Move ‘Em on Out!

What you need to do before transporting animals across state lines.

Move ‘Em on Out!

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When we started our farm here in Connecticut, knowing that this isn’t our forever home, we knew that we would eventually be facing one of two choices — rehome all of our animals before we leave, or prepare to transport animals across state lines. As a military family, moving from state to state comes with the territory, and so does extensive amounts of paperwork and research. Unlike our pack of human kids, however, packing up our small herd of goats requires extra advanced planning. 

When you’re packing up one or an entire herd for a trip over the state line, whether it is for competition, business, pleasure, or permanent relocation, the very first thing that you need to do is research your destination well. Different states can have varying requirements for vet checks, vaccines, or even quarantine periods, but federal law requires a scrapie tag or other applicable identification per the National Scrapie Eradication Program.  

Scrapie is a fatal degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system of sheep and goats. It is one of several transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (think mad cow disease but for goats) that causes behavioral changes, head and neck tremors, and ultimately death. The National Scrapie Eradication Program went into effect in 2001, and the identification and record-keeping requirements are designed to track scrapie-infected animals and help prevent the spread of this deadly disease. Goats that meet certain requirements may not need the scrapie program ear tags, but most will have either the scrapie tag with the animal’s identification number or appropriate registration papers and legible, registered identification tattoo.  

Luckily enough, our next move is to the beautiful state of Tennessee. The two requirements for us to transport our livestock across New England and the mid-Atlantic states are a scrapie tag and a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI). The CVI must include the animal’s ID number or flock number, the number of animals that are covered by the certificate, the purpose for their travel (competition, permanent relocation, etc), the origin and the intended destination, the consignor/consignee (if applicable), and the veterinarian’s written statement that the animal(s) have no history of clinical signs or exposure to scrapie or other infectious diseases. Typically, the CVI will have to have been issued within a certain amount of time before you transport your animals across state lines, anywhere from a couple of weeks to an entire month in advance. In our case, the CVI must be completed within 30 days before we travel. I used to look up the requirements for our destination (Tennessee), and I will verify again by calling the State Veterinarian’s office when we are a couple of months away from our big move.  

Finally, decide how to actually transport your animals. Livestock trailer? The covered bed of a pickup? The rear cargo area of an SUV? It all depends on you, your goats, and how long of a trip you have ahead of you.  
Jennifer Kern of Hickory Lane Farm shared her experience with an overnight trip from Connecticut to Ohio for an ADGA National goat show in 2018. The show was in June, so to avoid the heat they drove at night and rested at a farm in Pennsylvania during the day.  Members of their caravan set up portable corrals for each trailer so the animals could stretch their legs, and they locked the goats back into the trailers the next night for safe sleeping. They then finished the last leg of their trip early the next morning. She says the goats traveled well and credits good pre-traveling health, probiotics, and some food and water from home for much of their success on the road. 

Like other types of livestock, goats won’t necessarily lie down for your trip and often feel more secure and comfortable if they are able to stand. Ideally, you’ll have a vehicle or trailer that provides each animal enough space to travel comfortably, with good ventilation, secure footing, and free of any hazards to hoof, horns, or hide. Non-slip mats or sand underneath comfortable bedding can help keep animals from slipping and sliding while you are moving. Plan to stop and check on your goats after the first hour of travel, and then every two to three hours after that to allow for water breaks and rest. Be sensitive to the heat and humidity that your animals may be experiencing, and plan breaks accordingly.  

A couple of notes about safe traveling: It is not generally recommended to transport heavily pregnant does, or kids under eight weeks of age, for long distances because the stress may be too much for them to do so safely. A good probiotic paste may help with preventing shipping stress by helping to bolster the immune system; check with your vet for recommendations if you are unsure if a probiotic is right for your animals.  

Check the USDA’s Scrapie program at:   

USDA Interstate Regulations page: for specifics. 

Originally published in the June/July 2020 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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