Keeping Your Goat Herd Healthy

Goat Diseases/Congenital defects. A Brief Description

This is a list of many of the more common diseases that you as a breeder may face. If you need help in treating any these diseases you can check our medication page. Most of them are discussed there. If you are ever unsure, contact your Vet.


Toxoplasmosis, chlamydiosis, vibriosis, and brucellosis are all infectiuos disease that can cause spontaneous abortions. Pesticides, wormers, and other medication may also be the cause.One or two abortions in a large herd is not much to worry about however, a storm is where several or most of the does abort. This is devastaing to the breeder.


An enclosed collection of pus. Found in the tissues. May be a sign of infection. Not all abcesses are Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL) Abcess can be from a bite, or previous injection.


An abnormal amount of acid found in the rumen. Can be caused by A drastic change in feed and possibly too much corn in the goat’s diet most commonly causes acidosis. When goats eat high concentrate rations, not only do the starches produce more acid, but the lack of roughage causes a decreased amount of saliva. Symptoms of acidosis include: Bloat, rapid breathing and/or lethargic behavior (staring out into "space"). If your goat is diagnosed with Acidosis, you should treat him or her immediately. Acidosis is potentially fatal, and if it does not kill your goat, it can burn the rumen and kill good bacteria leading to other diseases. Allow the animal to drink lots of water, use antacid preparations like milk of magnesia, oral tetracycline to prevent bacterial overgrowth, probiocin or rumen contents from a healthy ruminant and thiamine or B-complex vitamins. Keeping Baking Soda out free choice will also help to prevent acidosis. 


A deficiency of red blood cells. This will cause the body to be deprived of oxygen. Symptoms may include: weakness,lack of eneryg, loss of  appetite, depression and pale lower eye lids. Parasites like worms, ticks and lice are a leading cause of anemia. Nothing is as good as sending a stool sample to the vet but the best quick check is to pull out the lower eyelid and check its color. You want to see a nice, rich salmon color.  If it is pale pink, or white, your goat most likely has worms. Treatment & Prevention practices will include: Maintaining an effective internal & external parasite program. The use of an iron supplement may be necessary in severe cases but dosage must be carefully monitored since iron can be toxic and overdosing can suppress vitamin E. Both parsley and kelp are excellent natural supplements for anemia.

Atresia Ani

 Atresia ani is a rare congenital condition in which a goat is born without an anus. Most of the time the goats are euthanized.


Goats may be born with bad bites. They can have an undershot or an overshot jaw. Both make it harder for them to forage and eat. They may have problems nursing as a kid. Bad bites are a defect at birth. 


The loss of appetite.Goats will be off feed. Goats may not be as active as normal. This can be the first symptom of illness.

Bottle Jaw

This is caused by an infection of worms. Fluids are leaking from blood vessels and flow to the lower parts of the body. As the animal grazes during the day, the fluids build up in the head. Over night the fluids may partially drain away from the head. Worming is needed. THis will require a long term treatment with a daily wormer. Give B12 should also be given.. 


The rumen has a build up of gas or air.The belly may swell. Look at the left side of the goat because this is where you will see it. Bloat can be caused by overeatting or rich fresh forage. It can also be caused by a sudden change in diet. A goat with bloat will show signs of severe distress, grunting, drooling, much restless activity and labored breathing. Treatment should be given immediately. MOM (milk of Mag) can be given along with baking soda or vegtable oil. See medication list.

Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE)

A viral contagious disease of goats. Happens in all ages. It is a severe arthritis in adults. Transmitted from the infected doe to the kid through the colostrum. There is no treatment at this time.

Cleft Palate

Cleft palate is a congenital malformation of the inside upper roof of the mouth. This will need surgical repair.

Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL)

An abscess or a boil. Caused by a bacteria. Causes swelling usually around the neck where the lymph nodes are found. Contagious to other goats. This disease can affect the lungs, liver, and kidneys; respiration may become rapid and difficult, and infertility can result from scrotal abscesses in males. Udder abscesses in females can seriously deplete milk production. External abscesses are most common under the ears in the head and neck region of the goat's body, while internal abscesses appear most often in the lungs.This is often a touchy subject for goat owners. Many will heavily cull to avoid this. Treatment may include lancing the boil and cleaning with 7% Iodine. Application of an antibiotic onitment can be used.Care should be taken to prevent the spreading by disposing of all contamidated items.Avoid the ground becoming contaminated.Tratment also includes isolation.Many times the boils return and this can create unwanted work by the owner. Some breeders have been known to use Formulin. This is done be injecting the boil with 1/2 cc formulin. This is an advantage over opening up the boil and risking contamination however it has it's disadvantages too.Nerve damage and even death may occur. Also unless the boil is tested to comfirm CL the breeder isn't for sure what they are dealing with. 


