Archive of ‘Goat Health’ category


External parasites can be as big of a problem as internal parasites and they can cause problems with your goats. The below will give you a better understanding on mites that affect goats.

Mites belong to the family class which includes spiders and ticks. Like spiders, mites have 4 pair of legs. Mites are usually microscopic in size and their body and legs are covered with long hairs. Goats can be host to three different types of mites, the non-burrowing Psorptes and Chorioptes mites and the Sarcoptic mites that burrow into the skin.

Psorptes Mites

Infections of Psorptes mites, also known and called mange or scab mites usually start on the shoulders the back or the tail area. These mites prefer areas that are well covered by hair. As the course of the infection develops they will spread to other part of the body. Psorptes cuniculi mites (which at most times affect rabbits) prefer to live inside the ears. This is a very contagious mite.

Psorptes mites do not burrow into the skin. These mites have piercing mouth parts that they use to puncture the skin and to suck lymph. This stimulates an immune reaction by the host and the area swells and serous fluid will seep to the surface creating a crust and scabs. The hair or wool will fall out or the goat will pull it out when biting at the very itchy lesions.

These Psorptes mites do not prefer to live on the bare crusty patches so they will migrate to the edges extending the infection outward. Skin scrapings to identify this mite needs to be made at the edges of the crusty lesions. Long standing infections can cause weight loss. Psorptes mites are identified by their long, segmented pedicles.

The life cycle is typical of most Psorptes mites where the female lays eggs at the edges of crusty lesions hatching in 1 to 3 days. If eggs are laid away from the skin they take longer to hatch or may die. Larvae feed for several days after hatching then molt to a nymph stage. These nymphs will molt in another 3 to 4 days into young females or males where usually there are about twice as many females than males. Mating takes place shortly after the molt and lasts only for 1 day or less. The female mite will molt again about 2 days later then will begin laying eggs in another day. This whole cycle takes only 9 days after she first hatched from the egg. The female will live for 30 to 40 days, laying about 5 eggs every day.

Chorioptes Mites

This type of mite commonly called a mange mite, causes tail or foot mange and it does not burrow into the skin. Chorioptes mites are not species specific. Different species of this genus can be found on cattle, sheep and goats and the different species can interbreed with each other. Although the species that usually infect goats is called Chorioptes caprae, it is probably the same as the species that infects sheep and cattle.

Infections of Chorioptes caprae the species that infects goats usually begins on the lower legs, later spreading to the hindquarters. Infections cause itching, and crust and scab formation. The life cycle is very similar to Psorptes mites, but is completed in about 3 weeks.

Sarcoptes Mites

This type of mange mite burrows into the skin often spending the entire life cycle within burrows. Sarcoptes scabei is the species that infects most mammals. An infection begins in hairless regions or regions of short hair usually on the face or ears.

The female Sarcoptes scabei burrows into the skin, and lays 40 to 50 eggs, 4 to 5 a day. The eggs hatch in 3 to 5 days producing six-legged larva. The larva leaves the breeding tunnels and wanders on the skin or remains in the breeding tunnels and develops to the nymph stage. Those that reach the surface may die, or they can make shallow pockets in the skin tissue to feed and molt to several nymph stages which can also wander on the surface and make new pockets or extend the molting tunnels. Adult males and females form about 17 days after the eggs were first laid.

The female remains in her molting pocket until fertilized by a male then extends it into a breeding tunnel, or returns to the skin surface to create a new tunnel and then begins laying eggs. Mature females do not live much longer than a month. Wandering larvae, nymphs and fertilized females spread the infection on the host and to other hosts. They cannot survive off the host for more than a few days.

As they pierce the skin to feed on lymph fluid and skin cells they cause a great deal of irritation, itching, and scratching which worsens the condition. Crusts form on the skin and then the skin becomes thickened and wrinkled and the hair falls out. Lesions in the skin begin to develop in just a few days after infection, but the intense itching typical of Sarcoptic mite infection does not begin for a month or so later. The fecal pellets of the mite are responsible for the host inflammatory response. These mites prefer areas where there isn’t much hair such as the face of goats and ears although in long standing infections the mites can spread to all parts of the body.

The signs include bare skin, which is thick and wrinkled and covered in dry crusts. Early in the infection small raised red bumps and fresh exudates can be seen. To identify these mites in the microscope deep scrapings of skin must be made down to the point of drawing blood. It still might be difficult to find live mites in the burrows.

Psorergates Species

Goats may rarely get infections of this mite commonly called an itch mite. Found more commonly on sheep, these very tiny, round mites — about half the size of a Sarcoptes mite — spread very slowly over the course of 3 to 4 years on the individual animal. It can cause a mild irritation, dry, scaly skin and weaking of the wool in sheep. Beware – Can infect humans!


