Goat Husbandry - Basic Medical Care


The information provided is not intended to replace medical advice offered by a veterinarian.
If you desire or need such services or advice, you should consult a professional veterinarian.

Always remember..."when in doubt, call your vet!"
Your veterinarian is not just your vet, but a valuable resource!

Vital Signs

  • Temperature = 102.5 - 104 - This varies depending on the temperature of the goat's surroundings. 
  • Pulse rate = 70 - 80 beats per minute
  • Respiration =15 to 30 per minute
  • Rumen movements = 1 - 1.5 per minute
  • Puberty = 7 weeks - 8 months (separate bucks from does at 2 month)
  • Estrus/Heat Cycle = 17 to 23 days
  • Gestation = 143 to 155 days

Common Ailments

Worming:   Goats are susceptible to getting worms and other internal parasites.  In order to both treat and/or prevent the occurrence of those problems, a regular program of worming should be undertaken.  Adults should be dewormed every six months or as needed.  I use horse wormers known as “Safeguard” (Fenbendazole Paste 10%) and “Zimecterin” (Ivermectin paste 1.8%), which should be available at your local feed store.  For dial-up weights on the horse pastes, use the following conversion:  Safeguard – 4x the goat’s weight.  Ivermectin – 3x the goat’s weight.  For example, if the goat weights 60 lbs, you would dial Safeguard up to the 240-250 weight mark (60 X 4 = 240) and you would dial Ivermectin up to around 180.  You can also purchase injectable 1% ivermectin, but give it orally.  It is dosed at 1 mL per 50 lbs and is drawn up with a syringe.  Remove the needle before giving it orally.  It is very bitter, so we draw up a little molasses into the syringe to make it palatable.

Mites and Lice:  Goats are also susceptible to mites and lice in their coat during the winter and spring, as dogs are susceptible to fleas.  Goats with mites or lice will have the appearance of having the “heebie-jeebies”, be very itchy, and you can see them on their skin.  These are goat mites and lice that DO NOT transfer to people or other animals like dogs.  To treat and/or prevent this problem, you can use Pyrethrin flea/lice sprays for dogs and cats.  You can also use Frontline (3 drops – 1 on the base of the skull, 1 between the shoulder blades, and 1 above the tail), or you can chose to use Ultraboss (a pour on de-licer that is used by many breeders).

Urinary Calculi:  If not feed a proper diet, wethers (castrated males) are prone to a urinary-tract disease called urinary calculi.  This is where a chemical imbalance in their diet creates crystals in their bladder that are unable to pass through the narrow urethra of the urinary tract.  This occurs in bucks and does, as well, however, their urethras are not as narrow and the crystals usually pass through with no problems.  If a wethers urethra becomes blocked, they will be unable to pee and it requires medical attention immediately.  Feeding wethers a grass hay diet, with very little alfalfa and grain will help to keep them in good health.  The best grain to fed is one that contains ammonium chloride.

What to look for if you suspect Urinary Calculi:

  1. Abdominal discomfort. Wethers are restless, kick at their belly and make frequent attempts to urinate. If hand fed, animals may not charge the trough with the group at feeding time.
  2. Attempts to urinate are often accompanied by rapid twitching of the tail. Animals may also groan or bleat while attempting to urinate. Grinding or gritting the teeth while resting is also an indication of pain.
  3. Before complete occlusion of the urinary tract, urine may dribble from the urethra, dry on the preputial hair, and leave mineral deposits.
  4. Palpation of the penis and urethral process may reveal significant hypersensitivity, distension and/or swelling.


As is the case with many health problems, prevention of this condition is much easier and more effective than attempts at treatment. The following are offered for consideration in the development of a urinary calculi prevention program:

  1. Delay castration of young kids as long as possible.
  2. Clean, cool water is a must. Clean enough that you would drink from the trough.
  3. A ration with at least a 2:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio greatly reduces the incidence in feeder animals.
  4. Addition of 3-4% salt in the ration stimulates water intake and has thereby proved beneficial.
  5. Ammonium chloride should be added to the feed.
  6. The diet should provide ample amounts of Vitamin A.
  7. Haphazard addition of "supplements" to balanced rations can result in a mineral imbalance in the total diet.

Rumen Acidosis:  Goats can get very sick if they eat too much grain (or other acid creating food), so it is critical to store grain in goat-proof containers and not over feed.  Only feed grain or concentrates made for goats, for example: goat ration, goat chow, goat grain.  Make sure that the grains have been rolled, flaked, cracked or crimped to insure optimal digestion.  Horse grain or horse feed is not recommended because goats may develop an intestinal impaction.  I keep ProBios gel (for bovines) on hand at all times.  It helps to put natural microorganisms into their gut when they are distressed.  Whenever they seem a little out of sorts for whatever may be ailing them, I give them a dose of ProBios.  The dose is 5 grams regardless of age or weight.  If your goat is in a lot of discomfort, dissolve a tablet of the human antacid Gas-X in water and give it to the goat orally using a syringe (with the needle removed).

Frothy and Gas Bloat:  Goats are susceptible to both frothy and gas bloat.  Frothy bloat (indicated by foamy saliva) is caused by tiny bubbles trapped in the rumen fluid preventing the goats from belching, which they need to do!  Gas bloat (indicated by a hard belly that is being “sucked up” towards the spin) can occur if a goat, lying on its side, has its gas pocket in the rumen trapped and the gas is unable to escape into the esophagus.  In addition, too much gas can build in their rumens from over feeding grain.  The goats will display obvious discomfort, and usually lie down, stand up, lie down, stand up repeatedly.

