Navigating Newborn and Young Goat Kids’ Health Challenges: A Comprehensive Guide
The arrival of newborn kids on the farm is a moment of excitement and anticipation, but it also brings forth the responsibility of ensuring their health and well-being. While goats are generally hardy animals, newborn and young kids are susceptible to various health challenges. This article provides a comprehensive guide to common health problems encountered in newborn and young goat kids, along with insights into prevention, identification, and treatment.
- Atresi Ani: No rectal opening.
- Cleft Palate: Split in roof of mouth.
- Neither of the above are fixable.
- Entropion: The eyelid will be turned under and the eyelashes will irritate the eye. This can be fixed if something is done immediately.
- Description: Normal gestation is between 145 and 155 depending on the breed of goat. Most kids will have teeth fully erupted. Teeth fully in the gums, usually means that the goat is premature. But I’ve personally had kids born with teeth in the gums and they were full term. The lungs develop last, so a premature kid will have breathing problems and if they are born more than 7 days premature, they most likely won’t live. If you do get them the supportive care they need and they do make it, they may have lifelong problems to deal with. You may also come on a situation where one kid is fully developed, while the other isn’t. It all has to do with the nutrient each received in the uterus.
- Causes: There are a number of reasons that goats may have kids prematurely. Sometimes it’s nutrition related, other times stress. Selenium deficiency can cause premature kids as well.
- Prevention and Treatment: Your does need to be in top condition as they grow and develop their kids. They always need loose minerals out for them and they need proper nutrition through their hay supply. Keep stress at an all time low.
- Description: Colostrum is the great and only “kick-starter” for all mammals. It’s very important that each goat kid gets sufficient colostrum in their first 12 hours.
- Causes: If they do not get this, they will not thrive and will potentially die. Even if they don’t die, as they grow, even as they mature, they will not be as strong and thrifty as the other goats who get sufficient intake.
- Prevention and Treatment: Make sure that each goat kid has nursed and continues to nurse efficiently during the first 24 hours.
- Description: From birth, a goat needs ample liquids. At first it’s only milk and then as they grow it will be from the water source near them.
- Causes: Dehydration can stem from not getting enough milk, which then leads to weak kid syndrome and possibly hypothermia. But dehydration can also be caused by the kid being too hot or too cold as well.
- Prevention and Treatment: Goat kids have very small stomachs. They need frequent, but filling meals all day long. Remember, goats have the fastest metabolism of any ruminant. If they miss just one meal, they can get sick very quickly.
Weak Kid Syndrom:
- Description: It is characterized by kids displaying weakness, difficulty standing, and poor suckling reflex.
- Causes: This can appear right after birth because of inadequate colostrum intake, difficult birth, underlying health issues or weather conditions. Regardless of age, a kid who doesn’t get enough milk or food or gets chilled will get sick and weak. Do not feed a kid when their temperature goes below 100℉. Warm them up first by getting their temperature above 100℉ and then give them milk.
- Prevention and Treatment: Ensure prompt colostrum intake, monitor births, and seek veterinary assistance if symptoms arise. Supportive care may include supplemental feeding and warmth. Keep kids warm and fed.
- Description: Difficult or prolonged labor.
- Causes: Abnormal positioning of the kid, large kid size, the does cervix not dilating for some reason or uterine inertia.
- Prevention and Treatment: Monitor pregnant does closely, assist with difficult births promptly, and seek veterinary help if needed. Provide supportive care to the kid after a challenging birth.
- Description: Loose or watery feces in young kids, often leading to dehydration.
- Causes: The biggest thing to remember is that diarrhea is a symptom, not a cause. Find out what is causing the diarrhea and then provide the treatment. There are many causes to diarrhea. Some common causes are: Bacterial or viral infections, overfeeding, sudden diet changes, or the goat’s body is cleaning out a toxin or something it shouldn’t have eaten.
- Prevention and Treatment: Maintain cleanliness, provide access to clean water, and avoid abrupt diet changes. Consult a veterinarian for specific treatment options, which may include oral rehydration solutions. Find out why the kid has diarrhea and treat that problem. When the problem is gone, the diarrhea will stop.
