Raising Goats For Dummies
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Whether you're raising goats as pets or to supplement your green lifestyle, one of the most important parts of being a goat owner is making sure that they're healthy. You can do it when you're feeding, or just go out and watch them. The bonus is that hanging out with goats is relaxing!

A healthy goat has shiny eyes and glossy hair and is curious and energetic, unless resting and chewing cud. If you're watching your goats and one of them seems a bit off, you can take a few simple steps to investigate further. Here are some simple clues to determine whether your goat is healthy:

Posture

A healthy goat usually has her head and tail up, stands erect, and holds her ears erect. That doesn't mean that every time a goat has her tail or ears down that she is sick. It's just a sign to be considered along with other signs. A goat that doesn't feel well will hunch with tail down and not be as responsive to external stimuli.

A goat with an upset stomach, bloat, or urinary calculi will stretch out repeatedly, trying to relieve the pressure or discomfort or trying to pee. This abnormal posture is a sign that you need to check out the problem immediately.

Goat cries

If a goat is truly hungry or thirsty, his bleat is persistent. A sick goat sometimes moans or makes a stressed-out sounding cry, but more often you notice that she isn't crying but is away from the herd, suffering silently.

Bucks in rut will make some of the craziest snorting, bleating noises you've ever heard. Some female goats (does) cry out in little short bursts when they're in heat.

A doe that is giving birth (kidding) can also be quite noisy, although some approach the task silently. During the first stage of labor, they whine more than cry, especially if they want you there with them the whole time. Others are pretty discreet until it's time to push the baby out and then they let loose with a loud, long cry to tell you that it's time.

Listen, and learn your goats' cries; the knowledge will serve you well.

Temperature

A goat's normal temperature is around 101 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the individual goat. A goat's temperature can also go up or down throughout the day. On a hot day, you can expect some of your goats to have higher temperatures.

A goat with a high temperature often has an infection and can quickly become dehydrated, while a goat with a low temperature (hypothermia) may have rumen trouble or be so sick that he is unable to stay warm. This goat needs to be warmed or he will die.

To determine what's normal for each of your goats, take their temperature several times when they're healthy and note the number in their health records. Make sure you measure their temperatures on a hot day and a normal day so that you get an accurate baseline to compare with if a goat gets sick, as well as an idea of what variations might occur.

Other signs to watch for

A goat's posture, cries, and temperature will tell you a lot about their health. Here are some other behaviors and symptoms that should concern you:
  • Not chewing cud

  • Not getting up

  • Pressing her head against wall or fence

  • Not eating

  • Not urinating or straining to urinate

  • Not drinking

  • Pale gray eyelids or gums

  • Hot udder

  • Limping or staggering

  • Ears held oddly

  • Isolating himself from the herd

  • Grinding teeth

  • Coughing

  • Runny nose or eyes

If you observe any of these signs in a goat, head to the vet right away.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Cheryl K. Smith has raised a small herd of dairy goats under the herd name Mystic Acres since 1998. She is an editor, freelance writer, and former attorney, as well as goat expert.

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