Dieseases Of Goats





Doc Fleming

There are generally two types of bloat
Dry bloat is the accumulation of excess free gas in the rumen often caused by overeating of grain.
Frothy (or foamy) bloat is where the contents of the rumen emulsify, becoming foamy with the consistency of whipped egg whites. Gas is trapped in the foam. This form of bloat can be caused by over-consumption of lush pasture or rich legume hay.

The “signs” of bloat are:

  1. Rumen extended and tight (the rumen — the first stomach which is involved in the cud regurgitation and storage processes — is located on the left side of the goat’s abdomen)
  2. Off feed
  3. Standing around
  4. Head down
  5. Depressed looking
  6. Not belching — if you’ll listen, goats belch quite a bit
  7. Not chewing cud
  8. Normal rumen sounds absent (gurgling gastric sounds)
  9. Grinding teeth

Late stages of bloat signs:

  1. Goat in extreme distress
  2. Loud crying
  3. Gasping for Air
  4. Darkened (blue) tongue
  5. Goat is down

Why does bloat kill and kill quickly?

The rumen expands to the point that it compresses the abdominal blood vessels, heart, and lungs. The rumen is like a fermentation vat — it naturally produces gas — too much gas produced too quickly can compress the esophagus preventing normal belching. Death typically occurs from respiratory failure.

What treatments are appropriate for bloat?

In the early stages, massaging, walking, drenching with mineral oil (1 to 2 cups), and removal of grain feeds may avert disaster.

In the late stages, the use of a stomach tube, proloxalene, and massaging to help reduce gas.

In the desperate stages, puncturing the rumen through the skin in the center of the usually hollowed out area 3 to 5 inches behind the last rib (depending on the goat). The instrument used is called a trocar which accomplishes the puncture and allows for gas to escape. This is a last hope medical procedure when all else has failed. I’ve never done this one, but my vet did it on one of my kids last year. Unfortunately, she died a few moments after the puncture. In the absence of a trocar, a sharp instrument can be used and a tube inserted — puncturing the hide and rumen is harder than you’d think.

In some of the material I’ve read, goats who’ve had their rumens punctured have a high risk of infection and may never fully recover to what we’d consider a “thrifty and productive” status in the herd.

(It would seem logical that) an animal who’s had a very high fever (and/or is treated with antibiotics) is more susceptible to bloat due to the loss of healthy bacteria in their rumen. That’s why we always use something like Probios following fevers or the administration of strong antibiotics. Probios is a healthy paste of “good” bacteria and other ingredients that help stabilize the digestive process.

Disclaimer: Having written this, I want to make sure that the readers know that I am a minister, not a vet. When in doubt, call your vet. While experience is a great teacher, I am certainly no expert.





Click on the links below  for a great article about CAE

CAE (Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis)

Caprine arthritis and encephalitis (CAE) virus infection is manifested clinically as polyarthritis in adult goats and less commonly as progressive paresis (leukoencephalomyelitis) in kids.


A Great article about CL. Click the link below



CL (Caseous Lymphadenitis)





Hair loss around the eyes

Reddish/orange colored hair

Fish tail

Reddish/orange hair

Fish tail

Here is a Red Copasure capsule (can get them at Jeffers) They opened one of the red capsule and placed the ingrediants into a smaller gel cap to make it easier for the goat to take.

Pictures furnished by Rose Lane Farm


A Great place to find information about many different types of goat dieseases. Click the link below. It will take you to the Maryland Small Ruminant Page. Great articles.

Goat Diesease


This is a great article about Johnes. Click the link below.

Johnes Diesease  Q&A for Goat Owners


Listeriosis (Circling Disease) published by ACES





Listeriosis is a life-threatening disease caused by the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. L. monocytogenes are gram-positive, extremely antibiotic-resistant coccoid to bacillus-shaped bacteria found in the environment. Spoiled forages and feed contaminated by L. monocytogenes are sources of contamination for goats. Listeriosis can infect animals and humans alike. The disease occurs worldwide and is widely distributed among avian species. L. monocytogenes is commonly found in the feces of infected birds, wild mammals, fish, crustaceans, insects, and in sewage. L. monocytogenes can contaminate water, milk, cheese, fetal feces (meconium), adult feces, and soil. L. monocytogenes can withstand various temperatures ranging from 39 to 111° F (4 to 44° C). Listeriosis is most prevalent during spring and winter months, which suggests that the prevalence of L. monocytogenes on ruminant farms is seasonal. Thus, management practices can be applied to minimize the risk of infection.


Listeriosis in goats is transmitted via the oral-fecal route, usually when animals ingest contaminated water or feed, or by fecal shedding of L. monocytogenes. Infection can also occur by inhalation. Infected animals could die if improperly treated.


