CAE is a terribly sad degenerative disease goats can contract. CAE stands for Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis. There are alot of articles on it. Its a retro virus. It can cause enchephalitis in small kids. It can make a goats life miserable.
Click here for some articles.
And the consensus is stay away from it. As a breeder, one tries to do their best to not keep this disease propagating in your herd. Or purchase goats with it. The disease is either acute or chronic. Acute can hit the kids and they can die a terrible death. As well, the chronic hits the older goats and they too can go, terribly. Though some can live out their lives just being carriers. Just having bouts of arthritis. And have a somewhat normal life. Till the end. But then that too can be devastating.
The problem lies in passing this dreaded disease on to offspring. And this is where there is a divergence of opinions on how to manage it. Saliva? Mucus? milk? Air? Soil? Does it transfer passively in utero? Can a goat sneeze and pass it? Can it lay in the soil? and you bring it home? Can you commingle Positives with negatives? and so on. Best bet is just stay away from it. Problem is how to you fight an invisible destroyer?
Many breeders pastuerize their milk before giving it to the kids. Hoping this is enough to keep the kids clean in case the herd might not be. This means they are or might not be a CAE negative herd. What they say though is they actively manage their herds for a CAE negative prevention program. This is good. Not great. But still a good step in knowing your breeder. You can go this route. Purchasing from a herd on CAE management.
What you want to know and see proof of is testing. Is your goat CAE negative. Has it been tested? Repeatedly over the years. Obviously, if you have a closed herd and your goats never leave the property, no more goats come on, then testing once a year for 3 years is really all that *i think* is needed. But, this is rarely the case. Goats come and go, people show, they commingle goats and so on... So really, for assurances goats should be tested YEARLY. no small feat. Or cost to large producers with 50+ head. Smaller breeders? no excuse, test your goats. The cost is incorporated into my feed bill yearly. And its just the right thing to do.
In all things in life there are ethical and those not so ethical. And though you ask about it and are they CAE negative, you really just don't know. I've tested every year since owning my goats. I've purchased from those that are CAE negatively tested herds. Luckily, and happily we are all negative.
If i ever sell you a goat, ask me for the proof. Really! As you should with all goats you purchase.