CDT vaccine for goats: should you give it or not? Learn what it means, what it’s for, symptoms, treatments, prevention, and where to give the shot and other alternatives to giving the shot. Your goats rely on you to keep them safe and healthy and this is one area that is absolutely necessary to know about. You can find more information in our Raising Goats Series.
CDT Vaccine For Goats
Vaccinations are a pretty sticky subject that can cause a lot of inflammatory opinions, right? And whether we are talking about our kids or our…kids…goat kids that is, we need to make a decision that is well informed and then stand firm in that decision.
In my first years of goat ownership, I didn’t vaccinate my goats. And then I did for a few years. And through all of those years, my goats were healthy and happy. And usually, goats can be healthy and happy with either decision.
It is a good idea for all goat owners to take the time to understand what vaccinations are and if they are needed in every situation and why.
Obviously, you will fall into one of two categories:
- You will not vaccinate your goats like
- Or you will vaccinate your goats like
Let’s dive in and look at what the CD/T or CD&T vaccination for goats is all about.
The three letters C, D, and T may not ring any bells.
What is CDT? CD&T is a vaccine for Enterotoxemia and Tetanus.
Enterotoxemia is caused by two strains of bacteria called Clostridium perfringens (type C + D)
It is also called “Overeating Disease”: This bacteria is present in small amounts in a goat but when grain is increased, a protein supplement or a milk replacer is given or the goat is on new spring growth, the bacteria are given all the sugar, starch and protein needed to exponentially grow, causing toxins to be released in harmful and deadly amounts.
Tetanus is caused by a wound that becomes infected with the tetanus bacteria.
Tetanus is found in rusty nails AND lives in the soil! And the kids will be provided with tetanus immunity through the colostrum of the milk after the doe is vaccinated.
You can find a lot of articles here on A Life of Heritage that will teach you about goat care and be sure to check out The Goat Health, Information and Profit Bundle–it’s full of to-do lists, checklists, record keeping sheets, and resource pages that will get your new (or old) goat herd off to a terrific start!
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Enterotoxemia can be very scary. It can progress so quickly that you may find your sheep or goat dead without having had any previous signs of the disease.
With that said, prevention is key! Prevention is more likely to be successful than trying to treat the disease.
As a goat owner, you will decide to give the CD&T Vaccine or not, but whichever decision is made, the following practices need to be observed.
Practice safe feed management:
- Grains, silage or haylage, lush pasture, milk or milk replacer, and protein supplements and even complete feeds (pellets designed to be fed to induce gain in lambs or kids) all can trigger this disease if fed in excess.
- If you do feed the above, feed your animals roughage first. They will fill up with hay and have a lower chance of over-stuffing themselves on the feeds that may trigger the disease. You may also want to split up the high-risk feed into several smaller portions throughout the day.
- Keep all grain bins locked up securely…don’t underestimate a goats ability to get into anything.
- And always, always make feed changes slowly. Do this by slowly increasing the amount given over several days time.
- If you are feeding your goats high-risk feed, watch your animals. If feeding several animals at once, watch for dominance. You don’t want one animal pushing around the others and getting most of the feed.
- When turning your animals out to pasture:
- Day one: ten minutes time
- Day two: 20 minutes time
- Each day increase the time the animal is allowed out on pasture. In about one week, the animal should do well on pasture for a 24 hour period.
Possible Causes of Enterotoxemia
- Finding your goat’s head in the bag of grain after you know you locked the gate and checked twice.
- If goats or sheep are feed grain in groups, one may push the others out and get more grain than planned or even realized.
- The sudden change of being put out on lush green pasture in the spring.
- A young kid eating milk in excess from a heavy milking doe.
- Any sudden change in feed.
Enterotoxemia Symptoms to Watch For:
- An animal going abruptly off feed and becoming lethargic.
- Stomach pain
- Kicking belly
- Laying down and getting up repeatedly
- Laying on their sides
- Panting and crying out
- Diarrhea may develop and blood may be visible in the loose stool
- May lose the ability to stand, lay on their side, extending their legs. Because of the effect of the toxins on the brain, the animal will extend their head and neck over their withers. When this sign is seen, death will commonly occur in minutes to hours.
Treatment for Enterotoxemia:
- Contact your vet
- Your vet may treat a mild case with:
- Oral electrolyte solutions
- Or antisera (solution of concentrated antibodies that neutralize the toxins the bacteria produces).
- Your vet may treat a severe case with:
- Intravenous fluids
- Antibiotic therapy
- And possibly supplemental oxygen.
“Anti-toxin vaccines are used in medical emergencies when immediate but short-term protection is required. Goat producers use two anti-toxin injectables: C&D Anti-Toxin and Tetanus Anti-Toxin. C&D Anti-Toxin should be used whenever overeating disease, ruminal acidosis, or any rumen-related toxicity is suspected to be the cause of the goat’s illness. As with the vaccines (toxoids), the anti-toxins are used SQ (subcutaneously, i.e. under the skin). C&D Anti-Toxin is very safe to use and has a wide margin of error. It is one of the few medications which can be used without fear of hurting the animal.” ~Source
Tetanus is another disease no one wants to deal with in animals. The bacterium Clostridium tetani is deadly.
