Feeding & Health Care

Goats are ruminants - they have four stomachs (rumen, omentum, omasum, abomasum). Show goats should be fed a feed ration of 16-18% protein. A prepared ration, if available, is better than trying to mix your own feed. Goats like to pick at their feed, and sometimes will not eat everything they need. Also, remember goats are not sheep - sheep gobble goats nibble. Lots of feeds that contain animal by-products and smell funny to goats - and they don't eat them as well. Watch this if you buy a supplement also - bone meal, fishmeal, beef blood, and chicken feathers all leave an animal smell in the feed. Feed a show feed that contains ammonia chloride. Also do not feed a ration that is made with milo. This contributes to urinary calculi.

Your feed also needs to be medicated - contain a product to prevent coccidia. I prefer Rumensin (Monensin Sodium). Rumensin is a coccidiacide, which means it kills all the coccidia and doesn't inhibit rumen activity. Deccox (Decoquinate) is the most common product used. It is a coccidiastat (controls coccidia - doesn't kill all of them) and tends to inhibit rumen activity. Bovatec (lasalocid sodium) can also be used to prevent coccidia. Rumensin and Bovatec are toxic to equines and need to be used with caution around horses and mules.

Market wethers and breeding goats are fed differently. Goats need hay to keep their rumen functioning, a couple handful or two a feeding is sufficient. Hay takes longer to eat (chewed as cud), and keeps your goats happy. Hay also helps prevent some of the most serious health problems. Alfalfa is very good for goats (peanut hay is good also). Sudan, oat hay, Hay grazer, and other leafy hays are good for goats. Goats prefer these over small steamy horse type hays such as coastal. Coastal tends to put a belly on a goat more than the leafy hays. Corn can be used the last 45-60 days to add finish. Remember growth requires high protein, finish requires high carbohydrates (calories).

If you are feeding Market wethers you really need individual feed pens. These can be made with a couple t-posts and a wire panel. They need to be close enough together to encourage competition, but separate so each goat gets its own ration. Wethers live in a very controlled environment feed, water, exercise, and measurements need to be accurate and on schedule. I mix my wether rations up weakly in zip lock bags. The ration is weighed and supplement(s) added. This way the goat gets the exact amount it needs per feeding.

Probiotics are also useful in keeping goats on feed, and treating illness. Select a probiotic product that contains live or viable bugs (Lactic Acid Producing Bacteria). Be careful in handling your probiotics do not expose them to heat or freezing conditions. If your goat is off feed or has an illness probiotics will help prevent acidosis.

Goats need to be vaccinated for C&D Type Clostridial Perfigens. This is to prevent enterotoxemia - commonly called overeating disease. C&D clostridial perfigen bacteria is found in the goats gut. When the ph of the rumen is upset due to overeating, change of diet, or extreme worm load, the C&D type bacteria multiply out of control and kill the goat. Feeding roughage, feeding on a schedule, gradually changing diets, and parasite prevention helps to prevent enterotoxemia. Kids should be vaccinated at 12 weeks, and a booster given 3-4 weeks later. Wethers should be vaccinated again at 6 months. Some veterinarians suggest vaccinating before every surgery. Others suggest vaccinating every time the goat doubles his weight. Pregnant does need to be given a booster every year 30 days before they kid. Goats can be vaccinated SQ (under the skin) between or behind the front legs. This way the lumps and bumps caused by the vaccine are not associated with any other disease. Never give a market goat a shot in the hindquarters. This is one of the prime cuts of meat, and IM (in the muscle) injection sites permanently damages the carcass. Give all IM injections in the side of the neck or bottom of the brisket.

Shot Site Locations: SQ is
given behind or in front of the
front legs, IM in side of the neck.
Shot Sites


Goats also need to be vaccinated for tetanus. Tetanus is a clostridial bacterium that lives in the dirt. Any goat that you are unsure of their vaccination history should be given a tetanus antitoxin when any surgery is done. If you use a 7 or 8 way vaccine make sure you read the label - they don't all contain tetanus.

Handle vaccines carefully - make sure they are kept cool and administered properly. Use one needle to draw the vaccine out of the bottle, and a different needle to stick the goats. Whenever possible use a clean needle on each goat. This helps prevent secondary bacterial infections at the shot site that may create abscesses. Clostridial vaccines cause lumps & bumps at the injection site. These are nothing to be concerned about and most disappear with time and without treatment.

Goats need to be wormed frequently. Your show pen ought to be treated every 21-30 days. All anthelmintics should be used orally in goats. Ivermec injectable 1%, and Cydectin are the most effective products on the market. Give white anthelmintics (benzimidazoles - Valbazen, Synanthic, Safegaurd or Panacur) at 3x label dose for 3 days for tapeworms. Be careful using the Imidothiazole (Levamisole) class of anthelmintics they have a very narrow safety margin. Coccidia is not killed by anthelmintics. If you do have an outbreak of coccidia treat with a sulfur product such as Albon, Sulfurdimethox, or Sulmet most coccidia have become resistant to Corrid. You can add these products to the water or drench them daily. Treatment for coccidia needs to last 5 days.

