Goat health and biosecurity

Animal Health Australia (AHA) works closely with the Australian goat industry to deliver the Goat Health Project (GHP), which seeks to address the issues of lost production in the goat value chains, to protect goats from endemic disease and support the trade of goats and goat products.

The GHP provides technical information about a number of diseases and animal health conditions as well as biosecurity and associated communications to assist with disease control.

The GHP has the flexibility to include multiple projects when they are identified by the goat industries and is managed by AHA.

Parasites and endemic diseases such as lice, footrot, Johne’s disease, caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE) and resistant worms have been in Australia for many years. They can impact the health of goats, causing lost production for the goat industry and significant losses for some individual farmers.

Unintentionally purchasing infected goats can seriously affect herd health. Endemic diseases can continue to spread as a result of stock purchases and goat movements if owners and buyers can’t get the right information to manage the risk.

The Goat Industry Council of Australia (GICA) has sponsored the development of a National Goat Health Declaration (GHD) and a National Kid Rearing Plan to assist prospective purchasers evaluate the animal health status of stock offered for sale or agistment.

Managing goat health

Animals can become infected with a number of diseases especially in the first weeks and months of life. Two important diseases are Johne’s disease (JD), caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium paratuberculosis (Mptb), and CAE caused by a retrovirus.

Reducing the exposure of young goats to potential sources of infection and increasing their immunity early in life can significantly reduce their risk of becoming infected and spreading infection to others. One method of reducing the risk of these diseases is to snatch-rear kids. GICA has developed a set of technical notes for veterinarians on Snatch Rearing and Pre-weaning Kid Management in Goat Enterprises and a similar fact sheet titled Snatch Rearing and Pre-Weaning Kid Management for producers.

The goat industry has also developed the National Kid Rearing Plan to provide additional assistance to producers to minimise exposure of kids to Mptb and CAE through potentially contaminated colostrum, milk, water, feed and ground.

National Goat Health Declaration

The National Goat Health Declaration (GHD) is designed to guide vendors through the necessary steps to complete the declaration, and includes:

  • personal details—name, property identification code (PIC), address and other details
  • calculation of goat assurance rating for JD
  • animal health status for all the other conditions listed on the NGHD
  • signature and date.

A completed GHD is a legal document under state laws. It can be audited and there are penalties for false declarations. A false declaration could leave a producer liable to legal action.

The GHD covers:

  • JD
  • Footrot
  • CAE
  • Lice
  • Drenching
  • Vaccination

Vendors can use the GHD to promote the favourable health status of their animals.

Prospective goat buyers can use the declaration to assess the risk a line of goats represents to their own herd.

Buying or agisting goats without a signed GHD is considered a risky business, as very little may be known about the incoming goats.