Diarrhea can range from a dog-like stool to watery and explosive. Most breeders will have occasion to deal with diarrhea from a number of causes.

Goats probably have pellets, instead of cow pats, due to muscular contractions as ingesta moves through the large intestine. Through regurgitation and cud chewing, goats have a very fine particle size of ingesta, and this may also be a factor. Moisture is absorbed through the intestinal walls as ingesta travels through it. Normal goat pellets are between 0.5 to 1.5 cm in diameter. I consider anything other than hard goat pellets to be diarrhea, with the exception of neonates.

A healthy digestive tract is very important. Fecal consistency is an easily observable indication of digestive tract health and some problems elsewhere.

Adults: Pasty, watery or dog-like feces are abnormal and may indicate: parasitism, Johne’s disease, overeating, displaced abomasum, enterotoxemia, or a diet that contains too much concentrate and not enough roughage. Blood in the stool is uncommon but can occur in enterotoxemia and coccidiosis. Whole grain is not usually seen in the feces unless the goat is on a very high concentrate level. Feces containing mucus indicate constipation or a prolonged time in the large intestine due to disease condition elsewhere in the body.

Older goats usually get diarrhea from overeating a high carbohydrate source, like grain. They have rumen acidosis and a bacterial imbalance in the gut. Give 2 to 3 ounces of Milk of Magnesia, take away all grain and feed palatable hay. If the goat is off feed and running a temperature, penicillin can be given. Such cases should turn around in 12 hours. A goat that is down and depressed should be seen by your veterinarian.

Kids: Coccidia is an uncommon cause of diarrhea in kids less than one week old; umbilical and bacterial gut infections are more usual. Bacteria can enter the umbilicus at birth to multiply and cause problems in the liver. Long-term, aggressive antibiotic therapy is necessary to correct the problem.

Escherichia coli is the usual culprit in intestinal bacterial infections in kids. This organism enters the body by mouth. Antibiotics are needed. Overeating also causes kids to scour.

Diarrhea in kids over two weeks old is usually due to either coccidia or overeating. The young kid is treated as a simple-stomached animal, as its rumen is not highly developed. It is important to find and treat the cause as soon as possible. Monitor kids closely.

Oral sulfa (Albon®) can be used for coccidiosis and bacterial bowel infections. This is a good product to start with, especially if the cause of the diarrhea is unknown. Re-evaluate the kid often, and get professional help early if it is not responding.

While microscopic examination of the feces is important to diagnose and monitor intestinal parasitism, daily gross examination of feces can be a valuable aid in determining the general health of the goat.

Excerpts from:
Kinne, Maxine, ed. Pygmy Goats: Best of Memo 3 (1988-1996)
National Pygmy Goat Association: pp 107

This document is for informational purposes only and is in no way intended to be a substitute for medical consultation with a qualified veterinary professional. The information provided through this document is not meant to be used in the diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or disease, nor should it be construed as such.

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