YOUR BEST SOURCE FOR HELPFUL GOAT INFORMATION. YOUR GOAT MENTOR CENTER
My Goat is sick, what do I do?
- What is the goat temperature?
- Are they eating or drinking?
- Do they have diarrhea?
- Have you done Fecal testing lately? If so, results and what did you use to treat?
- Could they have gotten into anything or ate too much?
- What symptoms are going on with your Goat?
- What is their eye lid color? FAMCHA scale result?
- Are they standing up or laying down?
- Are they grinding their teeth?
- Are they bloated or can you hear their rumen activity?
Be Prepared to answer these when you speak to your Vet or Goat Mentor.
WHAT DO I NEED IN MY BIRTHING KIT?
- Nasal Syringe
- Old Towels
- Molasses/Maple Syrup
- Power Punch or Nutridrench for Goats for Momma and Babies
- Tums - Calcium for Mom if needed
- Worming medicine - Recommended to worm mom after birthing. Sometimes immune system can get off balance.
- Dental Foss
- OB lubricant
- Antibacterial/Soap to keep hands clean
- Bedding like Pine or cedar shavings
- Trash bag for clean up
- Camera and phone for videos and family portraits!! :)
- Heat lamp if cold months
- Hay unlimited for Momma
- Bucket of warm water and add the Maple Syrup or Molasses to
- Bowl of Feed/Grain - Momma is HUNGRY
- Weight Tape to see how much your Kiddos weigh (or mini scale)
- Good lighting if night time
- Space & Calm for Mommy and well... everyone around is probably nervous!! LOL
- Bring children to learn - This is a life changing event for some
- Have a birth plan
Just in case...Emergency Vet Number and also your Goat Mentor Number
Don't have a goat mentor, I recommend one!! Mine has helped me grow immensely!!
Oh yeah, and more towels...
At almost 2 Million Views, Check out our original Goat Birthing Video from Several Years Ago:
If you don't want horns on your goats, have a plan ready to get your goat disbudded. Boys of smaller breeds must be done within first week of birth and girls within first 2 weeks from birth. Have a person trained and experienced with good references prepared to do it. This is very important and will be a lifetime thing for your goat and you!
Want to view Videos on how to disbud, check out our YouTube Video Library:
Video #1 Girl Goat Disbudding:
Video #2 Boy Goat Disbudding:
Video #3 Boy Goat Disbudding:
Silly Goat Video: Southern Charmer playing kick the can, loving his food bucket:
WHAT DO I DO IF...
Baby goat gets diarrhea? Check Temperature, should be between 102-104 degrees. Give a little bit of Pepto Bismal to help with scours (diarrhea) and give Coccidai Treatment. I recommend Toltrazuril. There is also Albon and Di-Methox.
TAKING YOUR GOAT HOME, WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW
A goat must ALWAYS have access to clean, fresh drinking WATER!! MUST!!
Safe area, fenced in, avoid poisonous plants access (see www.fiascofarm.com for a list).
Good quality hay like Timothy, Peanut, Alfalfa for girls only, Chaffhaye, Clover if available, Costal and lastly Tifton. Forage is KEY!!
Good grain made for GOATS ONLY!!! I also add, so its a suggestion that works in my area on my farm, Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Beet Pulp pellets, Alfalfa pellets (girls only) and calf manna for pregnant moms & lactating does.
WHAT DO I ASK MY BREEDER?
FEEDING YOUR GOATS
Most animal nutritionists agree that a 14% to 16%
protein grain mix works well for dairy goats. Make sure that the dairy mix you
buy isn't dusty. Goats prefer no-dust grain that is glued together with plenty
of molasses. Substitute a horse grain mix if your local dairy mix doesn't have
enough molasses to suit your goats or if it is too dusty.
Hay is a critical factor. If you can get well-cured high-quality legume hay, it should be high in protein, and you will need less protein in your grain mix. If the best hay available is grass, that's just fine, but grass hay has less protein than legume hay, so you'll need a grain mix with more protein in it. Make sure that your hay is not overly dusty or moldy. As with the grain mix, goats don't really like dusty hay, and moldy hay can make them very, very sick.
