Going into Goats: A practical guide to producing goats in the rangelands

Disease

A number of potentially debilitating parasites and diseases occur among rangeland goats in Australia. These rarely pose a significant threat to the goat’s well being or production while rangeland goats are free roaming; however, they can become an issue when they are handled inappropriately or confined at high densities.

Relocating goats into close confinement situations can disrupt their social structure and dominance behaviour. In addition, poor nutrition, lack of shelter, overcrowding and excessive handling can lead to further stress, which aids the development of disease. Young goats generally adapt better to the intensive system than older goats.

The major issues affecting rangeland goats in a managed environment are Salmonellosis and internal parasites including Coccidiosis.

Salmonellosis can occur in rangeland goats when they are subjected to sustained periods of stress. Salmonella occur naturally in the gut but when the animal is stressed the level of Salmonella can increase rapidly resulting in sickness and death. Rangeland goats should be kept as calm as possible during handling and in the lead up to and during trucking.

Coccidiosis is generally caused by ingesting mature oocysts that are shed by carrier goats in moist overcrowded conditions. Infected goats may die very quickly (within 24 hours) without developing diarrhoea or may exhibit blood in faeces before a slower death. The best form of control is to prevent goats accessing the oocysts in the first instance, reduce stress and, if considered necessary, use preventive drugs in high risk situations.

Internal parasites rarely pose a problem in rangeland production systems except during unusually wet years or when goats are confined to small spaces.

Scouring goats should be culled and if an outbreak of internal parasites or a disease such as Salmonellosis is suspected, seek veterinary advice. For further information see Module 9: Parasite control of the GiG Guide.

In a managed enterprise where goats are held in confinement, it is advisable to vaccinate goats against clostridial diseases. A quarantine drench and vaccination may also be administered when goats, such as breeding bucks, are introduced into an enterprise.

Goats are susceptible to a number of notifiable diseases that also affect sheep and cattle. Unusual symptoms should be treated with caution and a vet contacted immediately.