Most Common Diseases & Treatments
I have to say this.... you should always consult your vet when you have a sick animal. I am not a vet or a Doctor I am a farmer with many years of experience with goats and I am just listing a few of the more common health issues that we have encountered on our farm with treatments that have worked for us.
For information on CAE, Caseous Lymphadenitis, Over eating disease Entertoximia, Tetanus, Abscesses and Scrapie disease please refer to our Herd health Program page..
Symptoms: Anemia, off feed, biting at their tail, loose fur, rough coat, itching, if the animal has horns you can see little fur holes where they are scratching themselves, thin. Little black dots on the goats fur bouncing around. Lice are usually more common in the fall and winter months but if the weather is very dry in the summer they can thrive as well.
Treatment: We use de-lice pour-on, put it in a squeeze bottle and go along all their backs careful not to put too much on. Sometimes some of them have a reaction to the treatment and loose some of their fur. But it always grows back. Some times we will use louse powder instead. No matter what treatment you use make sure to check the animals again in a few days and then weeks after to be certain the lice are not re-infesting or resistant to the treatment.
Mites that live on the skin. Not all animals seam to get it even though they are in the same pen together. Generally is contracted in the colder weather and can live up to ten weeks.
Symptoms: Usually you see hair loss, pink irritated skin, yellow scabs on the lower legs, can be on the scrotum or utter.
Treatment: Ivomec injectable give it to all animals that are in contact. It may need to re-treat in two weeks. I give each animal a dose and a half.
Symptoms: Not eating, depressed, Labored breathing, animal standing by itself, rattle in the chest, sometime coughing, sometimes nasal discharge usually fever but not always. I put my ear to the animals chest and usually I can hear if it is in the throat or in the lungs. If it's in the throat it is most likely just a common cold. They sometimes get this when the weather changes quickly or it is very wet and rainy.
The way I can usually tell the difference between if it is just a cold or pneumonia is that a normal breathing goat you can barely see the goat breathing. Look at the rest of the animals in the pen and compare how they inhale and exhale to the one in question. You should be able to see a difference between them if the goat has pneumonia.
Prevention : Well ventilated and draft free barn, dry clean bedding and no crowding. keep all new animals coming in to your barn separate.
Treatment: We use Excenel RTU it works fast and has a low withdrawl period on meat and can be stored on the shelf for a long time. It is expensive but very effective. The thing with pneumonia you don't have time to wait it comes on very quickly. Depending on the size of the animal usually a dose of around 1cc per 25 to 30lbs of goat is what I give.... So a mature doe would be treated with around 5cc and a kid 1 or 2cc per treatment. The first day or two depending on how the goat responds I give a dose AM and PM. Then once a day for usually 3 to 5 days. I have also given goats children's cold medicine to help with the congestion. The same dosage I would give a child by estimated weight.
Symptoms: Usually seen in very young kids just starting to eat feeds, but can happen to older animals as well not as common they generally develop an immunity to it. Diarrhea with blood and/or mucus, not eating well, bloaty belly poor looking coat. (these symptoms can be very similar for worm infestation as well) If they get hit with coccidiosis or a heavy worm load and are not treated quickly enough they never do well afterwards the damage is done.
Prevention: We feed our mothers Rumensin one month before kidding to lower the load in the pens. Keep feeders and waters clean and pens dry don't over crowd. The reality of it is once you have goats for a few years you will have coccidiosis all farms do no matter how clean your facilities are it is like worms. It is a matter of knowing how to manage and treat for it.
Treatment: We started to use Baycox as a prevention to treat kids at 3 weeks old 1cc per 5.5lbs. Baycox kills all stages of coccidia. We also use a medicated 20% pelleted feed that has Rumensin added as a preventative to keep their level of protection up until they are old enought to have natural resistance.
E.Coli: Looks very similar to Coccidiosis but the diarrhea has a very strong odor and is yellow colored. Treat with decox and electrolytes. sometimes antibiotics is needed as well.
Symptoms: Thinner than rest of herd for no reason, white eyes should have pink or red under bottom eye lid, coughing, anemia pale pink or grey gums, bottle jaw swelling under chin at night means it is filling up with fluid, not eating, rough coat, diarrhea.
Prevention: Keep an eye on your stock don't wait to treat if an animal looks a bit thinner for no reason. Check the eyes and the gums. I found treating one or two animals that need it rather than treating all of them works best that way their is less resistance built up against the de-wormers. We rotate our pastures so that the grass never gets to low, that way they are not eating as much worm larva.
Treatment: Copper boluses help to keep their immunity stronger and also kills certain types of worms. Some times we use chemical wormers such as Cydectin or Valbazine and treat as needed. Not all animals (same with Copper Boluses only the ones that look like they need it). For the de-wormers give a dose and a half to the ones that need it. For young kids usually we weigh them regularly and if there is one that is not growing as well it gets treated. (see herd health program page for more information on how and why we deal with parasites the way we do.)
