Vaccine Alternatives

Discussion in 'Health & Wellness' started by aJadeMagnolia, May 23, 2018.

  1. aJadeMagnolia

    aJadeMagnolia Member

    May 17, 2018
    Starting a thread on alternatives to vaccines. Anyone with experience raising goats without vaccines is invited to share their knowledge and anyone who has heard of any alternatives is welcome as well.

    Just some random suggested starting points:
    • What methods do you use?
    • What precautions do you take?
    • What forms of biosecurity do you practice, if any?
    • What do you stock your first aid kit with?

    We'd love to hear from you! Thank you so much!
  2. aJadeMagnolia

    aJadeMagnolia Member

    May 17, 2018
    I've been following natural and vaccine-free methods and after 14 years of keeping goats with strict biosecurity procedures mine have always been free of serious diseases (Johne's, CAE, CL, Scrapie) and generally healthy. And I've introduced goats from various sources over the years, but have been careful that the goats and the sources were disease-free. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    To balance this out properly: In all of these years have I ever had any health challenges with my goats at all? Yes, of course I have. And I don't mind admitting it and sharing info on every single one of them. Anyone who has had a lot of goats for a long time who tells you they've never had anything to treat might be exaggerating. I've had wounds to tend to, mastitis, difficult births to assist with, retained placentas, copper deficiency that the vet couldn't figure out, tube feeding weak kids on account of them chilling after being born during cold weather, the list goes on. More serious things like shipping pneumonia, arthritis, bloat, and others but thus far they only happened in animals I purchased that had been vaccinated by their previous owner. At first you don't notice these things, but I've been in goats for so many years and have seen so many herds (in person in places like Michigan, Texas, Kentucky, Maryland, Tennesee, Virginia and have seen animals directly from herds in California, North Carolina, Massachusetts and more), both vaccinated and not vaccinated, and altogether I've seen so many goats (way into the thousands) that while observing all of them and hearing from their breeders and owners you start noticing various health patterns. Like goat kids with runny noses for instance. That's another topic altogether. So for what it's worth, I'll share what I can and you can judge for yourself.

    Some of these things are just basic biosecurity measures that many breeders use, regardless of whether they vaccinate or not, but since we are on the topic of disease prevention, here we go:
    • Be cautious about leasing a buck for breeding (risky, especially if you are not sure of the health status of the herd he is temporarily joining, or whether the operation practices sound biosecurity practices)
    • Same for driveway breeding services.
    • Consider the risk of visiting livestock auctions - which can be a source for seriously diseased animals. (Why anyone would try to make a profit on a dying or sick animal is beyond me but you must be aware that this is a reality.)
    • There is also risk with shows - part of that risk can be mitigated by utilizing great caution and quarantining animals that return from shows. (Hopefully with a companion as you do not want an animal alone which can stress them unnecessarily.) Some test them before re-introducing them back into the herd.
    • Not purchasing animals from anyone that you do not trust.
    • Not purchasing animals from anyone that you know has had an outbreak of a serious disease in recent years (hoof rot is also something to look out for, particularly if they also own sheep).

    Entero and Tetanus: I have never used the CD/T vaccine and have had great success without it.

    There have been reports of kids vaccinated with CD/T who developed enterotoxemia and many have died because the antitoxin is no longer working as there is a new strain that is becoming a problem throughout our area. If you're in the Southeast or Mid-Atlantic you might have already heard about the new Clostridial strain as so many vets are aware of it now. So the real-world, in-the-field news is that the vaccine isn't providing any protection against this new strain in certain parts of the U.S. since the vaccine was developed using a different strain of the C perfringens bacteria, and the antitoxin isn't working for the same reason. All the more reason to find an alternative. A good one is:™_(enterotoxemia,_overeating)_8_oz.html

    Johne's, CAE or CL are not diseases that an animal can catch out of the blue. They have to be introduced into your herd, whether through the introduction of new disease-carrying animals (have them tested before introducing them to your property) and/or perhaps even by vaccinations - which always contain animal byproducts and are not tested to be free of these diseases - and/or milk replacer and/or feed containing or contaminated with animal byproducts. (Those animal byproducts have not been tested to be free from serious diseases.)
    • Trimming your own goats' hooves - not hiring or having someone do it for you that might have been in contact with many other goats/herds. (CL prevention)
    • If you practice clipping (aka trimming, shearing) your goats' hair/coat - same as above. To avoid bringing in someone who has been handling other goats of unknown health status. I've never had CL on my property, and if a clipper/trimmer hits a CL abscess that can be a source of transmission of the disease.
    • Not feeding kids milk replacer - much of the cow milk supply is contaminated with Johne's disease - the USDA allows Johne's-positive cows to continue to produce milk at licensed dairies despite the fact that it might be linked to Crohn's disease and is transmissible to other species including goats. Try to find goat milk or a different dairy from a local source that is free of Johne's.
    • CAE prevention? Have animals tested to be sure they are free of the disease before bringing them to your property. And avoid the vaccines that carry the risk of causing encephalitis.