In certain parts of the country, finding good hay is very difficult. Talk with other local breeders, and check with horse breeders and your local cow dairy, if necessary. Also remember that grass hay is usually less expensive than a legume hay, and it might be more economical (and more healthful to your goats) to feed a good quality grass hay and up the protein with grain and mineral supplements (which you might be feeding anyway).
Growing kids may get a pound of grain a day and
all the hay they can consume. Bucks are more variable. Depending upon their
size, health, exercise, and amount of use they are getting, you might feed them
anywhere from one to four pounds of grain a day and usually grass
In the last two months of pregnancy, you want to put your does on an "ascending plane of nutrition." This means that you want to gradually increase their grain ration. Some breeders feed up to two pounds of grain a day towards the end of pregnancy. Again, watch the condition of your pregnant does. A thin doe, carrying a huge load of kids, the mature does that milks a bunch, they will all probably need more grain.
Many breeders will feed one pound of grain per
three pounds of milk produced. Give less to fat does, more to thin
Most breeders feed hay free choice, allowing goats to eat all they want. An adult goat will eat four pounds of hay or more. Make sure that the hay feeders are clean. Goats will often put their feet in the feeders, increasing the possibility of contamination from worms. Goats also have the reputation as picky eaters. They'll eat the leaves off the hay and leave the stem. Check your feeders to make sure that the hay that remains is leafy and palatable, not just stem. You needn't throw away the stemmy leftovers. They make great feed for calves you may be raising on goat milk.
Those raising meat, hair or working (goats for packing or pulling) will probably rely more on forage and you'll need to try to balance your goats' ration with an appropriate grain ration. With working goats especially, you'll need to keep a close eye on their condition and supplement their forage ration if you see they are looking a bit thin.
Water is as important a "feed" as grain or hay. Always provide plenty of fresh, clean water for your goats. They also need a salt block or loose salt. In addition, many breeders will feed a loose mineral mix either free choice or sprinkled on their grain ration. Such supplements may contain beneficial bacteria which are intended to improve digestion and increase feed utilization. There are other mineral mixes meant to balance the calcium and phosphorus in your goats' diet. Finally, you can feed your bucks a mineral supplement meant to help increase their fertility and potency and improve their overall condition.
102 - 103 degrees F.
A goat's normal temperature is 102 F to 103 degrees F. If you have a sick goat, the first thing you should do is take its temperature. If the temperature is above normal, there's probably an infection. Antibiotics might help. Below normal temperature could mean a critically ill animal. If the temperature is normal, that's important information too.
Be sure you take your goat's temperature before calling the veterinarian for advice about a sick goat. Your vet will probably ask what the goat?s temperature is.
"Off feed" and grinding teeth
Eating should be the primary interest in any goat's life. If the goat stops eating normally, the animal is probably sick. Going "off feed" is one of the few ways a goat can tell you it does not feel well.
Teeth grinding is also a sign of illness in goats. You can easily hear this unpleasant noise and can tell that the goat is uncomfortable and needs your attention.
Roundish hairless patches on a goat's body are often caused by a ringworm fungus. Clean the skin with a mild antiseptic soap and then apply Fungisan Liquid, a mixture of equal parts of glycerin and tincture of iodine, or household bleach diluted 1 part in 10 parts water daily.
Contagious abscesses caused by Corynebacterium ovis are spread by contact with pus from a draining "lump." If the bacteria gets into lymph nodes, the goat may develop new abscesses for months or years to come. Abscesses can also grow on internal organs and kill the goat. External abscesses are ugly, but the goat may stay in good health otherwise. Occasional abscesses will develop inside the udder; milk should not be used for humans.
There is no cure. A good program of cleaning the ripe abscess and isolating the goat can reduce the incidence of abscesses in the herd. Autogenous vaccines have worked well for some breeders, but may perform best if the animals are vaccinated three or four times a year.
We sell Case-Bac, a vaccine (labeled for sheep) that people use to immunize goats against caseous lymphadenitis abscesses. It will not work, however, if goats already have abscesses or have been exposed to them.
Abscesses may also be caused by imbedded foreign particles or small cuts infected with Staphlococcyus, C. pyogenes, etc. These abscesses are not a contagious herd problem.