Symptoms: Swelling and pain in one or more joints in young kids. It is usually the cause of infection in the umbilical cord from early on at birth or soon afterwards. Sometimes it is months later before they have symptoms of sore legs and swelling.
Prevention: Dip navel cords in iodine when the kids are first born. Keep birthing pens clean and dry. even doing this they can still get it but less likely.
Treatment: Give injections of antibiotics for one to two weeks, prognoses is not good.
I've had kids born with clouded eyes, I'm not sure what the actual name for this condition is but we use "Special Formula" it is an antibiotic cow utter treatment for mastitis. Just put it right in the eye twice a day for several days. It clears it up in no time. If not that or human antibiotic Visine can be purchased at the drug store over the counter.
Symptoms: young male or withered goats stretch out trying to urinate but very little is coming out, bloody urine, not eating, in pain swollen underneath because of urinary stones that are causing blockage. Over time the animal stops eating and drinking and urine builds up behind the stone causing either the bladder or urethra to rupture.
Prevention: Make sure there is always fresh water and minerals, be careful not to have an imbalance of feed the total ration should have a 2:1 or 2:5:1 calcium: phosphorus ration. The animals should always have a good amount of hay to eat. to much grain is usually the cause of this to young bucks. Salt added to the feed makes them drink more so they are less likely to have a blockage, ammonia Chloride can be added to your feed or put in your water if you have a reoccurring problem with this.
Not usually good news... If it is in the urethral process and it is not a hard stone it maybe possible to gently squeeze it out or the urethral process can be snipped off with a pair of scissors. The animal should be able to urinate right away. If in the case that the animal is still able to urinate, feed can be taken away for a day and and it can be dosed with ammonia chloride. Otherwise their are surgical procedures that your vet can do but in most cases the outcome is not good.
Listeriosis: (Circling Disease)
Symptoms: Depression, disorientation, stargazing, staggering, weaving, circling, one sided facial paralysis.
Prevention: Be very careful not to feed moldy hay or feed of any kind usually it is from silage, sometimes it doesn't take much just a bit. Don't make drastic changes in the type or amount of feed.
Treatment: Antibiotics, Tetracycline or penicillin Large dose every six hours first three to five days then daily for seven days.
Symptoms: Swollen red hot utter, fever, clumps or blood in the milk, doe off her feed and depressed.
Prevention: Cut the feed ration down by at least 1/2 at weaning time switch from legume hay to grass. some times if it's feasible leave one kid on for a week longer so that the doe has a chance to slow down her milk production. We have culled does out for having large or any problem utters that don't dry up after the kids are weaned. It can be just to much trouble.
Treatment: When we first started in goats we had a bunch of old dairy animals with huge utters that drug almost on the ground. I learned that mastitis can be caused by Staph, Strept or E-coli and the type of antibiotics is different depending on which kind it is. My first choice was usually Penicillin G twice a day large doses of 5 or 6cc as well as intramammary infusion tubes. If this doesn't work in a few days then you have to try another type of injectable antibiotic. But in my experience if you wait to treat while you do a culture on the bacteria your doe is going to be very sick and maybe die anyways. Milk out the utter twice a day into a container to remove the infection, careful dispose of it don't milk it on the ground you don't want to contaminate the pen. Continue to insert the infusion tubes twice a day for several days each time you milk the doe out.
If it is gangrenous mastitis you need to treat it very aggressively with antibiotics call your vet. The skin over the infected half will turn blue and cold and if the goat survives most of the time the affected tissue will no longer be functional. Sometimes the tissue affected on one side will be so badly damaged that it will die and fall off and the doe will still live.
Symptoms: The problem is that the goat is full of gas and can't get it to come out of it's largest stomach. It has a swollen bloated belly, grinding teeth, stretching out it's body and straining trying to go but nothing comes out, not eating, kicking at it's sides, laying down and moaning in pain.
Prevention: Give goats dry hay before going out onto lush pasture so that they are less likely to gorge. Never give too much grain or change ration too quickly. Goats are very sensitive to feed changes.
Treatment: I usually treat goats with 1/2 cup of mineral oil and 2 table spoons of baking soda. You can also use pepto bismol 1 to 2 teaspoons. Rub the belly and try and keep the animal moving by walking it around. Stand the animal on a hill facing upwards it will help to get it to burp. This method takes time so be patient it usually work with in a few hours the goat is eating hay again.
Tubing is also possible but I have never had to do this and it is best if some one that has experience show you how or call your vet. This is a very serious illness don't wait to treat your animal or they will most likely die.