Introduction

The goal of a herd health program is to improve the goat herd's productivity through general husbandry, nutrition, parasite control, vaccination, and environmental management. An understanding of various management practices and common diseases on the farm is necessary to accomplish this goal. An effective herd health program is an essential part of a successful goat management program. Good feeding and breeding will not result in maximum production if goats are not kept in good health. Conversely, good nutrition and herd management will greatly reduce the complexity and cost of the herd health program.

Herd health programs are always described in very general terms and then modified to fit individual herds. The exact makeup of any program depends on the herd size, purpose of having the herd, and the production goals of the owner. For the most part; goats are managed as small groups of five to a hundred animals per herd. There are relatively very few large commercial goat herds with numbers above 500 head in the United States. Large herds may have problems associated with high density of animals and continuous turn over. Small herds tend to have higher nonproductive/productive ratios than do larger herds. This is because small herd owners often keep animals that would normally be culled in large commercial herds. Often, the net result is the maintenance of animals with chronic illnesses that may serve as reservoirs of disease.

Since each herd is different, each owner should work with his/her veterinarian to create an individual herd health plan. Keep good records for each animal regarding medications, vaccinations, dewormers, diseases, breeding, culling etc., and use this information to plan your herd health program. Preventive medicine is usually less expensive than treating the disease as the highest economic returns are realized when disease problems are at a minimum. Many diseases have similar symptoms and a producer should work with a veterinarian familiar with common goat diseases. A veterinarian familiar with goats has the training and experience needed to provide diagnosis and recommend animal health products used in goats to treat these conditions.

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