Worms are common
Worms cause many problems in goat herds. Regular worming is usually necessary. A veterinarian can check fecal samples to tell you exactly what kinds of worms your goats have and what wormers you should be using. You may need to use a different wormer each time you worm to keep these parasites under control.
Coccidiosis kills kids
Coccidiosis is much more common in goat herds than many breeders or their veterinarians may realize. Coccidiosis often causes persistent scours in kids. Adult goats may also carry heavy coccidia infestations. Have your vet check a fecal sample microscopically to find out if your goats have "cocci." We sell Corid Amprolium which can be used both to treat and help prevent coccidiosis.
Routine "shots" for goats
Vaccinations against tetanus and enterotoxemia are widely used by goat breeders. Selenium (Bo-Se), available from your vet, may be given in herds where this mineral is deficient. Injections of Vitamins A & D are often used.
If the goats have problems with contagious abscesses, an autogenous vaccine can be prepared from material collected from your herd. It can help control the abscess problems and seems to work best if the animals are vaccinated every four months. Chlamydia has caused abortions, arthritis, and pneumonia in goat herds. Some breeders are using an experimental chlamydia vaccine from Fort Dodge Labs with good results. Some East Coast breeders use a corynebacterium pasteurella vaccine to stop respiratory and diarrhea problems in their kids.
Your veterinarian may suggest other vaccinations (such as lepto) which you should use because of specific problems with goats or other livestock in your area.
Causes of abortion
Abortions are common in some goat herds. They are usually caused by an infectious organism such as chlamydia that causes many first-freshening does to abort or give birth prematurely, while older does are immune. Salmonella, toxoplasmosis, vibriosis, and other organisms have also been suspected in goat abortions. Severe butting, which may happen when a new doe is introduced into a herd, can also cause abortions.
Goats are very susceptible to pneumonia and respiratory problems.
They need shelter from rain and protection from drafts, but the wrong kind of shelter can be bad. Barns that are poorly ventilated, with a strong ammonia odor in the air and damp bedding, are unhealthy for goats. The viruses that cause pneumonia spread rapidly in such a setting.
Brucellosis and tuberculosis
The U.S. Animal Health Association has recommended that it is no longer necessary to test goats for brucellosis in the United States. They feel the U.S. is free from B. melitensis, which infects goats. There have been no cases of brucellosis in goats for many years, although the disease is known in cattle, hogs, and even dogs.
Tuberculosis is all but unknown in goats, also. Testing is still recommended in areas which are not TB-free, but this disease is not usually a goat health problem.
Just to be safe, most goat owners test for TB and brucellosis regularly, especially if the milk is to be used for human consumption.
This highly contagious disease causes ugly sores on the mouth area of goats. Make sure goats keep eating. When they recover, they will have lifetime immunity. Vaccination is not recommended unless you actually have the disease in your herd because the vaccine is "live" (it will infect your premises). Vaccination program (when followed rigorously) has helped clean up herds with soremouth.
If the virus gets into a cut on your hand, you too will probably get sore-mouth, so protect yourself. Also, don't let infected kids nurse does; the udders may get infected, with painful results
Comes Mom: Effective kid raising begins long before the kid ever hits
the ground. The dam must be in very good condition. Because any pregnancy is
hard on a goat make sure that your does are getting quality hay and grain, that
their rations are balanced correctly, and that they have received their
No Kidding Pens: We keep our pregnant does in their regular pens, even when they give birth.
People use kidding pens because they're supposed to be cleaner than their regular pens. Our regular pens are cleaned every week and are clean, so we don't see a problem there. Also, if a doe kids in her regular pen, there's usually an older doe around to help clean up kids if the mother gets involved having another kid or just doesn't want to bother with her newborns.
Watch Those Goats: We check breeding dates and watch our does closely, so we know the "window" when a doe will kid, and we tape her teats with teat tape a few days before. From then on, we keep a very close eye on the doe, and we try to be around at kidding time so we can help if there's a problem.
