The following notes were made by Zoe Mitchell from the talk given at 2024 club AGM.
Blue Tongue Disease - Tim Riseborough BVM BVS MRCVS (Wensum Valley Vets)

The Blue tongue virus first appeared in Europe in 2007 (BTV1/8) A voluntary vaccine was available in May 2008, but there were lots of deaths. It then became eradicated due to lower temperatures.

Moving forward to Feb 2024 there have been 86 cases from 48 premises, in 3 counties including Norfolk.

The is no evidence of it at the moment but surveillance is ongoing. It is not contagious to humans with no public health risk but it affects ruminants and camelids. It is transmitted by midges. With global warming it is much more of a concern.

There are up to 27 different strains. At 30 degrees centigrade the midge will reproduce in 2 days. At 12 degrees centigrade the process is halted.

Blue tongue is transmitted by blood, seminal products, movement of infected animals, dirty needles, pregnant animals can transmit the virus onto their offspring. It can also lay dormant on the in the animal.

Symptoms in the goats: - (it is similar to foot & mouth).

Fever, lethargy & depression.

Oral lesions & ulcers, drooling mouth, discomfort eating.

Respiratory issues.

Lameness & swelling/inflammation of hooves & joints.

It can also cause an abortion, still born & miscarriages.

NOTE: If your animals may have it, you must notify your vet.

The Government set up temporary control zones (10 km). APHA ask you to gather up all your animals, they are then blood tested & your records are checked. Kids under 12 weeks are not tested.

If you get a positive test there is further testing including the negatives & offspring.

Currently affected animals are culled but this is unlikely to stop the spread. The government will compensate you.

You won’t be informed of negative results.

It you are in the TCZ (temporary controlled zone) you will need a specific movement licence to be able to transport any animals. You must check the criteria before moving i.e., abattoir /to another holding.

All vehicles must be disinfected.

Vaccination- BTV is available for strains 1-8

No vaccine for BTV3 (current threat). A licence is needed to be able to vaccinate. By vaccinating there is a reduced likelihood of contracting the disease and also transmitting the disease. It can take up to 6 weeks for your animals to be fully immune. Your animals will require a period of time for immunity to develop following vaccination and may need 2 doses of the vaccine, 3 weeks apart.

Other impact of bluetongue in the UK.

There have been economic losses and expensive disease control measures.

Trade disruption limits export from the UK.

There are animal welfare concerns

Increased production costs - vaccines, vector control.

Long term industry issues- lack of confidence. Culling of animals

Emotional stress on the owners.

Loss of blood lines

Loss of confidence in the public.

Vet attestation requirements

This is a new requirement which started on 13th December 2023. Although it has been in place since leaving the EU.

The vet will issue a VAN (vet attestation number) number for you if your animals are going for slaughter or to market. This number will need to be put on your movement form.

The aim of the attestation is to show that the farm/smallholding has regular vet visits. The vet doesn't need to examine the specific animals that are going to market. Indeed, the animals going to market don't need to be present on farm at the time of the visit, as long as it took place within the preceding 12 months.

A CAE question

Imogen, one of our members who breeds angora goats says “We are all CAE accredited herds as that historically is what was chosen by British Angora Goat Society, albeit when there were many more, and bigger herds in the UK.

But as you know, that causes incompatibility with CAE monitored goats using the same facilities.

It maybe with current herd sizes (smaller than historical herd sizes) and the desire to attract more people to showing, that we could consider the pros and cons of the two schemes. Is there someone who can guide as through the how you guys manage your CAE monitored stock, especially for larger herds e.g do you segregate out your show animals and test only them? What is the incidence of +ve results where did they come from, cost per annum and that sort of thing.“

John Matthews replies:
Hi Imogen,
Mary Blackie has passed your email regarding CAE on to me.
The BGS has now abolished the Monitored Herd Scheme, as it was neither fish nor fowl and not fit for purpose.
All goats being shown at BGS shows are required to have been whole herd CAE tested within the previous year (or be accredited). All goats on the premises should be tested. We have become increasingly concerned about some goatkeepers running tested goats with untested goats, or, more commonly, untested sheep. The only costs are for the vet and lab fees with no administration charge.
Over the past 18 months or so, the BGS committee worked with the SRUC towards a scheme whereby all BGS shows became accredited by moving all the herds simultaneously from whole herd testing to accreditation. However, because of opposition from members, some of it reasonable and legitimate, we have been forced to abandon the idea for the present.
A number of leading show herds have decided to become accredited despite this.
More shows are preparing to offer facilities for accredited goats, alongside whole herd tested goats, but this still presents difficulties with penning and separation and for the judge who has to one class of animals in 2 separate rings.
The logistical difficulties and cost implications remain impossible to overcome for many smaller shows.
Having said that, I still feel that it would be a retrograde step so far as health was concerned for you to give up your accredited status.
There have been more cases of CAE positive goats being detected over the past 3 years and it is often not obvious where the disease has originated. There have been cases in goats obtained from accredited herds as well as non-accredited herds.
I suggest that you contact Richard Pemble, who has been chairing the BGS committee looking at CAE and other diseases. His herd is becoming accredited and he has a lot of experience running shows.
It is a long time since the Herts Show had goats. We used to show our goats there regularly in the 80s.
Please email or phone if I can help any more.

