Goats are generally hardy animals, but certain parasites, bacteria and viruses can significantly impact their health. Following are some of the more common problems you should watch for. In all cases, if your goats appear droopy, lack energy, lose their appetite or exhibit any outward sign of distress, consult your veterinarian at once.
Internal Parasites (Worms)
Animals become infected by grazing on pastures seeded with droppings from infected goats. The first signs of infection are lethargy and rough hair coat. Animals that lose weight, have a poor appetite and in many cases diarrhea, may already be in various stages of anemia (pale lips, tongue and mucous membrane of the eyes) as a result of parasite infection. Preventative treatment for worms is easy. Your veterinarian can recommend a worming schedule that is best for your goats and the area you live. Young kids and adults should be grazed on separate pastures and newly purchased animals should be treated for parasites and confined from the herd for at least a week.
Coccidiosis, which is potentially fatal, is caused by a microscopic protozoan in the intestinal tract. Symptoms include extreme thinness, lack of appetite and diarrhea which is often blood-tinged. A stool specimen should be examined by a veterinarian to determine whether these organisms are present. Good sanitary management is necessary to control coccidiosis. Young kids are most susceptible and should be kept in well-lighted, dry pens. Treatment involves use of medicated feeds containing Decoquinate or Rumensin for the prevention of coccidiosis in goats not producing milk for human consumption or medicated drinking water. Sunlight is one of the most effective coccidiostats available.
Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Syndrome (CAE)
CAE is a viral disease that is spread from older infected goats to kids through nursing. Kids with CAE positive mothers should be removed immediately after birth and given colostrum from a CAE negative doe. In young kids, symptoms include weakness in the rear legs, with no fever or loss of appetite. However, the unused legs lose muscle strength and structure – and the infected kids can die. In older goats, CAE is seen as swollen joints, particularly in the knees. Infected goats that do not run a fever, remain alert and eat well, but they never recover from the arthritis. An inexpensive blood test can be used to diagnose CAE. There are no corrective procedures or treatments. It is a good idea to make sure a goat is CAE free before purchasing. Always keep CAE goats separated from healthy ones.
Diet and Digestion
Goats are related to other ruminant cud-chewing animals such as cattle and sheep. For this reason, it was once believed that goats could be fed the same as their ruminant cousins. But goats are primarily browsers, selectively eating a wide variety of shrubs, woody plants, weeds, and briars. Unfortunately many goats, especially does, are unable to get enough nutrients from browse alone to meet their needs. It is also important to realize that certain types of browse pose a danger including: wild cherry, hemlock, azaleas and species of the laurel family are all poisonous to goats. To provide the nutrition goats need to reach their full potential, supplemental feeding is needed.
Problems with Hay and Pasture
Hay and pasture may vary considerably in quality and nutrient value. Of particular concern is the extreme variation that occurs in key nutrients such as protein, fiber and energy needed to promote growth and good milk production. Protein quality can also vary. Inconsistencies in quality can be influenced by climate, land use and time of year. Controlling these inconsistencies is an important part of providing the nutrition your goats need to lead healthy, productive lives. For this reason, Purina Mills has developed a full line of goat feeds designed to take the guesswork out of feeding goats for all life and development stages.
The Importance of Nutritional Balance
The productivity and well-being of your goats depends largely on the quality and quantity of the feeding program you provide. Balancing your goat’s feeding program and providing the correct diet ensures your goats are receiving the total sum of the daily nutrients they need for optimal health.
Nutrient needs will vary depending on the goat’s life stage and activity level. A feeding program balanced for maintenance, for example, will not be sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of growth, pregnancy, lactation, wool production or for developing body conditioning and coat quality for showing. As nutritional demands rise with increased production demands, it will be important to readjust your goat’s diet and feeding program accordingly.
Supplementing A Forage Diet
The nutrient quality of forage can vary from season to season or even field to field as discussed earlier. So, when you want your goats to thrive, you should consider adding a supplemental feed to their forage diet. Supplemental feeds, like Purina Goat Chow, provide the consistent nutrients not found in forage to ensure optimum nutrition. Supplemental feeds come in coarse grain mixtures or pelleted forms. Purina Goat Chow is a coarse grain mixture.
Using A Complete Feed
Roughage is an essential part of good goat nutrition. But many times good quality forage is not available to provide roughage. Complete feeds not only contain the built-in roughage goats need, but other important nutrients as well. So with a complete feed, like Purina Meat Goat 16 or Purina Show Goat, you know your goats are consistently receiving total nutrition in every bite. Complete feeds are convenient too – minimizing clean-up from wasted or uneaten forage.
Selecting a Feed Form
In addition to choosing a supplemental or complete feed, you also have a choice of feed form. One choice is a sweet feed, a highly palatable, coarse grain mix that contains molasses. Almost all goats will eat sweet feeds, making it an excellent choice for even the most finicky eater.
You may choose a pelleted feed. While many goat owners feel their goats may not prefer pelleted rations, they readily eat it when it is the only source of feed available and it offers several advantages. Pelleted feeds contain all the nutritious grains, vitamins and minerals your goat needs. Pellets eliminate sorting and help prevent waste that commonly occurs with coarse grain rations, making them very efficient in commercial operations. Convenient for you and good for your goat, Purina Goat Chow diets are available as either a complete or supplemental feed form.
Nutritional Confidence Based on Research and Testing
Purina Mills has invested years of research and field-testing to produce a full line of feeds designed specifically for the unique nutritional requirements of goats. Purina Goat Chow Rations provide the proper balance of high quality proteins, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients goats need to reach their full potential. Purina Goat Chow Products are developed as highly palatable supplements and complete feed in both sweet coarse and pelleted rations.
So whether you want to enhance kid development, improve lactation, replenish does after kidding or stimulate weight gain, you can be confident you are providing complete goat nutrition management backed by research and the Purina commitment to quality.
Purina For Life
Since our start more than one hundred years ago, Purina Mills and our “Checkerboard” symbol have been synonymous with total nutrition.
That unmatched tradition means you can play an active role in promoting a healthy start for kids and a lifetime of nutritional security for your goats that forages, browse or grain mixes alone can never achieve.
Whatever your goat feeding needs, Purina is there with complete programs and superior feeds. All are strictly formulated to provide the right nutrition and rigorously tested to ensure quality and performance.