Vaccines for Goats

Episode 97
For the Love of Goats

Vaccines for Goats featured image

We have a lot of episodes on various diseases that can be prevented by vaccines, but rather than tell you to listen to all of those episodes to figure out which vaccines your goats might need, we decided to have an episode devoted to all the vaccines your goats need — as well as vaccines they probably don’t need.

Dr. Kevin Pelzer, Professor of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, is talking about the CDT vaccine, which is for enterotoxemia type C and D, as well as tetanus, including dosages, timing, and frequency, including some that are off-label.

He also talks about vaccines for campylobacter and chlamydia, which can cause abortions. Then we move on to vaccines for CL, sore mouth (orf), leptospirosis, pneumonia, rabies, and the new staph aureus vaccine for mastitis.

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Deborah Niemann  0:03 
For the love of goats! We are talking about everything goat. Whether you’re a goat owner, a breeder, or just a fan of these wonderful creatures, we’ve got you covered. And now, here is Deborah Niemann.

Deborah Niemann  0:18 
Hello, everyone, and welcome to today’s episode! I’m really excited that we are joined once again by Dr. Kevin Pelzer, Professor of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. And, we are going to be talking about something that I get a ton of questions about, and that is vaccines—not just the CDT that most people are familiar with, but also several other diseases that people may or may not decide are right for their herd. Welcome to the show, Dr. Pelzer.

Kevin Pelzer  0:48 
Thanks, Deborah. Good to be back. Yeah, vaccines for small ruminants can be very simple, or it can be very complicated, as you said, depending on what your particular situation is. The most common vaccines that we use, and the way I’ll talk about these, is we’ll talk about kind of the core vaccines that commercial producers would use on a regular basis, and then we’ll talk about some extra vaccines that could be used depending on your particular situation.

Kevin Pelzer  1:22 
So, as you mentioned, Clostridium perfringens type C and D is a big concern. That’s noted as over-eating disease. And, that is one of the most common vaccines that we use in goat preventative medicine programs. That vaccine usually has tetanus with it. And, as a result, that vaccine goes under the name of CD/T. There’s a variety of companies that make CD/T vaccine. The vaccine is a vaccine that is made against the toxin that the Clostridium perfringens C and D bacteria produce. And so, the vaccine doesn’t work actually against that bacteria. It works against the toxin that is produced by those bacteria. That toxin is generally produced when there’s some kind of gastrointestinal (GI) upset. And, that’s why it’s often referred to as over-eating disease, because when ruminants over-eat, there’s excessive carbohydrate during the breakdown of the grains or the starches. And, as a result, those Clostridium perfringens organisms proliferate, and it’s during that proliferation that they produce the toxin.

Kevin Pelzer  2:54 
So oftentimes, the vaccine, even though we use it, we may get breaks in the vaccine, because if the animal doesn’t produce enough antibodies against the toxin, then obviously, the vaccine failed. But, if the animal produced a good amount of antibody, but the bacteria produce so much toxin, the antibody complexes with the toxin to neutralize it, but there’s extra toxin there, so we can still have disease resulting from Clostridium perfringens type C and D, even though we vaccinated.

Kevin Pelzer  3:36 
It turns out that with goats, either goats are more sensitive to the toxin, or goats do not respond as well as sheep do to the vaccine. And, as a result, some producers find that they will need to vaccinate two or three times a year with CD/T in order to get adequate protection for their specific animals. And, for the most part, this has been in animals that are used for show, or the dairy animals, where they are exposed to more carbohydrates or grain within their diet and possible changes to their diet.

Kevin Pelzer  4:24 
So, when we look at Clostridium (CD) and the T, the tetanus in this vaccine, it’s a 2 mL dose. It’s given subcutaneously. Initial vaccination begins at 6 to 8 weeks of age, depending a little bit on the time of your weaning. Usually, people will vaccinate 2 to 3 weeks prior to weaning, and then again shortly after weaning. And the initial vaccine, you do need to come back and 3 to 4 weeks after the original vaccine and booster that. For most people then, we give the vaccine 3 to 4 weeks prior to lambing or kidding, because we want the antibodies to those toxins in the colostrum for the babies to consume. And so, as a result of that, that’s kind of the way females are vaccinated annually with this vaccine. Because hopefully, they’re producing a baby every year.

