Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Goat Ownership 101

Photo by KKirugi
(Click to see original on Flickr.)

All about goats!

Vaccination for Goats
  • Goats are extremely susceptible to tetanus and should be vaccinated at a young age, before either dehorning or castrating. 
  • Most veterinarians recommend a CD&T vaccine. This protects from two types of Clostridial (bacterial) diseases: one of the gastrointestinal tract and the other being tetanus. 
  • Goats should receive their first CD&T vaccine at 6 weeks and a booster at 13 weeks. 
  • Rabies should be given at 3 months of age. 
  • Both vaccines are boostered on an annual basis. 
Diet for Goats
  • The goat diet is based largely on forage. Basic grass hay makes up the majority of their diet.
  • It is better to avoid Alfalfa hay for males as it has been associated with an increased incidence of urethral blockage. 
  • Grain should be kept to a minimum. Most goats need very little to no grain but feeding a “meal” will allow time for you to inspect them individually as well as handle them on a daily basis. 
  • If you have castrated male goats, it is important that ammonium chloride be a part of their diet. This will aid in the prevention of urolithiasis – urinary blockage - which is a life threatening emergency if not corrected immediately. There are several goat feeds which include ammonium chloride (for example, many meat goat diets include it) or it can be bought separately and added to the feed separately. 
Castration for Goats
  • Just as is recommended for our dog and cat friends, male goats should be castrated. 
  • Although female goats are not routinely spayed, castrated males are less aggressive and less destructive. In addition, castrating a male goat will decrease their offensive odor. Intact male goats do not make good pets and are often far more “trouble” than their castrated counterparts. 
  • As far as the “right” time to have your make goat castrated, the sooner the better. Goat testicles drop into the scrotum at an early age and are often present by 1 week old. Although some people use elastrator bands to castrate their goats, there are several humane issues associated with this and surgical castration is often preferred. 
  • The surgery is quick, easy and often done on the farm. Pain management will be provided by your veterinarian and most goats are up and running in no time at all. 

Dehorning Goats
  • Just as with castrating, the earlier the better for dehorning goats. 
  • When done at a very young age, goats can be “disbudded” rather than dehorned. This procedure is easier on you, the goat, and requires little to no aftercare. However, disbudding must be done between 1 and 4 weeks of age. After about 4 weeks old, the horny tissue has grown large enough that it must then be dehorned. 
  • The procedure for disbudding uses cautery to burn away the horny tissue. This will prevent horns from ever forming. 
  • Once goats reach about 4 to 6 weeks old they will need to be dehorned. Although not a difficult procedure, there is a fair amount of aftercare and the procedure itself is more painful than disbudding.
  • Dehorned or disbudded goats make safer, less destructive pets. Horned goats are destructive to both property as well as other animals. Horned goats are very good at getting stuck in fences, wires, and even breaking their horns, leading to a veterinary emergency.
Written by Dr. Courtney Culbertson, DVM

Courtney Culbertson, Lap of Love vet
Read more or contact Dr. Courtney:
Courtney Culbertson, DVM
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice
Charleston, SC  |

Dr. Courtney assists families with Pet Hospice and Euthanasia in the Charleston, South Carolina area including but not limited to Beaufort, Berkeley, Colleton, Dorchester, Hampton, Jasper and Orangeburg Counties.

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