John Matthews BSc BVMS MRCVS
President and Honorary Veterinary Surgeon British Goat Society

Toxic Plants

Jenny sent this in to remind us all to beware what we give our goats.

A couple of weeks ago my husband decided to cut back my Pieris plant which I had asked him to do. I had popped to the shop and he thought my 5 goats might like a bit of extra greenery.
I was concerned as I was fairly sure this plant was poisonous and on looking on the internet is more toxic than Rhododendron.
The following day (Monday) 2 goats were looking quite poorly and I called the vets. Poppy, the vet, administered liquid charcoal and other medication. One took the charcoal but the other seemed to either bring most of it up or didn't swallow it. The smaller one who took the charcoal soon recovered.
However, the other one, the following day was frothing at the mouth, wobbly on its feet and obviously in pain. I looked up people who would take a dead goat. I called out Poppy again expecting her to put the goat to sleep but she offered to give more medication which she did and the said goat survived with no ill effects.
I haven't had the bill yet so am not sure what she administered. The goats are wethers and of mixed breed but I felt I had to do what I could.
I am sure that members will be aware of plants which are poisonous to goats but I thought it might be worth mentioning.
Jenny A

I found a leaflet written by Mrs M Egerton for the British Goat Society but with no date. She offers the following list as examples of common poisonous plants but stresses that it is NOT a definitive list. She also says that goats used to free ranging will often avoid the toxic ones but ……there are no guarantees! Her suggested poisonous ones are: Ragwort, Mayweed, Hemlock, Old Man’s Beard (Traveller’s Joy), Foxglove, Charlock, Bryony, Woody Nightshade (Bittersweet), Deadly Nightshade, Honeysuckle, Fool’s Parsley, Buttercups – any kind, Anemone, Lesser Celendine, Bulbs of all sorts eg tulip, daffodil, Laburnum, Rhododendron, Yew, Laurel, Walnut. Evergreen garden shrubs as a whole should be suspect.
I hope this helps a little.

Cambridgeshire Goat Club October 2018 powerpoint presentation

Click here to view.

“You dirty rat!”

If you use rat poisons then you need to read this!

That famously misquoted line may soon be a phrase more likely to be spoken by many a farmer and smallholder following new rules on the purchase of rodenticides, that come fully into effect from the end of September this year.

The following information is taken from the government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website…

Regulatory environmental risk assessments have concluded that the use of First and Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides outdoors present a higher level of risk to non-target animals (such as predatory birds and mammals) than would normally be considered acceptable. [sic]

Therefore, following an EU directive way back in 2011 the HSE has been required to enact a scheme to reduce the risks from rat poisons when used in the wider environment. All such anticoagulant rodenticides authorisations are undergoing renewal and on the 1st of October only “Stewardship conditions” labelled products will be available to buy and only authorised persons will be able to use them. This in effect means that to purchase and use these poisons that you will have to be in possession of an approved certificate of competence from an approved training programme or be a member of a UK farm assurance scheme “which has among its standards a requirement for an audited programme of rodent pest management.”

If you belong to neither of the above group then you are left with two options 1, employ the services of a professional pest controller who possesses the correct authorisations or 2, purchase and use amateur rodenticide bait but do note that these are likely to be in pack sizes less than 1.5 kilograms and may well be prepared in ready to use blocks or sachets.

It is of natural concern that prices for pest controllers and the purchase of amateur packs is likely to go up. And the ability to buy in bulk will no longer be an option without a certificate.

In the very short term it is still legal to buy and sell all of the existing products until the end of September this year but do note that the legal position is that all existing stocks should be used up or disposed of by the 31st of March 2017. It should be noted that it has only been following the intervention of the NFU and the UK government in delaying the implementation of the scheme that we have had a window of opportunity to allow adequate preparation and the creation of bespoke training courses.

There are various groups that are offering training for the new certificates and in fact the training can be done online for free at the following website (though there are also others)…

More information on the new rules is also available on the above website. Please note that there will still be a requirement to attend a one day course and/or sit an exam and the following websites offer more advice on that line though as these regulations are new more training and new information is becoming available.