Keeping Goats | Basic Preventative Care for Healthy Goats

April 18, 2012

Livestock producers have been breeding for better cattle, sheep, and poultry for decades, but for some reason the concept of raising an improved meat goat eludes a lot of people. If goat producers are ever going to establish broad and stable market demand for their products, then raising a better goat must be the focal point of the plan.

Improved for purposes of this article is defined as a hardy, parasite-tolerant meat goat that has excellent meat-to-bone ratio, grows fast, and requires minimal producer-supplied feed and medical input. For decades, commercial meat-goat producers in places like West Texas have simply gone to an auction house, bought does and a few bucks, and put them out on forage.

They checked on them perhaps once a week, occasionally drenched them with a cheap dewormer, and rounded up what was left in the spring. A 100% kidding ratio (one surviving kid per doe) was considered good. To a large extent, commercial meat-goat production in Texas still follows this outdated pattern.

This is not a recipe for raising quality animals for which premium prices can be charged.

Below are listed minimum requirements necessary in order to raise quality meat goats:

1) Sufficient land over which goats can roam with good forage/browse cover for them to eat.

2) Goat fencing in good repair, with at least three or four pastures for rotational purposes.

3) Clean water supply.

4) Shelter from heavy rain and wind.

5) Good working pens, chutes, and traps.

6) A working knowledge of basic goat nutrition and health. Basic protein, energy, fiber/roughage, and mineral needs must be met, especially for growing kids and pregnant does.

Commitment to provide a basic level of preventative medications for the most commonly-seen health problems.

7) Ability to supplementally feed in times of bad weather and the knowledge needed to know when these conditions exist.

8) Livestock guardian protection; dogs bred for this purpose are usually the most effective.

9) Ability and willingness to check on the goats on a daily basis. Yes, I said daily.

Goats are fairly hardy animals but they are susceptible to several serious life-threatening health problems. Stomach worms, coccidiosis, pneumonia, and overeating disease are the most commonly seen diseases.

Others include but are not limited to tetanus, listeriosis, polioencephalomacia, meningeal deerworm, caseous lymphadenitis, caprine arthritic encephalitis, Johnes disease, tetanus, multiple pregnancy-related diseases, and several nutritionally-related illnesses.

Any producer expecting to achieve maximum profit from his goats needs to perform a level of preventative medical treatment that addresses these problems.

When goats are raised under controlled/managed conditions that limit their access to what they eat and where they roam, the potential for producer-induced problems exists. Checking for worm loads on a regular basis and deworming as needed are critical activities.

Ditto for coccidiosis, especially in young kids. Vaccinating against overeating disease and tetanus is very important, as is providing protection against pneumonia. Colorado Serum Company manufactures more goat-labelled biologics (13) than any other animal health company in the United States.

Take advantage of the availability of these vaccines and vaccinate against overeating disease and tetanus with Essential 3+T (formerly known as Clostridium Perfringens Types C&D Tetanus Toxoid) and against pneumonia with Mannheimia Haemolytica Pasteurella Multocida Bacterin. Both of these products cost pennies per dose and seldom cause injection-site reactions.

Keep a bottle of Colorado Serum's C&D Anti-toxin on hand for those instances when a toxic condition exists and immediate treatment is required. There is no good alternative to C&D Anti-toxin and it will not be readily available or easily found to purchase when your emergency occurs.

In the winter of 2007 or spring of 2008, Colorado Serum's vaccine against Caseous Lymphadenitis in goats should be available. Final trials are underway for FDA submission. Producers should add this product to their preventative medications program.

While CL is not life threatening, it is a management problem that needs to be controlled; this vaccine will go a long way towards getting this nuisance in hand and off the radar as a problem for meat-goat producers.

There are unique problems with pregnant goats that aren't experienced among cattle producers. The very fact that does have multiple kids increases the possibility of complications occurring during the birthing process.

This writer has articles on all of these topics on her website's Articles page at, all of which articles have originally been published in Goat Rancher Magazine.

By Suzanne Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch.
These articles have previously been published in Goat Rancher Magazine.

Please Read This Notice!
All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither this goat website nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.


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