Gather them up, poke them with a needle and your goats are now protected. Wrong!
This type of vaccine handling and administration will not insure you have achieved the desired immune response. Two major problems that can occur are vaccine failure and/or tissue damage.
Vaccine failure means the goat can become ill later, require treatment and may even die. Illness and treatments are expensive.
Some common causes of vaccine failure are the animal's condition, age, not enough time, incorrect vaccine selection, poor vaccine quality and improper handling.
Parasites, malnutrition, age and stress can alter the goat's immune system. Deficiencies in copper, selenium, zinc, vitamin E and other nutrients can also damage the immune system. This will decrease the animal's response to a vaccine or the goat does not respond normally. A previous infection may also alter the immune system and decrease the animal's ability to respond.
Stressed animals do not handle vaccinations well. Try to vaccinate before stressful events or after they have had time to adjust to new conditions. This is where your veterinarian can give you advice on whether it would be better to vaccinate new arrivals or wait till they acclimate.
It takes at least 2-3 weeks after a vaccination for the immune system to produce enough antibodies to begin to protect the animal against the disease. Some vaccines require booster shots. If the goat is exposed before adequate time has passed they will not be protected.
Antibodies that kids acquire from their dams can interfere with the vaccination response. An immature immune system does not respond to vaccines as much as is necessary for effective protection.
Vaccine Selection, Quality and Handling
Careless handing or storage of vaccines can ruin a good vaccination program. Vaccines become useless when mishandled or not mixed correctly. It is a waste of time and money.
Equipment contamination (dirt, bacteria, chemicals) is one of the most common causes of vaccine failure. Use the same products in reusable syringes. Throw away disposable syringes.
Only reconstitute enough freeze-dried vaccines that you will use in thirty minutes because they soon become inactive after being mixed. Throw away unused reconstituted vaccine after one hour. Do not save a partial bottle for next week or next month.
Heat, freezing and sunlight will destroy almost all vaccines. Keep vaccines out of the sun, refrigerated and protected from freezing in the winter while administering them. A small ice chest works well and will keep your supplies together and clean.
Use only quality, in-date vaccines to insure the herd receives the level of protection they need. There are very few vaccines labeled for goats. Off label cattle vaccines may not give any protection against diseases to which your herd will be exposed. Off label use of vaccines can be extremely irritating. Use caution and consult with your veterinarian.
Tissue damage can cause lameness, swellings and abscesses. For show goats this can reduce a goats chances in an event or even stop the goat from being exhibited. Tissue damage in meat goats will result in decreased carcass quality and more losses.
To reduce tissue damage at injection sites:
- Follow label directions and procedures. Use the right amount. Use the right procedure. The wrong procedure or amount can reduce the effectiveness of a vaccine or make it useless and a waste of time.
- Never mix different vaccines. This can inactivate both and cause significant tissue damage. Label syringes to keep from mixing contents when doing several different vaccinations at the same time.
- Try to use products that are administered subcutaneously (under the skin). Shots in the rump may cause lesion problems. Keep muscle (meat) damage to a minimum.
- Cleanliness is not only next to "Godliness" but is effective in reducing tissue damage. Clean injection sites, clean needles, and new needles when needed. Keep a clean, empty tray as a place to set the syringe down between uses. Use disinfectants (Not with modified live virus vaccines.)
- Off label use of drugs can be extremely irritating. Use caution when using vaccines off label.
The best way to insure you have the most economical effective vaccination program is paying attention to all the details. Know the withdrawal period for any injection. Decisions about vaccines should be discussed with your veterinarian. This will make certain you are using the right products for your herd and you are administering them in the best possible way.
Patricia Parson: Wife, Mother, Author, Associate Real Estate Broker, and Farmer. Involved in the Georgia agriculture industry, including the production and marketing of goats, cattle, poultry and registered race, performance and halter horses since 1970. 20 years in goat production. 2001,2002, & 2003 Member of Steering/Advisory Committee to the Georgia and Southeast Meat Goat Buck Perfomance and Genetic Evaluation Program.
Bloodlines Steeped in Tradition / Focused on the Future