ARCHIVE: Veterinary surveillance: Goats
This page gives an introduction to goat keeping in the UK and how we look out for diseases of goats. It has links to other pages on the Defra website. You can find further information on other websites by following the link at the bottom of this page.
Goat farming in the UK
Goats in the UK are kept for many reasons. They are farmed for milk and some meat. They also produce hair (mohair and cashmere) and hide. Goats are also used to graze rough land and for companionship.
There are many different breeds of goats; different breeds are generally used for different purposes. Most breeds have a breed society which keeps details of the pedigrees of goats. Most societies have their own websites. The work of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust helps to support those breeds in danger of disappearing.
How many goats are there in the UK?
Altogether there are about 88,000 goats in the UK, half of which are adult breeding animals. In England and Wales there are 30,000 milk-producing goats.
We also collect information about the numbers and types of goats during a census completed by farmers in June every year.
We have information for goats that is broken down by whether or not they are adults or under 1-year old and whether or not they are intended for breeding. As well as the total number in the UK, the information can be broken down by county. Records are available for 2005 and from earlier years.
We have used this information to map (PDF 548 KB) how many goats there are in different areas of the UK.
Looking for goat diseases
Many people are involved in looking out for goat diseases.
The results for Great Britain are published each year in the Report of the Chief Veterinary Officer.
Other people and organisations look for goat diseases that are of economic importance to the industry, for example Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis.
Some of the testing is carried out by private veterinary surgeons and some by Veterinary Officers and Animal Health Officers from Animal Health.
Meat inspectors of the Meat Hygiene Service look for signs of various diseases during the post mortem inspection of animals slaughtered for meat.
Which are the most important diseases of goats in the UK?
Different diseases are important to different groups of people. From the point of view of the Government, the most important infectious diseases of goats present in the UK are probably scrapie, Johnes’ Disease, caseous lymphadenitis and some infectious causes of abortion, which may affect people such as enzootic abortion, toxoplasmosis and campylobacter.
From the point of view of the farmer, the most important conditions are probably gut worms, clostridial diseases, infectious causes of abortion and caprine arthritis encephalitis. In milking goats mastitis is also important.
What other diseases do we look out for?
also keep a look out for goats diseases which do not usually occur in
this country. The most important of these exotic diseases is foot
and mouth disease. Other important ones are goatpox,
Brucella melitensis and
News from other countries about these diseases helps us plan how
to keep them out.
- VLA Small Ruminants Disease Surveillance Reports
- Other websites - These sites may be useful if you are interested in further information about goats in the UK. Please note that Defra does not necessarily endorse the content, information or opinions of these sites.
- Farming pages on the Defra website.
Page last reviewed:
July 18, 2007
Page last modified: May 4, 2010