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For successful goat farming, one should be aware of common diseases of goats and their control methods.  If goat farmers are not aware of common goat diseases, prevention measures and their treatments, there are possibilities of making losses. Generally goats are resistant to many diseases. However, when you keep more number of animals in one place and not boosting their immune systems and not keeping their shelters clean can cause many diseases. This causes reduced production potential and more mortality which in turn causes economic losses to the farmers. Hence identification of diseases in goat and its prevention is most important. Health management is more important especially worm load. Hence the kids must be de-wormed at first month of age and then once in a month up to 6 months of age.

There are a number of common  diseases that affect goats and which  farmers need to know how to prevent  and/or treat.

  1. Heartwater


Symptoms Prevention Treatment


The Live Animal:  The organisms that cause heartwater are transmitted by Bont ticks, which are mainly found in hot, dry bush areas.

Heartwater can result in death within 24 hours, but some cases survive 2 to 5 days.

Affected goats have a very high temperature and show nervous signs: high stepping jerky gait, shivering, walking in circles. Later, jerky, paddling movements with the legs and the head pulled backwards when the animal goes down.

The dead animal will have excessive fluid in the heart sac, lungs, chest cavity and abdominal cavity.

To prevent heartwater, try to maintain the animals’ immunity by letting a small number of ticks stay on the animals all the time. However, when there are visibly many ticks on the goats, dipping about once a month may be necessary.

Goats that have grown up in a heartwater area are more resistant to the disease

If an animal dies of heartwater, dip it to kill the ticks on its body. The ticks are infected with heartwater and will infect other animals if they bite them.

Vaccination against heartwater is possible but it is complicated and expensive, speak to your veterinarian about this.

Treat the animal early before nervous symptoms show.

Use short-acting Terramycin for three days in a row, or new drug Doxycyline. Use an intravenous injection if you can, otherwise intramuscular.

Dosage rates: Adult goats inject 5cc daily for 3 days (intramuscular injection).  For a kid give 2.5cc daily for 3 days. Note: Dosage rates will vary depending on the make of the injection that you buy.

Blocking: Some farmers prevent Heartwater outbreaks by treating young goats with a dose of longacting antibiotic when they are going to be exposed to ticks. This is called blocking. You can read more about blocking in the resources section.

2 Abscesses

Symptoms Prevention Treatment
An abscess on a goat’s jaw

An abscess is a swelling that is the result of a bacterial infection. It is hot, red and painful. It can be caused if a thorn or a tick breaks the skin and the bacteria then enter the wound.

Control excess ticks and general hygiene.






Open and drain the abscess when it has a yellow spot on it or when it softens.  This can be done by cutting a cross over the soft spot.

Use a boiled razor blade to cut the abscess. Then syringe warm (boiled) water with a lot of salt in it (1 tablespoon of salt in a cup of water) or iodine into the wound.

Spray daily with a wound aerosol such as Woundsept Plus. The wound must be kept opened and it must be flushed daily with warm salt water to remove pus.

Use gloves when handling the abscess. Bury or burn the material used to wipe the pus. This can infect other animals and people. Always boil the razor blade before using it.

The goat can also be injected with an antibiotic to aid recovery.

3(Tapeworm cyst in the brain causing brain damage)

Symptoms Prevention Treatment
This is a symptom rather than a disease in itself. Affected goats walk in circles due to permanent brain damage, they suffer and die. It is caused by tapeworm cysts in the brain.



Animals show signs of brain damage, for example, walking in circles.

Goats require regular deworming to prevent such conditions.  It is also very

important to deworm dogs regularly, every six months and to ensure that they do not eat the brains of goats (and sheep), especially goats that die showing signs of TAPE WORMS

No treatment is possible once the animal shows symptoms.

4 Scours or diarrhoea


Small kids usually get affected.

Causes of diarrhea are consuming impure milk, too much milk or colostrums.

Certainly, changes in environment may also cause diarrhea.

Diarrhea can also be caused by virus and internal parasites



Symptoms Prevention Treatment
Signs of diarrhoea

Diarrhoea can be the symptom of a disease.

