Goats/Kid Goats


QUESTION: Good Evening,
My name is Mary Rios and I am from Texas. We are new to the goat business and really enjoy it. We have Boer Goats by the way. Our goats started kidding in December 2014. My concern is that some of our kids have died and have no idea as to why. Some have passed away at 2 days old, 10 days old, and recently at 1 month old. They have proper housing, food and water. They have ample space to roam around and we do not let the kids go out and roam with the moms. So far, we have lost about 18 kids. It is hard to find a vet that deals with goats where we live so I have no idea what to do. Can you please let me know what I can do to prevent the same thing from happening again the next time around the Kid?

Any information would greatly be appreciated..

Thank You,

Mary Rios

ANSWER: Hi Mary,
I am SO very sorry you are losing your babies. :(
I need more information before I can help you.
What were the babies eating? (all of them at different ages)
What breed?  Can you tell me symptoms before they died? Are they all seemingly dying from the same cause?
What measures have you taken to help  when they get ill?
Any other specific information will help me, help you.  

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for responding back so soon. My goats are Boer Goats. The kids all drink mom milk, and the older ones still drink milk, but also eat some hay. The majority have shown no symptoms of illness. We don't live at the ranch, but check up on them in the morning at 8:00 a.m. and again at about 4 for 5 in the evening. They are fine at the end of the day, and may be dead by the morning. The latest ones being 2 days ago, have been standing, but weak and fall down easily. I brought one home, gave it electrolytes and was fine for about an hour. Then it layed down again, and died. The one from yesterday, was still alive but unable to stand. Brought it home, but died shortly after. These last two were a month old already. Is it possible for them to have parasites? They don't show any signs of diarrhea or runny noses. We did have about 2 days that was in the 30's at night and around 40's during the day, but they have adequate housing.

HI Mary,
Wormload or cocci is possible at this (older) age although not probable, and I would think  they would be showing signs of scouring. The only 2 things come to my mind are:

1. lice, which will bring a baby down very quickly
2. starvation, being you are not there.. you have no way of knowing for sure how much these kids are consuming.
Weakness could be from either.

If at all possible spend some time with them all, see how often they drink  from moms,  how does she do with them ? kick them off quickly?  how much milk do the moms have? Do these kids feel full?  if they are weak I suspect  they are not getting enough to eat. (even with hay) as this young they  do not really digest  solids yet, they cannot depend on them for nutrition. Take rectal temps. Low temps (100 and under)  would almost positively confirm the not eating enough. ALSO check for lice. look at bellies,  armpits,  if you have a dark shirt on, hold them up to you for a bit and then look at your shirt - do you see straw colored bugs?  Even biting lice will bring kids down quickly.

I am not at all trying to insinuate that you are not taking measures to have healthy happy goats, but we always need to begin with the basics  and if possible rule them out. I do this with my own herd.  Figuring out what is going on with goats  is a process of elimination, always.  Take the symptoms, the situation and  start by removing things that  do not fit the situation.

In this case,  lack of scours (diarrhea) and very young ages would most likely rule out internal parasites, (BUT not always an iron clad rule)  -   but not external parasites (lice) Any time you have a sick goat take the rectal temperature. (Normal is 101.5 to 103.5) Lower than 100 is dangerous and the animal is trying to shut down and higher than 104 is fever usually from pneumonia or other infection. With the very young ones, did you happen at all to feel inside the mouths?  Cold mouth is a sign of shutting down and low core body temp. Did the babies seem  at all active  and chubby or were they  weak listless and thin?

From what you mention .. you being there in morning and night, and that (you do not let the kids roam with the moms) does  this mean the moms are out all day in pasture or away from kids and only with them at night? (I am thinking in the morning you let moms out to do their thing and put them back with babies in the evening?) IF SO, then this is where your issues might lie - babies might be starving during the day and gorging at night.  BUT not getting enough all the way around.

Those 30 degree temps  would not help a weak baby but  should not be enough to kill them UNLESS they are already sick to begin with -  Keep this in mind also..  By the time WE notice a goat is sick.. it had most likely been sick for at least a few days if not a week - they hide symptoms as a natural thing  because they are herd animals, it is instinctive that they hide being weak or sick because if they were in the wild, predators would  know they were  and attack, so they hold off showing any signs of illness/weakness as long as they possibly can instinctively- by the time we see them acting sick they are very sick -

What are the moms eating? how is the hay?  it needs to be fresh and mold free..   do the moms have nice big full udders?  Maybe the moms are not making enough milk to feed the babies enough? With the tiny young ones,  if these are new moms, it is not at all unusual for new  first time moms not to want to feed the baby (they don;t like the feeling of the baby on the udder)  or not know what to do with the baby.. Have the mom's been regularly dewormed and  proved adequate minerals and such? if they are not healthy the babies will suffer.   

There are SO many variables..  and with not being there 24/7 it is difficult  to tell exactly what is happening..  and being you are also new to goats it makes it that much more difficult since you are not used to looking for certain red flags of problems.

I have some good articles on my website http://Goat-Link.com  to help new goat owners know goats and the basics..  you might want to take some time to read some of them that apply to your situation -
I wish I could be more definitive. The best way for you to come to a conclusion.. is to spend a day  with them doing the same thing you normally do (if you let moms out and keep babies in) how moms act when baby comes to nurse,  etc etc..  - and see  what is going on from observation. Then you have more to go on.

ALSO one last thing, have you  looked at the lower inner eyelid membrane on these kids?  If so what color is it? Look at the mom's too..  are they pale or bright pink, this is an indication of anemia, usually due to parasite overload my article here to show you what to look for-  http://goat-link.com/content/view/110/107

Let me know if I can help more and if you have further questions. Again, I am very sorry for your losses.



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Specializing in New Goat Owner understanding of goat physiology, goat anatomy, goat care and herd management. *I am not a veterinarian, any advice and information should be verified by your veterinarian before administering to your goats. (! During times of severe weather in the Midwest, I may experience a delay in internet service due to the interference of the satellite reception - but will answer your questions as soon as service is restored. !) Note: Keep in mind, the goat expert is volunteering her time to help other goat owners, she also runs her farm with her own herd of 100 goats and may not be at her computer at all hours. Questions are answered as soon as she can possibly read and answer them, usually within 24 hours.


23 years experience of raising goats and herd management. Active hands on experience with goat herd and research with various Caprine University Research and Extension Centers nationwide. 15 years dedicated to helping other goat breeders/owners with goat anatomy, goat disease and goat health care issues via phone, published goat care articles and internet interaction. The information I have to offer is not only from personal experience and years of research updated often as new information is made available to me, but supported by many Veterinary Research colleges and all medications and information I have to offer on how the medications work and what dosages "I" use, is information I have acquired by discussing directly with the company's veterinarians and staff research experts.

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United Caprine News, Homesteaders Magazine, Columnist for Goat Magazine, Owner and Author of GoatPedia™

Graduate Programs in Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University

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