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July 27, 2018

How to Recognize a Sick Goat: Signs to Call a Vet


How to Recognize a Sick Goat: Signs to Call a Vet

If goats could only tell people how they feel, it would be easier for their owners to tell what their problem is. However, goats have their own language too. It is easy enough for you to learn how to recognize a sick goat. Healthy goat behavior is distinct from a sick goat’s.

Before you can recognize a sick goat, healthy goat characteristics should first be understood. You have to know what kind of behavior to expect from your goat. Of course, you can always rely on the health certificate from the breeders you bought your goats from. When you are talking about goats that have been in your herd for quite some time, you will have to observe the changes in their behavior.

Common Goat Behavior

Healthy goats are usually quiet yet energetic and playful. They do not cry a lot and will tend to stay in one place most of the time. Therefore, if you see a goat laying around in one place the entire morning, you do not necessarily have to take it as a sign of a sick goat. Healthy goat breeds also do not make a lot of noise. Although they give a short bleat every now and then, you need to distinguish between moaning, crying, or bleating in discomfort or in pain. There are some breeds of goat that makes a lot of moaning noises such as the Nubian goats but their owners will get used to their behavior over time.

Why Goats Make Noises

Some common causes for bleating include illness, hunger, and thirst. Goats also make a lot of noise during their breeding season. Listening closely to a bleating goat can help you distinguish what they are trying to say. When a goat is hungry or thirsty, the bleating becomes louder as time passes by. When a hungry goat is bleating, it will prod you to feed him and you have to do it before he starts to cry. A thirsty goat will start to bleat if the weather is too hot or they haven’t drunk water for a long time.

Goats make different sounds and behavior during their pregnancy period or breeding season. These behaviors are noticeable because they are different from their usual behavior. An ill goat can be noticed easily because they try to separate themselves from the herd and a healthy goat usually seeks other goats.

A sick goat makes a sound that’s different from a thirsty or hungry goat. The bleating patterns are persistent and get louder as time goes by. You can hear a distinct change in tone when you compare a normal moan with a sick moan. Think about how the human voice changes when he is sick. It’s the same way with a sick goat. Healthy goat sounds will sound livelier than sick goat sounds.

Signs that Your Goat Might be Sick

Aside from the bleating, there are other signs to check for a sick goat. Healthy goat conditions that might be altered when a goat is sick include the following.

• They won’t eat or they are not interested in food
• They won’t drink or they are not interested in water
• Bloated, kicking or biting their stomach
• Green or cloudy nasal discharge
• Body temperature above 103.5 indicates fever
• Body temperature above 101.5 indicates subnormal temperature
• Shows symptoms of pain like grinding their teeth
• They have loose feces which indicates diarrhea or problems in their bowel movement
• Rapid or slow breathing
• They have a hard time urinating or they suffer pain when urinating
• Pressing their head against fences or walls
• Their eyelids turn gray or pale in color

When to Call the Vet

These are the three signs that tell when a goat needs immediate attention:

• They isolate themselves from the herd and sit down for a long period of time acting in an abnormal manner.
• They lie down for many hours and appear lifeless.
• They suffer from a painful condition called bloat. It swells up their midsection and they often moan in a pitiful manner.

There is a critical condition called Urinary Calculi that affects a goat’s overall appearance and movement. A goat suffering from this condition may try to repeatedly lie down and get up while moaning. These are the most common symptoms of goats who are suffering from this illness:

• Worn out or hanging tail
• Dull looking coat
• Standing hunched
• Shaking head
• Shivering and moaning
• Gums are white in color

Pregnant goats should also be under close observation especially during labor because they will show unique patterns of behavior such as repeatedly lying down, getting up and stroking their paw at the ground while moaning.

A newborn goat which has low body temperature is suffering from sickness. When the newborn goat is shivering, it means that the kid is dehydrated and needs a lot of fluids. Selenium deficiency in newborn goats is also noticeable because they are unable to move their hind legs.
eColi infection and tetanus are the most common killers among baby goats. Severe diarrhea together with lethargic movement is an early sign of eColi infection. Baby goats with diarrhea also indicate that they may have a worm infection or coccidiosis. A baby goat who has malformed rigid neck and moves by circling around indicates tetanus infection or goat polio. Tetanus infection may kill the baby goat within hours while goat polio may take a longer time before it becomes fatal.

It is important for the goats to be vaccinated annually with C/D tetanus to prevent diseases such as Enterotoxemia or otherwise known as overeating disorder. This disease is caused by bacteria known as Clostridium perfringens, it infects the stomach of the animal that causes poisoning and may lead to death.

If you notice any of these sign or symptoms, then you should act quickly and let your sick goat be checked by a licensed veterinarian. It is important to observe their behavior and physical appearance regularly. When you notice changes and symptoms that might cause you to suspect any illness, you have to make sure that your goat gets medical attention. Oftentimes, early intervention will get your goats back in healthy condition sooner rather than later.