A parasitic disease that destroys the small intestinal lining. Coccidiosis is characterized by a foul smelling diarrhea and along with diarrhea comes dehydration and fever.They may have a poor appetite. They may appear weak. Coccidiosis is spread through feces. Can be caused by stress. Mainly at weaning time. Babies are particularly susceptible to the disease because their immune systems are not developed. Sometimes it is known as the kids disease.  

Copper Deficiency

Copper is important in goats. One of the first signs you will see in a deficient goat is hair color loss or coarse hair. The goats will have a decreased appetite and may have weight loss. You may notice a fish tail appearance. Does may have a decrease in milk production. Abortions are common. Some goats will grind their teeth. You may also see head shaking and tremors. Fracture can occur too. The goat will become anemic. Abnormal hoof growth can also be seen. Avoid raising kids on calf replacers. Calf replacers have NO copper. 


Give the kid a soapy warm water enema. Mix about 2 ounces of warm water with two drops of dishwashing liquid. Place the kid on a towel with it's rear towards the sink, and using a 3 cc Luer slip syringe, draw warm soapy water into the 3 cc syringe. Gently put the slip tip of the syringe into the the kid's rectal opening; this is very delicate and easy-to-damage tissue on a young kid. Slowly push the plunger to insert the warm soapy water into the kid. You may have to repeat this multiple times to break loose the hardened feces.



Goats normally make formed pellets. Anything other than this is considered diarrhea. Things like clumpy poo or dog poo is not normal. Many things can cause diarrhea. Changes in thier diet, woms, stress, and fresh new green grass can all cause diarrhea Diarrhea  is generally a symptom of another problem. Albon works to treat this along with other medications such as  Di-Methox.


This can be life-threatening. Replacement fluids should be given. This can occur at any age. Can be caused by almost any illness. Can be caused by the weather when the goats don't drink enough in the winter months, or loose too much in the summer months. Fluids can be given under the skin in several different areas to be absorbed. The best thing would be an IV or a stomach tube. Adults are easier to tube than the babies.

E. Coli

This looks similar to coccidiosis. Goats will show signs of diarrhaea. Diarrhea will have a strong foul odor. Diarrhea will be yellow in color. Can be treated with Albon or Di-Methox. Give plenty of fluids. You may also need an antibiotic.

Ear Mites

The mites live deep in the ear canals. The animal will shake their head and scratch their ears. They may carry their head to one side or tip it back.


A systematic disease caused by a bacterial toxin, Clostridium perfringens, in the intestines. sometimes called the "overeaters" disease. It is caused by rapid changes in diet, weather, or stress in adults.Always keep CD anti-Toxin on hand.


Generally caused from over feeding or using a high protein feed.The goat may be unable to bear weight on their hooves and will be walking on their knees.The vet may want an x-ray. Banamine may be used for the pain. Hoof care is vital at this point.

Foot Rot

Foot Rot is often seen in wet weather. It is an infection of the hoof. It can spread to all four hooves and even to other goats. The goat will show signs of lameness. The goat should have their hooves trimmed and treated with iodine, bleach or zinc.



An inflammation of the stomach and intestines.

Goat Polio

This is usually found in weanlings and youger goats. Symptoms of Polio can be any combination of or all of the following: excitability, "stargazing," uncoordinated staggering and/or weaving (ataxia), circling, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and blindness. Thiamine is the only treatment. Give 4-1/2 cc per 100 pounds. Repeat every 6-8. Symptoms should start going away within the first 24 hrs. Goat Polio often looks like Listeriosis.


There are two different types of goiter. The first type is called a "milk" goiter. Signs will include  an enlarged neck just under the jaw line. It is caused by too much milk or too rich of a milk. This occurs by moms producing more milk than is needed. It happens alot Babies with milk goiter are healthy at birth. They grow well. The goiter will useally resolve itself.

