FAQ - Goat

What can I do about internal parasites?

Parasitism is one of the primary causes of death in goats, especially in young animals under six months of age. Treatment depends on the type of infestation.

A common protozoan disease called coccidiosis infects the intestinal tract causing severe weakness, decreased feed intake and diarrhea which is frequently blood tinged. Typically a problem in young kids, it is potentially fatal.

The eggs of internal parasites are passed in the feces of infected goats and develop into infectious larvae which are ingested by other goats where they mature and reproduce. The cycle then repeats. Undernourished goats are particularly susceptible.

Symptoms of internal parasites can include weight loss, dull or rough coat, anemia, decreased milk production, diarrhea, lethargy, and poor feed intake.

A veterinarian can diagnose the presence of internal parasites by examining feces. If internal parasites are present, goats are usually dewormed and then put in safe, parasite-free pastures to avoid reinfection.

Treatment and control of internal parasites cannot be achieved by drugs alone. Good management practices, and proper sanitation and feed management can minimize parasite ingestion. All food and water should be kept clean and away from feces. Adults and kids should graze in different pastures and goats should be put on routine worming schedules.

Kids are usually wormed at 3-4 weeks and again at three months of age and should be kept in well-lighted, clean dry pens since sunlight is known to be one of the most effective coccidiostats. Goats should be dewormed at breeding and 2-3 weeks prior to kidding. Any new goats should be dewormed and separated from other goats for at least a week.

Treatment of coccidiosis includes medicated feed or medicated drinking water — which is usually successful. Prevention requires the use of medicated feeds containing a coccidiostat such as Decoquinateä.

Why does my goat get diarrhea?

Diarrhea can be a symptom of several underlying problems including stress, disease, internal parasites and diet mismanagement.

Believe it or not, goats are very sensitive to sudden changes in diet. Rations containing a high level of grain and/or insufficient levels of fiber can also cause diarrhea, along with feed that has become spoiled or moldy. In addition, supplemental feeding too much corn or oats without the proper balance of fiber can lead to diarrhea. In some cases diarrhea can be a sign of disease. For example, diarrhea is a primary symptom of thiamine deficiency. Internal parasite infestation can also lead to diarrhea and result in weight loss.

You know it when you see it — unusually soft or watery, foul smelling feces.

Any changes in diet should take place gradually over 7-10 days to give the population of microbes in the rumen time to adjust to the new feed without causing digestive problems. Water should always be available since persistent diarrhea can lead to dehydration. Persistent diarrhea in young kids may lead to death if left untreated. If symptoms do not improve, consult with your veterinarian.

If internal parasites are suspected, a fecal sample can be examined by your vet who can properly treat the infestation. If diarrhea is tinged with blood or if your goat has a fever, contact your vet immediately.

Basic good feeding management will help prevent diarrhea. Purina Mills’ scientists recommend a good quality, balanced ration such as Purina Goat Chow.

What is milk fever?

Milk fever is a noninfectious disease that occurs at or soon after kidding. It is brought on by lactation after birth.

The sudden increase in calcium necessary for milk production after birth can drastically decrease calcium levels in a doe. The goat may fail to mobilize stored calcium reserves in her bones during pregnancy, especially if a diet high in calcium is fed prior to birth.

During the onset of the disease, your goat may appear unsteady and weak as she walks. As milk fever progresses, she may lie down, which can advance to a coma and death.

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately. Treatment involves administration of calcium. However you CAN take preventative measures to lower the incidence of milk fever.

Avoid diets high in calcium during late pregnancy and avoid the use of alfalfa as the only forage source during the dry period. Does usually have a good supply of calcium stored in their bones that can be used when needed. However when a diet high in calcium is fed, the doe may fail to use the stored calcium since it is already abundant in her diet. Then, when milk production begins, her calcium requirement dramatically increases. Since her body has not used the calcium storesfrom her bones, her blood calcium level plunges below normal, resulting in milk fever.

Purina Mills research has shown feeding a highly palatable diet with proper mineral balance such as Purina Goat Chow helps reduce milk fever.

What is pregnancy taxemia?

Pregnancy toxemia is a form of ketosis that occurs late in pregnancy when your goat is deficient in energy due to a higher energy demand over what is being consumed. Body fat is broken down for use as energy and toxic ketones are released.

Pregnancy toxemia is caused by the increased nutritional stress of developing kid(s) during late pregnancy. Overfed does and those carrying twins or triplets are more susceptible to this very serious condition, which can be fatal. In addition, the rapidly expanding uterus of a goat in late pregnancy takes up more space which limits feed intake.

Pay particular attention and quickly identify does that are listless, have reduced feed intake, apparent blindness or appear to be in a coma.

Unfortunately by the time symptoms of pregnancy toxemia are detected it is often too late to save the animal. Prevention is the best course of action and is easily achieved through proper feed management. Since overweight goats are more prone to developing this problem, limit feed in early pregnancy to prevent your does from becoming fat. Increase feed during late pregnancy to insure sufficient energy is available for the developing fetuses.

Purina Mills’ scientists suggest feeding Purina Goat Chow products for a balanced ration.

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis occurs when an animal’s energy needs are greater than the animal can consume and therefore, the goat must rely on body reserves for fuel. This breakdown of body fats results in an excess of “ketones” that accumulate in the blood and body tissues and has a toxic effect on your goat.

High producing milk goats that cannot eat enough feed to meet the high energy requirements for production. This often happens immediately after birth when there is a rapid rise in milk production.

Goats may decrease feed intake and milk production. They may become lethargic with dull, rough coats. A sweet odor can be detected on their breath, in the urine and in the milk that indicates ketones are being released. If left untreated, this condition can be fatal.

