Amber Waves Pygmy Goats

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"Disease Management"

Amber Waves Pygmy Goats
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USDA Rural Information Center

Disease Management

By: "Goat Handbook, United States, 1992"

  • About the Author
  • 1) It is important to recognize that the principles and problems associated with raising goat kids are no different from those of raising other farm animals. The beginner who is raising only a few animals in a place where kids have never been housed will experience fewer and simpler problems than the person who has been raising large numbers of kids in the same building for many years. It follows, that the system of management used in the early years of raising goats may not give the same results three or four years later, when the kid numbers have increased, and the pens have been in constant use. Pens should be cleaned, sanitized and left vacant for as long as possible between each batch of newborn kids. Raising kids outside in small portable pens or hutches has been useful in preventing kid losses due to diarrhea, pneumonia and some other diseases that have become a problem in long established goat herds.

    2) Preparations Prior to Breeding
    (1) Cull the problem goats before breeding. Does with chronic pneumonia and mastitis, disabling arthritis and poor body condition will not have kids with the best chance of living. These does will serve as a focus of infection for the rest of the herd and the next generation. Cull does who have a history of producing kids with problems. Cull poor producers and those with personality traits that make them a nuisance in the herd. Devote more time to your higher quality and best producing goats. The return on investment of time and money will be greater and efforts more satisfying than being burdened with work on a large number of lesser quality goats.

    (2) Keep only as many does as can be fed and cared for properly. Undernourished goats in late pregnancy are likely to develop pregnancy toxemia, and may deliver kids with poor livability. Overnourished goats have a tendency to do the same thing. Pay attention to the condition of individual does.

    (3) Check with a veterinarian regarding the iodine and selenium status of soils in the area. Goats in iodine dificient areas should have access to loose iodized salt at all times. If not, the kids will be born with goiters, may be born dead or die shortly after birth. In selenium deficient areas, it may be advisable to supplement the goats with selenium, in one or more of the following ways:

      a) use a trace mineral salt or a mineral mix fortified with selenium;

      b) inject the pregnant does with vitamin E plus selenium preparations;

      c) selenium can be incorporated into grain mixes such as calf starter and dairy concentrate;

      d) inject the young kids with vitamin E plus selenium preparations.

    If the necessary supplements are not provided, the kids may die of acute muscle damage in the heart, or suffer from muscular weakness, may be especially susceptible to pneumonia or have difficulty sucking and may inhale milk. Selenium-vitamin E supplementation may prevent losses from various forms of white muscle disease in selenium deficient areas of the US. Selenium poisoning may occur in areas of the country where soil selenium levels are high, so it is important that you discuss with your veterinarian the need for selenium supplementation. Extra selenium may be vital, a waste of money, or toxic, depending on the area of the country.

    3) Preparations Prior to Kidding
    (1) Plan ahead and buy supplies like vaccine, nipples ++++MISSING DATA++++

    (6) Kid pens should have three solid sides with the fourth side gated and open to the floor. This provides adequate air movement and yet prevents drafts. A design similar to a calf hutch, with an outside pen, is appropriate. Avoid wood preservatives and all lead-based painted surfaces because these may be toxic or irritating. Slotted floors with spaces not exceeding 3/8 inch wide may be used for hot weather pens for kids. Avoid construction methods that permit heads or legs to be caught in openings, thus causing broken legs or strangulation.

    (7) Decide with the help of a veterinarian what the health program will be for the kids. Devise a record keeping system to make sure the program and plan is followed, which kids received which treatment and what needs to be done.

    (8) There are various infectious goat diseases which may be controlled or reduced by removing baby kids from their dams at birth and raising them in facilities, separate from mature animals in the herd.

    4) Kid Care at Parturition
    (1) The kid born during a normal parturition seldom needs human help to survive.

    (2) Kids born during dystocias or difficult birth may need help. The most important thing is to clear the mucus out of the mouth and start the kid breathing. Poke a straw up the nose to provoke sneezing. Pinch hard on the skin between the toes or on the ears or the tail. This will usually make a kid scream and in order to scream, it must breathein first. A kid which is not breathing well, will not inflate its lungs properly and will be a candidate for pneumonia.

    (3) The umbilical cord may be trimmed to about one inch long and then dipped in tincture of iodine. This will control infections such as bacterial arthritis (joint-ill) and septicemia, caused by bacteria entering via the cord.

