This article shows that socio-economic factors, defined here as practices, knowledge, interests, beliefs and experiences have a role in the adoption of brucellosis control strategies in the Bajío region, Mexico. We combined qualitative and quantitative methods to show that socio-economic factors with regard to goat husbandry and brucellosis control are not taken into account in the current policy to combat the disease in Mexico. Farmers ranked constraints like the price of goat milk more important than the control of the disease. The impact of brucellosis in goats is hidden to farmers, and the term brucellosis is still a strange name to them; it is better known as ‘la fiebre de Malta’ (Malta fever), which farmers are aware of and which they avoid by not drinking goat milk. Brucellosis control measures cause losses such as abortion due to vaccination and ear infections due to ear tagging. In the villages of the state of Michoacán, the uptake of a vaccination and testing programme was almost complete because it was offered for free, whereas in villages of Jalisco, vaccination was not adopted thoroughly because the cost of vaccination was high for farmers and because of a lack of veterinarians offering the service. Neither compensation for culling suspected infected goats does exist nor the infrastructure, like slaughterhouses, to ensure that goats that are brucellosis seropositive are not resold to neighbouring farmers. This article disputes the idea that brucellosis is confined to the lack of awareness and participation of farmers in control measures, but rather that policies are promulgated without a good knowledge of goat husbandry and farmers’ perceptions. We claim that governmental authorities should reformulate the policy to take into account socio-economic factors shaping farmers’ behaviour so that effective control measures will be adopted by goat farmers.