The second type of goiter is caused by an iodine deficiency or toxcity. This goiter is located behind the larynx and lower on the neck. Sometimes it is harder to see due to its location. This type of goiter can be seen in babies that are weak and will have thin hair..

Inflammed Bursa

A bursa is a closed fluied filled sac that functions as a gliding surface to reduce friction between tissues of the body. The goats have a Bursa located just behind their poll. This can become inflammed by butting heads. An inflammed bursa is called bursitis. Treatment may include steroids and antibiotics or it may resolve on its own.  

Heat Stress

Caused by a reduced water intake, obesity, and fatigue in the hotter months. Can affect any age. The body becomes unabel to cool. The skin vasodilation no longer aids in heat dissipatio. Goat will appear depressed and have a rapid breathing.

Johne's Disease

Prononced (YO-nees) A contagious and fatal disease. Caused by Mycobacterium paratuberculosis. Goats will show progressive weight loss. There is currently no treatment. There is test that you can run. The test takes several weeks before you get results. This is transferred from the shedding of the feeces and ingested via orally. It is also transferred from a positive doe to her offspring. 


After kidding Ketosis results from the doe producing higher milk yields than her body can keep up with. Usually she is not being fed enough to keep up with her milk production.


There are 2 different types of lice. Louse infested livestock may be seen rubbing and scratching on fences and other objects. Severely infested animals may develop raw areas on the skin due to constant rubbing. Their hair may be thin and matted and scabs may develop. They may also become anemic.Ultra-Boss can be applied to elimate this this. Ivermectin also will help.


Listeriosis is normally found in adult goats. A serious disease caused by a bacteria. The bacteria is found in the soil. Listeriosis is a type of encephalitis. Goats will appear depressed, they will stargaze, stagger, circle (often called the circlring disease) Their head will be pulled back and to the flank. Treatment includes high doses of procaine penicillin (300,000 International Unit strength) every six hours on a 24-hour cycle up to and through 24 hours after the last symptom has disappeared to avoid relapse. Dexamethasone  and Thiamine should also be given. Give treatment a full 24 hrs after symptoms are gone to avoid a relaspe.

Liver Fluke Worms

The adult fluke lives in the bile ducts of the liver

Lung Worms

A type of round worm that lives in the lungs. Prevention is the best cure. Ivermectin can be used as a treatment.Keep goats off a wet undrained pasture. Rotate pastures if possible.  


A skin Disease caused by mites that infest and damage the skin and hair.


Inflammation fo the udder caused by a bacterial infection. Can be caused by poor hygiene or bad milking techniques. Symptoms may include a hot or swollen udder. You may also notice lumps or strings of blood in the milk. The milk may be off color or have a bad taste. Teat infusions are usually given. Sometimes antibiotics are also given.  

Meningeal Deerworm

If you live in an area with lots of whitetail deer this may be a concern of yours. You may suspect Meningeal Deerworm disease if the goat displays neurologic signs or any problem involving the spinal cord such as:leg dragging and the inability to get up. The disease can be a slow progression of symptoms or can strike suddenly. Pneumonia is a common secondary problem, since the goat is down and therefore inactive. The infected goat does not seem to be in pain, other than the itching; most goats eat and drink until death occurs.High dosages of Ivomec Plus are used to treat it.1 cc per 25 pounds bodyweight for at least seven days, followed by Safeguard/ Panacur for five days. Banamine can be useful for the inflammation of nerve tissue. Dexamethosone should also be used if paralysis is present, dosing at approximately 8 cc per 100 lbs bodyweight and stepping down one cc per day. Dex should be given into the muscle (IM). Some breeders are concerned about giving both Dex and Bananmine together. Ask your vet or discontinue the Bananimine.

Milk Fever

A disease that affects goats after kidding. Caused by a drop in calcium levels (hypocalcmia). Alfalfa contains a good calcium supply.


Mycoplasma species are pathogens that cause mastitis, arthritis, conjunctivitis, and abortions.

Overian Cysts

This is a hormonal problem. If you Doe continues to come into heat every 4-5 days she will fail to come into a true heat and be breed. She will act 'bucky" This can be treated with an injection of HCG and then 9-10 days later given an injection of Lutalyse.


