Three letters. CAE
To set the mood for this story, and to better show you how it's going with me, I'll begin at the very beginning.
Last Januray, I decided that I was finally ready (had enough money) to buy a doeling from one of the best breeders on the west coast, Lauren Acton. I checked out her breeding list for kids that I could afford, and scoured their pedigrees, looking for information. I finally settled with a doeling out of a goat named Trefethen, if I remember correctly. Her due date, which was written on the breeding chart, came and went without a word from the breeder. Then, she emailed, saying "Trefethen had two bucks, however, Jing and Shen had five does between the two of them, if you are interested." Jing and Shen are twins sisters, who I really like, but their kids were listed at $100 dollars more than Trefthen's were. As I considered, I noticed that the breeder's page said, "We now offer $100 dollars off any kid picked up at the farm!" Sold! I decided on Jing's doeling, as she'd be bred to two bucks, and it was possible that the doelings sire would be my favorite buck. I went down the get my doeling on February, the 13th, a Friday.
When we got there and I saw the kids, it was an easy decision to make. Out of Jing's three kids, two were chamoisee, and one was black. (Out of Jing and Shen's five doe kids, one was black.) I took the little black doeling, and named her, "My Friend Flicka."
Mom was overcome by the pens of cute baby goats, and bought a chamoisee doeling who has the same sire as Flicka, who's DNA results came back NOT with the sire I wanted.
Flicka was a sweet little kid, who quickly bonded to me. I'd take her with me when I gardened(where she'd nibble on my boundary flags), as I did chores(where she'd play king of the mountain on the hay stack), and when I had to get something out of the house, she'd run up and down the deck steps while waiting for me. At that time, I think she was getting Fern's milk, as were Emmy and Lily, whom Brittany had chosen to bottle feed.
On February 24th, Desi kidded with a single buck. She had lots of extra milk, so the bottle babies were now getting a mixture of Fern and Desi's milk.
Mirah kidded on February 26th, and wasn't being a very attentive mother, so I pulled and bottle fed her kids.
Theda kidded on Palm Sunday, and a week later, we sold Fern, Mirah, Theda, and four yearlings to a dairy in Idaho. That was a big mistake, because then we had five bottle babies, and only one goat (Desi) to feed them all, plus her own.
We began buying milk from Marlee's raw goat's milk dairy here in Goldendale, to feed to all our bottle babies. They grew grandly, but so did our debt, as we were paying $9 a gallon for the stuff!! After three or four or more weeks, I found out that a lot of people just feed whole cow's milk from the store, when they have a short supply of milk, so that's what we began doing. Whew, that took a load off of Mom's pocketbook!
The kids grew just fine, and I bred Flicka last fall, to kid in late May.
This is really where the story starts.
In May, 2016 after a very stressful and troublesome kidding season, and several cases of staph infections, parasites and a couple of mastitis, Mom and I decided to leave the purebred, registered, dairy goat world, and cross breed for hardiness. The breed we decided to cross with was Kiko. So, when my friend and president of the Columbia Basin Goat Guild had a genemaster (which is a Boer/Kiko-she was 3/4 Kiko) doe and kid for sale, we jumped the chance and bought her. Her name was June, and her kid's, Dolly. Later, I was told by the owner's daughter, that she was quite sure that June had originally come from Marlee's dairy.
Three weeks later, the Guild met at the site of the Goat Academy (June's former owner's place), to set things up, and go over what would need to be done between then and the Goat Academy day. As we sat, eating our potluck lunch and chatting, the conversation turned to the hostess's Guernsey goat herd. As she was telling us about them, she told us she was trying to sell them because they were her daughter's, and her daughter had gone back to school. She said how she was having a hard time selling them because they were CAE positive. I had a mini freak attack. We'd just bought a goat from her and now found out that some goats in the herd were CAE positive?!? She also said how that the goats that had kidded had had their kids pulled and bottle fed pasteurized milk. I noticed that the kids were in the same pen as the adults, and asked her, "Aren't you worried about the kids getting it?" She said, "No, the only proven means of transmission is through milk." I didn't say anything, but was worried just the same-I understood that, though it's a very slim chance, it can pass through saliva. (I was right, but that's not relevant to this story.)
