Our qualified vets can help with medical and surgical care of goats. Treatment can be done on site for a variety of illnesses and routine surgeries. We can also assist in determining the best nutrition as well as a protocol for parasite control and vaccinations. Our vets can help with critical care as well as long term health management. Blood tests can be done on site for faster diagnosis and treatment. We also offer hoof and horn trimming and de-budding if required.
Goats are particularly susceptible to worms in coastal areas and consequently worm infestation is the most common disease seen in goats in this region. Signs of worm infestation include weakness, lethargy, pale gums, diarrhoea, reduced appetite and death. Pregnant does and young or debilitated animals are most susceptible but worms can affect goats of all ages. Haemonchus contortus worms, also known as ‘Barber’s Pole’ worms, can cause a severe anaemia, weight loss and sudden death and are increasingly resistant to many of the commonly used drenches.
The best worming protocol for any given herd will depend on many factors such as pasture type, population density and breed of goat. In general it is best to try to worm your goats only as often as is necessary. Worming too often or with the wrong type of wormer encourages the build-up of resistant worms. As a general rule, the best approach is to monitor worm egg counts regularly and then treat the goats when required. Please contact us to discuss the best regime for your particular situation.
Dehorning is not an essential procedure but there are some obvious benefits in having goats dehorned, personal safety being perhaps the most important. The procedure is best performed when the kid is less than 7 days old and involves destroying the horn bud before the horn starts to grow. The procedure is best performed under an anaesthetic by your veterinarian.
Buck kids not wanted for breeding purposes should be castrated at 6 to 12 weeks of age. At this age the procedure is quick and simple and the kid suffers less from stress. Castration is performed either surgically or using elastrator rings, however elastrator rings may give pain for 15-20 minutes until the area becomes numb. We prefer to use the surgical technique using either local or general anaesthesia. It is important to vaccinate kids at the time of castration.
Where goats run entirely on soft ground and grass, foot trimming is essential. The feet may need to be trimmed every 2-3 months. Overgrown feet can cause lameness and deformities.
Goats are ruminant animals like cattle and sheep, but unlike cattle and sheep they tend to browse on leaves and bushes in preference to eating grass or other pasture. This means that they can survive quite well on land that would be regarded as unsuitable for sheep or cattle. It also means that they will tend to eat your garden plants and flowers if you give them the chance. Although their digestive system can cope well with many different types of plants, there are some which are highly toxic and should be avoided at all costs, such as oleander and rhododendron. Other plants, such as bracken fern, can be tolerated in small amounts, but can also be toxic if too much is eaten and at certain stages of the plant’s growth.
One of the most common problems we see in goats is over-feeding with concentrated feed such as pellets and grains. Goats love these types of “goodies” but in most cases you should not feed these at all. They can lead to all sorts of digestive problems such as bloat and ruminal acidosis and to bladder stones in males.
As a general rule goats should have plentiful access to a mixture of browsing and pasture. If there is not enough natural feed available you should supplement with hay. A good quality mixed grass hay should be adequate, or lucerne hay in small amounts. You may need to feed more hay during the winter time, when the grass is less nutritious.
For further information about the care and husbandry of goats, there is a wealth of information at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/animals-and-livestock/goats and of course we are always happy to help you with any questions you may have.