An organism that lives on or in another organism. Internal parasites include worms that infest the stomach, lungs, liver, or intestines. External ones are flies, fleas, lice, and those that infest the skin, ears or nasal passages.

Pinkeye/ Conjunctivitis

An inflammation of the eye.This disease is usually caused by Chlamydia or Mycoplasma in goats. It is contagious, but species specific. Pinkeye can be brought on by stress. Early signs of Pinkeye include runny, red, and swollen eyes. The dark part of the eye (cornea) becomes hazy and then turns opaque (clouds over). The goat begins to lose its sight. If left untreated, blindness can occur. Most goats recover without any treatment however, so be certain the treatment you choose does not cause any harm. If the eye looks like it is going to rupture, a conjunctivial or third eyelid flap should be used to protect the eyeball. If your goat has been diagnosed with pinkeye, there are a few means of treatment. If the eye has not ulcerated, apply tetracycline (Terramycin) ophthalmic ointment three or four times a day (minimum twice a day) , using disposable gloves to prevent spread of the infection. Powders and aerosols are not recommended because they can be more irritating especially if the eye is ulcerated. In severe cases of Pinkeye, injectable oxytetracycline (LA200 or equivalent) may be used in addition to topical eye ointments. If the goat is pregnant, however, remember that oxytetracycline is known to interfere with bone and teeth formation in the unborn kid.


An inflammation or infection of the lungs caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses. Clinical signs of pneumonia include fever with a temperature over 104°F, along with a moist, painful cough and what sounds like a rattle in their chest.They may have dyspnea (difficulty breathing). They may have thick yellow nasal discharge.They may show signs of Anorexia (goats will be off their feed), and depression may also be observed in an animal suffering from pneumonia. Treatment of pneumonia upon diagnosis involves administration of antibiotics. Because there are different types of pneumonia, it is important to work with a veterinarian to identify the type of pneumonia present and determine the most effective treatment.

Pregnancy Toxemia

A metabolic condition caused by an energy-deficient diet during late pregnancy. Hypocalcemia. It is called Ketosis after kidding.

Ring Worm

Freguently brought home from a goat show. Goats will lose hair in scaly, circular patches. Use an antifungal shampoo or foot spray.


Diarrhea. Scours need immediate attention because of dehydration, weakness and sudden death. Diarrhea can be watery, loose, clumpy or what appears to be dog poo. I prefer to treat with Albon from your Vet. Goats seem to like the taste better. I use a 5 day treatment most of the time.

Selenium Deficiency

Selenium is found in the soil. Some areas of the United States are not sufficent in Selenium. In this case the breeder will be required to give Bo-Se and Vitamin E. Check to see if your area is sufficent. Treatments can be toxic if not needed. This can occur in a new born kid anytime from birth to several weeks of age.  The kid will not be able to stand or if it does get up it will just keep falling down.  This is caused by living in an area that is deficient in selenium in the soil.  It won't happen to every kid that is born but it can happen.  If you find that you are having a problem with this you need to take preventive action.  You can inject the momma doe with Selenium and vitamin E once month before kidding and/or injecting the kid at birth and possibly again at 3 to 4 week old.  You can also give the liquid vit. E by mouth but be very careful.  You should not give more than about 1/4cc every other day.  


Snake Bites

Snake bites can be deadly.Clean area with betadine. Give the goat Give 8 cc Dexamethazone IM on the first day. Give 5 cc Dexamethazone on days Two through Five. Give Benadryl 40cc every 12 hours for 4 doses. Give 7 days worth of pencillin IM. Give plenty of fluids and hay or rufage. No grain. Do not bandage!

Shipping Fever

A respiratory disease usually acquired by a goat during transportation. Can also show up as Pink eye, Pneumonia, Scours and Mastitis. Administering 10cc SubQ injection of Goat Serum before and after any move virtually takes the worry out of buying, selling and showing goats. This  gives a tremendous boost to the immune system, thus eliminating the danger of shipping fever. It’s a great way to dodge the “after show” blues and the only answer to the “black eye” of selling a perfectly healthy goat that gets sick on the new owner. Anitibiobitics are sometimes given as well..

