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Goat Diseases: Prevention, Control and Management

Comprehensive Guide to Goat Diseases: Prevention, Control, and Management

Goats, resilient and versatile animals, are susceptible to various diseases that can impact their health and productivity. An effective approach to goat management involves a deep understanding of prevalent diseases, their prevention, control, and proper management. In this guide, we will explore key goat diseases, preventive measures, and strategies for effective control and management.

Let this be your guide to goat diseases

Source of sickness and disease:

You may be wondering, where do all these sicknesses and diseases come from??

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  1. Adding a new animal to the herd without proper isolation or testing.
  2. Offering or receiving stud service. Any interaction with a goat outside your herd can result in disease transmission.
  3. Visitors. Anyone who walks through your property can bring in a disease in on their shoes or clothing. Even people who aren’t around animals regularly can bring in something.
  4. Vets. Vets are always around sick animals. They can be a terrible transmitter of disease.
  5. Goat shows. These can be the perfect place to spread disease. 
  6. Livestock guardian dogs and pets can track in something.
  7. Birds and insects or any wild animal can even drop something onto your property!
  8. Unclean and unsanitary practices on your property. 
  9. Poor, lacking health management practices within your herd.

As you can see, there are a lot of ways that disease can become prevalent in your herd! It takes continual diligence to do your part with your herd in keeping them as healthy as possible, feeding them correctly at all times, keeping their living quarters as clean as possible and doing your very best to be wise in your decision making.

1. Common Goat Diseases:

a. Enterotoxemia (Overeating Disease):

  • Caused by clostridial bacteria, enterotoxemia is often associated with sudden dietary changes. Symptoms include sudden death, convulsions, and bloat.
  • Learn more about CD/T here.

b. Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE):

  • CAE is a viral infection affecting goats, leading to arthritis, encephalitis, and mastitis. It is transmitted through infected colostrum or milk.

c. Contagious Ecthyma (Orf):

  • Orf is a viral infection causing contagious pustular dermatitis. It results in lesions on the lips, udder, and teats, affecting both productivity and overall health.

2. Preventive Measures:

a. Proper Nutrition:

  • Provide a balanced and nutritionally adequate diet to bolster the goat’s immune system. Ensure access to clean water and avoid sudden dietary changes.
  • Learn more about how to feed goats here and goat minerals here

b. Vaccination Programs:

  • Implement a strategic vaccination program tailored to your beliefs, region and herd needs. Vaccines for diseases like enterotoxemia, tetanus, and respiratory infections are ones you can decide to give.
  • Learn more about goat vaccines here.

c. Biosecurity Practices:

  • Establish and enforce biosecurity measures to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases. Isolate new animals, control access to the premises, and practice hygiene in handling.
  • By isolating, you are protecting your herd from any new organisms that the new goat might be bringing home to your property. 
  • But also always keep in mind that when you bring a new goat onto your property their immune system is experiencing everything outside of their normal experiences. Their bodies are not used to what is surrounding them in this new environment and they will have to adapt and grow resilient to all the new organisms on your property. 
  • Always have a quarantine pen for new goats and also a separate area where sick goats will be kept. Change boots before entering and exiting or use a biosecurity mat at the gates or boot and shoe covers are an option as well. Always use gloves and change clothes after. Just remember, you don’t want your other goats to get sick as well, so do what you can to prevent any transmission.  
  • If you know that someone is planning to visit your property and has been in contact with a sick goat, either ask them to not visit or they need to come in clothes and shoes that have not been in contact with the sick goat or sick goat area at all. 
  • Never lance an abscess where the puss can get on anything where another goat can access it in any way. This is very important and needs to be taken seriously. 

d. New Goat Protocol

  • Quarantine a new goat for 2 weeks. 
  • Collect blood and do any blood testing you currently are doing with your herd. 
  • Check fecals for worms and coccidia and deworm and treat if necessary.
  • Vaccinate with any vaccines you are currently giving your herd.
  • Check udders and testicles for any issues.
  • Trim hooves. 
  • Towards the end of the quarantine period, do another fecal to guarantee that the previous deworming actually was effective. 
  • After fecals and blood tests have come back clean, they can be added to your herd!

e. Agreements

  • If offering any services, like a stud service, always have a very well laid out agreement for the customers to read and sign. There is a lot at stake for you and your herd. You do not want to bring in disease that you’ll have to deal with just because one doe wasn’t vetted properly. 

f. Goat shows

  • Any time you’re planning to go to a goat show you need to have a plan in place to protect your goats. Never take a sick goat to a show. And remember that a younger goat’s immune system is still developing and that makes them more vulnerable to disease. If you enter the show barn and observe any sick goats, it’s time to leave immediately. 

3. Control Strategies:

a. Parasite Control:

  • Internal and external parasites can compromise goat health. Implement regular deworming and pest control measures. Rotate pastures to minimize parasite exposure.

b. Quarantine Procedures:

  • Quarantine new arrivals to prevent the introduction of diseases. Observe animals for signs of illness before integrating them into the main herd.

c. Monitoring and Record-Keeping:

  • Regularly monitor the health of your herd, noting any changes in behavior or appearance. Maintain detailed records of vaccinations, deworming, and health events.
  • You can get My Goat Binder and My Parasite Control Plan mailed right to your door to keep your goat records in tip top shape! Find the link below:


4. Management Practices:

a. Isolation of Sick Animals:

  • Promptly isolate goats showing signs of illness to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. Provide necessary veterinary care and monitor their recovery.

b. Sanitation and Hygiene:

  • Maintain clean and well-ventilated living conditions. Regularly clean feed and water troughs, remove feces, and practice proper waste disposal to minimize disease transmission.
  • Clean up any placentas after birth to prevent predators from being attracted to the property and bringing in any disease. The placentas themselves can be transmitters of disease. 
  • Never reuse needles or scalpels or use them on several goats. 
  • Wood troughs can harbor disease in the grains of the wood.
  • Infected fecal matter can pass disease around quickly, so keep areas as clean as possible. 

c. Proper Handling and Stress Reduction:

  • Minimize stress factors during handling, transportation, and management practices. Stress weakens the immune system, making goats more susceptible to diseases.
  • Overcrowding can pass any disease or sickness around very quickly. 

5. Emergency Response Plans:

a. Veterinary Consultation:

  • Establish a relationship with a qualified veterinarian. Seek professional advice for disease diagnosis, treatment plans, and emergency response.

b. Isolation and Treatment Protocols:

  • Develop protocols for isolating and treating sick animals. Clearly define steps to minimize the spread of diseases and promote efficient recovery.

c. Regular Training for Caretakers:

  • Ensure that caretakers and staff are well-trained in recognizing signs of diseases and following established protocols. Regular training enhances preparedness.


Effectively preventing, controlling, and managing diseases in goats requires a proactive and holistic approach. Implementing preventive measures, such as vaccination and biosecurity practices, is key to maintaining a healthy herd. Controlling parasites, practicing proper hygiene, and having well-defined management protocols contribute to disease control. Regular monitoring, timely veterinary intervention, and a commitment to sound management practices are essential for promoting the health and longevity of your goat herd. By adopting a comprehensive approach, goat owners can foster a resilient and thriving herd in the face of potential health challenges.

Find even more helpful goat information on this Raising Goats Resource Page. 

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