If you suspect ketosis, call your vet immediately. Treatment is usually successful. To meet the energy demands of milk production after birth, be sure your does are fed a high quality diet. Slowly increasing the daily amount of feed before kidding helps insure your does have sufficient energy levels to meet lactation demands when the kids are born. Energy demands will continue to be high as long as does are producing milk. Always feed lactating goats according to production for the duration of lactation.

Research has shown low quality diets tend to increase the incidence of ketosis because the energy levels in the diet are not sufficient to meet the energy needs of the lactating doe.

What is bloat?

Defined as an excessive amount of gas in the first compartment of the ruminant stomach. Left untreated it can decrease feed intake and milk production, and can cause great discomfort and even death in goats.

Bloat can be caused by an obstruction in the esophagus by a solid object that prevents the release of gas produced in the rumen during normal fermentation. More commonly though, bloat occurs when the gas produced by fermentation is greater than the gas expelled through the mouth. This often happens when goats eat different plants in different pastures; graze in damp, lush, legume pastures with forage like alfalfa; eat a large quantity of feed at once; or eat too quickly.

The most obvious sign is swelling on the left side of the animal. Goats will quit eating, become restless and sometimes salivate excessively. Goats in pain will gnash their teeth and kick their legs out. Breathing may become difficult since the rumen presses on the lungs and eventual respiratory failure can follow.

Bloat caused by an obstruction in the esophagus can sometimes be corrected by massaging the foreign object towards the stomach. For other, more complex factors, a defoaming treatment can be given by drenching with vegetable or mineral oil. Contact your veterinarian for proper treatment.

Bloat can be controlled with good management practices. Care should be given to prevent goats from eating too much lush, green pasture, especially legume pasture such as clover and alfalfa, in a short time.

Although alfalfa is a highly palatable roughage and an excellent source of protein and calcium, a little goes a long way. Goats should not have unlimited access to a very palatable feed when hungry. Any change in diet should be made gradually over 7-10 days.

Purina Mills research has shown the potential risk of bloat can be reduced by feeding smaller amounts of feed more frequently during the day. The risk for bloat increases significantly when goats are hungry and are allowed to eat large amounts of good quality feed at one time.

In the event goats are extremely hungry, Purina Mills’ researchers suggest first feeding a poor quality grass hay to reduce appetite before providing small amounts of good quality feed or pasture.

What are urinary calculi and how does it affect my goat?

Urolithiasis, commonly referred to as urinary calculi or “water belly” occurs when stones form in the urinary tract and block the urethra, preventing urination. Formation of urinary calculi is more prominent in male goats because of the anatomy of the male urinary tract, making it susceptible to blockage.

Certain individual goats, wethers, immature bucks and some smaller breeds are at a higher risk of blockage. Genetics, diseases and nutritional imbalances may be contributing factors. Poor water intake can also result in concentrated urine which can increase the risk of urinary calculi, especially in winter months and hot weather.

Restlessness, frequent attempts to urinate with no success, a decrease in feed intake and kicking at the abdomen are all signs of urinary calculi. The abdomen may swell if the bladder ruptures and goats may appear to temporarily improve…however urine flowing into nearby tissue usually results in death. If these symptoms occur, contact your veterinarian immediately. Death could occur if left untreated.

The best cure for urinary calculi is prevention. Feeding a balanced diet with the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio, plenty of clean, fresh water to keep urine diluted and regular exercise should keep your goats healthy and happy.

Increase water intake by offering free choice salt to help dilute the urine. Urinary acidifiers such as ammonium chloride can be added to goat diets to help reduce urinary calculi formation.

Nutritionally complete feeds, including PURINA SHOW GOAT RATION and all PURINA MEAT GOAT feeds contain urinary acidifiers and properly balanced calcium to phosphorus ratios.

What should I feed my kids?

During the first three days of life, newborn kids must receive colostrum…the first milk produced by the doe after birth. It is very rich in nutrients and protective antibodies. After this critical time of colostrum feeding, kids can be fed kid goat milk replacer, however milk replacer is NOT a replacement for colostrum.

PURINA KID MILK REPLACER contains all of the necessary milk proteins balanced with vegetable oils, sugar, vitamins and minerals to produce optimum growth and healthy kids.

Bottle Feeding? To bottle feed you’ll need milk replacer, water, bottles and nipples. Package directions should be strictly followed when preparing milk replacer to avoid diarrhea or malnourishment. Feed milk replacer at room temperature. Be sure to properly clean and disinfect bottles and nipples to prevent bacterial growth from milk residue which can lead to diarrhea.

Kids usually take to the bottle just like the babies they are. If your kid is lethargic, sickly or not sucking, pry its mouth open and work the nipple in. You may need to practice a little before your kid gets the hang of it. Hold your kid’s head higher than its shoulders during feeding so that milk flows directly into its stomach and not its lungs. Milk consumption should gradually be reduced at weaning to prevent digestive disturbances.

PURINA GOAT CHOW rations are formulated specifically for the unique nutritional needs of goats at all life stages and contain the proper nutrients to help your kids grow up strong and healthy. PURINA goat feeds are available as supplemental feeds designed to be fed in combination with a forage diet, or as complete feeds that supply total nutrition in each bite.

PURINA GOAT CHOW can be fed as a creep feed by allowing the nursing kid access to Goat Chow. As the kid matures they will consume small quantities of Purina Goat Chow, which will help develop a properly functioning rumen. This will help the weaning process.

What are the unique nutritional needs of goats?

Like the cow, goats have a four-compartment stomach: rumen (which is 80% of the total stomach area), reticulum, omasum and abomasum. However goats have unique dietary needs that require specially formulated diets. Feeding diets designed for other species can create nutritional imbalances that can lead to poor health or even be deadly to your goats.