As shown below, this nasty bacteria is not one you want to mess with. A goat can get tetanus through…
- the soil
- feces (horse manure is a perfect place for tetanus to thrive)
- a cut on a fence or sharp object by just playing around
- you can also be the culprit. Trimming a goat’s hooves and drawing blood allows an opening for the bacteria to enter and wreak havoc.
- puncture wounds
- fights between goats
- dog bites
- kidding difficulties (dystocia).
- the rubbing of a collar on a chained or tethered goat can produce skin lesions
- elastrator bands used for castrating young males
- deep puncture wounds are of the biggest concern because the bacteria is sensitive to oxygen.
Tetanus flourishes in areas where oxygen is not plentiful, i.e. anaerobic conditions.
And prevention is key with tetanus as well.
If you are vaccinating, you will want to put this annual vaccination on your calendar so it’s not forgotten. And if you choose to not vaccinate, keep the Tetanus anti-toxin on hand. It instantly reverses the tetanus disease if given immediately.
And keep all areas clear of rusty objects and areas that could cut a goat.
Keep the area where the goats are living clean and sanitary.
Tetanus Symptoms to watch for:
- Rigid gait
- Unsteady gait
- Mild bloat
- Unable to open mouth: “lockjaw”
- Muscle stiffness
- Drooping eyelids
- Changed voice
- Erect ears and tail
- Inability to eat or drink
- Excessive salivation
- Rigid extension of legs (front legs forward and back legs extended backward)
- The signs often get progressively worse and convulsions may occur.
- Death occurs from asphyxiation secondary to respiratory paralysis.
After the goat lays down and can’t get back up, death occurs quickly (usually within 36 hours or less).
Treatment for Tetanus:
- Contact your vet!
- High doses of penicillin
- Tetanus anti-toxin. Before finding or doing anything with the initial site of injury, the tetanus antitoxin must be given. It should even be given before cleaning the wound to reduce the chance of the toxin being absorbed further while manipulating the damaged tissue. *Excessive tissue manipulation may make the animal dramatically worse. Open the wound or infection site to the air (remember, this bacteria is sensitive to oxygen!) and infiltrate with penicillin.
If you do decide to give the CD&T Shot to Your Goat…
Where do you give a goat or sheep a CD&T Shot?
This vaccine is given subcutaneous (SubQ, SQ). Subcutaneous means “under the skin” and implies just under the skin. With a subcutaneous injection, a needle is inserted just under the skin.
- Prepare vaccine with proper dosage and 20 gauge needle.
- Lift the skin (in the armpit of the goat) into a tent.
- Insert the needle under the skin into the tent, toward the body. Make sure that the needle isn’t in the skin or muscle, or through the other side of the tent.
- Inject the medication and remove the needle.
- Rub the injection site for 30 seconds to prevent lumps or bumps.
More important information about the CDT Vaccination and what age to give CDT to goats:
• Follow the label directions carefully
• Some companies sell combination vaccines (CDT and protection against additional clostridial diseases) but contact your vet first to see if those diseases are common in your area before you spend any extra money.
**What is a clostridial disease? “The Clostridial diseases are a group of mostly fatal infections caused by bacteria belonging to the group called Clostridia. These organisms have the ability to form protective shell-like forms called spores when exposed to adverse conditions.” ~Source
• Vaccinate does about 30 days prior to kidding. This will provide protection to the kids through the colostrum.
**But if the doe has not been giving a priming booster, the pre-kidding annual shot probably won’t be effective.
**What is a priming booster? It is two shots administered three to four weeks apart. It usually is given when a doe is young but can be given at any point in her life.
• Vaccinate kids at 5-6 weeks of age. Give the priming booster 3-4 weeks later. If your doe was vaccinated properly, giving the CDT shot before a kid is 5 weeks old, may result in the kids not being protected and therefore the annual boosters may not be effective.
• If you are uncertain of the vaccination history of a doe or if colostrum intake of a kid is uncertain within the first 24 hours of birth, vaccinate the kid at 7-21 days of age and then give a booster 3-4 weeks later.
• Any other adult goats, yearling or breeding bucks can be given the annual boosters 30 days prior to the breeding season or when the herd is receiving their booster vaccines.
• Give any new breeding bucks and does with unknown vaccination history two initial doses, three to six weeks apart, and then put them on the annual vaccination schedule.
• Some research has shown that goats might benefit from booster vaccinations twice a year, six months apart.
Other Alternatives to the CDT Vaccine for Goats
So remember, you don’t have to vaccinate. If you choose not to give this vaccine follow carefully and practice the safe feed management guidelines and the steps to prevent tetanus, both listed above.
I don’t know about you, but nothing about these diseases sound pleasant.
If you do choose to vaccinate, mark your calendar each year and give your goats the CD&T vaccine.
Have you ever had any experiences with a goat getting Enterotoxemia or Tetanus?
I am not a doctor or veterinarian. The information herein is my opinion only and is not meant to replace professional, veterinary, or medical opinion. Any products mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. Statements made on this blog have not been evaluated by the FDA.