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Goat Sickness: Sometimes an “Easy” Fix

Encountering a sick goat can evoke a range of concerns and speculations about exotic illnesses, but in reality, the cause is often more straightforward than we tend to think.

Before jumping to conclusions and trying to name your goat’s sickness, it’s very important to stop, take a deep breath and then take some time to assess your goat. Really, you need to be doing this on a regular basis, before your goat gets sick. Not only will this quickly alert you to any changes, but you’ll get to know your goat and what’s normal and what’s not. Doing this will not only help you see the start of sickness quicker but you’ll also be able to act quickly in treatment before the goat is down, sometimes for good. 

When a goat falls ill, the root issue is frequently a common and sometimes overlooked factor.

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Goat sickness is sometimes an "easy" fixf

To figure out what’s going on, begin with the fundamentals.

Conduct a thorough examination. Do the five point check as laid out in My Goat Binder and My Parasite Control Plan Binder. Start with a check for worms using FAMACHA field testing. Follow this up with fecal counts under a microscope, as worms are a prevalent cause of sickness and mortality in most goats. In damp climates, where goats may struggle, it’s essential to remember that a wet environment often translates to an increased risk of worms. Worms are the leading killer for goats. 

If the goat has a large load of worms, worm correctly using the protocol and dosages laid out in My Parasite Control Plan Binder. You will continue on with your assessment, but remember, you have to do fecals again in 10 days to determine if the deworming actually worked. If it didn’t work, you must deworm again.

To further assess the goat’s health, take its rectal temperature using a digital thermometer. Always have a working thermometer on hand! This step helps confirm or rule out elevated body temperature, which could indicate conditions such as pneumonia, mastitis, or various other health issues. If goats manage to survive anemia caused by blood-sucking worms, pneumonia emerges as the next most common cause of illness. Understanding the symptoms of pneumonia in goats is crucial. You will find more information about pneumonia here. 

Sick Kids

For sick goat kids, inspect their abdomens for fullness and evaluate their dams for sufficient milk production. Starvation in kids can result from factors like sibling interference with feeding, inadequate milk production by the dam, mastitis or a congested udder in the dam hindering milk production, exposure to extreme temperatures causing dehydration and starvation, or separation from the dam. Recognizing and addressing these nutritional and management issues is vital for the kid’s well-being.

In the case of bottle-fed kids, overfeeding on milk can lead to Floppy Kid Syndrome, underscoring the importance of proper nutrition management.

Exotic sickness? Maybe not

In essence, a sick goat is seldom afflicted by exotic issues. Often, individuals search for uncommon causes while overlooking the apparent ones. This tendency might stem from gaps in their management practices, hindering the recognition of critical health symptoms. Know your goats so you know their personalities and behaviors and can quickly act when they aren’t acting normally. 

Remember, more often than not, the source of the ailment is the most straightforward consideration—one that might have crossed your mind but was inadvertently overlooked. Embrace a different mindset about how you spend time with your goats, so you can enhance your understanding of goat health and effectively address their well-being.

After you’ve made sure that these aren’t problems your goat is facing, then you can move on to making sure it isn’t other ailments they are facing. 

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