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Lumps on a Goat’s Face, Jaw or Neck: What Could it Be?

Exploring the Causes of Neck, Throat, and Jaw Lumps in Goats: Understanding and Addressing Various Conditions

Goats, being resilient and diverse animals, are not immune to health issues. One common concern that goat owners may encounter is the presence of lumps on their goats’ neck, throat, or jaw. These lumps can arise from various causes, ranging from benign to more serious conditions. This article aims to shed light on the different reasons a goat may develop a lump in these areas and provide insights into why they occur and what steps can be taken to address them.


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There are quite a few reasons that goats will get a lump on their face, jaw or neck.


    • Cause: Abscesses are often caused by bacterial infections, commonly introduced through wounds or injuries. The bacteria multiply, leading to the formation of a localized pus-filled lump. Things like sticking heads through fences or using wood hay feeders can cause a cut, or sliver to become infected. Anything sharp can cause an abscess. It may be from hay, wood or wire fencing, sticks, thorns, or briers.
    • Symptoms: Swelling, warmth, and tenderness around the lump. The goat may also exhibit signs of pain or discomfort. The goat having a high temperature will let you know if it’s an abscess infection. The abscess itself feels firm, round and also distinct. You may even be able to get your fingers around it. 
    • Treatment: Drainage and cleaning of the abscess are crucial. Flush the wound with iodine, administer tetanus anti-toxin and antibiotics may be prescribed to combat the infection. Antibiotics aren’t as effective because they are walled off pockets of infection and the antibiotics can’t reach that area that needs treated very well. Abscesses most likely need to be lanced and drained and then antibiotics given. 

Goiter or Enlarged Thyroid Gland:

      • Cause: Iodine deficiency in the diet can lead to an enlarged thyroid gland, resulting in a lump on the neck.
      • Symptoms: Swelling on the neck, potential difficulty swallowing or breathing.
      • Treatment: Addressing iodine deficiency through dietary supplements, and veterinary consultation for severe cases. You can paint the tail web with 10% iodine every 24 hours until the iodine is no longer absorbed. 
      • Prevention:  You can also look into iodine kelp to give as a supplement if this is something your goats are struggling with regularly. Make sure you are providing loose minerals to your goats at all times and find a mineral with higher iodine levels in it for your goats. 

Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL)

    • Cause: Infection of the lymph nodes, often due to bacteria such as Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis.
    • Symptoms: Swelling of lymph nodes, abscess formation, and sometimes fever.
    • Treatment: This is a hotly debated topic. There are herds that have CL that are managed properly to keep it under control. Others firmly believe that the animal should be put down immediately. You will want to read more about CL Here to determine the treatment plan you will take. Understand this disease before you make any decisions that can impact your goat herd, you and the people you sell your goats to. 

Cheek abscess or cud retention:

    • Cause: A lump can form when an accumulation of food is trapped between the back molars and the cheek. 
    • Symptoms: One-sided lump formed on the cheek.
    • Treatment: Careful removal of the food. Hold the jaw open and carefully hook the food with your bent finger. It’s very possible that this problem will reoccur if the teeth are damaged.
    • Prevention: Watch for animals with missing or broken teeth, cull if needed. Inspect the teeth of animals you are buying to avoid the purchase of an animal with a problem like this. When giving oral drenches, be very careful to not damage the teeth in the process. 


    • Cause: Tumors can be benign or malignant and may develop in various tissues. 
    • Symptoms: Firm, often non-painful lumps that may grow in size. Lymphosarcoma is a cancer of the lymph glands and may cause swollen lymph nodes that look like abscesses. 
    • Treatment: Surgical removal for certain tumors, while others may require ongoing management.

Trauma or Injury or Hematoma:

    • Cause: External injuries, such as bites, kicks, or abrasions, can result in localized swelling.
    • Symptoms: Swelling, tenderness, and potential bruising in the affected area.
    • Treatment: Cleaning and disinfection of wounds, and monitoring for signs of infection.

Bottle Jaw: Parasitic Nodules:

    • Cause: Certain parasites like the barber pole worm can form nodules under the skin.
    • Symptoms:  It’s really edema below the surface. They will usually feel soft and flabby and you will leave a fingerprint in it when you squeeze it. You will find this lump on the jawline and it will be a uniform shape.
    • Treatment: Parasite control measures, include deworming, and anemia treatment plan.

Thyroid Gland Abscess:

    • Cause: Infections affecting the thyroid gland.
    • Symptoms: Swelling, potential discharge, and signs of systemic illness.
    • Treatment: Antibiotics, drainage, and supportive care.

Tooth Abscess:

    1. Cause: Usually a broken tooth on the lower jaw will cause problems and swelling.
    2. Symptoms: swelling or lump, usually on the lower jaw.
    3. Treatment: Seek treatment from a vet to remove or treat the broken tooth. They may recommend antibiotics to stop the infection in the tooth 

Milk Neck or Milk Goiter:

    1. Cause: High producing doe feeding her kids very well. It’s a swelling of the thymus gland.
    2. Symptoms: a uniform lump will form under the jaw. It is somewhat firm to touch and evenly placed slightly lower in the crook of the neck. It is frontal facing. It is not one sided and does not come up over night. 
    3. Treatment: This isn’t a problem and nothing should be done. The kid will be weaned the the lump will go away. Be at peace that the doe is producing so well and raising strong and healthy kids!
    4. Read more about Milk Neck here. 

Wattle Cyst:

    1. Cause: Normally these are there at birth but you may not notice them until the goat grows.
    2. Symptoms: At the base of or under the wattle there may be a cyst abscess. There may be a lump under one or both of the wattles. The cyst will have a clear liquid in it that may be either thick or thin.
    3. Treatment: They are harmless but after getting over the shock and wonder if it’s something scary like CL, you’ll probably think they are ugly. An abscess may appear if the liquid is removed with a needle and syringe. 

Lumpy Jaw: 

    1. Cause: Bacteria enters the bone of the jaw from a wound in the mouth. 
    2. Symptoms: Lumpy Jaw produces hard swellings of the bone. They will usually about the level of the central molar teeth and will develop slowly. They can become the size of tennis balls.
    3. Treatment: Treatment is usually sodium iodide, tetracycline and penicillin, administered for 7-10 days. Ask your vet for a treatment plan. They may need to surgically drain the affected area and those open pockets must be fluted and packed with iodine for several days. 
    4. Prevention: Disinfect all feeding areas. The bone may not return to its original shape and relapses are common. 

Salivary cysts:

    1. Cause: On the side of the face there will be a swelling filled with saliva. 
    2. Symptoms: Swelling on the side of the face. 
    3. Treatment: You do not want to lance a salivary cyst. Using a sterile needle draw out the liquid. It won’t smell and usually won’t have any color to it, but sometimes it will have a blood tinge to it. The reason you don’t want to lance this is because it can cause life threatening luminal acidosis. The salivary system provided very important bicarbonates that are needed for digestion

Bites or Stings:

    1. Cause: Bites from snakes, scorpions or possibly even a dog.
    2. Symptoms: Swelling of the affected area.
    3. Treatment: If a lot of swelling, give benedryl to see if it helps. A lot of swelling in the throat can be dangerous. Call a vet. 


Lumps on a goat’s neck, throat, or jaw can have various causes, and understanding the underlying factors is crucial for effective management. Timely veterinary intervention, proper diagnosis, and appropriate treatment are essential for ensuring the health and well-being of your goats. Regular health monitoring, a well-balanced diet, and a clean living environment can contribute to preventing some of these conditions and promoting the overall health of your goat herd.

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