Kevin Pelzer  5:25 
On the male side, we generally give this at the time of breeding, or the breeding soundness exam, because that’s when the males tend to get supplemented with grain and are more likely to encounter some kind of GI upset. And, as I said, some have advocated vaccinating goats three times a year, especially the dairy goats.

Deborah Niemann  5:51 
I have a quick question, because a lot of the bottles of CDT say that you should use the whole thing the first time it’s opened. That you shouldn’t go back and, you know, like, vaccinate three kids today, and four kids next week, and three kids the week after that. And word on the street—or social media, as the case may be—is that that is not important. That doesn’t matter. They just think that farmers are these filthy people who don’t know how to use sterile technique and, you know, they’re covering themselves for liability—which never really made sense to me, because nothing else has that instruction. Like, your penicillin doesn’t say that you can only use it the one time. And, I know one company I called, they said the reason the instruction was there on theirs is because there wasn’t a preservative in it. So, that was why, once you use it, you need to finish. But, I have seen some that have a preservative in them. So, can you talk a little bit about, like, is that maybe why it doesn’t seem to work as well in goats, because people are continuing to use one bottle for, like, six months?

Kevin Pelzer  6:55 
I don’t think that would hinder the response that the animal has to the vaccine, unless the vaccine is not properly stored. So, each time you bring a bottle out of the refrigerator, it warms up. And, kind of like food, if you warm up food and then stick it back in the refrigerator, you warm it up again, stick it back in the refrigerator, over time, it starts to break down. So, the vaccine theoretically could start to break down, as well, because of that.

Kevin Pelzer  7:26 
The major concern once a bottle is used, that you should use the full bottle, is because of contamination. To avoid that, if you stick a needle into the bottle of vaccine, and then draw up your dose in a syringe, and then use a different needle to administer the vaccine, and then take that needle off, and then place the syringe back on the needle that’s still in the bottle, that reduces the amount of times that a needle is going in and out of that bottle. So, you only have one hole, rather than five or six holes in the top of that bottle—which, the more holes you put in there, the more opportunity there is for contamination to occur. So, once you open up a bottle, I would certainly suggest that that bottle be used within the month.

Kevin Pelzer  8:26 
I think that the more prudent idea is to get a 10-dose vial of whatever vaccine you’re going to use, because the first time you use it, you’re gonna have to booster that again in 2 or 3 or 4 weeks, so you’re more likely to wind up using a whole bottle during that one-month period of time. Does that answer your concern?

Deborah Niemann  8:49 
Yeah. Thank you for that, because I know that’s a huge area of contention between breeders about how they should handle that.

Kevin Pelzer  8:57 
Yep. So, along with Clostridium perfringens type C and D and tetanus—and the reason tetanus is in that vaccine is that sheep and goats are more sensitive to the tetanus organism compared to other species. Also, in regards to tetanus, a lot of folks that have sheep and goats are on farms that used to house horses, and the carriage rate of Clostridium tetani, the organism that causes tetanus, is about 85% in horses, and that organism can live for 25 years. So, if horses have been on the property sometime in the past, there’s a good possibility that tetanus is in the soil, just kind of sitting there, waiting for an opportunity to infect a wound that may not have adequate blood supply that results in the development of tetanus.

Kevin Pelzer  9:56 
The big thing for tetanus in goats would be for individuals who dehorn their animals, because you do cause some necrosis, or death of the tissue, where you either burn or remove that horn—as well as castration. Those are the two major opportunities for tetanus to occur. And, in the case of sheep, its tail docking.

