Is My Goat Sick?
Written by Administrator-GL   
Monday, 18 June 2007


Goat-care and Recognizing a Sick Goat

You need to be able to tell at a glance if something is wrong with one of your goats and if you know what to look for it is not hard to do. Early detection of goat illness and prompt medical attention is the key to treating successfully - Knowing your individual goat's mannerisms and being observant daily is foremost in a healthy herd.

Keep one thing in mind at all times: By the time your goat is showing outward signs of illness the goat has been ill for days sometimes weeks..  it is natural for an animal Not to show outward symptoms of disease or illness for the natural protection of the herd in the wild and this holds true for a domesticated herd as well.  

Some of the Most Common Signs of a Sick Goat are:

  • 1. Teeth Grinding or Teeth Gritting- this is a sign of pain and possibly the first sign you will see in a goat who is sick.  
  • 2. Weight loss in a normally well conditioned goat- Older goats are many times thinner than a younger goat so you must know who is older and who should be well muscled.   
  • 3. Goats who separate themselves from the main herd, who are not  eating, standing with head and tail down, are the most common first signs of a suspected sick goat- Goats normally Only separate themselves for kidding or if they are sick or injured. 
  • 2. Weight loss in a normally well conditioned goat- Older goats are many times thinner than a younger goat so you must know who is older and who should be well muscled.   
  • 4. Signs of scouring (diarrhea) on rear of goat. Could be worms, coccidia, pneumonia or a variety of other diseases.   
  • 5. Cloudy, runny or closed eyes on a goat - could be signs of pink eye or worms  as a severely wormy goat will have a purulent discharge from the eyes. 
  • 6. Stargazing - a goat who holds it's head up as if looking at the stars could be a sign of Listeriosis or Goat Polio. 
  • 7. Drunken Gait- a goat who seems as though it is walking drunk could very well be signs of Goat Polio- Thiamine is the treatment for this.  
  • 8. Stiff Sawhorse appearance could be signs of tetanus Look for puncture wounds or in kids who have been disbudded or castrated recently- Always a good idea to prevent this with an injection of Tetanus Anti toxin at the time of disbudding or castration- this gives a 7-10 day added protection. Also when a goat has had an injury.  
  • 9. Dull scruffy coat is a sign of worms, lice  OR copper deficiency. 
  • 10. Runny Noses could be a sign of pneumonia- summer pneumonia is very common 
  • 11. Not peeing could be a symptom of Urinary Calculi in bucks and wethers, or a sign of urinary infection in does. Not pooping is indicative of digestive upset as is scouring caused by a myriad of reasons- but pay attention to the elimination process of all of your goats in particular those who you feel are not well. 

What is Normal for a Goat?

Basic physiological norms for goats:

  • Rectal temperature is in the range 101.5 to 103.5 degrees F
  • Pulse rate is in the range 70 -80 beats per minute
  • Respiration Adult Goats- 10-30 per minute
  • Respiration Kid Goats 20-40 per minute
  • Rumen Movement 1 – 1.5 per minute
  • Estrus (length of heat cycle)–12 to 36 hours
  • Heat Cycles– 20 to 23 days
  • Breeding Season –July to February
  • Gestation period is in the range 145 to 160 days ( typically 150)
  • Puberty (depends heavily on breed) but can be as early as  just 2 months for pygmy bucks, later for other breeds. 2 mos to 18mos (depending on breed)
  • Rumen development for kids - fully developed rumen functions at 1 yr of age. 
  • Lifespan Bucks – The average is around 8 years but up to 12 years
  • Lifespan Does – The average is around 11-12 years and up to 20 years
  • Growth from Birth to Maturity is 2 years
Last Updated ( Thursday, 12 March 2009 )