There are many different causes of scours and each one can cause a different kind of runny stomach. They can include:

Smooth, yellow diarrhoea

Smooth, white diarrhoea

Whitish diarrhoea with lumps of thin skin in it

Red or brown diarrhoea, which may mean blood in it.

Scours can be caused by a change in food source or diet.


Regular treatment for worms will prevent scours caused by worms.

Where scours are caused by nutritional changes, feeding some sort of



in winter will help with prevention.

A good general treatment is a mix of one spoon salt, 8 spoons sugar in one litre of clean, warm water. For young animals that have not been weaned, feed this mixture twice a day instead of milk (but not for more than three days).

Only when there is blood in the diarrhoea, do you inject with a long acting anti-biotic or give a dose of terramycin powder mixed with water.

Hi-Tet 200 LA dosage:

Intramuscular injection.

1ml/10kg livemass.

Repeat after 3 days if necessary.

Terramycin powder dosage: Mix with water and give as a drink.

1 level teaspoon powder/7kg livemass.

Repeat daily for 3 to 5 days. Immodium tablets for 3-5 days: half a tablet per day

5 Mange

Symptoms Prevention Treatment
Mange results in loss of hair and skin irritation. Signs of mange Prevent the disease by dipping with a suitable dip if there are signs of mange in the area. Inject infected animals with a product such as Dectomax or dip with a suitable dip such as Triatix or Dazzel.



Coccidiosis is a disease that mainly affects kids and lambs. It is caused by an organism known as coccidia and most commonly found in communal drinking water areas.

Older animals do become infected however due to immunity they develop over time, clinical signs do not show. Older animals are normally the source of infection for the younger animals as they are carriers of the diseases.

Whitish spots on the small intestine


Symptoms Prevention Treatment
The live animal: This disease normally affects young animals. It attacks and destroys the mucus of the intestine which leads to animals having diarrhoea and an inflamed intestinal lining.

This is different from scours. An outbreak is characterised by a short period of diarrhoea and then animals quickly dying.

Symptoms include:

Diarrhoea (may be bloody or contain mucus and be brown, yellow or greenish in colour)



Lack of appetite

Loss of condition

Rectal straining (this may lead to prolapse)


A rough hair coat.

The dead animal: Tiny, greyishwhite spots are often visible in the mucous membrane of the

small intestine. Guts filled with fluid and blood.

Sick animals should be separated from the rest of the flock to prevent spread of the disease.

Hygiene is important for preventing outbreaks of coccidiosis. Pens must be clean and dry. Kids should not mix with older goats and should not have access to contaminated feed and water. Coccidiostats such as Rumensin can be fed at times when disease outbreaks are common to prevent the disease.

Give Sulfazine 16% as a drink.

Sulfazine 16% dosage: Initially give 14ml/10kg


Then give 7ml/10kg daily for two days

Where there are outbreaks, treat all females and kids with Sulfazine.

Other treatments:

Immodium for 3-5 days (0.5

tablets per day)

Vecoxan: 1ml/2.5kg livemass body weight at about 4-6 weeks of age (Treat all kids).

The goat should also be given water with electrolytes to prevent dehydration. A good general treatment is a mixture of one spoon salt and 8 spoons sugar in one litre of clean, warm water. For young animals that have not been weaned, feed this mixture twice a day instead of milk (but not for more than three days).

7 Orf

Symptoms Prevention Treatment
Signs of orf

Wart-like sores on the animal’s lips and nose and around the mouth of especially young lambs and kids and on the teats of their mothers.

Affected goats should be kept separate to prevent the spread of the disease

Vaccination of all lambs and kids when the females have stopped lambing for the season.

Method of vaccination: take a thick (18g) needle insert it into the vaccine. Then pierce the skin in the armpit of the animal.

Spray the affected areas with an iodine spray daily. Hard scabs can be softened with Vaseline or glycerine to make it easier for the animals to eat.




8 Foot problems

1.   Footrot


Symptoms Prevention Treatment
Signs of advanced footrot

This is a bacterial infection that normally affects goats kept on pastures or under intensive conditions. It spreads easily between goats.

Prevent footrot by keeping sheds clean and by using a monthly footbath containing 10% zinc sulphate solution. The goats must be made to stand in the footbath for a period of 5 minutes.

