How to Buy a Healthy Goat

No matter whether raising goats is part of your plan to green up your lifestyle or just a hobby, you want to make sure that the goats you purchase are healthy and aren't going to rack up a lot of veterinary bills.

Ask the following questions to help determine whether a goat is healthy:

  • What diseases do you test for? What kind of results have you had with testing?

  • Do any of your goats have a transmissible disease? How do you handle that?

  • What is your feeding program for newborns?

  • What vaccinations do you do?

  • Have you had any goats die from an undiagnosed illness in the past few years? What happened?

  • Have you had a history of abortion in your herd? Explain.

  • For meat goats: What kinds of market weights do you get for your goats?

  • For fiber goats: How much fiber do you get on average from your goats and what type and quality is it?

  • For dairy goats: Are you on milk test? How much milk do you get from the goats or their dam or buck's dam?

  • What do you feed your goats, including minerals?

  • Will you give me the names of three people you have previously sold goats to?

If the goats you plan to purchase are located too far away to visit, you won't be able to examine them or the herd they're coming from. Besides getting answers to the previous questions, you can take a couple more steps before agreeing to purchase them:

  • Ask specific questions about characteristics that you might find on examination. For example, "Does this goat have any defects or has it had any illnesses?"

  • Ask for pictures of the goat from different angles.

  • Ask for copies of any health records on the goat.

If you live close enough or can afford to travel, go to the seller's farm to see the goats. Ask to see the goats that you're interested in purchasing (or if they aren't born yet, to see their dams) and any health records the seller has. You can use this opportunity to check not only for sickness but for quality.

Look at the goat from a distance, observing how it moves and whether it limps or favors any leg. When you get to the goat, check its body:

  • Evaluate its weight. You need to put your hands on the goat to determine whether it's bony, fat, or average weight.

  • Check the body for any lumps, swellings, or other abnormalities.

  • Look for extra, split, or micro-teats.

  • Notice whether the coat is dull, dandruffy, or missing patches.

  • Check the eyes and nose for crustiness or mucus.

  • Look for signs of diarrhea.

  • Pull down the lip and check the gums for anemia. (The gums should be pink.)

  • If the goat is lactating, inspect her udder for lumps, disproportion, or pendulousness. Ask to milk her if you're purchasing her for milking.

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