Frothy bloat can be relieved by a 2-3oz dose of mineral oil or milk of magnesia, which breaks down tiny bubbles and allows the gas to escape normally.  After administering either of the above two remedies, hold the goat up under the front legs or stand the goat on a steep incline, until you start to hear the goat belch, either way you accomplish this task you need to make sure the front legs are higher than the rear.

For gas bloat, this repositioning is normally all that is needed to allow the trapped gas to escape.  I use Sweetlix Bloat Guard Pressed Block which contains the active ingredient Poloxalene (6.6%).  This product acts as an animal equivalent of Digel; it is designed to reduce or control the production of gas in the stomach.  You can also provide dry baking soda for the goats to eat.  They like it and it neutralizes the excessive gas bubbles to help prevent the painful bloat.  If your goat is in a lot of discomfort, dissolve a tablet of the human antacid Gas-X in water and give it to the goat orally using a syringe (with the needle removed).

GOATS CAN DIE FROM BLOAT, so it is important to always observe your goat’s behavior for distress.

Coccidiosis: Coccidia are a protozoan parasite that are almost always present in a goat's environment.  Goats naturally have these parasites in small numbers, just has humans have E. coli in small numbers.  When a goat is infected in large numbers, this condition is called Coccidiosis.  Adult goats have them, but are usually strong enough to resist them.  People think of Coccidiosis as a kid "disease" because kids have not built up a strong enough immune system to resist the coccidia yet, this is why kids show more problems with coccidia.  If you take a stool sample from your adult goats to the vet and they show a coccidia or two, it is nothing to worry about, it is virtually impossible to eliminate ALL coccidia and worms for a goat (it is normal to have a few).  It's an overload of coccidia or worms that you need to be aware of and act upon.

Signs of mild Coccidiosis overload:  Goats appear to be very thin over their backs and hips, but have large low hanging bellies.  Kids may be smaller than normal due to the parasite overload.  Signs of an acute case of coccidiosis are as following: Kids off their food with symptoms of diarrhea and it is likely to stand by itself with its back hunched.  The medication we use is Sulmet Drinking Water Solution 12.5%; however, breeders also use Di-Methox Concentrated Solution 12.5% (both should be available at your local feed store).  Give the medication orally using a syringe (with the needle removed).  Give the medication straight from the bottle (do not mix with water) using the following dosing.

Five day treatment- you must treat the full five days.  Day one: 1 ml per 5 pounds- given orally.  Days 2-5: 1 ml per 10 pounds- given orally. I sweeten the medication with a little molasses or corn syrup to make it a bit more pleasant to take.  It is very bitter.  Give it slowly with their head level so that they do not inhale it into their lungs (i.e., allow them to swallow it).

Medical Cabinet Supplies

  • Medical/Worming/Health Maintenance log - three ring binder, paper & pen
  • Aspirin - 325 mg This is anti-inflammatory, that also reduces temperature and is a pain killer. Oral 1 regular aspirin per 10 pounds. Milk withholding time: 24 hours Aspirin is poorly absorbed from the rumen so a relatively high dose is needed.
  • Penicillin Procaine , Penicillin is effective against gram-positive bacteria. Good for streptococcus infections, chronic pneumonia and other infections.: SQ Injection 1 ml per 25 lbs. once a day -Treat from 5-14 days, never less than 5. It should be used at least 5 days and until all symptoms have disappeared, whichever comes first. Milk withholding time: 25- 30 days
  • Selenium/Vit E. Suppliment- such as Bo-Se shot Use in prevention/treatment of Selenium deficiency can which and cause Nutritional Muscular Dystrophy, or White Muscle Disease. (weak legs in kids) Also can increase fertility and also aids in easier birthing. SQ Injection Bo-Se/Myosel-B - 1ml per 40 pounds. Milk withholding time: 24 hours Selenium can be toxic, and the margin of safety is narrow. Use only in Selenium deficient areas (check with your vet) Give pregnant does a shot of Bo-Se at 5 weeks and two weeks before their due dates. You can also give to bucks and does at the start of breeding season. Kids born with weak legs are also given Bo-Se.
  • Wormers 
  • Probios or some other probiotic that contains specific, beneficial bacteria to keep the rumen working. Yogurt is a poor substitute since it does not contain all the proper bacteria. Use during and following antibiotic treatment or any time a goat seems "off". Also helps relieve stress.
  • Karo syrup
  • Peppermint oil and mineral oil-rub on udder for mastitis
  • Syringes:
    • 3 mL w/ needles- 22 Gauge x 3/4"
    • 6 mL syringes without needles
  • Needles (if you give shots).- for use on the larger syringes
    • 22 Gauge x 3/4"
  • Jar containing cotton balls and rubbing alcohol
  • Digital thermometer- a regular human thermometer that you get a any pharmacy/Wal-Mart works great for goats.
  • Band-aids- for when you get hurt or cut
  • Elastic bandage
  • Cohesive flexible bandage
  • Gauze pads/sponges
  • Cloth tape
  • Scissors
  • Disposable gloves
  • Betadine Surgical Scrub
  • Iodine
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Veterinary Lubricant or KY-jelly
  • Antibiotic ointment or cream
  • Blood stop powder

Please check back soon for more updates!

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