Anyone that wants to start raising healthy goats should develop a plan for their health care. After all, preventing disease is the most important aspect. From the start, goats should be thoroughly checked over, even before they are brought into the herd.
Bringing a new goat that carries a disease could be detrimental to the well-being of the entire herd. Raising goats is rewarding especially if there’s a preventative maintenance program in place from the start.
Good Management for Raising Healthy Goats
Goats usually get sick because of poor management practices. You have to pay close attention to your goats and look for signs of problems so you can correct these situations immediately.
There are a few general areas to monitor at all times, doing so will help you in raising healthy goats on your homestead.
Areas to monitor:
- making sure feeding schedules are regular and correct
- housing is well-ventilated
- goats are not overcrowded
- hooves are trimmed
- weight is correct and not overweight
- behavior is normal
- water is clean and available
- pens are clean and sanitary
Watching for Signs of Illness
Taking the time to inspect your goats regularly will teach you how they look and act while they are healthy. Then when they become sick you will know immediately.
Signs of Illness to Watch for:
- changes in their eating or drinking habits
- the color of their gums and eyes
- breathing issues
- teeth grinding
- changes in their manure
Any changes in these areas could very well be a sign of a problem. A veterinarian will start treatment quickly.
Common Goat Issues
If you have never treated a goat for problems do not try and do it yourself! If you would administer the wrong dose of medicine it could kill the goat. Always consult a veterinarian until you have learned to treat them correctly.
Extra gas in the rumen is to blame for bloat. Acidosis or ruminal tympany are other names. Bloating can be avoided by allowing your goats to have a balanced ration of feed and preventing overeating of concentrate and pasture.
Treatment of bloat includes rubbing the goat’s belly while he is standing to try and relieve some of the gas and calling the vet. See Feeding Goats on Your Homestead for more information.
Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis
Also called CAE or CAEV, this is a virus, and unfortunately, there is no cure. Symptoms include weak rear legs in kids and swollen and stiff knee joints in adults. The only way to prevent CAE is to purchase certified CAE-free goats, fortunately, there is no risk to humans with this virus.
Symptoms of this illness include a loss of appetite, energy, and weight, and possibly diarrhea (which could include blood) and death. Another name is Cocci. Treat it with Coccidiostat.
Tiny parasites called coccidia are to blame. Preventative measures include keeping bedding, feeders, and water buckets clean. There is no risk to humans.
You can learn more about coccidiosis in the Merck Veterinary Manual online.
Mastitis is a bacteria that forms in the udder. It starts from an injury or an insect sting to the udder. Symptoms include not eating, fever, the udder being hot or cold, and swollen or painful to the touch.
When infected with Mastitis, the milk may smell bad, or it may be thick, clotted, or bloody. Treatment for this illness includes placing hot compresses 4 to 5 times per day on the udder and milking 3 times per day.
You can purchase a Mastitis test and check the first batch of milk from each teat thereafter. Do not allow the kids or any humans to drink the milk from a goat with Mastitis until the veterinarian says it is okay to do so.
Raising Healthy Goats
Prevention and close inspection are the best ways to keep your goats healthy and happy. There are many diseases, illnesses, and injuries that can happen to your goats without you realizing they are happening.
I keep this sheet in my homestead binder, in the goat section for handy reference. Keep the contents of the kit in a protective case that your animals cannot get to. Having this medical kit full and ready will ensure promptness in treating your goats.