To quickly identify signs of ill health in goats, it is important to know what to look for in a healthy goat.
The following signs should be monitored on a daily.
Any deviations from the above points may indicate that the goat is unwell and in need of attention. The problem may be nutritional or due to diseases.
Periodic foot trimming is more often required for goats kept on soft or smoother ground. Foot trimming may begin when kids are a month old, and repeat from every 6 weeks to every 3 months, depending on each animal (some animal's hooves grow faster than others). It is advisable to employ a specialist in foot trimming if you're not familiar with this procedure.
Disbudding is thought by some to be an inhumane process. The process consists of burning the horn buds off when the kid is 3-7 days old; it involves the cauterization of nerve supply to the horn bud before it really begins to grow. The most common method for disbudding is with an electric disbudding iron. Disbudding can be a very dangerous and life threatening practice, however, if the procedure is done properly before the kid’s nervous system has entirely matured, it can be an easy and harmless procedure, as well as a quicker healing process.
This process refers to the removal of grown or growing horns in an older goat. Horns have a very good blood and nerve supply so removing them once they are grown is not a good thing to do unless necessary. The horns are an integral part of the goat’s skull, and when removed the risk of infection is extremely high. If this process must be carried out, it should always be carried out by a qualified and experienced veterinarian who will carry out the procedure under anaesthetic.
Tattoos are used as positive means of identification for a goat. Many breed societies insist that a goat is tattooed before it can be registered in their stud book. Tattoos are normally applied soon after birth to ensure lifelong identification. Depending on the breed, they can be applied to the goat’s ears or if they are a breed with very small ears the tattoo can be applied to the tail web area. Tattoo symbols are normally split up into a herd identifier (which remains the same for all kids born on that property) and then a specific animal identifier, which identifies the year of birth followed by a sequential number that identifies the particular animal.
Routine vaccinations are an important part of the management of a flock of goats. Vaccinations will protect against disease and ensure the flock remains healthy. The most important vaccinations given prevent against Clostridial bacteria, enterotoxaemia (Pulpy Kidney Disease) and additionally tetanus. Most vaccinations are administered subcutaneously (under the skin) so can be given by the herd owner if they are confident to do so. Care should be taken to adhere to any withdrawal periods for milk and meat after vaccinating.
Some general health care reminders:
Goats prefer drier hilly country (wet conditions are not desirable). They need direct sunlight, but also shelter from excessive heat. They require protection after shearing, but are otherwise hardy. They are susceptible, however, to respiratory diseases so some type of shelter is essential. This may be an appropriate goat shed or a simple “A” frame construction in the paddock.
Housing and appropriate facilities for a flock of goats may be adapted from original buildings already on the property or they can be purpose built. A small size flock of goats can be managed without elaborate facilities.
There are two main methods for housing goats. The first is to keep them mainly out on pasture and to provide them with shelter within the grazing area. The other method is to keep the goats in a shed or small barn with a fenced yard for exercise. This second method is used mainly for dairy and fibre goats or by farmers who don’t have access to sufficient amounts of pasture.
The basic requirements of safe and suitable goat housing are:
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