Treatment with Ivermectin injections twice at three week intervals will usually control all of these mites. On giving injections you may find some useful information here, here, here and here.



0. Interdigital Region (Skin)

1. White Line (Hoof Wall)

2. White Line (Hoof Wall)

3. White Line (heel bulb Junction)

4. Caudal Aspect of the Sole

5. Anterior Aspect of the Sole

6. Heel Bulb

7. Hoof Wall (Interior ½ of Claw)

8. Hoof Wall (Posterior ½ of Claw)

9. Coronary Band and Skin

10. Skin Above and Between Heels

On how to trim Goat Hoofs, click HERE.


QUESTION – Hello! My goat is sick. Its head is hanging and looks drunk. It sounds like it is grinding its teeth and there is some swelling on the left side. Any advice? Thanks!

ANSWER – Hello there. It sounds like your goat has a case of Acidosis. Your email mentioned that she raided the pellet bin and must have gorged herself. Acidosis occurs after accidentally taking in large quantities of concentrate feed. Stop access to food. Drench your goat with something alkaline such as bicarbonate of soda. 2-3 ounces will help neutralize acid. Try walking goat and contact your veterinarian as needed

The rumen micro flora can only handle gradual changes in forage to grain ratio if your proportion changes too quickly, then lactic acidosis will develop. Feeding grain before forage also can cause lactic acidosis. Forage should be fed before grain and the daily amount divided into at least 3 separate feedings. A total mixed ration (TMR) helps keep the rumen flora happy by not overwhelming them with carbohydrates at any one time. Feed changes need to be made gradually over several days so the flora have time to adapt. The type of rumen bacteria change to gram positive from gram negative and lactic acid is produced and this lowers the pH of the rumen. Once below 5.5, protozoa and bacteria start to die. The acid that gets absorbed creates general acidosis. If the pH is low enough, the rumen gets “burned” and even if the goat survives, it can get rumen and liver infections from bacteria or fungi. Fiber is important in the diet as well as it stimulates the goat to chew, which thus produces alkaline saliva which serves to buffer the rumen. Diets with little fiber or chopped too finely are more at risk of lactic acidosis. Remember, before anything else your goat should be fed (three times a day) before being offered any grain.


Place you hand on your doe’s spine right where it starts to angle down, by putting your fingers on one side of the spine and your thumb on the other side. Now run your fingers slowly down her spine toward the tail, feeling along the spine and the areas just to the sides of the spine. As you run your fingers down the spine, you will feel the ligaments which are located on either side of your doe’s spine, about halfway between where her back starts to slope down and her tail. The ligaments seem to come out of the spine and slant down toward her pin bones. They feel similar to the size of pencils. If you can’t find them, keep trying, going slowly down the spine. You need to learn to feel for the ligaments because as the birth nears, the ligaments loosen. At first they will feel quite hard but then they will gradually start to soften and once it feels like they’re “gone” labor is close at hand.

As you feel for the ligaments you’ll also be feeling for the physical changes in the tail head. As labor drawing near, the area along the spine will seem to sink and the tail head seems to rise. Get used to running your hand down your doe’s spine to check the ligaments and the raising of the tail head. If you no longer feel the ligaments and you can practically feel and touch your fingers and thumb together around her tail head, your doe will probably kid sometime within the next 24 – 48 hours.


The Parasite is an organism living in or on another living organism, obtaining from it part or all of its organic nutriment, and causing some degree of real damage to its host, literally suck the life out of your goat, can damage the gut and intestine, ultimately to death.

Worming your goats when not needed wastes your time, energy, and money, plus increases the chance of building resistance to the wormers. Worming to late, the parasites may have already caused damage in your goats digestive system, causing anemia, stunting their growth, causing weight loss, decreased milk production, or worse.

Fecal testing at regular intervals enables you to monitor the parasite infestation in your herd, and treat when appropriate, avoiding problems, saving money, increasing profit, and minimizing losses. I will write later on how to do your own fecal examination and the tools you will need to have ready.

Please find below the most common parasites you can find in Goats (and Sheep). Be aware that you cannot always see signs of lungworms in a fecal sample, due to the fact that mature Lungworms reside in the lungs and not the digestive system hence your goat may have lungworms and it not show up in a fecal sample.

Lungworm dictyocaulus filaria
These eggs usually hatch before they leave the host in the feces, so you may not find traces of Lungworm in the fecal sample, even if the goat does indeed have Lungworms.

Tape Worm moniezia expansa



Thread Necked Nematode nematodirus spathiger

Liver Fluke Eggs fasciola hepatica


Twisted Stomach Worm aka Barberpole Worm haemonchus contortus

Brown Stomach Worm marshallagia marshalli

Thread Worm strongyloides papillosus

Doing you own fecal testing is not all that hard. It is a very useful skill to have in caring for your Goats.There is an investment you must make for the tools for this but these will pay for themselves very quickly since there will no longer be a need to take fecal samples to a vet to find out if you have a worm problem.



