At the risk of grossing y'all out, I'm going to go ahead and post the picture...
This is some of Heidi's blood, in a glass vial. It will be sent to Idaho on Monday to be tested for CAE.
For those of you who don't know what CAE is.... It stands for 'Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis', but that's too much of a mouthful for us goat owners, so we just say CAE. Basically, a goat that has CAE will usually get a terrible case of arthritis in its joints, it will begin to waste away and then eventually die. There is no cure for it. Not all animals show symptoms for this disease; some may be carriers but stay healthy their whole lives; which is why we have to test them for it. CAE is only contagious through breeding, blood, or milk. Meaning, I could have a CAE negative herd of goats, but if they were bred to a CAE positive buck, then they too would become positive. Or if a CAE negative goat licked some blood off of a CAE positive goat, then the disease would be shared. And lastly, if you have a CAE positive goat, and you let her kids nurse off of her, then they will be CAE positive. If you take the kids away at birth, and bottlefeed them with a different milk, then they will be fine.
I say all this because, Heidi was tested almost three years ago for CAE and tested negative, but anything could have happened in that span of time; so for all I know she could end up being positive. If she ends up being positive, then something is going to have to happen. You can't (well, you shouldn't) breed a CAE positive goat, because the buck would then contract the disease. And if she can't be bred, then she can't be milked. And if she can't be milked, then she is termed "useless". Most CAE goats are destroyed because no one wants them; the only other use for them is just being a pet. But Heidi is such a big girl, I'm not so sure I could find someone who wanted her just as a pet.
In that little glass vial, ultimately is Heidi's fate. I knew that there was a chance that she might be CAE positive, when I first bought her. But I took the chance. She was such a shaggy, ugly, bag of bones when I got her... But lately, she has begun blossoming into a lovely dairy doe. She has gained weight, she's starting to look sleek and glossy, and she has such a sweet temperament. I wouldn't dare say that she's become a favorite, would I? ;)
While talking with a friend yesterday (the one who helped me with the dehorning), I had mentioned to her that I didn't know what I would do if Heidi tested positive. She replied that there would only be one thing I could do, if that happened.
I'll let y'all know what the verdict is when the testing is finished...