Kevin Pelzer  10:22 
The other vaccine that many people use in order to provide protection for Clostridium perfringens C and D is the 8-way vaccine. There’s an 8-way vaccine for sheep and goats, and there’s an 8-way vaccine for cattle. The difference between the cattle 8-way and the small ruminant 8-way is that tetanus is not in the cattle vaccine. So, you should always be sure that you’re using the small ruminant 8-way vaccine in order to make sure that you’re getting coverage for tetanus.

Kevin Pelzer  11:00 
The 8-way vaccine, people may use that because the 8-way vaccine contains or protects against other Clostridial diseases, like big head, where males crack their heads and they get, like, Clostridial septicemia; they get swollen heads. And, that bacteria also produces toxins that can wind up causing death. Blackleg that we see in cattle. It does occur in small ruminants, but very rarely. And, there’s also a condition called necrotic hepatitis that 90% of the time is associated with liver flukes. So, if you’re in an area where liver flukes may be a problem, then using the 8-way vaccine may be warranted. It contains extra antigens against other Clostridial diseases, but for most people, at least here in Virginia, we don’t tend to see those. And so, it’s really kind of up to the owner. I tend to just recommend the CD/T. But, I do get questions about using the 8-way vaccine.

Kevin Pelzer  12:15 
The other thing about the 8-way vaccine is that there seems to be a little bit more of a tissue reaction to that vaccine compared to the CD/T vaccine.

Deborah Niemann  12:28 
Oh, I’m glad you mentioned that. I wanted to talk about abscesses after vaccinating. Is that where you were going?

Kevin Pelzer  12:34 
Well, those abscesses for the most part are actually “sterile” abscesses, in that, essentially, that is just a tissue reaction to usually the adjuvant or the preservative that’s in the vaccine. And so, they do cause a little bit of discomfort for the animals, but in regards to being infectious, certainly not the case. Also, in regards to abscesses or nodules, if you seem like you’re getting a lot of those, couple of things to check for is that your needles are clean—because dirty needles certainly have an opportunity to introduce bacteria, which would be a typical abscess. The other is to try to reduce vaccinating animals when the skin may be wet or damp. And, the reason for that is that bacteria are carried usually in a water film, so to speak, compared to a dry skin. So, when you vaccinate through a wet coat, you’re picking up water droplets as you’re moving that needle through, and in those droplets, bacteria take a ride along that needle. So, a lot of abscesses or nodules can be avoided by using clean needles, and then also avoiding when those animals are wet.

Deborah Niemann  14:11 
And so, one thing: Somebody’s vet once advised them to lance the abscess and drain it. Which, I was like, “No, you don’t need to do that.”

Kevin Pelzer  14:21 
Yeah, you usually don’t. And, most of the time those “abscesses” that form due to an injection, if you feel those, they don’t have that soft center to them. Most abscesses, however, do have, like, a soft center, and those soft-centered ones probably should be opened up. But, I kind of agree with you, those that don’t have a soft center, I would just leave them alone, because a lot of times, it’s just fibres tissue. and if you lance that open, you’re not going to get anything out. You’re just going to put a slice into some kind of, like, gristle there just underneath the skin.

Deborah Niemann  15:02 
That’s a really good point, that there is definitely a difference in the way that a vaccine abscess feels. It definitely does not have that, like, mushy feel that, like, an infective abscess has. So yeah, that is a really good point.

Kevin Pelzer  15:18 
If you’re breeding goats, then there are two vaccines that people use to protect the goat from abortion. The one vaccine is called Campylobacter. It causes more of a problem in sheep, but we do see that occasionally in goats. There are currently two vaccines on the market. One is a 2 mL vaccine, and the other’s a 5 mL. It’s indicated to be given underneath the skin in the axillary space, or up under the armpit. And, that’s given shortly before breeding, and then you booster that vaccine 60 to 90 days later. And then, after the initial series of vaccines for, like, doelings, then the next year you just revaccinate right prior to breeding. So, it’s just a one injection at that time.