Neonatal Diarrhea Complex:
- Description: Drooping head, tucked tail, not eating, inactive, dehydrated, fever but no respiratory distress and grayish to yellowish diarrhea with a smell. E. coli poop is usually a very bright yellow.
- Causes: Bacteria like E. coli or Cryptosporidiosis. But you don’t know which organism it is without a lab analysis.
- Prevention and Treatment: Give injectable Banamine or baby aspirin orally to reduce the fever. Give electrolytes to keep them hydrated. PeptoBismol will calm their stomach. Give this every 6 hours (6-10ccs). Also give a Sulfadimethoxine liquid antibiotic.
- Description: The goat kid will stop pooping which is a very serious situation.
- Causes: If it’s not diarrhea they are dealing with, it may end up being constipation. Always watch the back end for either situations. But constipation can be life threatening. Stress can cause them to be constipated.
- Prevention and Treatment: If they are not pooping, enemas may be necessary.
- Description: Thiamine is essential for the functioning of the brain. When the rumen is functioning properly, the goat is producing it just like it should be. Read more aboutB Vitamins Here.
- Causes: But a newborn goat does not have a functioning rumen yet. Their body functions off of a milk stomach.
- Prevention and Treatment: Premature kids need thiamine (B1) injections. And kids that are a little “off” and can’t figure out where the teat is, should get a shot as well.
- Description: Respiratory issues such as coughing, nasal discharge, and labored breathing. They may also have a fever, listlessness and not eating. Pneumonia can kill in as little as four hours. Your goat is fine the night before and then next morning is gone. Learn more about pneumonia here: Pneumonia in Goats
- Causes: Bacterial or viral infections, poor ventilation, or exposure to drafts. Pneumonia can come in the form of bacterial, viral, inhalation and mycoplasma.
- Prevention and Treatment: Ensure a well-ventilated and clean environment. Consult with a veterinarian for appropriate treatment, which may include antibiotics or supportive care. If you suspect pneumonia, act very quickly. You don’t have time to figure out what type it is. You must medicate when it is in the fever portion of the illness or most likely it is too late after the goat’s temperature is below 100℉. The fever can spike so quickly and then lower just as fast, causing the organs to shut down, and the lungs to fill up with fluid and then death.
Joint Ill (Navel Ill):
- Description: Infection of the joints, often originating from the navel.
- Causes: Contaminated environments, poor sanitation, or improper navel care. Bacteria travels up the navel cord and usually ends up in the leg joints.
- Prevention and Treatment: Practice good hygiene, provide iodine treatment to the navel, and seek veterinary assistance if signs of infection arise. Antibiotics is necessary for treatment and can be long term sometimes taking weeks to resolve. The goat kid may have long term affects such as arthritis to contend with for the rest of their life.
- Description: Protozoan infection affecting the digestive system, leading to diarrhea, weakness, and weight loss. Blackish diarrhea, which indicates dried blood is one of the symptoms. This can cause long term affects because of the extensive damage it causes the goat’s intestines. After the damage, the goat won’t be able to absorb nutrients like it needs to.
- Causes: Exposure to contaminated bedding or feed. Kids nibbling and putting everything in their mouths.
- Prevention and Treatment: Practice good sanitation, monitor fecal consistency, and implement a deworming program. Consult with a veterinarian for specific treatment options. Albon is a really good treatment option. It will be given directly into the mouth of each goat for 5 consecutive days. Do not use Corid unless you absolutely have to. If you do end up giving it, you also have to give Vitamin B1 injections each day for the 5 days you are giving Corid. Dewormers do not treat Coccidiosis.
- Description: Drop in body temperature, especially in cold weather.
- Causes: Inadequate shelter, exposure to harsh weather conditions, or insufficient milk intake.
- Prevention and Treatment: Provide warm and dry shelter, ensure adequate colostrum intake, and intervene promptly if signs of hypothermia are observed. Use heat lamps or warming devices as needed.
- Do not feed a goat kid milk if their temperature is below 100℉.
- One of the best ways to warm up a kid is to put it into a plastic bag without holes in the bottom and then with their head sticking out the top, place in them in the tub with 100-102℉ water in it.
- Description: Inadequate nutrition leading to stunted growth, weakness, and poor overall health.
