another front

RICHARD GARD reports on the latest meeting of the Goat Veterinary Society

THE Goat Veterinary Society
meeting at Taunton Racecourse
brought together more than 60
veterinary surgeons and goat
enthusiasts to share their
knowledge and expertise.

Important aspects of disease were
presented and discussed, with the
chairman, Dr Tony Andrews, keeping
the presentations and observations
moving along with plenty of
opportunities for those important enquiries
over coffee and lunch.

The TB policy
officer for the Welsh
Government, Daffyd
Glyn, outlined the
intended programme
under the banner,
“Leading the fight
against TB”. The
concern about TB in
goats and the earlier
outbreak in Wales has
led to a testing
programme on 40 goat
herds with local veterinary surgeons
carrying out the tests. Deer are also
being sampled post mortem.

Where there is a cattle TB
breakdown, the opportunity is taken to
test goats, presumably on the same or
close contact farms. Currently there is
no compensation for goats slaughtered
on suspicion of having TB but a
consultation is on-going about
compensation for camelids, deer and

Eradication plan

An eradication plan for 2011 has been
submitted to the Government,
adopting a risk-based approach and
changes in terminology. A
comprehensive programme for
reducing the disease in cattle is being
developed and full details are available
at Simon
Rolf (veterinary adviser) joined in with
the discussion, which raised some
challenging aspects.

The impact on goat testing, where
herds have been vaccinated against
Johne’s disease, was a concern with no
definitive solution, although the topic is
being looked into. It was agreed that
there was “a healthy debate” about the
justification for the costs of M. bovis
control with consideration of the
human health risks.

It would appear that the
expenditure to date justifies continuing
efforts to control the disease. The
occupational health risk to farmers and
others in close contact with diseased stock was considered to be low but it
was observed that there has not been a
detailed assessment.


Members of the society really enjoy a
good clinical puzzle and Ed Powell
Jackson (Kingfisher Veterinary
Practice) detailed an outbreak of
vomiting in four goat kids. The
smallholding involved borders a housing estate. The
goatkeepers live
elsewhere and the
goats have access to
“rough grazing”,
including unmown
grass, thistles, nettles
and brambles with
shelters constructed
mainly from pallets.

In August 2010
the pygmy goat kids
were in good health
when seen by the
owners the night
before but were observed the next day
to be salivating profusely, reluctant to move, with sudden projectile vomiting,
no diarrhoea or blood in the normal
looking droppings, no straining with
mild dehydration. The owners and the
kids were in distress.

The vomit was foul smelling and
brown. Rehydration therapy was
administered with relief for abdominal
discomfort and in case of inhalation,
antibiotics, as well as multivitamins. All
drinking water and feed was replaced
and the kids were taken back to the
house for tender loving care and close
observation. The kids made an
uneventful recovery with no further

In the field there was no evidence
of access to poisonous plants or fly
tipping. The owners had cleaned
troughs with bleach and left them in
the sun to dry. Later, deadly nightshade
was found that was not evident at the
time of the incident. At this time the
cause of the incident is unknown and
further discussion failed to yield a
definitive answer.

Q fever

The details of a Q fever abortion
outbreak in an expanding 1,000 diary
goat herd was presented by Fin
Twomey (VLA Starcross). The goats
were permanently housed in large,
clean, well-bedded pens. The pens were
not washed and disinfected between
batches of goats but this may not be a
relevant observation.

In February 2007 an abortion outbreak of mainly first parity goats
took place 4-6 weeks before the due
parturition date. Bacteriology indicated
acid fast bacilli from placentas, with
PCR confirming Coxiella burnetti.
Advice was given to dispose of any
infected materials and bedding.

Prophylactic antibiotics for other
pregnant goats was not thought to be
of value and no human ill health was
reported. Thirty three goats were blood
sampled and 23 showed high titres,
indicating a high prevalence for Q
fever within the herd.