Kevin Pelzer  16:16 
Chlamydia is another organism that causes abortion in goats. And, that’s probably the most common infectious disease agent that we see with abortion in goats. That, there’s only one product on the market. It’s a 2 mL dose. And again, you give it 60 days prior to breeding, and then booster 30 days later, and then again annually at the time of breeding. One thing about the chlamydia vaccine is that it does have a 60-day withdrawal period. So, most vaccines have a 21-day withdrawal period as a general rule, but there are a few vaccines, like the chlamydia vaccine has a 60-day withdrawal; the footrot vaccine, when it was available, it had a 60-day withdrawal period. But, for the most part, all the other vaccines are a 21-day withdrawal period.

Deborah Niemann  17:16 
And that’s for meat, right?

Kevin Pelzer  17:18 
Yes, for meat.

Deborah Niemann  17:18 
So, in most cases, like, chlamydia is transmitted during breeding. So, if you have a closed herd, and you’re only buying baby bucks that have just been weaned, you’re gonna be at really low risk of—like, almost zero risk—for chlamydia, right?

Kevin Pelzer  17:35 

Deborah Niemann  17:36 

Kevin Pelzer  17:37 
Yeah, chlamydia is brought in by replacement animals for the most part. Campylobacter, it can be picked up by birds from one flock. Say a crow or a vulture eats on some aborted placenta, then it could carry that organism in their fecal material to another farm and infect that way. But, as I said, for the most part, Campylobacter is not—at least in my experience—been a big problem in goats.

Deborah Niemann  18:10 
Okay. Is there anything else that people need to know about those? Those are the ones you said are more the core vaccines?

Kevin Pelzer  18:17 
Correct. And, for my sheep that I have at home, I don’t vaccinate for chlamydia or Campylobacter. I haven’t had a problem yet with those, and so until I have a problem with abortions, I probably won’t. So, if you’re not having abortions, and you’re not bringing a lot of new animals in, then I kind of take the stance of, “If it’s not a problem, why are we preventing something that doesn’t exist?”

Deborah Niemann  18:48 
Right. Yeah.

Kevin Pelzer  18:49 
But certainly, once a problem arises, then, in consultation with your veterinarian, I certainly would investigate the use of those vaccines.

Deborah Niemann  18:59 
Yeah. I’ve had the same experience. You know, in 20 years, we haven’t had any problems with abortions, but I have a closed herd, and I only bring in baby bucks, so they shouldn’t have any diseases that are transmissible during breeding.

Deborah Niemann  19:12 
So, there’s also a lot of other vaccines that people ask about. So, we’ve got a list here. Why don’t we talk about rabies first, since that’s the one that people are most familiar with. You know, if you’ve got dogs and cats, you know that they need to be vaccinated for rabies. So, that’s one that I get probably the most questions on, like, you know, “Does my goat need to be vaccinated for rabies?” And, we have a whole episode on that. But, just so that nobody has to go back and listen to the whole episode just to get the answer to this one question, can you go ahead and tell us what the status is on rabies vaccines for goats?

Kevin Pelzer  19:45 
Sure. So currently, there is no approved vaccine for goats. So, what most veterinarians recommend is that you use the large animal rabies vaccine that’s approved for horses, cattle, and sheep. The suggestion there, it’s kind of like in regards to sheep, it’s a lot like small animals in that, once the sheep is vaccinated, you vaccinate every three years. My suggestion for goats would be that the protocol that’s used for horses and cattle be followed for goats, in that they’d be vaccinated once every year, rather than once every three years.

Kevin Pelzer  20:26 
And again, as you said, rabies vaccine would be important for people, obviously, if you’ve had rabies with your animals before, because that would tend to indicate to me that there’s a high risk of exposure in that area. In New York—I believe this is still correct. But, there was a goat that showed up positive for rabies in, like, 2017 at a fair, and the next year, all the fairs in New York required the goats to be vaccinated for rabies in order to be shown or for public exhibit. So, if you’re involved with, like, zoos, or petting zoos, or you know, the first-grade kids come out, or kindergarten kids come out to your farm and check out your goats kind of as a school trip, then maybe it’d be a good idea to have those animals vaccinated, from a public health standpoint. Also, people with rare genetics, to preserve those, just because it’s a high-dollar, irreplaceable source, then that would again warrant the use of rabies vaccine.