    There are five products I think one should never be without in a goat first aid/medicine kit:
    There are other products I can recommend and think are great to have on hand, but find that these are essential.

    (It is really handy to have disposable syringes on hand to administer Paxxin and/or Kochi Free orally with, you can buy them at any farm store or the cheapest place I've found to order them online is at Valley Vet.)


    Recommended Reading:

    If you are interested in homeopathic methods: Natural Remedies For Goat Diseases and it has a small chart to help with dosage conversions for goats.

    The Accessible Pet, Equine and Livestock Herbal: choosing abundant wellness for your creatures by Katherine A. Drovdahl M.H.

    A book I can highly recommend is The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable by Juliette de Bairacli Levy, a pioneer in veterinary natural rearing methods. You can read more about her here. Most people don't realize that it was she who introduced the veterinary world to seaweed/kelp. She also became famous for curing canine distemper and rabies. The veterinarians of the King of England used to send their important cases to her distemper clinic. She never used vaccines on any livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, etc.). She was also involved with the founders of the organic/natural gardening movement. They made a documentary film about her too. I think that film is available for online viewing too.
    Last edited: May 28, 2018
    luvmyherd likes this.



    Sep 21, 2014
    Cobbtown, Ga.
    VERY interesting.
  4. Damfino

    Damfino Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2013
    Right behind you
    You mention an alternative for the clostridia vaccine but not for tetanus, which is the one I am much more concerned about. I am a big believer in tetanus vaccines since tetanus lives everywhere on a farm and it is nearly always fatal if contracted. I get myself vaccinated for tetanus every so often because puncture wounds happen on a farm. Me, my horses, my goats, and my dogs have all gotten punctures, and on animals we often don't notice them right away.

    I also vaccinate my dogs and horses for rabies, and my packgoats that spend lots of time around crowds of people also get rabies vaccines to satisfy people/animal interaction requirements. Rabies is not such a concern where I live now, but it was a problem when I lived in western NY. My horses regularly came in contact with rabid wildlife, so we vaccinated. A goat near where I lived was diagnosed with rabies at a fair during that time and it ended up being a huge nightmare for state officials since hundreds of people had come in contact with the goat during the course of the fair. After that, all animals coming to shows and fairs were required to have a rabies vaccinations.

    You do address this by saying part of biosecurity is not taking your animals to shows and fairs. But many of us do those things so we really can't be "bio-secure". I also will do driveway breedings. I take my goats to get bred and I allow other people's goats to come here and get bred. Driveway breeding is the only practical option for some people who can't keep bucks for whatever reason. We were unable to keep bucks for the first 2-3 years we bred goats, and I sometimes wonder if we'd be better off going back to driveway breedings, given my fencing situation, and the fact that genetic diversity can be difficult if you can only keep one or two bucks. There's value in being able to tap into bloodlines outside of what you can own yourself, and AI is not always a feasible option.

    Biosecurity is good, but sometimes it only gets you so far. For example, at one time my next-door neighbor had a herd of 500 Boer goats housed next to the road that I had to drive through. Every time it rained or snowed, the runoff from his goat pen went into the road that I had to drive over to get to my house. So whatever diseases were in that muddy soil ended up on my tires and subsequently on my property. One of my goats ended up with CL from his herd and had to be culled. I vaccinated my other goats because I knew the risk of exposure was high and there was no practical way for me to practice biosecurity. I was not very happy with the CL vaccine because most of my goats ended up with large, sterile, injection-site abscesses. But that was better than them contracting the disease and having infected abscesses. Luckily my neighbor eventually sold his Boers and CL is no longer a big concern. However, it's important to keep in mind that not everyone is willing or even able to practice strict biosecurity.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that biosecurity has its own pitfalls. If you keep your herd too "closed" you may risk compromising their immune systems by lack of exposure to pathogens. I'm not saying people should throw all caution to the wind, but I've known a few folks who go overboard in my opinion. Their animals are like kids who are too isolated and end up with immune systems that are weak from lack of "exercise." Some amount of exposure can be a good thing. I did a lot of research into CL when we were dealing with it on our place, and one of the things I discovered is that Boer goats are much more susceptible to it than European breeds. That's because CL doesn't live in Africa, so Boers were only exposed after exportation began a few decades ago. European goats, on the other hand, had been exposed to the bacteria for hundreds of years and have developed a certain amount of resistance. They're not immune, but when CL gets into a dairy herd it will likely only affect a few animals in a minor way, whereas if it gets into a Boer herd it tends to affect many animals in a big way.
    Last edited: May 24, 2018
  5. goathiker

    goathiker I'm watching you Staff Member Supporting Member

    Probably a typo but, there is no vaccine for CAEV.