Keep affected goats separate from the rest of the flock to prevent spread.

If an animal has footrot, inject it with an antibiotic such as Terramycin to treat the footrot and apply an iodine spray to the hoofs (between the claws).

2. Excessive hoof growth

Symptoms Prevention Treatment

Overgrown hooves

If goats are on pastures or in sandy areas where there are few rocks, their hoofs may become overgrown.

Overgrown hooves need trimming. If hooves are overgrown they affect the goat’s ability to walk and look for food so they should be trimmed.

Note: See section on hoof trimming below.

3. Limping associated with abscesses

Symptoms Prevention Treatment
These are often caused by ticks or wounds from thorns between the claws of the hoof.

Signs of a hoof abscess

Swelling in the foot that is hot, red and painful.

Sometimes, they burst open and ooze pus.

Do not leave goats standing in water or mud for a long time. Dip the feet to kill ticks.

Regularly check your goats’ feet for ticks, especially ones that are limping.

Clean overnight kraals/ facilities monthly.

Open and drain the abscess when it has a yellow spot on it or when it softens.

Apply some dip to kill the ticks.

Use a boiled razor blade to cut the abscess. Then syringe/ pour warm boiled water with a lot of salt in it (1 tablespoon of salt in a cup of water) or iodine into the wound.

Spray daily with a wound aerosol such as Woundsept Plus or iodine. Keep the wound open to allow it to drain.

Bury or burn the material used to wipe the pus. This can infect other animals and people. Always boil the razor blade before using it.

Treat with a long-acting oxytetracycline such as Terramycin (1ml/10kg) in bad cases.

One of the common challenges goat farmers face is diseases. These diseases are sometimes called by farmers themselves especially during stocking of animals.  Farmers stock goats in markets and villages which come with many diseases and are not immunized. The poor structures for goats, lack of knowledge on goat management, using ignorant vets who just kill animals, ignorance about goat feeding all leads to diseases in goats. Due to high death rates of animals on farms, some farmers decide to quit the business. My fellow farmer, don’t allow such challenges to distract your dream of farming when KIMD CONSTRUCTION AND FARM CONSULTANTS LTD has got all what you need to succeed in farming
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  • Some bacterial diseases are caused by poor housing. we construct standard shelters for goats at affordable prices
  • We offer free training services about goat farming and management to farmers such that they avoid unnecessary mistakes that cause diseases in goats
  • The company has all pasture feeds and seeds in stock at affordable prices
  • Few offer consultancy services at a free cost

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9 Bloat

Symptoms Prevention Treatment

A goat with bloat

The animal’s stomach swells

It becomes uncomfortable and may lie down and cannot breathe and may die.

Do not allow animals to graze green lucerne and clover or other plants that cause them to bloat. They must be introduced VERY slowly to green lucerne and given large quantities of hay before grazing lucerne for a short while. Maize may also cause bloat.

Make sure there is no wire or plastic lying around where animals graze.

Make the goat drink cooking oil (50 ml) or bloat guard. Do not let it lie down. If it is down, get it back on its feet and make it walk around until it has burped.

In very bad cases stab the bulging area with sharppointed knife to let air escape.



Symptoms Prevention Treatment

Signs of mastitis

Mastitis is an infection of the udder.

Udder produces either a brownish watery fluid or watery milk containing white or yellow clots or pus. The udder will look distended, and feel hard and hot to touch.

Good hygiene is important to prevent the spread of the disease. Treat any mastitis with long-acting oxytetracycline antibiotics such as Terramycin – at a dosage of 5cc every 3rd day until healed.

In severe cases combine the injection with a lactating cow intra-mammary antibiotic medicine. Insert the medicine up the teat canals once a day after milking out as much milk as possible. Continue until healed.

11 Abortion

Symptoms Prevention Treatment

Aborted foetuses

Abortion is the loss of a foetus at some stage in the pregnancy.

Abortion can be due to a range of factors including:

Diseases that specifically cause abortion – such as enzootic abortion,  brucellosis (Brucella melitensis)

Any disease that causes a high fever (e.g. heartwater)

Poor nutrition, especially during late stages of gestation

Mineral deficiencies


Certain poisonous plants.