Deborah Niemann  21:43 
That’s usually where I’ve heard of the rabies vaccine being used, is in herds that show at the national level, and they’ve had national champions and things like that. So yeah, very high-dollar animals that they don’t want to lose them to something, you know, like a skunk biting them or something like that.

Kevin Pelzer  21:57 
Yeah. Another vaccine that people are always asking about is the Caseous lymphadenitis, or the CL, vaccine. For a while there, there was actually a CL vaccine for goats. That vaccine disappeared from the market. And, doing a little investigation, that vaccine was produced by Texas Vet Diagnostics. And, that had a provisional license, in that it was licensed depending on the state that you were in. And, that company was purchased in 2019. It was about 2020 that I noticed that nobody could get that vaccine anymore. So, I guess the company that purchased that Texas Vet Diagnostics decided that, because it wasn’t a nationally licensed vaccine, they would drop it from their list of products.

Kevin Pelzer  22:55 
So currently, the vaccine that is available for CL is approved for sheep. It’s not labeled for goats. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it in goats. And, that’s the CASE-BAC vaccine by Colorado Serum. Anecdotally, people have said that they’ve gotten some reactions in goats when they use that vaccine. Again, it could be just the way people are administering the vaccine. It’s a 2 mL dose, and it’s given sub-Q in the axillary space again. And, that vaccine is given at 8 weeks of age, and then boostered at 4 weeks, and then annually after that. So, that vaccine could be used if you had a significant problem with CL in your herd.

Deborah Niemann  23:48 
Yeah. I was gonna say that’s one that people usually only give their goats if they already have goats who’ve tested positive for CL, because the goats will test positive for CL if they get the vaccine.

Kevin Pelzer  23:59 
That is correct. Yes, that is correct. And, like you said, then you don’t know if the goat’s positive to the vaccine, or if the goat’s positive to, you know, a natural infection. So again, if you don’t have it, I wouldn’t use it.

Kevin Pelzer  24:16 
Another vaccine that I get a lot of questions about is the vaccine for contagious ecthyma, orf, or sore mouth. All three of those names is the same disease. And, just for people that may not be familiar with that, this is a virus that causes scabs, usually we see them on the lips of kids, and then possibly on the teats and the vulva in adults. It’s a parapoxvirus, so it’s a little bit kind of like smallpox, in that it is a virus that causes these crusty lesions. They last for about 3 weeks, and then they kind of disappear and go on with it. But, depending on the severity, it can cause the babies to quit nursing. And, if the dam gets lesions on her teats, they hurt, and she may not allow them to nurse as well as they should.

Kevin Pelzer  25:18 
The big thing with contagious ecthyma is that if animals have those scabs and are diagnosed by the veterinarian as having contagious ecthyma, then those animals cannot be shown until those lesions disappear. And so, people that show animals, they’re the ones that generally use the vaccine. Because, by using the vaccine, you control the timing of when that animal is going to get infected. Also, the virus has shed in skin cells. So, animals that have been to a show where other animals are shedding that virus in their skin cells as they slough off naturally, they pick it up, it is fairly contagious, and then they go home. And then, two weeks later, when it’s time to show the next show, now they have orf, or sore mouth, and then they can’t go.

Kevin Pelzer  26:21 
So, the other thing that’s important to remember about using this vaccine is that the vaccine is a live vaccine. And, once you use the live vaccine, you now have sore mouth on your property; it’s not going to go away. And, as a result of that, if you haven’t had a problem with sore mouth, and you don’t show, then this is another vaccine I wouldn’t recommend introducing to your flock. The other thing about this is that the vaccine, this is a zoonotic disease, and so you can actually pick up orf by administering the vaccine. So, if you are using the vaccine, you should always use gloves, because if you have any breaks in your skin, the virus will get in there; you’ll get a nice, gnarly scab that itches like the dickens for about three weeks. And, the good news is, is once you get it, you’re probably immune for at least three years. So, you don’t have to worry about getting it again.

