Goat Diseases

There are countless goat diseases - they are very susceptible to many different types of disease and can quickly go from being a happy and healthy goat to a sick or even dead goat - sometimes all within a matter of hours!  It can be hard to determine what is wrong and how to treat it, but this page is built to help you narrow down the causes and figure out just what is going on and hopefully find the answers that you're looking for. 

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(this is not the recommended method of taking your goat's temperature)

Some goat diseases are listed here in alphabetical order with a couple of symptoms to help you narrow down your search:

  • Coccidiosis - dark, sometimes bloody scouring
  • Crypto - severe scouring in baby goats, usually watery, pale, yellow, runny, containing mucous
  • Enterotoxemia (often caused by sudden change in diet) - dark coloured scouring, sometimes bloody, abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite, sudden death
  • Mites - hair loss, scabby patches, nodules which contain thick waxy substance (not in all types of mites)
  • Nitrate Poisoning (most often in animals fed on pasture) - lethargy, drooling, muscle tremors, in-coordination, vomiting, diarrhea, death
  • Pneumonia - coughing, lethargy, heavy/labored breathing, thick whitish nasal discharge, separation from herd
  • Scrapie - uncharacteristic aggression or timidness, lip smacking, convulsions, altered gait, a poor coat

Prevent goat diseases by providing an adequate diet of forages and pellets, and always a ready supply of clean fresh water. If you can, it is a good idea to supply salt blocks as well.  During periods of stress, such as during weaning, seasonal change, or introduction of new animals to your herd, it is a good idea to administer probiotics.  

There are various feeding systems available; be sure to talk with your nutritionist to get your most workable option.  The pellet that you choose will greatly impact the health and productivity of your goat. Some types of pellets will boost milk production, while some pellets are formulated for quick growth (as in meat production).  Whatever pellet you choose, be sure to always provide forages and water.

Water: Nature's Medicine

Ensure that your goats have access at all times to clean, fresh water. Goats are picky about their water, which in turn will affect milk production and growth rate. Would you drink out of a dirty cup out of the sink that has last night's supper splattered on it? probably not... the same goes for your goats - keep their water troughs and water bowls clean to encourage their water intake.  

One way to increase your goats' water intake through the winter is to circulate warm water (approx 20 degrees) through the water lines. This can increase milk production in the winter by approximately 0.2L/goat/day.

Water Bowls or Water troughs? 

Water bowls are recommended for use in the bedding pack. They are relatively easy to keep clean, and are a great way to provide a constant source of clean fresh water. It can also be a method for medicating your whole herd. 

If you are using water bowls, follow a ratio of 1:20. for mature goats, the water bowls should be 22 inches off the bedding pack. 

After milking, goats are especially thirsty and need to replenish their fluids.  A water trough can be useful as an extra source to have available only after milking, so that they don't have to fight for space at the water bowls. The main drawback to water troughs is that they are difficult to keep clean.