goats disease

Small stock production: Disease control for lambs and kids

We continue our series about the nutritional and management aspects of raising lambs and goat kids successfully. Here we deal with disease control.

Management and nutrition have to be correct to ensure that young kids or lambs are healthy.

Also read:
Nutrition for kids and lambs
Managing lambs and kids

  • If lambing and kidding take place in a heavily contaminated area, you may need to disinfect the umbilical cord, using iodine or a disinfectant.
  • Certain vaccines against Pasteurellosis, E. coli, pulpy kidney and tetanus may have to be given to the mothers 4 to 6 weeks before the start of kidding or lambing so that the mothers can build up immunity and pass it on to their offspring through the first day’s milk (colostrum).
  • This milk is full of antibodies to disease and is only absorbed well by the kid or lamb in the first hours of life, so we must be sure the offspring suckle properly in the first hours after birth.

Also read:
Managing ewes in the last six weeks of pregnancy
Part two – Managing ewes in the last six weeks of pregnancy

  • We recommend that sheep and goats always be vaccinated against pulpy kidney. The first one can be an oil-based vaccine, but this should only be used once. Thereafter follow-up boosters may be given.
  • These are alum-based and are either single (against pulpy kidney only) or multivalent (protect against many diseases).

Also read: Vaccinate for pulpy kidney

  • What we vaccinate depends on the local problems, so consult your nearest vet or animal health inspector.
  • Blue tongue vaccination is usually recommended for lambs in the higher rainfall areas, but not for goats since they are not really susceptible.
  • There are also a number of vaccines that protect against pneumonia. The decision about which one to use should be discussed with the local expert.

Also read: Protect your assets and vaccinate sheep and goats by following this vaccine programme

  • Coccidiosis may cause diarrhoea and deaths in older lambs or kids, but the diagnosis has to be confirmed by an expert before starting treatment.
  • Many drugs are available; the cheapest are the sulphonamides, but the expensive ones are better.
  • The animals have usually lost a lot of water and salts and can die from this, so give them water and salt (1%, or 1 teaspoon to half a litre of water).
  • You could also add a full teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to the solution.
  • You can buy better, but more expensive, specially formulated fluid replacements.

Also read: Keep your goats disease free

  • Lambs and kids often start to graze two weeks after birth and can become badly infested with parasites as early as when they are 6 to 8 weeks old.
  • There are good remedies for both round worms (such as the wireworm) and tapeworms. Check the lambs and kids for external parasites.
  • These may need to be dealt with using remedies registered for use against the specific parasite.
  • Confirm which parasite is involved by taking samples to the vet or animal health technician, who can also offer advice about control measures.

Also read:
Manage gut parasites for profitable goat farming
Manage your goats – keep the worm and tick loads down
The five-point check for internal parasites in small stock

  • This article was written by Prof. Gareth Bath and first appeared in Farming SA.

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