Your goats' health: what to look out for

Goats live for between 15 and 18 years, and can suffer with various health problems. It’s important you know how to treat them or if they require veterinary attention. You’ll also need to keep medical records for all of your goats so they don’t miss any vaccinations or wormers. Here are some things to look out for in your goats.

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Foot rot

This hoof infection is commonly found in sheep, goats and cattle. As the name suggests, it rots away the foot of your goat – between the two toes of the affected hoof. It’s extremely painful and contagious. The best treatment is to stick to a regular foot trimming routine and to spray their foot with Alamycin spray, which is a protective spray containing penicillin. If the foot rot is severe, your goat will need a long-acting antibiotic to help fight the infection.

Keep their feet trimmed 

This can help prevent foot rot and other serious and expensive conditions developing in your goat’s feet. Although it can be a year-round issue, foot rot is more common in the winter months when the ground is particularly wet and muddy, as bacteria thrive in these conditions.

You’ll need to keep a record of how much you have trimmed off, if your goats are showing signs of foot rot or mud fever, if any deformities are beginning and if they will require any antibiotic treatment. This will help you identify how often they will require your attention and if you need to isolate them (with a friend) or stable them.

Use Alamycin on your goat’s feet to help you identify if your goats have foot rot. The spray will bubble and sizzle on the sole or between the hooves if foot rot is beginning.

If your goat’s feet have been neglected, they will need a remedial foot trimming routine. This can  be as regular as every two weeks.

Worm your goats

Worm your goats when they first arrive to ensure they’re not putting any of your existing animals at risk and bringing worms onto your land. You should collect faecal samples for worm egg counts every two months. If the count is positive, worm them again and repeat another count three weeks later. If not, repeat again in two months.

Symptoms of worms include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Worms seen in the faeces
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Poor coat condition

How to prevent skin issues

Goats can sometimes suffer with skin issues. They can get lice, which will cause hair loss and irritation. They can also be prone to fungal conditions such as ringworm. Keep your goats’ housing clean and groom them help prevent potential outbreaks.

If you think your goat has a skin condition, contact your vet who may prescribe an oral treatment or a bath solution. Bathing must be done during warm weather to prevent your goats becoming chilled. Use a large sponge to wash them, rather than drenching them with a hose or bucket.

Signs your goat has a skin condition include:

  • Sporadic hair loss patches
  • Constant itching and scratching
  • Visible lice
  • Patches or scurf
  • Ringworm appears as a ring of scabs and the hair in the area will have dropped out.

Vaccinate your goats

You’ll need to vaccinate your goats against coccidiosis, clostridial disease and Pasteurella. Heptavac-P Plus is an injectable solution that protects goats against clostridial disease and Pasteurella and must be given twice a year. Vecoxan is an oral drench designed to fight coccidiosis. This only needs to be given if your goat is diagnosed with the disease.

Watch out for fly strike

Goats are particularly at risk of this in the summer. The best way to protect them is with fly spray, paying particular attention to the rear. Your goat needs to be able to keep themselves clean – if they can’t, you’ll need to bathe the area, dry it and spray with a fly repellent to keep the flies away. Symptoms include:

  • Dirty rear end
  • Kicking at themselves
  • Strong odour
  • Visible fly eggs or maggots around the rear end

What to do if they get diarrhoea

Goats are inquisitive and adventurous and will often attempt to eat anything – some of which will not agree with them. Eating too much fruit can also cause diarrhoea.

Goats can dehydrate quickly. Keep them hydrated with Lectade also provides essential nutrients. Allow only a dry diet (no fruits and vegetables) for the next three days to allow their stomach to settle. Diarrhoea can also be a sign that they need worming - regular worm counts will help prevent this.

DEFRA regulations: what you need to know

Like sheep, pigs, cattle and deer, your goats will need a DEFRA movement licence when changing location and ear or leg tags for identification. As a goat owner you must also have a CPH number (County Parish Holding) for your land.

Your goats need two tags, one in each ear, that have two numbers on: your herd number and the animal’s individual number. The ear tags should either be put in by a vet or by another trained individual. Alternatively, you can use leg tags. These are less intrusive and cause no pain to your goats, as they’re worn like a bracelet around the ankle.

Your goats must have their tags in when moving from one location to the other, whether that’s to a new home or just a trip to the vets. The trip must also legally be recorded on a movement licence and in your movement book, which DEFRA provides when you apply for a CPH number. If your goat is moved off-site temporarily, e.g. to the vets, you only need to complete the movement book and not a whole licence.

When your new goats arrive you will be on a seven-day standstill. This means you can’t move any animals on or off your land for the next week. This is a legal requirement to prevent the spread of diseases.