About CAE, etc.
Nigerian Dwarf herd negative for CAE September, 2020
Alpine herd negative for CAE October, 2020
Due to the nature of CAE and the fact that animals can and do seroconvert we here at Dill's-A Little Goat Farm have made the decision to go on a full and strict CAE prevention program, both for the sake of our own herd health and for the peace of mind of our buyers. We are quite well aware that chances are we might face a seroconversion at some point in our future. We have enjoyed a tested negative herd status for more than 15 years, however most who know me, know that I am not a big believer in the accuracy of testing. So, for my own sanity, we will no longer have dam raised kids. We have a nifty stainless steel pasturizer looking very much like R2D2, that has taken up squatters rights on my counter. Raising our kids on the bottle works for us. It's a great way to insure my peace of mind and yours.
Milking to Pasteurizing Equipment
We normally have 40 to 50 does milking at one time, the number varies according to the time of year, but those numbers are not unusual on a year round basis. I enjoy hand milking until I have more than 13 does fresh. I can get through that many, but after that my hands fall off! :o) So.... we purchased a hand saving milking machine! We keep our doe herds seperate so we can bring in the Alpines for milking, change the teat cups and then bring in our Dwarves. We are able to keep more does in milk this way which suits us just fine!
We have a variety of bucket sizes to choose from, depending upon the size of doe, and amount she milks. We then pour the milk through a filtering system into our 2 gallon stainless steel milk tote. It is then ready to come into the house to be poured into the pasteurizer bucket. The milk takes about 2 hours to pasteurize and cool down, and then it is bottled and either refridgerated or frozen for later use. We try to keep a goodly supply on hand!
Colostrum is a subject in and of itself. After the doe has kidded we remove kids immediately. She never lays eyes on them. They are carried into the kid area wrapped in clean towels and deposited in newspaper lined playpens. Once she's dropped her afterbirth, I milk out her colostrum. The colostrum is filtered and heat treated. We heat treat it in quart jars on the hold setting with our clever little "R2D2" or use a chef's pot for small batches. Manufacturers instructions are to leave on the "hold" setting for an hour, we go an hour and a half, just to be safe. Or, you can use a double boiler, bring the colostrum to 133-135º (do NOT go over!), stirring occasionally, then pour over into a good quality thermos that has been pre-heated with HOT water. Cap, and leave colostrum to stand an hour...again we wait an hour and a half to be safe. Once the process is completed, the colostrum is poured into sterilized 12 oz bottles, capped, marked with a "P" and frozen for later use. Again, we try to keep a goodly supply on hand.
And now to answer the big question everyone has been asking....'What do you do with all that milk?!' Here in Oklahoma it is legal to sell raw milk, we also feed it to our bottle calves. When we have a huge surplus our vet is more than happy to take it off our hands. In fact, she takes our excess raw colostrum as well. So, those of you who hesitate to milk year round, don't be! Someone is always wanting your good, clean milk!
That insidious bane of sheep and goat breeders. I do not believe in blood testing for CL, nor does my vet. From the research she's conducted, as well as others experience, we have come to the conclusion that CL blood testing is worthless. It's a complete waste of time and money. The only accurate CL test is a fluids test from the matter drawn from the cyst itself. Seeing as we have NEVER had a case of CL or a suspicious abscess on any of our animals, it's been impossible for us to test for it. We have sold animals that have been blood tested for CL with all negative results though, for what it's worth. We will have the testing run for a purchaser, at their expense, but we will not test our herd for it.
Our herd has been tested negative for Johne's Disease in past years. We rarely run that test however since it's so incredibly inaccurate and a waste of our valuable dollars. If you would like Johne's testing on an animal at your expense, we'll be happy to make the arrangements.
We have not tested our herd for TB. We do test single animals occasionally, with all negative results of course. Oklahoma is a TB free state, there hasn't been a case of TB reported in goats since the 1920s, so we really feel this test is redundant.
We have not had our herd tested for Brucellosis either. We have had many of our animals tested for it, either ones we've sold, or had complete blood workups run. All Brucellosis testing has been negative.
I've decided to address Mycoplasma here, as it's become such a huge issue to breeders throughout the country. According to K-State, goat herds throughout the country are full of Mycoplasma threats. Mycoplasma, in layman's terms is a tiny organism capable of mutating it's appearance, making it difficult to diagnose. It causes swollen knees, arthritis type symptoms, mastitis, influenza and pneumonia type infections, and the list goes on and on. It can also cause death. It can and does give false positive readings on the cELISA tests we seem to rely so heavily on. According to the Goat Medicine text book, if you get a suspicious positive result on a CAE test, you need to explore synovial fluid tests to ensure you aren't dealing with Mycoplasma or other bacterial contaminants to the tests. We have a test on the market that is much much more accurate, it's quite a lot more expensive as well. It's called a PCR test which in my understanding is a deeper genetic type test that is conclusive as to whether or not the animal actually has CAE. If you need test results to tell you what you already know, that your animal is healthy, send off a blood sample for a PCR. That said, Mycoplasma like E-coli, clostridiums, and tetanus are organisms in our environments that our caprine friends have to deal with on a daily basis. If the animals' immune systems are not compromised, they usually sail right on through with out any problems. When an animal's system is not up to par though, like copper deficiencies, less than ideal weights, odd weather changes, etc...we run into problems with these bacterias. Mycoplasma infections are not dirty little secrets and should not be fodder for the gossip mill any more than any of the diseases our goats face, simply because they are goats. We as breeders need to be sympathetic towards our fellow breeders, knowing we all face the same challenges in our herds that everyone else throughout the country faces.
We do not offer stud service here on our farm. Many breeders will do it if you prove your animal is free of CAE, Johnnes, CL, TB, and Bruc. We will not. Those tests tell you nothing about the animal's general health nor will they tell you if a doe has a uterine infection which can be spread throughout your herd through your bucks after they've serviced the infected doe. Which brings us to the subject of STDs, sexually transmitted diseases. I am completely paranoid about this! A supposed healthy animal can be a silent carrier of a disease that could devastate your entire kid crop as well as kill your does. So please, do not ask for stud service. Our buck's are tested with an abortion panel test. These inclued Brucellosis, Chlymidia, Blue Tongue, and Q Fever, and Toxoplasmosis.