- Causes: Insufficient milk intake, poor-quality forage, or inadequate supplemental feeding.
- Prevention and Treatment: Monitor nutritional needs, ensure proper colostrum intake, and provide a balanced diet. Consult with a veterinarian to address specific nutritional deficiencies.
Floppy Kid Syndrome:
- Description: The kids will get “floppy”. They will appear drunk and won’t be able to walk straight. It can appear around day 7-10 because it takes some time for the milk to build up in the stomach.
- Causes: Overeating on milk and is more common in bottle babies.
- Prevention and Treatment: Don’t give the goat kids too much milk. Follow bottle feeding protocols closely and even if they act like they are “starving” they are lying. It is fun and cute to bottle feed kids but don’t over do it or it will end in death.
- You will stop giving milk for 36 hours. Give electrolyte and some baking soda in place of milk. Give the kid C&D anti-toxin immediately. Then give some Milk of Magnesia to move the partially digested food through their digestive system. Banamine will calm the gut.
- Description: They will have the symptoms like floppy kid syndrome mentioned above. They may have diarrhea and be sluggish and grinding their teeth in pain. They may exhibit a low temperature as their body begins to shut down.
- Causes: This is from overeating either on milk or grain. Too much of these will literally kill them from within. If the overdose is milk it is called “floppy kid syndrome”. If the kid is ruminating and gets into too much grain, they will get sick as well.
- Prevention and Treatment: The best way is to prevent this from happening by feeding your bottle babies correctly. Make sure that a high producing doe isn’t locked up in very tight quarters with her kids and can’t get away and control how much they are getting. And always keep grain locked up tightly. Do not ever let goats get into the grain and do not ever change their diet quickly.
- Description: This can also be called “water belly”. Urinary track stones develop, usually in males.
- Causes: These stones can develop for several reasons. Phosphorus levels that are too high compared to calcium will create this problem. The ratio needs to be a 2:1 calcium to phosphorus. Checking grain, mineral and alfalfa levels for proper proportion is really important. Also, castrating bucklings too young can cause this because it stops the growth of the diameter of the urinary tract.
- Prevention and Treatment: Don’t castrate bucklings before 3 months of age. Buy grain and minerals that have a 2:1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus. Test your hay for proper proportions and for nutrient levels.
- Description: Up until about 2-3 weeks old, kids are safe from stomach worms. But after that, they can become a very serious problem for them.
- Causes: Goat kids will put everything in their mouths. And will begin to graze with their dams. This will cause them to ingest worms, which begins the cycle of the leading cause of death in goats.
- Prevention and Treatment: Use the information in My Parasite and Control Plan to deal effectively with worms. This is not something to take lightly. Get My Parasite Control Plan Binder to get parasites under control in your goat herd.
Mineral and Vitamin Deficiencies:
- Description: Vitamins and minerals are very important and without them, there can be very detrimental problems.
- Vitamin A: deficiency can cause poor hair coat, loss of appetite, night blindness and kids can get parasite, diarrhea and respiratory diseases because of this lack.
- Vitamin B: rumen function depends on this. Lack of Vitamin B1 (thiamine) can cause goat polio or poor brain function. Cobalt deficiency prevents the synthesis of B-12.
- Vitamin D: Calcium and phosphorus absorb with the help of Vitamin D.
- Vitamin E: the lack thereof begins White Muscle Disease which is a selenium deficiency.
- Copper: lack of copper will causes a loss of hair color.
- And there are minerals that stop the absorption of other minerals. For instance, sulfur can inhibit the intake of copper.
- Prevention and Treatment: Provide your goats with loose minerals at all times. Pay attention if your water source has high levels of sulfur and iron. You can learn more about that here: how your water source could be affecting your goats.
Raising healthy newborn and young goat kids involves a combination of proactive management, attentive care, and prompt intervention when health challenges arise. Understanding the common health problems, implementing preventive measures, and seeking veterinary guidance are essential components of successful goat kid management. By addressing these issues promptly, goat owners can contribute to the overall health and resilience of their herd, ensuring a vibrant and thriving group of goats.
Continue to learn about goats: Raising Goats Resource Page