THE autumn meeting of the Goat Veterinary Society drew a mix of veterinary surgeons and goat keepers to Taunton Racecourse last month, with David Harwood in the chair.
Among the speakers were Emily Gascoigne of Synergy Farm Health who outlined the clinical issues with urinary tract disease in the goat; Karin Mueller of the Liverpool veterinary school who utilised photographs and diagrams to illustrate aspects of soft tissue surgery; and Roger Ayling of the AHPA who discussed mycoplasma, describing the 120 known species as “the simplest form of life capable of self replication”.
Advice from Karin Mueller included: “Don’t dive in to dehorn an adult goat lightly as there will be massive bleeding.”
Removal of the horn is major surgery done under general anaesthetic and the sinuses are opened up which will need to be cauterised. Local anaesthetic leads to a highly agitated animal.
If one horn is damaged do not remove both horns, she said. The scent glands may also be removed, which is a problem for future breeding.
Two presentations provided significant information about disease with an important message for veterinary surgeons and goat-keepers.
Goat disease has a low level of reporting, with the risk of silent spread. Everyone is urged to report more suspicions, which will give greater confidence to the government that disease is likely to be detected.
Bluetongue still a risk in Europe
Emma Fishbourne from Pirbright indicated that bluetongue is still a risk in Europe and that new strains of foot-and-mouth virus are emerging with the expectation that vaccines will be less effective. There have been recent FMD outbreaks on the edge of Europe and the new strains have different clinical signs.
Goat plague, Peste des petits ruminants (PPR), is spreading throughout the world with the condition being more severe in goats than in sheep. The clinical signs are similar to pneumonia with nasal discharge, lesions and diarrhoea.
There is long-term immunosuppression. Caused by a morbillivirus (same family as rinderpest), a global eradication programme is in hand and a DEVA test is being developed to distinguish between natural infection and vaccinate. Further information is on www.pirbright.ac.
A round-table workshop on extra-mural studies yielded various suggestions with the goat-keepers indicating that they value having veterinary students, particularly at kidding time. There needs to be closer liaison between the universities and veterinary practices for the students to value clinical experience, recognising that farmers now do more themselves, including birthing, therapies and vaccinations.
‘Feed goats as goats’
Tom Chamberlain said that the role of commercial goat nutrition is to “feed goats as goats”. More herds are being milk recorded and there is great variation in yields from the same diet. Palatability is a major issue as goats are very picky and it is difficult to feed silage fast enough before it heats and spoils. Intake is vital and there are many ways on farm to stop animals eating.
Christianne Glossop, the CVO for Wales, explained the development of Cymorth TB: six cluster areas being targeted for control utilising an epidemiologist.
A dead badger survey has started and there are around 100 herds with persistent herd breakdowns that are being investigated and management options considered.
Badger vaccination in one area involves 24 fieldsmen and a cost of £22 per head of cattle or over £600 per badger.
No single activity is expected to control the disease and although the incidence of bTB in cattle has fallen (following the increase in reactor herds when annual testing for all herds was introduced) there is expected to be a plateau with current control options. Infection has to be kept out of clear herds.
There are no current plans to introduce active surveillance or pre-movement testing of goats, she said.