The best prevention is to keep mothers unstressed. Don’t transport them unnecessarily. Make sure the mother has adequate nutrition.

Dispose of aborted foetuses and placentas in such a way that they do not contaminate the environment and result in other goats also becoming sick (burn them or bury them – at least kneedeep).

Some diseases can be vaccinated against (e.g. enzootic abortion), but it is important to find out whether this is the cause of the abortion. Blood can be drawn from goats or samples from aborted foetuses can be analysed to identify the organism responsible.

The first step is to keep records of how many goats are aborting (as a percentage of the herd) and when they are aborting in order to try and identify the real cause of the problem (whether food or disease).

Generally no treatment required unless there are complications.


Some diseases also affect people, although they do not always cause abortions in people. Use gloves when you handle aborted foetuses and placentas to avoid contact and contamination with the disease-causing organisms. For example, infection with Brucella melitensis causes abortion, reduced milk yield and testicular infection in goats, and Malta fever in humans. Infection has been found in goats in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. Ask your local Animal Health Technician to bleed your goats to make sure your goats do not have this serious condition. If any do, contact your local State Vet and make sure that you cull these animals immediately!

12 Tetanus

Symptoms Prevention Treatment

Stiff legs – symptoms of tetanus in a kid

Tetanus is a disease that causes stiffness that leads to paralysis and then death. This fatal disease occurs as a result of a wound becoming infected by bacteria commonly found in soil and faeces. Therefore, animals are at high risk when using the elastic band method of castration as this makes a wound.

The disease is preventable by using the Multivax P Plus vaccine recommended in this book. No treatment possible.

13 .Infectious pneumonia

Symptoms Prevention Treatment

Spots on the lungs showing pneumonia Live animal: The symptoms include fever, lack of appetite, rapid breathing, coughing, loss of condition and discharge from the nose.

A multi-component vaccine such as Multivax P can be used to prevent certain types of lung infections in sheep and goats. Sick animals can be treated with an oxytetracycline antibiotic such as Terramycin or Hi-Tet.

Hi-Tet 200 LA dosage: Intramuscular injection.

1ml/10kg livemass. Repeat after 3 days if necessary.

14 .Pulpy Kidney (Enterotoxaemia)

Symptoms Prevention Treatment

Kidney from an infected goat The live animal: This disease is caused by bacteria that often exist within the sheep’s intestine but only cause disease symptoms under certain circumstances such as a change of grazing, exhaustion, sudden dietary changes and dosing with dewormers.

The bacteria in the intestine produce a toxin (poison) which results in death.

Symptoms vary – sometimes the goats are found dead, at other times, they either (1) appear exhausted, show paralysis and a loss of consciousness and may  have laboured breathing, salivation and diarrhoea or (2) have nervous symptoms with convulsions, accompanied by salivation, grinding of teeth and muscle twitches until death.

The dead animal: The carcass decomposes quickly and there are haemorrhages on the heart and blood under the skin in the neck region. The lungs may contain excessive amounts of blood and the heart sac may contain fluid. The kidneys may appear enlarged, dark red or pale brown and decomposed. They may contain large amounts of blood.

Although this disease occurs more often in sheep, it is prevented by using Multivax P Plus vaccine, which is recommended in this book.

Alternatively vaccinate lambs with Enterotoxaemia Vaccine (including a booster injection) and then repeat vaccination annually.  Give 1ml per animal as a subcutaneous injection.

Note: It is often advised that animals first be vaccinated against pulpy kidney before deworming.

Treatment is not possible – rather prevent it through vaccination.

15 .Bluetongue

Symptoms Prevention Treatment
This disease is of little importance to goat farmers as goats are generally more resistant to bluetongue than sheep.

Signs of Blue tongue

Difficult rapid breathing as a result of pneumonia, resulting in a general bluish colour of the mucous membranes of the

eye and the mouth and. eventually of the tongue

Sore joints, especially the feet and back. So bad that the animal can sometimes walk on its knees and tends to lie down a lot. Animal stops eating and the stomach stops moving. Animal becomes sensitive to sun and the ears become warm and pink.

