Heat Stress Goats
Written by Administrator-GL   
Monday, 09 June 2008


Prevent Heat Stress in Your Goats!

  1. Offer a shady breezy place to lay during the hot part of the day 
  2. Feed less grain and only in the early morning
  3. Feed early in the morning and later in the evening 
  4. 4. Keep water buckets filled with cool clean water and add electrolytes  fresh daily - my personal preference for electrolytes is a product called Vi-Tal by Neogen which is an electrolyte, mineral and vitamin supplement. See the article on Vi-Tal here
  5. If you are in doubt, take the rectal temperature of your goat- Act quickly if you Do find one in stress. 
  6. Use barn fans to move the stagnant air if you need to.

Heat Index Chart

What to do If a Goat becomes Heat Stressed or Over Heated

A veterinarian should be consulted as soon as you see signs of heat stress. The animal may experience pain and swelling, and your vet may prescribe drugs to treat these symptoms. There may be a variety of moderate to severe blood abnormalities, impaired kidney function and metabolic acidosis. Electrolyte imbalances are common in heat stress, and IV liquids may need to be administered to combat acidosis. Tissue destruction begins prior to death, so prompt medical attention is imperative.
Act promptly when you find a goat you expect is suffering from heat stroke. If the goat can walk, isolate it in the shade and take its temperature. If the temperature is over 105o F, set a fan for direct ventilation, spray the coat with water, and wet the head, legs and stomach with water. (Cold water may be too great a temperature shock to the vascular system - any water will do. If the symptoms diminish in 15-20 minutes, the goat may continue recovery on its own. Make sure the temperature is reduced to 102.5o F, and watch the goat closely for a few hours to see that it acts normally. For a dehydrated goat you may need to administer SubQ fluids in the way of Ringers Lactate- instructions on how to do so is found in this article along with symptoms of dehydration. Continue to monitor its behavior, temperature, pulse and respiration after the animal has been stabilized.
If the goat is prostrate and unable to walk, do not move it. Take its temperature. Erect shade if the animal is in direct sunlight and begin cooling with water. You will need the vet. When cooling therapy reduces the goat's rectal temperature to 102.5o F, cooling measures can be discontinued.


ORIGIN: United States

Extension Goat Handbook

This material was contributed from collections at the National Agricultural
Library. However, users should direct all inquires about the contents to
authors or originating agencies.

DOCN 000000054
NO F-11
AU J. D. Roussel; Louisiana State U., Baton Rouge
RV L. J. Hutchinson; Pennsylvania State U., University Park
DE Anatomy and Physiology

1 Nearly every life form is affected in some way by high
temperatures, and goats are no exception. It is not heat alone that
causes stress to the goat; but it is the combination of temperature and
humidity when some crucial limit has been reached, which shuts down
all bodily functions other than those critical for survival.

2 Water and Feed Intake
The most immediate impact of heat stress can be seen in changes of
water and feed consumption. As the temperature rises, so does the
animal's need for water. Plenty of water should be provided,
free-choice, at all times. However, if water becomes scarce, goats hold
an advantage over other domestic non-desert species in that they are
better adapted to utilize the water content of feeds. However, rising
temperatures also tend to reduce voluntary feed intake. This is the
result of an attempt by the animal to reduce the production of body
heat especially from fibrous feeds, lower physical activity, seek shade
and change grazing to night hours.

3 Nutrition and Reproduction
A long range result of diminished nutrition due to heat stress is a
reduced kid crop. If the doe is pregnant, especially near the end of
gestation, this heat induced lack of proper nutrition may result in
literal starvation of the fetus. On the other hand, if the doe is not
pregnant, an insufficient supply of energy due to heat stress will
cause absence of follicular development. The same is true for the buck
in terms of sperm production. Extremes in heat can affect reproduction
directly as well, through 1) sperm and ova degeneration within the
reproductive tract, 2) creation of hormone imbalances via action of the
hypothalamus, and 3) suppression of libido and the physical act of

4 Removal of Body Heat
In order to keep such drastic events from occur ring, three major
physical processes exist by which heat can be dissipated. They are:

1) convection

2) conduction, and

3) radiation cooling.