Kevin Pelzer  27:32 
And so, the way this vaccine is administered, it comes in a little vial, and you mix it up with the diluent, which is sterile water, and you scrape the skin in the axillary space, again, underneath the armpit. And, you scarify that skin, make it bleed, and then the little tool that they give you is worthless. But, on one end, it looks like a little pitchfork, and on the other ends, a little paintbrush, and and you’re supposed to dip the paintbrush in the vaccine and then wipe it on the area that you scratched. I throw away that little piece that they give you. What I like to use is to get a vet staple, and crush it so that you make it into, like, a guitar pick. And, that will really cut the skin when you stroke it. And then, I get a Q-Tip, essentially, and then wipe the vaccine on with the Q-Tip.

Kevin Pelzer  28:36 
And what happens is, over the next couple of days, you’ll get a nice scab formed there, and then eventually that falls off. And, with that scab, when it falls off, all the virus in that scab and in those skin cells is falling all over your property. And, that’s why I say, “Once you introduce the vaccine to your farm, you now have orf or sore mouth.” So, that’s something to consider. Again, it’s a vaccine that people do use, but there are some things to be aware of in regards to using that vaccine.

Deborah Niemann  29:13 
Right. It’s another one of those that you would use if you have it on your farm already—like, you bought an animal that brought it onto your farm. And so, now you want to control when they get this scab so that you don’t get it in, like, newborn kids who—

Kevin Pelzer  29:27 
Well, unfortunately, there is no colostral immunity from this. So, the kids can still wind up getting infected. You know, you would wind up using this later on. It would protect the does from getting it on their teats and things like that, but the kids are more likely still going to wind up getting it early on. And then, if you show, it would certainly be a good idea to vaccinate those kids prior to the show time, so that they don’t get infected during show season.

Deborah Niemann  30:03 
What’s the earliest age that you can do that vaccine?

Kevin Pelzer  30:07 
You could do it at Day One, but I wouldn’t recommend probably doing it until they’re 6 to 8 weeks of age at the earliest.

Kevin Pelzer  30:17 
Another vaccine that people may use… And where I hear people using the pneumonia vaccine, tend to be show people. We certainly do get pneumonia in baby kids, and the vast majority of time, the reason that’s occurring is because they don’t get enough colostrum, or the environment in which they are being housed is conducive to the development of pneumonia. So, it’s usually kind of a management problem.

Kevin Pelzer  30:52 
Colorado Serum has a vaccine called Mannheimia Haemolytica Pasteurella Multocida Bacterin Cattle, Goat & Sheep Vaccine, and that’s what people usually bring up. The problem is that the organisms that they use in that vaccine are isolates that have been acquired from cattle. And, although the bacteria are the same, the strains are not. And as a result, there’s no evidence of efficacy of this bacterin to protect against pneumonia in sheep and goats. The bottle says that it’s a 2 mL dose, and you give it at 8 to 12 weeks of age, and then you booster in 4 weeks. Again, some show people may use this, but there’s really no evidence that it works.

Kevin Pelzer  31:50 
Also with pneumonia vaccine is the parainfluenza vaccine or the PI3 vaccine. And, this is actually an intranasal vaccine, where the vaccine is mixed up—it’s a live vaccine—and in cattle, you squirt 1 mL of the vaccine up each nostril of the calf. In the case of small ruminants, we just use 1 mL up into one nostril. And, I’ve used that as part of the pre-lambing vaccine, where you give it at the same time as that CD/T so that antibodies are made in the colostrum and the lamb or the kid has those antibodies.