The next Monday, Brittany and I pulled blood on all our adults and sent it off to WSU for CAE testing. It didn't get in before the deadline, so it didn't get tested until the next week. We got the results 10 days later, and June, Flicka and Emmy were positive.
I immediately emailed June's former owner and told her how that June had tested positive, and how that she had to have been the one who infected Flicka and Emmy, through saliva, because we were a tested negative herd, and Flicka and Emmy's breeder was too. I asked for a full refund for June and Dolly. She was very sorry, and willing took them back, with a full refund.
I had a fun day at the Goat Academy, and I taught the milking class again this year. Somebody at the academy mentioned how that a dairy in our area, had recently had 80% of their herd test positive for CAE. There is only one dairy in our area-Marlee's. (We'll come back to this tidbit later.)
Though it may be confusing, I want to include every detail in chronological order, so bear with me.
Flicka kidded on May 29th, and because we had the first test results in, I was able to pull the kids, (Stephen and Molly) and feed them pasteurized milk, to prevent the spread of CAE, of Flicka was, indeed, positive.
Lauren Acton told me that plastic blood tubes can give up to 30% false positive results, and recommended that I retest using glass tubes. After asking online for more advice, I was told to retest using the Colorado State University's CAE-PCR test, as it tests the actual DNA of the disease instead of the antibodies. (I take this to mean that the goat has to be showing symptoms of the disease before it shows up on this test.) So we did that test on Flicka and Emmy, and it was negative.
We decided to go for two-out-of-three, and retested Desi, Lily, Flicka, and Emmy, using the original testing method, but a different lab, BioTracking, and glass tubes. Desi and Lily were negative, but Flicka and Emmy were positive. These results came in last Tuesday, the 21st.
So that means that Flicka, Emmy, and all the kids that got their milk (Bruse, Pheobe, Elia, Zebedee and Isabelle) must be culled. All the kids would have gone on Saturday, but the auction barn isn't having a sale this week. Mom and I are keeping Flicka and Emmy, quarantined, for another year, to get another set of kids out of them to retain.
So, key points in this story. Remember how Marlee's dairy is CAE positive? Do you also remember how Flicka and Emmy were fed Marlee's milk? Yeah, that's where it came from, not June. June probably got it from Marlee's too, if indeed, that's where she was originally from. June was a blessing in disguise-I don't know when we would have tested otherwise, and I certainly wouldn't have saved Stephen and Molly.
Mom has a deposit on a doeling out of Trefethen, due to kid in September, to replace both Emmy and Isabelle, who she planned on keeping. I plan to place one for a spring kid, however, another doeling out of Jing probably isn't in my budget as she is now a proven doe. Flicka was from her first kidding. However, I just had a thought. "If she's bred to the right buck, I just need to get my four remaining lessons done and graduate-I'd probably get enough money to buy one."
Needless to say, I'm pretty heartbroken right now. Flicka, my little pet, has to go. She's still every bit as sweet as she used to be, and I love her so much. Not to mention, she has the highest milk numbers on the record board, and appraised at 88 VVVV this year, and very, very good score for a first freshener. In my opinion, she's the best doe we have except for, maybe, Blubelle and Molly. They're so young though, that I can't tell. Lulubelle appraised at 88 VVVE, (the E is a little better than Flicka's V) but she gives less milk and has had staph several times this year. I like to think it's NOT my opinion and a fact, (according to the information provided, and I've tried to be fair) but Mom may disagree with me, and Mom is usually right, so I'll wait for her to read this and see what she says. Emmy would possibly be better, as far as numbers go, (she has a slightly better udder but smaller teats and less milk and is as skinny as a stick) if she'd eat her grain and put on some weight, but she won't, so I say that's pretty bad in itself.
Anyway, an update from the goat pen. It's not all fun and games, folks. Feel free to ask any questions that may be on your mind-I'm not a very clear writer, and may have just confused everybody. Also, I'll put a post of what CAE is in a few days.