1. May provide buck services in addition to selling goats.
2. Allows potential buyers to come interact with their goats.
3. Most likely, or at least should, test their goats yearly.
4. May buy additional goats and place them in with their other goats without quarantining them.
5. May or may not provide lodging for someone else's goats.
6. May take goats back if the new owner changes their minds or has a need to return the goat.
7. May show their goats at local fairs.
1. Does not provide buck services.
2.Does not allow potential buyers to interact with their goats or may with very strict precautions, such as: disposable booties, gloves, jumpsuits, and other measures.
3.Only needs to test their main herd once, all offspring born on the property is disease free as long as the adults are.
4.Quarantines all new animals for 30 days, testing for goat diseases, worms, and having a vet examination. This requires strict precautions when handling or feeding quarantined goats, such as: wearing jumpsuit, different shoes, washing thoroughly after feeding, maintaining segregation up to a minimum of 20 feet or
5. Does not provide boarding services.
6.Most likely will not accept a returned goat without strict quarantine procedures, etc.
7. Does not show goats at all.
Now, why would one goat herd chose to have an open herd, while others will have a closed herd? It comes down to choice. With an open herd, your sales will most likely higher. Many people enjoy hands on interaction with goats before purchasing them. By providing buck services, others buying their goats, do not need to house a buck themselves, thus also helping generate revenue. Those with open herds do enjoy sharing the hands on pleasures of being goat owners, especially seeing the children romping around with the kid critters. So what problems would arise with an open herd? By providing buck services, or boarding services, and allowing others into your herd, you risk worms, parasites, and very dangerous diseases into your herd. Hence the reason testing annually is so vital.
In a closed herd, selling goats can be more difficult because people want to interact with goats prior to buying them. You need to chose to have a buck on your property for breeding purposes or go through quarantining any doe and retesting after having her bred elsewhere. The benefits are, you know your animals are safe, if you drink the milk and/or eat the meat. As long as all new goats are quarantined, tested, etc prior to going into your herd, you don't have the yearly cost of testing your entire herd.
So why would someone choose a closed herd over an open herd? Some people who decide to have a closed herd, usually make that decision after having an infected goat that had to be destroyed. That was what happened in our case. We lost one of our first baby Kinder goats to CL. She had a cut on her leg and contracted it from someone's land. So, what do you test for? There are many that can be tested for, but what we will cover are the four main diseases we test for. Understand that there are many more goat health issues out there than the four we are listing below. But to us, these are the most deadly.
1. Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis - also known as CAE, is a lentiviral infection of goats which may lead to chronic disease of the joints and on rare occasions encephalitis. Symptoms of this disease include arthritis, chronic cough, pneumonia, and mastitis, but most infected animals show no clinical signs of the disease. Stress can trigger physical symptoms of the disease, such as relocating an infected goat. Mature goats can develop arthritis and find walking painful. The knee joints may be inflamed and swollen, and the goats will slowly lose condition. In some cases they will not be able to stand. As 2012 there is no known cure. Goats which test positive for the disease are typically separated from the rest of the herd and destroyed. CAE is caused by a virus similar to that of ovine progressive pneumonia (OPP) in sheep and AIDS in humans. Transmission of CAE generally occurs from dam to kid through infected colostrum or milk, although other forms of transmission have also been documented. Remove any infected animal and euthanize.
2. Caseous Lymphadenitis - also known as CL. Infectious. Bacteria enters animal through break in skin or mucous membranes and usually localizes in lymph node and abscesses of the lymph glands. However, CL abscesses have been found (at slaughter) in the lungs, liver, kidney, etc. The bacteria can be passed through all bodily fluids. There have been documented cases of transmission through 'in-tact' skin. NOT ALL abscesses are CL. Your vet can test the animals to see if the abscess is CL or not. Isolate and remove the animal from the herd. This disease is spread through the eruption of abscess and discharge being exposed to other animals, thus the CL accesses in internal organs causes great concern that this disease can remain hidden for a number of years. Also known as cheesy gland, boil or abscesses - this infectious contagious disease is believed by many to contaminate your land for up to three years. Remove and euthanize any animal to prevent the spread of this disease.
3. Johne's Disease - This is a chronic incurable infection of the intestines by mycobacterium johnei bacterium. Causing a thickening of the intestine. Loss of conditioning, occasional scouring, becoming more frequent with bubbles of gas in the droppings. Weakness. Thirst may increase. Johne's disease affects the intestines of both sheep and goats. Unlike with cattle, in which the disease causes diarrhea, sheep and goats generally experience a slow wasting. There is not cure for Johne's disease. Remove and euthanize any animal to prevent the spread of this disease.
4. Brucellosis Abortus** (B.aborRB) - also known as Bang's disease or Undulant fever in Humans - Brucellosis in goats and sheep is a very serious disease caused by Brucella melitensis. Bang's disease causes spontaneous abortion in cattle and other bovines and related species. Goat brucellosis is transmissible to humans through contact with unpasteurized milk and milk products or by handling aborted fetuses. Between goats, the disease is transmitted by normal infection routes via contact of infected fluids with an open sore or cut. Spontaneous abortion is often the first observed sign! Other symptoms include stiff joints, fevers that come and go, and joint swelling. The fluids accompanying the aborted fetus are very infective. Goats aborting should be isolated immediately and tested. If a goat tests positive for Bangs, it should be culled immediately.
**Bangs is a reportable disease!
Does someone have to chose either one? Actually no, you can have variations of both. However, to have a truly closed herd, there are no variations. If someone provides buck services, yet says they have a closed herd, they are incorrect. But here is one variation that we know of that works quite well. In one area there are a grouping of breeders that have what we call a semi-closed herd. This group uses the breeding services, etc. of only those herds within this group. Yearly, the various herds bring their animals to one location. These animals are then tested for CAE. No one can participate in this group without the CAE testing. say, if a herd in the group has a positive CL goat, their entire herd is no longer able to participate in this breeding group. The advantages are simple, by testing together the cost is VERY reasonable. There is also the advantage of being able to bred your goats without having the problem of caring for a buck. For this type of semi-closed program to work, you have to trust those participating in the program. That isn't always an easy thing to do.
In our area, a semi-closed herd option would not work. There are many who, in the past, have been unwilling to test their herds. Goats have been given away, traded, and sold cheaply, this has lead to the CL and CAE problem in our area. Recently, we were contacted by our vet. A very nice lady had purchased Nubians from a breeder that swore they tested. However, when tested three of the Nubians tested positive for CAE. So for us, if anyone were to call regarding testing, we would STRONGLY recommend they maintain a closed herd and test their animals. If buying goats, we would STRONGLY recommend those individuals to ask to see the actual lab test results on testing. And lastly, we would STRONGLY advise anyone getting a new goat - to quarantine the animal, using strong bio security measures - for 30 days and test for the above four diseases, especially if the herd is not a truly closed herd that they are buying from.
Do you have to follow our advice? No, but you need to seriously consider what measures you need to take to protect you, your family, and your animals. Learn what is going on in your area. Learn what you need to BEFORE it becomes a problem. And finally, in our world today, it is necessary to question what someone tells you when a sale is involved. No one wants to think that they can't trust anyone, but at least consider what the risks are now, before you have to lose a precious animal or risk your families health and safety.
Wishing you health and happiness, always