    (4) Be sure the kid gets colostrum early. Hand milking the doe and bottle feeding the kid is the most certain method of insuring a known intake. Colostrum contains antibodies which gives the kid temporary protection against diseases to which the doe was subjected. Feed colostrum as quickly as the kid will nurse to gain the greatest benefit from antibodies. Save extra colostrum for later feeding. Freeze several ice cube trays of colostrum and store the cubes in a plastic bag in the freezer. If a fresh doe is ill with mastitis or has no milk, it's easy to thaw several cubes and warm them to body temperature in order to give the newborn kid its first feeding of colostrum. If there is no goat co lostrum available, use day-one cow colostrum, pay extra attention to sanitation, and raise the kid away from other goats, until it is several weeks old and is better able to resist infection.

    5) Kid Care Till Weaning
    (1) Dirty milk bottles, dirty nipples and erratic feeding schedules will cause digestive scours. Baby kids may be successfully fed with a pan and it's easier to clean them than a bottle. A lamb bar may be a labor saver and use of cold milk in the lamb bar can prevent kids from drinking too much milk at one time. Nursing the mother is a time honored method and often used, especially after the first couple of hand feedings with colostrum. The choice of rearing method depends on the owner's preference.

    (2) To control pneumonia, ventilate the barn so that there is never any smell of ammonia and that means down at floor level where the kid has to breathe, not 5 feet up in the air where you breathe. If moisture condenses on the ceiling in winter, insulate the ceiling and ventilate more. Young kids are much healthier in a cold, dry environment than they are in a warm, damp, smelly one. It makes no sense to let kids out in the fresh air in the daytime and then lock them in a smelly barn overnight.

    (3) Restrict contact of kids with adult goats, other goat raisers, and especially newly purchased kids. New arrivals and any goats that have left your premises and are returning, should go into quarantine for at least two weeks.

    6) Some Disease and Parasite Problems and Control Procedures
    Tetanus -- This occurs infrequently but is very distressing to both the owner and the goat. Occasionally, it follows disbudding and is more likely to occur with rubber band castration, than any other method. If the risk is considered to be high, then kids should receive 150 units of tetanus antitoxin at the time of disbudding and castration. This will give temporary protection. For complete protection, vaccinate the kids with 2 doses of tetanus toxoid starting three weeks after the initial dose of the tetanus antitoxin.

    7) Ear Mites
    Ear mites are quite common in kids if the adults are infected. When they scratch their ears and shake their heads at an early age, they should be examined and treated with a miticide. The infected ears often show a scaly, grayish material in the ear canal. The mites can be seen easily when the material is examined with a magnifying glass on a piece of black cloth.

    8) Lice
    When kids scratch and rub themselves, they should be examined carefully for lice. All goats should be checked periodically, especially in late winter. Blood sucking lice are large and easy to see because they don't travel much. Biting lice are tiny and straw colored; they may cause intense itching. When it is necessary to treat any animal in the herd for lice, all animals including baby kids and the bucks should be included.

    9) Worms
    Bottle or pan fed kids raised in isolation rarely become infected with worms prior to weaning. However, kids allowed to run with their dams may become infected. Clinical signs include: weakness, unthriftiness, anemia (gums and membranes under eyelids are pale), chronic constipation or diarrhea by the time they are two to three months old.

    10) Coccidia are single-celled parasites that live and multiply in the intestinal wall. It is important to understand that many kids and adults carry light infections of the parasite, yet are ++++MISSING DATA++++

    11) If you do not vaccinate prior to the show season, you run the risk of acquiring the diseae on the circuit, and this will put your show string out of commission for several weeks as the disease works its way through your herd. If you have a small herd with little or no contact with outside goats, and you have never had the disease in your goats, do not vaccinate. Both the vaccine and the natural disease can cause lesions in humans, so be very cautious in handling vaccinated and affected animals.

    12) Caprine arthritis - encephalomyelitis (C.A.E. virus)
    This virus is widespread throughout many goat herds in the USA. Adult goats that are infected may show no signs at all, or they may have puffy knees or various stages of crippling arthritis. Occasionally, kids will be affected by an incurable, progessive paralysis usually starting in the hind legs. The major route of transmission appears to be milk and colostrum from infected does. Kids drink the milk which contains the virus and become infected. On farms where the disease is a problem and goats show arthritis 1 year of age, owners are now experimenting with raising the kids on cow's colostrum or pasteurized goat colostrum, followed by cow's milk or pasteurized goat milk, because pasteurization kills the virus. While this technique results in a marked improvement in the appearance of the legs of yearlings, it cannot be counted on to eliminate the disease, since there are other possible routes of transmission. There is no vaccine and there is no cure so far.

    Rated 5.0 by 2 responses.

    About the author: Extension Goat Handbook - This material was contributed from collections at the National Agricultural Library. However, users should direct all inquires about the contents to authors or originating agencies. C. S. F. Williams; Michigan State U., East Lansing ., S. B. Guss; Pennsylvania State U., Unversity Park.


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