It is not prevented by using the Multivax P vaccine. Bluetongue vaccine is available, but need only be used if farmers experience a problem with the disease.

Since the disease is transmitted by midges, move sheep and goats to higher areas where there are fewer insects.

Treat the pneumonia with antibiotics – a long-acting Terramycin every 3 days until recovery.

Dosage – Adult goats 5ml every 3 days injected into the muscle.

Treat the pain with aspirin (2 tablets twice a day) or phenylbutazone injection 5ml per day into the muscle.

Treat the stomach with Metastim or Phosamine Stimulans 5ml per day and treat the sensitivity to the sun by putting the animal into the shade.


16. Black Quarter/Quarter Evil

Symptoms Prevention Treatment

The spongy appearance of muscle in an animal with black quarter

Black quarter is an acute infectious disease caused by Clostridium bacteria. It causes inflammation of the muscles, toxaemia and high mortality.

Live animal: Fever, loss of appetite, depressed behaviour, stiff gait and reluctance to move due to lameness, gaseous bubbles in the muscles before death, sometimes nose bleeding and swelling of the head.

Dead animal: Accumulation of fluid under the skin and in the lungs and body cavities; affected muscle is dark brown, dry and sponge like or moist. A pungent odour is noted.

It is spread by contaminated soil and organisms are either taken in when the animal is feeding or through wounds.

Bury or burn the carcass to prevent the disease from spreading to other animals. The meat can also cause humans to get sick.

It will be prevented if goats are vaccinated with Multivax P. They can also be vaccinated with Blanthrax, which also protects against anthrax.

Treatment is not often successful. The farmer can inject the animal with a penicillin injection, which must be obtained from a veterinarian.

17. Uncommon diseases

1. Anthrax

This disease is more common in cattle. It can affect goats but very rarely. It can affect a human that is why it is important to notify the State.

NOTE: DO NOT OPEN THE CARCASS – The carcass must not be cut open or it will release germs that affect the surrounding area. Signs of anthrax in a cow

Symptoms Prevention Treatment
The live animal: The animal often dies suddenly, with no symptoms having been seen even a few hours before.

The dead animal: Thick, dark blood is seen coming from the animal’s nostrils and anus.

This disease can infect people so the carcass must be buried or burnt and not eaten.

Animals should be vaccinated annually with Blanthrax which will protect them from both anthrax and black quarter. There is not normally enough time to treat the animal so prevention is essential.



2. Rift Valley Fever and Wesselsbron Diseases.

Symptoms Prevention Treatment
These are both viral diseases transmitted by mosquitos. OUTBREAKS ARE EXTREMELY RARE!

These diseases only occur in situations where there is standing water.

Rift Valley Fever symptoms:  young kids unlikely to show symptoms, while adults may develop a fever, vomit and show a nasal discharge, leg weakness, may abort, bloody diarrhoea. 20-30% of infected animals die.

Wesselsbron Disease symptoms: resembles Rift Valley Fever, but mortalities are low amongst adults. Abortions and high kid mortalities are however to be expected.

Vaccination is possible but should only be considered in very wet years. Not possible.

3 . Peste des petits ruminants (PPR)

Symptoms Prevention Treatment
This disease is a potential threat to the goat sector although it is not yet encountered in South Africa.

PPR is a viral disease of goats and sheep characterised by fever, sores in the mouth, diarrhoea, pneumonia, and sometimes death.

The virus is secreted in tears, nasal discharge, secretions from coughing, and in the faeces of infected animals. Water and feed troughs can also be contaminated with secretions and become additional sources of infection. There are no medications available to treat the disease, but supportive treatment may decrease mortality.

There is a PPR vaccine available from countries where it is common.

4 . Foot and Mouth Disease

Symptoms Prevention Treatment
Lesions (sores) in the mouth and on the feet, salivation and lameness.

Sores in a goat’s mouth and on a cow’s hoof

Vaccination is only permitted by government under certain circumstances. No treatment – cases must be reported immediately and affected herds/flocks slaughtered to prevent the spread of the disease.


Prevention is better than cure!. Trust kimd to serve you and forget the problems in goat farming because we are known worldwide for quality work.

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