The Importance of Biosecurity on your Goat Farm

By: Margaret A. Bell, Livestock Agent, Craven & Jones Counties, Adapted from “APHIS Biosecurity on U.S. Goat Operations.”

Have you ever thought about biosecurity on your farm? What is biosecurity? Biosecurity is various different practices you can implement on your farm to reduce the risk of introducing disease into your herd. This is a very important part of your herd’s health. Even one animal having a disease on your farm could affect the rest of your animals. Read on to learn more about how to make biosecurity improvements to your herd and your farm in general.

Herd Additions

Every time you add a new animal to your herd, you run the risk of introducing disease. There are three good practices to fend off disease from new animals. First, you can choose to have a closed herd, meaning the only way you add animals is through kidding on your farm. Obviously, this is not ideal for all farms because there is no way to add new bloodlines or improve genetics in a closed herd. Second, new animals should be quarantined and checked for signs and symptoms of disease for at least 30 days. Lastly, health management practices are a good way to help ensure your herd stays healthy. These may include: veterinary exams, deworming, vaccinations, and testing for disease.

Usage of Needles

By reusing needles between animals, you greatly increase your risk of disease transmission. The best practice would be to not reuse needles. However, if this is not possible, you can reduce your risk of disease transmission by disinfecting needles between each use.

Veterinarian – Patient – Client Relationship

It is very important to have a veterinarian who has a good client – patient relationship with you and your goat herd. Veterinarians are a good source of information about the goat industry as well as goat health. Regular farm visits by your veterinarian may help improve your herd, genetics, and provide a great opportunity for you to ask questions about your herd.

Farm Visitors

When visitors come to your farm, it is very important that they take precautions not to spread disease. Disease agents can be spread through various locations such as clothing, hands, boots, vehicles, or instruments. You can require that visitors take any and all of the following precautions: change into clean boots, use shoe covers, wash hands before touching the animals, don’t park near the goat area, and use a footbath before entering goat area.

Kidding Management

It may be a very good idea to keep does that are kidding for the first time away from the rest of the herd because if they become infected with bacterial pathogens while pregnant, they could abort, have abnormal kids, or kid early. Also, it is important to promptly remove placentas and aborted fetuses because they can hold infectious organisms that could possibly spread to other goats.

You should also consider taking precautions with your goats having physical contact with other animals including raccoons, skunks, and opossums. These animals can carry disease and infect your herd. Also, it is very important to make sure your animals are properly identified with an identification number, such as a Scrapie tag. Various forms of identification are required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture when animals are sold or moved from the farm.

These are just a few ways you can make your farm less susceptible to disease. Follow these steps to help raise biosecurity at your farm: work closely with your veterinarian, isolate new animals, disinfect or do not reuse needles between animals, limit outside animal contact as well as visitor contact, use proper animal identification, and properly manage kidding areas to reduce disease transfer. If you have any questions about how biosecure your farm is, feel free to contact your local Cooperative Extension agent.

Submitted by: Margaret Bell, Extension Livestock Agent, North Carolina State University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, North Carolina Cooperative Extension