Registered purebred and percentage Kiko Goats raised for hardiness, meat and pack goat prospects
Kopf Canyon Ranch

Testing Goats for CAE, CL, and Johne's Diseases

The first question to ask any breeder when considering a purchase is:

"Do you test?"

The cost of testing is about $20 a goat/year,  but in the whole scheme of things, it is worth every penny, dollar,  and hundreds of dollars.

When you go to purchase, do not just take the word of the goat owner, but ask to see the results of the testing for yourself.  Also worth mentioning, one year of testing does not make a herd disease free, ask for results from previous years also!!! Even if you buy a young goat that has not been tested at least you will know that it comes from a clean (tested) herd. 

Copies of test results should be provided with your animal's purchase papers and health record.

Our 2016 Test Results:

Purchasing stock at a sale barn or auction house is risky.  To ensure the health of your herd, purchase from a reliable breeder or goat owner. You will not get a bargain goat but will get peace of mind knowing that the goat will not introduce disease to your herd, which can be devastating.

What is a "closed herd"?

A closed herd is a mangement practice to minimize exposure to disease.

Closed herds
  • do not allow goats from other farms on the premises
  • do not allow their goats on the premises of other farms
  • do not take their goats to shows, fairs, etc
  • have a process of quarantine when introducing new, tested animals to their herd

Closed herds can reduce their cost of testing by testing a sample each year, rather than every animal, to maintain their "clean" status. Different animals are tested at each sampling.    

If you are visiting a closed herd, you may have limited access to areas of the farm - such as pasture areas - but you should still  be able to see the management practices, and the animals in their natural environment. You may be asked to park in certain areas, or "boot wash" with a disinfectant before entering others. Be courteous, and if you are planning a farm visit, do not track soil from one farm to the  next  - on your boots - or on your tires! If you arrive muddy, you may be asked to go clean up!  Please do not take offense - it is in your interest, as well as the animals.                                       

Why test a closed herd?

It is the responsible, ethical thing to do. Diseases follow cycles.  

CAE is a retrovirus much like the human AIDS virus. In the case where a goat is in the acute phases of just contracting the virus and is producing antibodies in amounts too low for the test to pick up, a test could show negative.

CL can be contracted from the soil. Though a herd may be disease free in one location - they can contract the disease when moved to another location. Goats used for prescribed grazing, particularly with cattle, are at a high-risk for contracting soil-borne disease.

CL is controversial - do your research. Some assert that the tests are unreliable. Some vaccinate for CL which results in a false positive for the disease. Others question whether a  vaccinating protocol simply masks an infected herd.

There are animals submitted for testing are too young to detect disease presence.  You may see clean tests results  - but unless all of the animals tested are over six months, these are not reliable test results.

How is testing done?

Testing is done on drawn blood. In a goat, the blood is drawn from the jugular,
The blood is sent in sample tubes on ice to a lab. Results are usually available in a week, depending on the test cycle, so always ask which day the lab prefers to receive samples. 

If you are squeamish about drawing blood from the jugular, which is understandable, contact your vet. While a farm call for this alone may be expensive, you can bundle it with a visit for health certificates (for goats leaving the state), or ask if they have a veterinary technician who is willing to do the draws for you.  If you want to have a go at it yourself, there are You Tube videos, or you might find another herdsman to mentor you.

The labs will give you directions on how to handle and pack the specimens.
Mishandling the specimens can invalidate your test.

It is also our practice to quarantine sick goats, and culture any abscesses that cannot be attributed to a known cause (such as a vaccine or injury.) Abscesses in goats are not uncommon - particularly when browsing, and in a clean herd are generally attributed to a poke by a briar of sorts.
The test is $10.50 and a round trip to WSU, and the value is complete peace of mind.

What is CAE? click to

Caprine Arthritis and Encephalitis (CAE):  This disease has two forms: the arthritis (visible) and the encephalitis (internal). This disease causes painful arthritic joints, mastitis, decreased milk production. Once a goat has this disease they can never rid themselves of it. The disease will be passed from mother to kid through the milk.

What is CL? click to

Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL): This disease can cause visible abscesses around the lymph glands most often around the jawline which burst open and drain. The bacterium infect the soil making the disease difficult to eradicate. Most notable for the meat industry are the internal abscesses. Animals found to be contaminated with CL at slaughter are condemned.

What is Johne's Disease? click to

Johnes Disease: pronounced (Yo-knees)This disease shows up as rapid weight loss and diarrhea and may stay dormant for many years. It has been linked to Crohns Disease in humans. Once an animal has this disease there is no cure and it can spread very quickly in the herd.