Those First Few Hours: When the kid is born, we either let the doe clean it, or we clean it up and dry its coat, using clean old towels and even a hair dryer. We then dip the kid's navel in 7% iodine. We use strong iodine because it cauterizes the navel cord quickly, lessening the chance that bacteria will travel up the cord.
We Hand-Raise Kids on Pasteurized Milk: We raise all of our kids by hand on pasteurized milk. We do this primarily because we want our kids to be CAE-free and to guard against any other diseases passed through the milk. If you raise kids by hand, there are additional benefits. For example, kids left on their dams drink far more milk than they need, often putting on excess weight and fat. This fat collects on shoulders and in the udder, among other places. And most of this fat never leaves the goat. Like some humans, a fat kid often means a fat adult who rarely milks up to her potential. Also, fat in the udder may mean a less desirable udder.
In addition, kids raised by hand, bond to you as their mother. This means that they are extremely friendly, they are easy to work with, and they know their place (we're the boss, they're the kid!).
Those First Feedings: If our new kids are healthy, alert and active, we use a hand-held caprine feeder immediately. The first few feedings are messy: milk all over both the feeder (us) and the "feedee" (the kid), the floor, etc. However, most kids catch on quickly. We let them nurse until they've had 6-8 oz or their stomachs are tight.
The Problem Child: That's for "normal" kids. What about the problem ones? First, there are "stupid kids." If they're up, alert, and active, but think the caprine nipple is poison, we try feeding with the Pritchard nipple on a pop bottle. If it works, great. If not, we put them back in their nice warm pen for a few hours. Then we try again. It's a miracle how a once "stupid kid" gets the idea when his stomach's growling! It sometimes takes 3-4 hours before a kid gets smart. That's okay as long as the kid is in a nice warm spot and doesn't get chilled.
Then there are weak kids. If we see a kid isn't responding - it's weak or lethargic - we first rub it all over to stimulate it and get some more warmth into its body. The real trick here is to get the weak kid to nurse. If it doesn't nurse (and we don't let weak kids wait like healthy ones if they don't nurse), we get out the tube feeder and "tube" them. We save lots of kids this way, and we don't hesitate to tube those that need it.
Bring 'Em Back Alive: We've had luck with some kids we've found lying in bedding with no sign of life. We take them and immerse them (keep their head out!) in a bucket or sink of warmer-than-body-temperature water. This gets their body temperature up. We then wrap them up like mummies to dry them and tube feed them. In some cases we've used a mixture of 2/3's colostrum and 1/3 black coffee. The caffeine gives them a "jolt."
Out to the Barn: With our normal kids, once they've had their first drink and are dry, we put them out in the barn in our kid pen. We keep a number of kid pens through kidding season, "graduating" kids from one to another as the pens get crowded or the kids outgrow the younger kids being added to the pen.
When It's -10 degrees F: If the weather's especially cold, we put a couple of sky kennels in the pen for kids to get into. We take the larger kennels apart and get two houses from each kennel. But a word of warning: Kids can pile in these kennels so tightly that the ones at the back can suffocate. Be sure to give kids enough room, and don't use the kennels if there's a big difference in the size of kids or there are weak kids in with active ones. You can use bales of hay or straw to build windbreaks in your kid pens. What you want is a warm, dry, draft-free environment.
Graduation Day: We feed our kids on the hand-held feeder for about three days. Then, we put them on the regular Caprine feeder. At first it's a big job making sure that each kid stays on and gets its fill. However, the time you take helping them to master the process will save you incredible time over the spring. Once our kids get good at it, we can feed 40 kids in 15 minutes, including clean up!
Out into the World: When kids are about two weeks old, we move them out of the big barn into our outside kid pens. These pens have sheds, approximately 10' long by 6' deep, with a 2' wide door in front. Each shed has a large yard, 30' by 50'. The yards have "toys" including cable spools and teeter-totters.
We use hog panel to enclose the yards and hang hay feeders on the inside and grain feeders on the outside of the fencing. The kids stick their heads through the panel to eat the grain.
It's most important that the pens are kept clean. This means changing their bedding every 4-7 days. Kids that drink milk cycle a huge amount of moisture into the bedding, and dirty, wet bedding means sick kids.