Convection cooling occurs when an air stream passes over the body either
by wind or b ++++MISSING DATA++++

5 Hair Coat
Fortunately, the goat has it's own line of defense when
environmental temperatures exceed body temperature. The first means of
protection is provided by the coat, both from it's color and physical
characteristics. The principle behind coat color involves the reflection
of sun rays. It has been documented that white coats provide maximum
protection against radiant heat and black coats give minimum
protection, with variations falling in between. Reflective protection
can be provided through physical characteristics of the coat as well.
Contrary to popular opinion, long hair which lies close to the body is
desirable. In this way, the coat acts as a mat to physically prevent
the sun rays from reaching the animal's body. In addition, long hair
serves as an insulator from the heat, providing an air buffer zone
between the outer environment and the animal's body.

6 Skin Color
The next line of protection is the skin. Color of the skin is
important, except this time darker colors are preferred. The function of
the darker skin is to absorb any ultraviolet light which may have
penetrated the coat, thereby preventing damage to tissue proteins.
Having an excess of skin has also been implicated as providing heat
relief. It is believed that this excess skin serves to increase the
surface area in relation to body size in order to enhance evaporation.
This has been the explanation used in order to account for the large,
floppy ears found on goats and other tropical animals. Horns have also
been suggested as providing benefit by providing an area where blood
can be cooled before reaching the brain. Certainly, the little
understood rate of goats is in this connection a unique anatomical
structure designed to keep the brain of goats cooler than the rest of
the body.

7 Sweating and Respiration
The greatest form of relief for the animal comes as the result of
two seemingly contrasting forces: 1) water evaporation, and 2) water
conservation. Water evaporation provides a direct form of relief as
the result of two principle forces: 1) sweating, and 2) respiration.
Sweating serves to cool the surface, but though it does provide some
relief, respiration has been found to have eight times more
evaporative capacity, thereby rendering it the chief form of relief
from hot temperatures.

8 Water conservation on the other hand, plays a more indirect, but
equally important role in the ability to tolerate heat. This function
becomes extremely important if evaporative cooling is to occur when
water supplies are scarce or non existant, otherwise dehydration will
occur. Water conservation occurs chiefly through reduced renal and
fecal excretion, and is facilitated by low potassium, high sodium

9 When keeping animals in confinement, costs are expected to be
higher. The most expensive yet most beneficial method of relief is
provided by air conditioning. Of course, this investment is usually
economically questionable. In order to reduce such costs, experiments
have tried to determine if air-conditioning of just the head might
provide relief. However, cooling the head or sprinkling with water
provided little benefit. Instead, it was best to ensure a roof for
protection from the sun, that air be allowed to circulate under the
roof and that the roof was sun reflecting or cooled with a water

10 A long range means of increasing heat tolerance can be accomplished
through genetic selection. It is important not to select for individual
characteristics, i.e. ear length, but rather for a general over-all
tolerance coupled with the capacity to produce milk. Once those
individuals have been selected, additional benefits can be gained by
cross-breeding to take advantage of hybrid vigor. Studies are needed to
determine the truth behind general opinions that Nubians are more
heat-tolerant, -although many are found in Canada; and Saanen are less
suited in tropical countries, -although they have made some outstanding
contributions in some tropical countries including Israel and
Australia, and in crossbreeding in developing countries. Certainly,
possible differences between dry and humid tropics for dairy goats must
be delineated, but certain Carribean experiences, for example, are very
encouraging. The specific dynamic action of some feed nutrients (e.g.
protein and fiber) and the remarkable studies of desert zoologists must
be utilized by dairy goat practitioners, since it is now known that
some goats need water no more often than every four days and survive
very well and produce sufficient milk to raise one to two kids.
VIDF 156

úúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúThe National Dairy Database (1992)úúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúúú

%f ORIGIN;United States
%f DATE_INCLUDED;June 1992
Mixing Vi-Tal electrolytes (This is for this product ONLY as other electrolyte mixes are not as potent)
for HIGH LEVEL supplementation:
1/4tsp/1 gallon water
1 1/4 tsp/5 gallons water
2 1/2 tsp/10 gallons water

for MEDIUM LEVEL Supplementation:
Scant 1/5tsp/1 gallon water
Rounded 3/4 tsp/5 gallons water
Rounded 1 1/2 tsp/10 gallons water

for LOW LEVEL Supplementation:
1/10 tsp/1 gallon water
Scant 1/2 tsp/5 gallons water
Scant 1 tsp/10 gallons water

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 08 June 2011 )