Kevin Pelzer  32:34 
Again, those are cattle isolates. There was one study that was done in lambs, and it showed no effect in reducing pneumonia. But, there’s only one study that has been done to show that; there are no studies to show that it actually works. Some show people, they have complained to me that they go to shows, and then they come back, and their goats have runny noses. And I said, “Well, you could try this vaccine. I don’t know.” And then, they come back and say, “You know, that’s the best piece of advice you ever gave.” But, there’s no study to confirm that, so it may be all in their head. And, in my head, and being at a university, we tend to be a little bit more evidence-driven. And so, unfortunately, nobody has any controlled studies to show that it truly has a positive effect. But, some people say that once they started doing that, their respiratory problems were a lot less.

Kevin Pelzer  33:40 
There is a new vaccine that’s on the market—and this is mainly for dairy goats. This is the Staph. aureus vaccine. Staph. aureus causes mastitis in goats, as well as cattle and sheep. As far as I know, Premier 1 is the only one that sells it currently. It’s called VIMCO Mastitis Vaccine. It does have some literature to support its use, and so it has been found to be effective in preventing Staph. aureus and what they call coagulase-negative staph., which is the major cause of dairy goat mastitis.

Kevin Pelzer  34:24 
That vaccine, you give 2 mLs, and compared to all the other vaccines, it’s actually given in the muscle, and you give it 5 weeks prior to kidding, and then boost 3 weeks later. You need to repeat that every year. So, two injections are required rather than just the one single booster, as we’ve indicated in the other vaccines. And this one, too, also has a 60-day meat withdrawal. But, as I said, if you’re in a dairy situation, and you do have some mastitis problems, this is certainly a product that you should discuss with your veterinarian as to how it may fit into your mastitis prevention program.

Deborah Niemann  35:09 
That’s really interesting, because especially, like, if somebody has a big dairy, and a lot of goats, and it’s very easy for mastitis to get passed around with milking equipment and that kind of stuff. So, it’s probably not something for somebody with, like, three dairy goats in their backyard. But, for people who have bigger herds—

Kevin Pelzer  35:26 

Deborah Niemann  35:26 
—and also a lot of financial investment in that herd.

Kevin Pelzer  35:30 
Yes. Yeah.

Deborah Niemann  35:31 
Did you want to talk about the leptospirosis vaccine?

Kevin Pelzer  35:35 
Can. Leptospirosis is a bacterium that causes abortion, for the most part, in large animals—and goats are part of the large animal group. Leptospirosis in dogs can cause renal problems, and it can cause, like I said, abortion in goats, but it’s pretty rare. And so, reading, you know, about different vaccines and problems on the small ruminant Listserv for veterinarians, no one, as far as I can ever remember, has talked about using Lepto. vaccine in sheep or goats. I have seen a couple of cases of Lepto. in some lambs, but for the most part, that would be another vaccine to consider if you’re having problems with that organism.

Deborah Niemann  36:29 
Yeah. And, we just did an episode on infectious causes of abortion in goats this month. And so, if people are having a problem with abortions, definitely listen to that episode, because that’s something where you would need necropsies to get a good idea of exactly what’s causing it so that you can figure out how to prevent it.

Kevin Pelzer  36:47 
Exactly. And, did that speaker mention Lepto.?

Deborah Niemann  36:51 
You know what? I don’t think so. There were so many diseases. Like, I pulled out the most recent copy of Goat Medicine, and I’m like, “Okay, we’re gonna talk about all the infectious diseases.” And then, I was like, “Oh, my goodness, there is nowhere close to enough time to talk about all of them.”

Kevin Pelzer  37:07 
Yeah, there are a lot. But, I’d have to say that the vast majority of abortifacients agents that we deal with are the chlamydia, the Campylobacter, and toxoplasmosis. So, there is quite a myriad. You know, you have Q-fever and, you know, things like that. But, for the most part, we’re lucky that we don’t have issues with those agents to a great extent in this country. 

Deborah Niemann  37:38  
Yeah. One quick thing I wanted to ask about—because I get this question a lot. You know, all of the dosages that you’ve been giving, you’ve just been saying one dosage, and people are always wondering like, does their little Nigerian Dwarf get the same dose as a great big Boer buck?