We begin putting out hay and grain almost immediately. We know very young kids don't eat it, but they begin to get serious about week two. We don't feed much grain to our kids mainly because we don't like fat kids. We figure one cup a feeding until their last month of pregnancy is about right. We do feed a lot of good hay. We like to get their rumen functioning quickly.
Weaning Day: We like to wean our kids at eight weeks of age. Every once in a while we'll have a kid that needs milk a bit longer to encourage growth. However, a kid that is growing well, eating both grain and hay should be able to move on to a totally "solid food" diet at eight weeks. Other breeders may feed kids longer (up to four or even six months), but for the breeds we've raised, we find that kids fed lots of milk tend to be "fatties," and we like our kids growthy but trim. The key is to monitor how your goats are growing and make your decisions based on your herd and your individual kids.
Raising kids takes patience and perseverance. But our favorite part of raising goats is watching our kids grow and thrive, turning into milkers that live long productive lives.
To Disbud Kids
The most effective way to keep horns off dairy goats is to disbud kid goats with a hot iron before they are a month old. Usually you should disbud kids at 4 to 10 days of age.
A proper disbudding tool should have a tip 3/4" to 1"
The electric disbudding irons are a lot more convenient. Use a disbudding box to hold your kids during disbudding. It helps keep kids immobilized and allows you to put your attention where it needs to be, applying the hot iron to the proper place on the kid's head.
We prefer to disbud our kids when they are a few days old and the horn bud has grown enough that it can be clearly felt. At 4 to 10 days of age, the kid is strong, the skull is thicker, and you are less likely to accidentally disbud a naturally hornless kid.
Buck horns grow faster than the horns on doelings.
Nubian horns grow more slowly than the horns on other breeds. A Swiss breed
kid's or LaMancha buck's horns may be visible at 4 days of age, while the horns
on a Nubian doeling may not emerge until she is a month
How long do you burn with the iron? It depends on how
hot the iron is and how large the horn bud is. With a low-watt iron (the Lenk
125, for example) we usually burn each horn bud 15 to 20 seconds. With a hotter,
higher-watt iron (Lenk 200, Rhinehart X30 and X50, the Dual) we burn 6 to 15
seconds in most cases. We always test the iron on a scrap of soft wood to see
how quickly it burns a black circle. If the horn bud is large, we may burn once,
let the head cool down, and then burn again.
A proper burn leaves a copper-colored ring over the
horn bud. It is best to clip around the horn area before disbudding. This
enables you to watch the color change and eliminates the smell of burning
Be sure that your kids have been vaccinated for
tetanus before you do any disbudding or scur removal.
Scurs are malformed bits of horn which grow when all the horn root has not been destroyed. To help discourage scur growth, study the horn bud before you start. Be sure to burn to the outside edges. Move the handle of the iron in a circle while you burn so the tip covers all of the horn bud.
If the kid has visible horns, you may need to remove
the horn tip first. Burn around the base, and the horn will come loose like a
little leather cap. Then burn the root. Sometimes we slice a small horn off with
a wire saw; we then burn the horn area quickly to stop any
To descent buck kids, burn the scent glands when you
disbud. The glands are behind the horn buds and slightly toward the center. A
descented buck is never completely odor-free, but he is much less obnoxious
smelling in breeding season.
Check disbudded kids every 2 to 3 months for scur growth. If you find even a very tiny bit of horn, heat up the iron again and burn the horn area. That small scur may turn into a large problem by the time the goat is an adult. It's easy to eliminate scurs when the goat is still young.
Some goatkeepers use disbudding pastes or caustic
sticks to kill horn bud growth. Potentially dangerous, these substances can run
off into a goat's eyes or get rubbed off on another goat. They must be used with
care. People who use caustics successfully restrain the kid for a half hour or
longer after applying it. Some hold the goat in their arms while they watch the
evening news on TV; others lock the kid in their kid-holding box.
Emergencies - What YOU Can
While most accidents or health problems are minor, occasionally something disastrous happens, and we are faced with a real emergency. Most of us know a little first aid, but it's reassuring to have a short guide to follow when disaster strikes. Here's what our veterinarian suggests as practical emergency care.