Sore Mouth

A Highly contagiuos viral disease. It affects primarily the lips and noses of young animals. If they are nursing off dams which have not previously had the disease or been vaccinated, the dams will also display identical sores on the teats and udder where it may cause mastitis. The sores start as small red spots which form blisters that burst to form ulcers. These are followed by characteristic grayish-brown cauliflowerlike scabs. There will be spontaneous healing and the scabs will fall off in about three weeks. The skin at the corona of the hooves can also be affected. If your goat has been diagnosed with soremouth, immediately isolate him or her from the rest of the herd. You can apply antibotical cream to the infected area to prevent secondary diseases. (Antibiotics WILL NOT kill a virus, they only work on bacteria.)Causes blisters around the mouth, nose, and eyes, May affect the udder. Leaves scabs. Lesions go away in about 21 days. Treatment is generally not recommended unless it is severe. 

Stomach and Intestinal Worms

Haemonchus worms are most common in tropical or subtropical areas  with summer rainfalls while Ostertagia and Taxei are common in the winter rainfall areas. May cause diarrhea and anemia. Can be accompanied by progressive weight loss.


Segmented worms that appear wider than they are long. It is recommended to use a white wormer such as safe guard or panacur. 

Tetanus also known as Lock Jaw

An anaerobic bacteria (one that connot live in the presence of oxygen). This bacteria produces a toxin that attacks the nervous system and eventually the brain. It is easy to prevent with a yearly vaccine but almost impossible to treat. Treatment: Doses of tetanus antitoxin (100,000 to 200,000 Int’l units) must be given along with large doses of penicillin. It’s worth a try, but not always successful. Symptoms appear 7-14 days after infected. Stiffness and spasms spread to entire body and death ensues. Prevention: Two injections of tetanus toxoid given 3-4 weeks apart with a booster once a year provides protection. Vaccinate kids no earlier than two (2) months. Keep tetanus anti-toxin on hand for things like puncture wounds. The anti-toxin is a short term vaccine only.


Urine Scald

Urine scald is common during rut season. The bucks continually urinate in their beards, on their faces, and their front legs. This can literally scald the skin. The hair may also fall off. Keep a skin protective ointment on them or try to use something such as A & D ointment, or Bag Balm to help with the irritated skin.

Urinary Calculi

Male goat (buck) kids that are not being kept as future herd sires are usually castrated so that they will no longer be fertile. It is less traumatic to castrate the kid when he is very young but this will make him more susceptible to urinary calculi because his urethra (the tube that carries his urine from his bladder to the opening in his penis) will not develop to its full size and is easier to clog up. Urinary calculi occur when the urethra gets blocked up with mineral deposits and urine cannot pass through it. If the deposits or "stones" are not somehow passed or dissolved, the kid’s bladder will burst and he will die. Ideally, you should wait until your kid is 10 weeks old to castrate him but this is not always possible. Other preventions for urinary calculi that you should practice include: 1) Feeding a ration with a 2:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio, 2) Adding ammonium chloride to his feed at a rate of about 15 lbs. per ton of feed or else giving him about ½ ounce (about a tablespoon) to 1 ounce (2 tbsp.) per day depending on his size unless his feed already contains it, 3) Making sure he gets plenty of exercise and drinks lots of water (keep his water in the shade if hot and unfrozen if cold, always have salt available to him), and 4) Checking daily to make sure he is urinating easily without straining and has no blood in his urine.

Vaginal Prolaspe

Protrustion of the vagina in the later stages of pregnancy. Avoid getting your doe too fat during pregnancy. The prolapse will need to be placed back inside the doe. Stitches may be required to hold it into place until the cervix is dilated and the doe is ready to kid. Older does may sometimes have problems with prolapse as things become weaker with age. It is believed that prolapse in an inherited defect.

White Muscle Disease

White Muscle Disease is also known as Nutritional Muscular Dystrophy. It is caused by a deficiency of selenium and/or vitamin E. Remember that the heart is a muscle and therefore can also be effected. The animals may exhibit acute signs such as respiratory distress, tachypnea (fast heart rate) and frothy nasal discharge. Pneumonia and neurologic issues may be seen as well. Treatment  is usually an injection of Vitamin E or a selenium preparation. Prevention is always best. Find out if you live in a selenium deficient area. Supplements come in many different forms and should be given in areas where levels are low.