Each goat herd is unique in its combination of breed, age, local climate, prevalent pathogens, and other elements that influence health. Your health care plan must therefore fit your particular situation and cannot be developed by blindly following a formula created for another herd elsewhere.
What Is Most Important In Goat Health?
The most important health care measure is disease prevention, which must start when you acquire your first goats. Purchase only healthy animals. If you feel unsure about how to tell a healthy goat from a sick one, take along an experienced person to coach you. You’ ll avoid a lot of future expense and heartbreak.
Sickness in goats is usually caused by poor handling. Good management includes protecting your goats from illness and watching for early signs of problems. Take care not to allow your goats to become crowded, because crowding causes stress and stress decreases resistance to disease. If your goats regularly come into contact with others outside your herd, you will need a stronger routine health care program and greater attention to keeping vaccinations current than someone whose herd is isolated from other goats that
may potentially be unhealthy.
The health care routine for all goats should include weighing, hoof trimming, and regular deworming, as well as vaccinations and booster shots as determined
by diseases that are prevalent in your area. Consult your veterinarian and local goat owners to develop a suitable health care program for your herd.
Valid Reasons To Know The Weight Of Your Goats
Each time you have a goat confined for hoof trimming, weigh it and record the date and weight on a chart. Your weight records will tell you if a young goat is growing properly, a young doe is big enough to breed, or a pregnant doe is getting enough to eat. Loss of weight is often the first sign something is wrong.
When a goat gets too heavy to lift onto a scale, the best you can do is estimate its weight. Even though the estimate is not 100 percent accurate, it will tell you whether the animal is gaining or losing weight. To
estimate a weight, measure the goat’ s heart girth— the distance around the goat’ s middle, just behind its front legs, over its heart. Have the goat stand on a level
surface with its legs solidly beneath it. Use a dressmaker’ s tape measure or a weight tape from a goat supply catalog. The weigh tape automatically converts heart girth to estimated weight. If you use a dressmaker’ s tape, the chart will help you convert inches to pounds.
Hoof Trimming Is The All Round Health Precaution In Goats
Hooves are made of keratin, the same material your toenails are made of. Like toenails, hooves grow uncomfortably long if they aren’ t trimmed. Wild goats
generally live in rocky areas, where abrasion wears down their hooves as they move around seeking fresh forage. By contrast, when a goat spends its days in a
barn or on pasture, its hooves keep growing. Unless they are trimmed, eventually the goat will be unable to walk properly. Hooves left untrimmed for too long fold
under, trapping dirt and moisture that create an ideal environment for bacteria that can cause foot rot. Excessive growth also alters an animal’ s stance,
eventually crippling the animal permanently.
How To Learn To Trim Your Herd
To learn what a properly trimmed hoof looks like, study the feet of a newborn kid. Note how its hooves are flat on the bottom and look boxy. When a hoof has been properly trimmed, the bottom is parallel to the growth rings and the two toes are of equal length.
How often you need to trim hooves depends on how fast they grow. Some hooves need trimming every two weeks; others may not need to be trimmed more often than every two months. For many goats, the rear hooves need trimming more often than the fronts. The rate of growth of a particular goat’ s hooves is a result partly by genetics and partly by environment.
Like wild goats, domestic goats can wear off some hoof growth if they have access to an abrasive surface, such as a rock outcrop or a concrete pad on which to play. A goat that is not used to having its hooves trimmed may struggle and kick. Avoid this problem by training kids to the procedure early and by continuing to check and trim hooves often throughout each animal’ s life. Frequent trimming of small amounts at a time is easier than infrequent major trimming. You will need a pair of sharp shears, such as good garden pruning shears or shop snips, or a hoof trimmer designed specifically for the purpose and available from any livestock supply store or catalog. Keep the shears sharp by periodically filing them.
Signs of Ill Health Among The Goat Herd
Take time to study your goats while they are healthy so you will readily notice any changes in the way they look, eat, move, or smell. The sooner you realize a goat is getting sick, the quicker you can do somethingabout it, and the greater the chance it will recover. Notice the size, shape, firmness, color, and smell of your goats’ droppings. Any change may indicate a poor dietary balance, the beginning of a disease, or an infestation of parasites. Parasites may be internal, such as worms and coccidia, or external, such as lice and tick.
Listen for teeth grinding, a sign the goat is in pain. Look for changes in the color of the gums and the lining around the eyes. These areas should be bright pink. If a goat is in shock or has lost blood (for instance through a parasite overload), these areas may turn pale. A purple or blue color may indicate damaged airways or other breathing problems. If the color is pale gray or blue and the goat has a hard time breathing, call your vet immediately.
be keen in observing your goats breathing and the colour of the airways, these are the basic health indicators.