In October 2008 further samples
from aborting goats showed mixed
infections but Coxiella burnetti was not
considered to be the likely cause. Blood
samples from 23 abortions in 2009
indicated C. abortus exclusively. Because
the herd was expanding, the
introduction of replacement goat kids
raised questions about seroconversion
despite a vaccination programme and
over two years placenta samples were
collected and stored: 62 samples (not
all from abortions) yielded 57 positives,
indicating a high secretion rate to the

Over 500 abortions have been
recorded over the past five years. A
severe Q fever abortion outbreak leads
to a loss of breeding stock and the
purchase of more stock compromises

Johne’s disease

Some thoughts were outlined by
Benjamin Dustan (Westmorland
Veterinary Group) on eradicating
Johne’s disease from a goat herd.
Giving the example of a farm
producing Boer goats for meat and
pygmy goats for the pet market, with
the owners wanting a high-health
status, the question was raised whether
a Johne’s control programme can be
delivered for goats.

Three sudden deaths on the farm
followed a history of unexplained ill
thrift. The whole herd (100 goats) was
blood sampled and one positive was
isolated, the test repeated and then the
animal culled.

Diagnostic tests for goats are
considered to be poor with ELISA
showing negative until the disease is
clinical. There are variable clinical signs
due to the gut being unable to absorb
nutrition and there is no treatment or

Preventing faecal contamination for
kids is an important practical measure and snatch kidding immediately after
birth was discussed. Milk powder, to
replace suckling, was used by some
goat keepers but the use of artificial
colostrum was considered to be “very
risky”. More information is required
about how to eradicate Johne’s from
goat herds.

Free programme

The SAC Goat Health Scheme is
requesting volunteers to take part in a
free pilot programme of faecal
sampling. Contact Nick Clayton (hon.
secretary of the GVS) for details:

Dr Mike Coffey (SAC) updated
delegates on progress towards a sire
referencing scheme. Preliminary
analysis of 2,405 whole lactation
records from 829 dams and over
350,000 individual day milk records
from 7,272 dams have indicated that
goats have a genetic basis for milk
yield. It will be possible to determine
families and individuals that
outperform counterparts. A substantial
improvement in milk yield is possible:
this may mean more milk produced or
the same volume from smaller herds.

It is proposed to form a goat
improvement group and to create a
genetic improvement plan with an
organised and planned movement of
genetic improvement between herds.
Traits that are of economic significance
would be incorporated.

An in-depth appraisal of copper
was presented by Nick Perkins
(Delaware Veterinary Group) and Chris
Livesey (VLA). A deficiency of copper
can lead to weak kids at birth and
initially bright kids can be affected later
up to 28 weeks of age. It is important
to have the correct level in the diet of
the doe. Effects on the immune system
increase the susceptibility to disease.
Good liver function is important with
copper toxicity and young kids are
more susceptible than adults.

Extensively grazed animals are
more at risk than concentrate fed and
breed differences in cattle and sheep
are recognised. Liver parasites and
outwintering stress are known to
reduce copper metabolism. Teart
pastures are an issue in Somerset and it is recognised that the uptake of copper
is variable from field to field. Cull
animals can be an important resource
for monitoring copper status and when
investigating clinical problems.

“Don’t waste cull animals and
check trace elements,” was one useful


A whole range of experiences
including goat warble (Asia), wattle
cysts, and storing wine in goat scrotum
bags (Germany) were amusingly
detailed by Graham Duncanson. His
title was “Nodules in goats with
specific reference to the Norfolk

He explained that a Wenn referred
to actinobacillus lesions in sheep on
the marshes that respond to
streptomycin injections. In general, the
point was made that nodules may look
insignificant but every lesion should be
taken seriously.

Graham indicated that for diagnosis
of nodules, go to the VLA. His serious
approach to medicine is tinged with
humour. He is impressed by a free
sample of a product, the name of
which escaped him, that was very good
for sunburn on the noses of goats.

  • Full details of the papers will be
    published in the Goat Veterinary
    Society Journal

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