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When you keep dairy goats, it’s a good idea to know what types of problems to watch out for. While there are quite a few potential issues you could run into raising goats, there are a few that are more common than others. Most people who start raising dairy goats know the importance of starting with healthy stock and screening for diseases such as CAE and CL. Once you get your healthy stock home, make sure you keep them healthy!
Related: Basic Goat Care For New Goat Keepers
Here are 3 Common Health Problems to Watch For In Dairy Goats
Goats have rather delicate digestive systems that can be easily upset. One common problem that can sometimes be avoided is bloat. Bloat is an excess of gas in the rumen, and is usually caused by something the goat eats. Too much grain can cause air bubbles to form in the rumen that can’t escape. It’s even possible that the goat could die. Don’t overfeed the goats!
If your goat has bloat, she will be in discomfort, with her left side distended and hard. You can help break down the bubbles by rubbing the rumen, and encouraging your goat to get up and walk. Holistic Goat Care by Gianaclis Caldwell recommends giving 100-200 ccs of vegetable oil and an ounce of dish soap before walking her around. The oil and soap mixture cuts down the foam and bubbles in the rumen. If that doesn’t help, call your vet.
Ketosis can occur during goat pregnancies when a very thin or very fat goat can’t keep up with the need for energy in their diet and switches to burning fat instead of glucose. When this happens in pregnancy it can kill both the doe and the kids. This can also happen when the goat is producing milk and can’t keep up with the body’s demands. Some indications of lactation ketosis might be refusing to eat grain, lowered milk production or testing with ketosis test strips.
Whether ketosis is happening in pregnancy or during lactation, you treat it by giving the goat propylene glycol. It’s best to prevent it from happening by making sure your goat has enough nutrition with high quality forage and hay, and by increasing their grain slowly as their milk production increases.
Mastitis is an infection of the goat’s udder. It may not necessarily be very severe, or it could be very painful and dangerous for the goat. It can also cause a loss of milk production. Mastitis is caused by bacteria, so the best ways to prevent it is to keep the environment clean, minimize stress, and make sure your goat has a nutritious diet.
You can test for mastitis by using a California Mastitis Test to test the milk for a high somatic cell count. If your goat does have mastitis and it is still mild, you can give her garlic, either feed her cloves, or give her a tincture or capsules. It also helps to increase how frequently you milk her. If more than one animal has it, definitely look for possible sanitation or feed issues.
Many health problems in your herd can be staved off by proper nutrition and management. Hopefully any problems you do run into will be mild and easy to treat! If you want more details on potential goat health problems, I highly recommend Holistic Goat Care by Gianaclis Caldwell. An entire quarter of her book is dedicated to health issues and it includes highly useful information about symptoms, treatments you can do yourself, and when to get professional vet care.
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