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The Most Common Diseases That Affect Goats

For many centuries, goats have been one of the most reliable and hardy animals ever to be domesticated by humans. A popular source of meat and milk, goats can breed and thrive in the most unfavorable environments and remain productive for many years. However, as sturdy and robust as these animals are, they also need proper care to protect them against diseases.

Goats, like other animals, can succumb to a number of diseases – some more serious and dangerous than others. As a caretaker, it is your responsibility to be well-informed about the most common issues that affect goats’ health. These include:


Coccidia is a type of goat parasite that lives in the intestinal tract. An infection of coccidia is called coccidiosis and its most common symptoms include bloody, foamy diarrhea and a dry, dull coat. In some cases, symptoms may be absent.

Coccidia commonly affects young kids starting at around four months old or even younger. Infected kids often do not grow as fast as expected. If you suspect that some of your young goats are infected, a stool sample examination by a veterinarian will help you make a clear diagnosis. Fortunately, coccidiosis can be treated effectively with medications.


Ketosis is also called pregnancy toxemia. It is a condition that occurs in pregnant does that affect their balance and muscle control. It can also cause depression and lack of appetite. It usually affects does who are overweight or carrying more than one kid.

Ketosis occurs when the doe’s body cannot sufficiently supply the sudden energy demand of a new fetus. The lack of appetite in the mother goat can also exacerbate the condition.

To diagnose the condition, a urine test may be performed to check for high levels of ketone. This toxic by-product increases in the doe’s body when she metabolizes fat too quickly.

The common treatment for ketosis is a daily dose of 2-3 ounces of propylene glycol given twice daily. The doe’s diet must also be monitored carefully so she does not gain too much weight while pregnant. It is also advisable to give the doe 1-2 lbs. of grain with the doe’s regular diet of hay during the last 30 days of her pregnancy.

CAE (Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis)

CAE is a transmissible disease caused by a virus. It is usually passed on by adult goats to young goats by direct contact or through milk by ingestion. This disease is characterized by loss of appetite and rear leg weakness. In time, the infected young goat loses muscle strength in its unused legs and eventually dies.

Among older goats, CAE may manifest as swollen joints, particularly in the knees. It is a slow-developing disease. Sometimes, it can take as long as two years for an infected goat to start having difficulty in controlling its leg functions.

Unfortunately, CAE cannot be treated but it can be prevented. To ensure that young goats are not affected, they should be isolated immediately after they are born and raised on pasteurized goat’s milk. It is also a good idea to buy only goats that are not infected by CAE.


Mastitis is a disease caused by a bacterial infection. It is characterized by swollen and painful mammary glands that are hot to the touch. There may also be some discoloration in the tissue on and around the glands and the infected goat may produce abnormal milk.

Mastitis is usually common among goats that are treated roughly and subjected to unsanitary milking practices. The best preventative measures against mastitis is to ensure that the animal’s udders are washed prior to milking, and treated with teat dips after. Goats must only be handled with clean hands to prevent bacterial contamination. If a goat is infected, veterinary treatment must be sought immediately since mastitis may be caused by different bacteria strains. The disease is fatal or the doe may lose its udder if it remains untreated.

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