Kevin Pelzer  37:56  
Yes, it does. It does. It’s kind of, like, you know, the same dose that we give a toy poodle goes into the Great Dane. So, I know with, you know, cattle and sheep, we don’t really have that much disparity in size usually, but certainly with the Nigerian Dwarfs and the Pygmy goats, there is a significant difference there, as you point out. But yeah, the dose is the same. And, we find the same thing with vaccines for pigs. Commercial pigs weigh 200 to 600 pounds, and the pot-bellied pigs should weigh 60 to 75 pounds, you know, or anywhere from 30 to 200 pounds, and they get the same vaccine dose. Yeah.

Deborah Niemann  38:49  
Well, thank you so much! Is there anything else that people need to think about in terms of vaccines? Any kind of general information that you want to give before we sign off today?

Kevin Pelzer  38:58  
I guess, you know, it kind of goes back to what you brought up about using the whole bottle. It’s important that you get vaccines that have been stored properly prior to the time that you purchased them, and during the time that they’re stored at your facility. And then, also using clean needles and syringes from a production standpoint. Generally, I recommend that if you are going to reuse a needle between animals that that needle be changed about every 10 animals—or sooner, if you get a burr on that needle—to reduce, like we talked about, abscesses and nods a result of that vaccine. And, that pretty much is the kind of the basic safeguards in regards to the vaccination. 

Kevin Pelzer  39:56  
Animals—as I mentioned before—shouldn’t be vaccinated If they’re damp or wet. Animals that are under stress certainly do not respond as appropriately as they would without that stress if they’re vaccinated. So, that’s important. Also, we’ve learned over the years that adequate minerals play an important role in immune response. So, to make sure that the animals they have access to trace minerals, and that’s available to them all the time, so that they can adequately respond to the vaccines.

Deborah Niemann  40:32  
Awesome. Thank you so much! This has been really informative. I think it’s gonna help an awful lot of people. Thanks for joining us today.

Kevin Pelzer  40:39  
Oh, you’re more than welcome! Take care.

Deborah Niemann  40:42  
And that’s it for today’s show. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to hit the “subscribe” button so that you don’t miss any episodes. To see show notes, you can always visit, and you can follow us on Facebook at See you again next time. Bye for now!

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2 thoughts on “Vaccines for Goats”

  1. Very glad to see the need for more frequent than annual enterotoxaemia vaccines was mentioned ie 3 times a year. This reference really highlighted this need and also the need not to use vaccines with lots of agents Green, D. S., et al. (1987). “Injection site reactions and antibody responses in sheep and goats after the use of multivalent clostridial vaccines.” Vet Rec 120(18): 435-439.
    Uncertainty concerning the use, efficacy and possible adverse effects of clostridial vaccination in goats prompted a study of the injection site reactions and antibody responses in 40 goats and 40 sheep. The vaccines used were Covexin 8, Heptavac and Tasvax 8. In all the animals swellings averaging 2.5 cm in diameter were present at the injection site seven days after vaccination and were still apparent 28 days after vaccination. The injection site reactions could not be attributed to faulty vaccination technique because they did not occur in a control group injected with sterile water. By 14 days the reactions were significantly larger in sheep than in goats and by 28 days the reactions to Covexin 8 were larger than those to the other vaccines in sheep and goats. Serum antibody was present in all groups before vaccination and, with the exception of the goats vaccinated with Heptavac, increased 14 days after vaccination. The increase was greater in sheep than in goats. By 28 days antibody levels had declined in all but the sheep vaccinated with Heptavac in which a further increase occurred. At that time, the antibody levels in vaccinated sheep were still higher than in the unvaccinated sheep whereas the antibody levels in vaccinated goats were no longer different from those in the control goats. These results suggest that there is a difference between the vaccines used and between the responses of the two species and support the clinical observation that the protection afforded to goats by multivalent clostridial vaccines is poorer than that afforded to sheep.


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