All goats must receive immediate veterinary attention when they are sick or injured. In most cases, unnecessary pain, injury and disease can be prevented through good husbandry, regular visits to a veterinarian and addressing any issues the veterinarian raises.
This law is called the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act outlines how people must take care of and act towards animals in New Zealand. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the Police and SPCA work together to make sure people in New Zealand follow these laws.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, all animal guardians (owners) are responsible for making sure the welfare needs of animals in their care are met. Learning about the Five Domains helps us to understand these welfare needs and how we can make sure we provide these. One of the Five Domains is Health. In this section you will learn about this domain and how you can make sure your goats have the right veterinary care to be healthy.
Just like you have a family doctor that you see when you are unwell, your goat will need their own doctor too - a veterinarian is an animal doctor. It’s a good idea for your family to find out which veterinarian they plan on using before you get your goat.
Not all veterinary clinics specialise in goats, so it is important you find a vet that is experienced at treating farmed animals. Veterinarians that specialise in farm animals like goats will usually come to your house instead of you having to transport your goat into a vet clinic.
Once you get a new goat, your family should have him checked by your chosen veterinarian for a check-up and to administer any preventative treatments or medication that may be required.
They should also be able to give you lots of tips and advice for properly caring for your goat and helping him to settle in.
Make sure you ask the veterinarian any questions you have about caring for your goat.
Goats have four toes which are covered in hard hooves. These hooves are uniquely designed and what make goats such great climbers. In the wild, goats have been known to climb extremely steep mountains and walls, as well as trees, thanks to their hooves.
Your goat’s hooves will grow over time, much like your toenails, so you will need to keep them trimmed regularly so they don’t overgrow. If you let your goat’s hooves grow too long, they can become overgrown and cause painful problems.
Your goat will have difficulty and pain walking, and sometimes hoof problems can lead to infections. Your goat’s hooves will need to be trimmed with special tools and it is best to let a veterinarian (or local hoof specialist) trim them.
With the help of an adult, your goat hooves need to be inspected often to make sure they are healthy and in good condition. You need to check that your goat is not limping and that their hooves are not cracked or swollen. You also need to check that they do not have any stones or other items stuck in between their hooves.
If your goat has hooves which are not taken care of, lameness (a painful condition in which an animal is unwilling to walk) can result. Foot rot is another condition in which the hooves of your goat can get badly infected. This is caused by your goat standing on ground which is too wet.
To prevent this, try to keep your goats living area dry and make sure your land is not too wet for your goat to be on. If your goat is on wet ground, do not leave them there for too long.
Goats have very little body fat to stop them getting too cold – this means they need to be kept warm at all times. Make sure your goat’s shelter is warm and dry so your goat will not be too cold. Goats don’t like getting wet, so don’t leave your goat out in the rain, and make sure their shelter is warm and dry and comfortable.
If your goat starts to smell or becomes dirty, do not wash him or her with a hose or in a large bath. Instead, use a damp cloth and pat down their coat to clean them. You should brush your goat’s coat every couple of days to keep it in good condition and to stop it getting dirty and rough.
Not only will brushing your goat keep them clean and tidy, but it will mean you and your goat will start to bond more if you are handling and grooming them often.
You can also get special coats for your goat if you prefer - just make sure that you know how, and are comfortable with putting one on your goat. Goats need time to get used to their new coats as well.
During the time you spend with your goat every day, you should be on the lookout for any changes either in the way they look or the way they behave. Symptoms which might show that your goat is sick could include:
If you notice any of these symptoms, tell an adult straight away and contact your veterinarian.
Your goat will need some preventative treatments to make sure they do not become sick or ill.
This is the easiest way to make sure your goat remains healthy. Vaccinations protect goats against diseases that can cause illness and death.
There is a range of different vaccines available for goats, but your goat’s veterinarian will be able to tell you what is recommended for your companion goat, based on breed, lifestyle and where you live. Goats also need to be drenched roughly every 2 -3 months.
This protects them against worms, lice and other parasites. Your veterinarian will be able to provide medication for this and will show an adult how to give it to your goat.
Goats are often at risk of becoming infected with parasites. A parasite can live inside your goat’s stomach or on their skin and can make them very ill if they are not treated properly.
Common parasites of goats include worms, mites, lice and tiny little organisms called protozoa. If your goat has parasites, you might notice symptoms such as a rough, dry, or flaky coat, your goat scratching themselves on trees/fences a lot, your goat might be eating much less than normal, scours (e.g. diarrhoea), a lot of lying down, not browsing for food and possibly losing weight. If you notice your goat is showing any of these signs, tell an adult and ask them to contact the veterinarian so they can advise you of the best way forward.
Parasites are very common in New Zealand, and you can try to prevent infections by:
Bloat is a serious condition which affects the stomach of your goat. Bloat means there is too much air trapped in the stomach of your goat. It can make your goat feel very ill and can lead to death. If your goat has bloat, you will notice his/her stomach will look very large, bulgey and stick out on one side. Your goat will probably be acting very depressed and might grind his/her teeth in pain or kick his/her legs. Bloat can be caused by a number of things:
Bloat can get worse very quickly and if it is not treated straight away, it could lead to death. Ask an adult to call your goat’s veterinarian straight away if you think your goat might have bloat. Prevention is the best medicine for bloat, so keep a good eye on your goats if they are at risk.