While you are worming it is also a good time to trim your goats feet. Fast growing well-fed goats need their feet trimmed often. Lack of hoof trimming may cause structural problems that can't be corrected after the goat is full-grown. A goat with long back feet will walk and stand cow-hocked. Judges will not overlook overgrown hooves!

Goats can also get lice and manage. Cylence is effective and also works well for flies. The avermectins and moxidectins also help kill lice. Mange can be treated the same way but also treat topically with Prolate (hog spray) or a Permethrin product. Treat every 5 days till the hair starts to grow back(mange) or you see no sign of lice. Slick shearing a goat will also help kill the lice population. Be sure to treat or remove bedding in sheds and pens.

Goats can also contract ringworm and other funguses (club lamb itch). These are very contagious - even to humans. Unless it is severe you can treat topically. Scrub lesions with Clorox and a toothbrush. Spray entire animals with a Clorox Solution. Betadine or Nolvason can also be used on the sores. A Kaptan solution can also be used instead of Clorox - 5 teaspoons Kaptan to 1 gallon of water. Athletes foot spray can also be used. Severe infections may require a prescription feed additive. Prevention is the best treatment. Spray goats and all equipment with the Clorox or Kaptan solution before you load them up from a show. Don't go down the show barn and pet all the sheep and goats & then come back and pet yours. Fungal shampoo's and iodine shampoos are also effective preventatives.

    Suggested First Aid Kit for Market Wethers
  • Fortified B Complex - to keep aggressive appetites
  • Thiamine (available from vet only)- wethers and goats on feed are prone to thiamine deficiency polio
  • Naxcel or Excenel, Penicillin, Nuflor (all but Pen available from vet only - Naxcel & Excenel have 0 withdrawal)
  • Eprinephrine (for anaphylactic shock when given injections)
  • CD&T Toxiod & Antitoxin
  • Kaopectate or Pepto - for scours
  • Phazyme and Vegetable Oil - first defense for bloat
  • Probiotics - give when off feed or after antibiotic treatment - use live (viable) probiotics
  • Electrolites - prevent dehydration during stress
  • Ammonia Chloride - for urinary calculi
  • Kaptan or Clorox for ringworm & other fungi
  • 3cc and 12cc Syringes
  • 18g x 1" and 22g x 1" Needles
  • Thermometer


This looks like a great expense. But is a lot less than if you have to pay for an emergency farm call after hours because you don't have the correct treatment. Clubs may get together and make a club vet kit to have available for all its members. This would help defer some of the expense if you just have one of two goats.

Quick Health Care Reference Guide

Acidosis 911 - Entrotoxemia - over eating, drastic change in diet, other illness (pneumonia)6-12cc Clostridial Perfrigens C&D antitoxin, probiotics, penicillin orally, & baking soda
Anemia check eyelids - Worms or cocci most common cause. Worm frequently till improved. Give Magic to build up nutrients in the blood. (1 part corn oil, 2 part molasses, 2 parts Kayro Syrup)
Bloat moldy or wet pellet feed, overeating, toxic plants, stress; Tube with vegetable oil, Therabloat, baking soda Phazyme gas pills; Colic drops
CAE Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Virus - kids are infected by drinking clostrum & milk from infected does. Causes death in some kids at 4-8 weeks, causes arthritis in mature affected goats. Diagnosed by blood test. This disease is not really a concern for wethers.
CL Caseous Lymphadenitis - Abscesses at lymph node sites. Is contagious when abscesses burst. Diagnosed by culturing abscess. Commercial vaccines available but not approved for Goats. This disease is not really a major concern for market wethers.
Pink Eye Contagious but species specific. Caused by several different bacteria and eye irritation. Clean eyes with an antiseptic (Listerine) before treatment. Mix spray 10cc Gentamycin, 10cc Dexamethazone, 10cc Sterile Water, spray in eye daily. Should heal in 2-3 days.
Itch contagious to humans - Treat with Clorox, Kaptan, Nolvason, Betadine, or anti-fungal shampoos. Feed additives can be purchased from the vet for severe cases.
Pneumonia bacterial -Nuflor 3cc per 100 lbs. For 3 days or 6cc per 100 lbs. one time dose.
Poliomyelitis (Thiamin Deficiency) - blindness, circling, neurological disorders usually affecting one side. 1cc Thiamine (500mg/ml) IM, second dose in 4-6 hours. (Use fortified B Complex if all available) Support therapy - Penicillin (10cc -5cc SQ, 5cc IM), Banimine, Probiotics
Ring Worm see Itch - contagious to humans
Scours Causes- Coccidia, Worms, Dietary Changes - first step is to find cause Pepto or Kaopectate to relieve symptoms ;Give 20-30cc every 2 hours till clear; Scourhalt - 2-10cc depending on side of goat
Sniffles If the discharge is clear and the animal is eating don't treat. If the animal is off feed treat for pneumonia.
Sore Mouth virus - Live-virus vaccine Contagious to humans - wear gloves when treating or vaccinating. Will heal in time, keep moist - furacin ointment etc. Can add sulferdimethox in water to prevent secondary infection.
Urinary Calculi 911 Feed mineral balance - Ca:P ratio Adequate water intake. Castration - wait till 12 weeks or 50 lbs.


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