For cuts/lacerations on legs:
If there's a large amount of bleeding present to the point of weakness (in the animal, not you!), panting or even coma, FORGET about cleaning the wound at this point! You need to stop or control the bleeding first.
A kitchen towel soaked in ice water will make a good temporary bandage. Either hold it on manually, applying moderate pressure, or if you need to leave the animal for a moment, wrap the bandage securely with vetwrap, duct tape, rope, etc., anything that will keep pressure on the wound.
Seek veterinary assistance immediately. Keep the animal warm and quiet until help arrives. You might keep an old quilt or blanket handy for just such an emergency.
For broken limbs (treatment depends on type of injury):
If you're not sure the limb is fractured (there's no obvious broken bone), first try to immobilize the joint above the suspected break. You can wrap a heavy towel around the leg and hold it fairly tight with vetwrap or tape. You can also use wood splints wrapped with a towel or cotton (wood shingles cut to size work well), even rolled newspapers or magazines. Hold these together with vetwrap or tape. Seek medical assistance.
If there's an obvious fracture, do not attempt to set bone yourself. First, if the bone is through the skin, coat the wound and bone with an antibiotic such as nitrofurazone, cover the bone and wound with a clean towel or bandage, and then try to immobilize the joint as suggested above. Seek medical attention for the injury immediately because this type of injury to the bone can very easily cause infection. With injuries of this type as with all others, keep the animal warm with blankets if necessary and try to keep the animal calm.
For weak kids:
If you have a newborn that won't nurse and is weak, try the following. Dilute some Karo Syrup in 2 pints of warm water and carefully dribble a little into the kid's mouth. Don't feed too much or too fast. The Pritchard teat works best for this type of feeding as it delivers just a little bit in the kid's mouth.
This solution supplies quick, digestible energy, usually enough to get the kid strong enough to begin normal nursing. If you're desperate and don't have any Karo, a tiny bit of black coffee fed to a weak kid will often provide enough stimulant to get it going.
If the kid is too weak to nurse, you might try tube-feeding him, using a weak kid syringe. If the kid fails to respond quickly, seek medical attention.
If you come out to find an animal in obvious distress, your best move is to quickly but calmly survey its vital signs and general condition so you can give the vet the best opportunity to help you.
Check the rate of breathing. Is it rapid, slow, labored, shallow? Does the goat show signs of bloat? Can the animal move its limbs or are they rigid? Outstretched?
Is there any mucous around the nose, mouth or eyes? Any bloody discharge from the mouth, nose, vagina, rectum?
Any fever? Low temperature? Is the animal in shock? A healthy animal usually has pink, rosy gums; a shocky one has pale gums. Is the animal dehydrated? Pinch a bit of skin on the neck. If it doesn't snap back fairly quickly, the goat might be dehydrated.
In pregnant does, smell the breath or urine; if it smells like acetone, she may be ketotic.
While this is not a complete list, checking these aspects of your animal's condition before calling the vet will help him give you the best advice quickly.
While waiting for medical assistance, keep the animal warm and calm. Avoid moving it or causing it any unnecessary stress.
Ketosis Can Kill Pregnant
Ketosis is a metabolic ailment. It can hit a doe suddenly during the last month of pregnancy and kill her in a day or two if you don't recognize the symptoms and start treating her immediately .
Treatment is simple: administering a few ounces of sugar a day will usually save the doe. White sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses, and honey have all been used. Propylene glycol, a fast-acting chemical sugar, is the most effective treatment.
Any time a doe in late pregnancy stops eating normally, suspect ketosis. If her temperature is normal and there's no infection bothering her, ketosis is a strong possibility. If you don't treat her, she may lose the use of her legs ("go down"), and then she'll soon die. It is hard to save a doe once she's down, but we've done it. Treating a doe you suspect of ketosis won't hurt her, even if she doesn't have it.
Ketosis can also hit a doe after she freshens, when she is coming into very heavy milk production. This condition usually isn't fatal. It can be the cause of poor appetite, sudden drops in milk production, and off-flavored milk.
When we suspect ketosis, we drench the doe with two to six ounces of propylene glycol a day until she is back to normal.
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