Clinical Signs


Listeriosis can be presented in two forms:


Encephalitic form: Characterized by encephalitis or meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain). This form contributes to the highest mortality rate. The bacterium enters the body through an opening in the mucosa of the oral cavity and migrates to the brain where it multiplies and causes inflammation. Early clinical signs are depression, decreased appetite, decreased milk production, and fever. Signs progress to neuromuscular incoordination where animals circle in the same direction. Other progressive signs include seizures, facial nerve paralysis (on one side), ear droop, salivation, lack jaw, impaired swelling, and death.



The encephalitic form of listeriosis seems to be the most prevalent in small ruminants. Differential diagnosis must be accurate in order to exclude this disease from other neuromuscular system disorders such as those that result from polioencephalomalacia, rabies, caprine arthritis, encephalitis, pregnancy toxemia, and poisoning. Researchers have suggested that listeriosis can be disseminated in goats as a venereal route of transmission.


Septicemic form: The bacteria enter through the mouth and reach the bloodstream where they multiply and spread to other organs. In this form of the disease, diarrhea, abortion, and death are frequent. This form seems to be most prevalent in monogastric (humans, swine) species of all ages.




Diagnosis is based upon clinical signs. A serological diagnosis using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) may also be used to confirm the presence of the bacteria. Confirmation of the clinical diagnosis can be done postmortem by a bacteriological culture, gram-staining, and immunohistochemistry in brain tissues extracted at necropsy. A DNA restriction analysis can be used for the confirmation of a Listeria monocytogenes infection.


Treatment, Prevention, and Control


  • Successful treatment is dependent upon prompt diagnosis. The survival of an animal depends on whether diagnosis is made at an early stage and correct treatment applied.
  • Administer penicillin and tetracycline orally at 25 mg/kg for 1 week or 11.5 mg/lb per day for 3 consecutive days. In the encephalic forms, intravenous sodium penicillin at a dosage of 40,000 IU/kg or 18,000 IU mg/lb every 6 hours until signs are improved, followed by administration of procaine penicillin at a dosage of 20,000 IU/kg body weight twice a day for 3 days.
  • Administer intravenously 1-2 mg/kg or 0.05 mg/lb mg/kg or dexamethasone is recommended to treat inflammation in the brain. Intravenous fluid and electrolyte therapy and supplemental feeding are also recommended.
  • Discard spoiled feed and hay.
  • Improve sanitation of pens, water supply, pasture, and housing.
  • Keep wild birds away from the herd as much as possible as these birds may serve as vectors for the disease.
  • Identify the source of infection in order to help eliminate the causative agent.
  • In the case of abortion, isolate aborting does and send aborted fetuses and placentas to a diagnosis center for isolation of the causative agent. (Wear latex gloves when handling placental membranes.)
  • If a doe has listeriosis, feed kids pasteurized colostrums, milk, or a milk substitute.
  • Human listeriosis is associated with the consumption of contaminated meat products, as well as milk and cheese obtained from nonpasteurized milk. Humans can also contract listeriosis by handling fetuses and specimens from aborted animals, and newborns of infected does. Always wear gloves when handling fetuses and specimens from aborted does.




With the exception of ceftiofur, and neomyscin, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved the antibiotics discussed for treating goats. Their use is considered extra-labeled, requiring consultation with a veterinarian for product usage and guidance.



Consult a local veterinarian for disease treatment and control.







Pink Eye can be very painful to the goat. The goat  may keep their eyes closed and blink more often than normal. It will appear red and swollen too. It is a good idea to irrigate with saline, to remove exudates and dirt. There are several ways to treat this.

1  Antibiotics onintments should be given  at least twice per day with 3-4 times being the better option.

2. Antibiotic drops may be the best option but should be applied every 2-3 hours for best results.

3. Powders and aerosols are often irritating but have had good results as well.

Remember that a Goat with pink eye will prefer a dark stall out of the sunlight.



Sore mouth looks like blisters. It is highly contagious. If you have a goat with sore mouth you should isolate the goat until symptoms are gone. Sore mouth is also contagious to the handler. Be sure to wear gloves while you treat and handle a goat with sore mouth. There is a vaccination for sore mouth. The decision about the effectiveness is still not in. The vaccine hasnt been approved for use on goats. Some breeders use it while others do not.






White muscle disease in sheep and goats (Selenium deficiency)

tiff lamb disease – nutritional muscular dystrophy

What is it?    White muscle disease (WMD) is a degenerative muscle disease found in all large  animals. It is caused by a deficiency of selenium and/or vitamin E. Generally, it is not known which. Selenium (Se) deficiency is associated with selenium deficient soils and the inadequate uptake of selenium by forages grown on  these soils. Certain areas of the U.S., including the Northeast, are considered  low in selenium levels. Selenium deficiency occurs when the soil contains  less than 0.5 mg Se/kg of soil and locally harvested feeds contain less than 0.1 mg Se/kg of feed.

