Producers should manage their sheep and goats to prevent or reduce the incidence of disease. Every producer should have a licensed veterinarian assist in the design and implementation of a herd health program. A herd health program addresses the prevention and treatment of disease, depending on the type of production system. Procedures such as vaccination, castration, shearing, disbudding (dehorning), and hoof trimming can be performed by qualified producers or by a veterinarian. Licensed veterinarians should perform any invasive surgery or administer restricted vaccines.
Sheep and goats should be observed regularly and any deviations from a normal state should be promptly investigated. Increased attention should be provided at the time of lambing/kidding in case an animal needs assistance. Healthy animals are normally bright-eyed and alert, gregarious, curious about their environment, move around easily, and have a glossy hair coat. Sick animals tend to separate themselves from their herd mates. A sick animal’s coat may be rough and ruffled or the animal may be lame, refuse to eat, have diarrhea, have abnormal lumps on the body, spend a lot of time lying down, become thin, and cough. Prompt identification of the cause of sickness and implementing a proper treatment plan will minimize the length of sickness and the loss of production while assisting in minimizing any potential transmission to other flock/herd mates. Consult a licensed veterinarian for an accurate medical diagnosis and treatment plan.
Drug administration instructions and stated withdrawal times should be closely followed for the relatively few animal health products that are approved for use in sheep and goats. It is important to remember that withdrawal times start after the last treatment has been administered. Administration of drugs not approved for use in sheep and goats or administration of approved drugs but in a manner inconsistent with the label directions, falls in the category of “Extra Label Use of Drugs” and must be done under the supervision of a veterinarian, who will recommend appropriate withdrawal times. People are subjected to civil penalties who sell meat or milk with illegal levels of drugs present.