Prevention is better than cure. Take every step possible to ensure you don’t introduce diseases to your goat herd. Observe high standards of husbandry and hygiene to maintain good health and productivity of your herd.
Many goat herds are afflicted with diseases that are costly to control and undermine the profitability of the herd. Examples include foot rot, internal parasites (particularly those resistant to many commonly used drenches) and viruses. In many cases these diseases are brought in with purchased goats. When purchasing goats to upgrade the herd, to introduce new genetic material, or just to increase numbers, follow these steps to help prevent the entry or spread of disease.

Step 1. Before Purchase – Goats that look (and can look) perfectly healthy can still be carrying unwanted infections or parasites. Try your best to check the complete history of the goats you intend to buy and the herd from which they originate. Information like this can also be verified from the local agricultural departments who usually keep tabs on farmers and their herds. You need to know:

  • Any previous episodes of illness in the herd?
  • Details of previous illnesses in the individual goats you intend to buy.
  • The history of drench usage in the herd. Ask what products have been used, how often, and what the dose rates were?
  • The vaccination status of the goats. Ask whether they are due for a booster ?
  • The precise reasons the goats are being sold .
  • Results (if any) from any veterinary examinations or blood tests.
  • What diseases are common or likely to affect goats in your area and the area from which the goats originate.

Don’t Buy Someone’s Discarded Problems.

Step 2. At Purchase – thorough examination. Thoroughly examine the goats you intend to buy. Pick up and inspect closely every foot of every goat you are buying. With larger herds, check a representative group at least. Look for overgrown horn tissue which may need trimming, inflamed skin around the hoof or between the toes, and any tender areas in the lower legs.

  • Check the condition of the coat. It should be shiny and smooth.
  • Closely examine the skin for general health and for any marks or lumps. In particular, check for lumps under the skin of the jaw (they could be abscesses in the lymph glands – ‘cheesy gland’), in front of the shoulder and in the flank.
  • Check to see that the gums and the conjunctiva of the eyes are moist and pink.
  • Check for evidence of recent scours.
  • Check teeth to determine the age. With older animals, check the state of the teeth as a guide to general condition.
  • In does that have kidded, check the udder for any hard lumps or other indications of chronic mastitis. This is especially important in dairy goats.
  • Palpate the testicles of bucks to ensure that there are in fact two. They must be symmetrical and firm, and have no soft spots or lumps.
  • Inspect goats’ feet thoroughly to detect signs of foot rot.

Step 3. After purchase – on-farm quarantine. Be sure to keep all new goats in isolation for about 4 to 6 weeks after purchase. Even though the foregoing checks may have been done thoroughly, a period of on-farm isolation is a further safety measure.

  • Keep all introduced goats in a paddock on their own – the ‘admission area’. This area should be separated by at least two metres, or by a double fence line, from other paddocks with goats.
  • Administer any necessary vaccines or drenches immediately after unloading the new stock.
  • Carry out preventive measures against coccidiosis as soon as goats enter your property.
  • Regularly observe goats for the first 4 to 6 weeks after purchase to see that they are settling in, feeding well, and showing no signs of illness. After this time, you will have a better idea of their general health.
  • While newly purchased goats are still in the admission area, i suggest you consult your veterinarian to arrange for any examination and testing you might want done.
  • Clean the admission area after each batch. Disinfect the sheds and the feed and water troughs in preparation for further new arrivals/purchases.

There is a risk of introducing disease when visitors enter the property, unless you take special precautions to ensure that footwear and other clothing, especially that of other goat owners, veterinarians and farm advisers, is clean. When moving backward and forward between the admission area and the rest of the farm yourself, take similar precautions so as not to jeopardise your on-farm quarantine measures. As well as following these three steps when purchasing new stock, you will need to observe good management practices (commonsense routine procedures) to safeguard the health of your herd at all times.


Goats are ruminant animals. Their digestive tracts (which are similar to those of cattle, sheep and deer) consist of the mouth, oesophagus (the oesophagus is a muscular tube in the chest that connects the mouth and throat to the stomach), four stomach compartments, small intestine and large intestine.

Like other ruminant animals, goats have no upper teeth. Goats depend on the dental pad in front of the hard palate, lower incisor teeth, lips and tongue to take food into their mouths.

The Four Chambered Stomach Explained!

Rumen: This is the largest of the four stomach compartments of ruminant animals. The capacity of the rumen of goats ranges from 3 to 6 gallons depending on the type of feed. This compartment, also known as the ‘paunch’, contains many microorganisms (bacteria and protozoa) that supply enzymes to breakdown fibre and other food that the goat eats. The conversion of the cellulose of feeds to volatile fatty acids (acetic, propionic, and butyric acids) is the result of microbiological activities in the rumen. These volatile fatty acids are absorbed through the rumen wall and provide up to 80 percent of the total energy requirements of the animal. Microbial digestion in the rumen is the basic reason why ruminant animals effectively utilize fibrous feeds and are maintained primarily on roughages.