Vitamin E deficiency  is independent of soil type and more closely reflects forage quality. Grazing  animals usually consume adequate amounts of vitamin E. This is because fresh       legumes and pasture are good sources of vitamin E, whereas silage, oil seeds, root crops, cereal grains, and dry hays tend to be poor sources of vitamin  E. Prolonged storage of feedstuffs results in a degradation of Vitamin E activity,  as much as 50% per month.
In addition to WMD, selenium and vitamin E deficiencies can produce symptoms of ill thrift and reproductive losses: lower conception rates, fetal reabsorption, dystocia, retained placenta, reduced milk production, and reduced semen quality.  They can cause poor rate of growth or ill thrift in young lambs throughout  the growing period. Sheep consuming selenium-deficient diets produce low wool yields and have increased incidence of periodontal disease. Selenium and vitamin E also play key roles in the animal’s normal immune response.

Symptoms       All breeds of sheep and goats are suceptible to WMD, and the condition may develop under extensive or intensive management systems. WMD is most commonly found in newborns or fast growing animals. Kids are believed to be more susceptible  than lambs, possibly because they have a higher requirement for selenium. The disease can affect both the skeletal and cardiac muscles.

When the skeletal muscles are affected, symptoms vary from mild stiffness to obvious pain upon walking, to an inability to stand. Lambs/kids may tremble in pain when held in a standing position. A stiff gait and hunched appearance are common. Affected lambs/kids may remain bright and have normal appetites, but eventually they become too weak to nurse. When the problem occurs in newborns, they are born weak and unable to rise. Sudden exercise may trigger the condition in older lambs and kids.

When the disease affects  the heart, the animal shows signs similar to pneumonia, including difficult breathing, a frothy nasal discharge (may be blood stained), and fever. The heart and respiratory rates are elevated and often irregular. Skeletal and cardiac muscle disease may occur concurrently.

Selenium deficiency can be confirmed by measuring selenium levels in whole blood or tissues. A diseased animal will have less than 0.04 ppm of selenium in its blood. Breeding ewes require more selenium, and their blood levels should be over 0.5 ppm. At necropsy,  the muscles of affected animals appear paler than normal and may show distinct  longitudinal striations or a pronounced chalky appearance due to abnormal calcium deposition.

Treatment       Treating the heart form of WMD is usually ineffective and those that survive often do not thrive because of the residual cardiac damage. The muscle form of the disease can be successfuly treated with supplemental selenium and/or vitamin E. Producers need to follow label directions carefully when using selenium for treatment. The concentrations of selenium (per ml) vary greatly with each product, and excessive or repeated injections can result in selenium toxicity and possibly death.

The commercially available selenium/vitamin E product(s) commonly used in the U.S. do not contain therapeutic levels of vitamin E. Additional vitamin E may need to be provided through an injection of vitamin E alone or through oral vitamin E products. Affected animals usually respond favorably to a single treatment of vitamin E and/or selenium in 24 hours, though recovery may not be complete, depending upon the severity of the condition. Animals which do not respond to treatment may be treated a second time. Treatment should not exceed two doses.

Prevention       Deficiencies occur when animals are fed poor-quality hay or straw or lack access to pasture. High concentrations of other minerals (e.g. calcium, sulfur,copper) and feed contaminants (e.g. nitrate, unsaturated fats, sulfates) may decrease absorption of selenium in the small intenstine. Diets high in polyunsaturated fatty acids or deficient in Vitamin C and/or beta-carotene increase vitamin E requirements, whereas adequate dietary selenium is almost completely protective against vitamin E deficiency.
WMD can be prevented by supplementing the diet of susceptible animals with selenium and vitamin E. Since it occurs mostly in lambs and kids whose mothers were fed a selenium-deficient diet, supplementation of pregnant animals helps reduce disease in newborns. This is because selenium is transferred from dam to fetus across the placenta and also is present in the colostrum. While not much Vitamin E is transmitted across the placenta, colostral levels of Vitamin E increase with ewe/doe supplementation.
While pasture, hay, grain, and other supplements can be analyzed to determine  the amount of selenium to be added to supplemental feeds, it is important to note that selenium supplementation is controlled by law. For sheep, selenium can be supplemented in a complete ration at a level up to 0.3 ppm, in a feed supplement so that the intake of selenium does not exceed 0.7 mg per head per day, and in salt/mineral mixes at 90 ppm as long as total daily consumption does not exceed 0.7 mg/head/day. Selenium supplementation of feed has not been approved specifically for goats.
Injectable selenium compounds are available to prevent WMD in at risk-animals;  however, injections are a poor alternative compared to routinely providing adequate selenium and vitamin E in the diet. Ideally, the total diet for sheep and/or goats should contain 0.10 to 0.30 ppm of selenium.
References:  Sheep & Goat Medicine edited by D.G. Pugh (2002);       Goat Medicine by Mary C. Smith and David M. Sherman (1994); and Sheep Production       Handbook by the American Sheep Industry Association (200