Rumen microorganisms also convert components of the feed to useful products such as the essential amino acids, the B complex vitamins, and vitamin K. Finally, the microorganisms themselves are digested further in the digestive tract.

Reticulum: This compartment, also known as the ‘hardware stomach’ or ‘honeycomb’, is located just below the entrance of the oesophagus into the stomach. The reticulum is part of the rumen separated only by an overflow connection, the ‘rumino-reticular fold’. The capacity of the reticulum of goats ranges from 1 – 2 litres.

Omasum: This compartment, also known as the ‘manyplies’, consists of many folds or layers of tissue that grind up feed ingesta and remove some of the water from the feed. The capacity of the omasum in goats is approximately 1 litre.

Abomasum: This compartment is more often considered the ‘true stomach’ of ruminant animals. It functions similarly to human stomachs. It contains hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes that breakdown food particles before they enter the small intestine. The capacity of the abomasum of goats is approximately 4 litres.

As partially digested feed enters the small intestine, enzymes produced and secreted by the pancreas and small intestinal mucosa further breakdown feed nutrients into simple compounds that are absorbed into the bloodstream. Undigested feed and unabsorbed nutrients leaving the small intestine pass into the large intestine. The functions of the large intestine include absorption of water and further digestion of feed materials by the microorganisms present in this area. The 30 meter long intestinal canal of goats has a capacity to hold 12 litres.

When a goat kid is born, the rumen is small and the abomasum is the largest of the four stomach compartments. The rumen of a goat kid represents about 30 percent of the total stomach area, while the abomasum represents about 70 percent. Hence, digestion in the goat kid is like that of a monogastric animal. In the suckling goat kid, closure of the oesophageal groove ensures that milk is channeled directly to the abomasum, instead of entering the rumen, reticulum, and omasum. When the suckling goat kid starts to eat vegetation (first or second week of life), the rumen, reticulum and omasum gradually develop in size and function.

Goats are very particular about what they eat, they will not consume food of poor quality or food that is dirty or has been trampled on, unless you have have been putting them on a starvation diet. Goats require the best quality grass, green stuffs and concentrates. However goats will eat a wide range of food, preferring more fibrous food to lush grass. Goats will eat young thistles and brambles, as well as twigs, they also like bark from trees. Goats are inquisitive and will nibble and investigate most items, however, they are selective about what they actually eat.


For the 8 years we have been keeping goat we have only come across an ear problem once. The ear was clogged and there was brown gunk oozing out not forgetting that yucky smell that emitted from it. There was an infection in it obviously as the Goat scream bloody murder when its ear was inspected.

After cleaning the ear out with most of the gunk, using a cotton bud and some anticeptic cream we applied a few drops of a combination of equal parts of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, crushed Garlic (garlic is a natural antibiotic), a capsule of Vitamin E.

On the second day we checked the ear and repeated the same drop recipe after giving it a good clean with cotton buds. The ear seemed to be doing pretty well after the third treatment and we followed up with weekly drops of equal parts white vinegar and rubbing alcohol

From then on we used the same combination of equal parts of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, crushed Garlic and Vitamin E to treat for ear mites and infections of bacterial or fungal origin.


Back in Sarawak there have been a few discussions as to when should a Doe be mated? The general opinion is that to breed as soon as she is able to! There seems to be little regard as to if the Doe is too young or even fit enough to be bred.

There are some of those ( admittedly myself) who waited until a doe was at least 18 months old before breeding her. But seriously, there is no reason to wait this long. Some farmers do this because they feel the Doe’s kids will grow better if they wait to breed her, but if the Doe is well taken care of she will give kids that grow just as well.

As often as possible we try and stick to our usual ‘synchronized’ breeding program. We had twin does where one fell into a “breeding batch” in her first year and was accidentally mated but luckily her twin doe was not into heat when they were mistakenly mixed into the breeding batch. So the second doe’s heat dates did not fall into the “batch” and because of this she never got bred until the next breeding season one year later. Hence one twin was bred when she was 40kg/9months and the other twin didn’t get bred until the next breeding batch cycle, when she was 46kg/17months. Their kids weighed in with almost no difference and the recorded kid’s weight for the first Doe first kidding also showed no difference.

When they reached reached 24 months of age, the resulted kids were almost exactly the same size and grew  with no obvious difference recording consistent height and weight gains. This has seen this over and over and from this experience I know you can breed at 9 months of age with no effect to the kid. But remember, you just must make sure you take good care of and properly feed your Doe’s that are earmarked for breeding.