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55 Barton Street, Tewkesbury, Glos. GL20 5PX   .   01684 292177 (24hr)   .



Goats are ‘browsers’, this means they will prefer to eat bushes, trees, bark and scrub over grass  and will graze on small quantities throughout the day. Since they are ruminants the majority of their diet should be forage based, although supplemental feeding may be required for growth and during late gestation and lactation. Any adjustments in food should be done slowly to allow the rumen flora to adapt.

Copper is vital to a goat’s nutrition and so always feed a mineral supplement or concentrate feed that provides a source of copper. Salt licks should be available at all times.

Housing & Fencing

Goats are curious and independent and as a result they will often climb on fences to reach hedgerows and find escape routes. High stock fencing or electric fencing is most suitable, but make sure all electrical wires and fittings are kept out of reach.

Shelter is a must for all goats, either by form of indoor housing or a field shelter for those kept mainly outdoors.

Kids will benefit from things to play with such as a bench or small bales to climb on, but be careful to ensure that any hay racks or feed troughs have lids to prevent goats getting stuck or sustaining injuries as a result of misadventure.


Goats have a very different immune system to many other animals and so require booster vaccinations on a more regular basis; for vaccines against fewer diseases (ie Lambivac), every 6 months; but for vaccines covering more diseases (ie Heptavac P), every 3-4 months.

Clostridial disease – includes tetanus and black leg. The pathogens are endemic in the environment and live in the soil, so all animals are at risk of disease.  Infection can be rapid and fatal.

Pasturella – respiratory disease caused by bacteria usually found in the lungs. Disease occurs as a result of stress, housing conditions, lowered immunity or secondary to other diseases.


Due to their browsing behaviour, goats develop limited immunity to worms and so will need lifelong regular worming control.  They also metabolise worming products much faster than sheep so will often require 1.5-2 times the sheep dosing.

Worming control should be monitored using routine faecal egg counts (we can do these in house, please bring us a sample!) and managed using grazing cycles and reducing resistant worms.

Common Diseases

Caseous Lymphadenitis (CLA)

CLA is a chronic disease caused by Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis.

Symptoms include large masses around the head and neck associated with abscessation of lymph nodes. If these burst, they release highly infectious pus material. Internal abscessation in severe cases can lead to weight loss, reduced appetite and death.

Infection is by direct contact, by sharing troughs and via the environment.

Prevention is aimed at following good biosecurity measures and maintaining a closed herd or purchasing replacement stock from accredited herds. Purchased animals should be quarantined for 4 weeks and blood tested.


Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE)

CAE is a viral disease, closely related to Maedi Visna in sheep, spread predominantly via colostrum shortly after birth.

Symptoms include sudden loss of condition, painful and swollen joints (particularly the knee), or misshapen and hard udder.  Diagnosis is via blood tests.

Prevention of CAE is similar to Johne’s (see above), by establishing herd status, removing infected animals, keeping a closed herd or buying accredited animals and good hygiene during kidding.

Johne’s disease

Johne’s is caused by Mycobacterium paratuberculosis avium, animals are infected early in life but do not show signs of disease until several years later. The bacterium targets the wall of the small intestine causing thickening and reduced nutrient absorption.

Symptoms include weight loss and poor performance. Unlike in cattle, diarrhoea is not a typical feature.  Diagnosis requires a combination of blood test, faecal tests and post mortem examination.

It is spread via faecal contamination of the environment, during pregnancy from dam to kid, and via colostrum.

Prevention is by

·         Establishing herd status via blood tests and removing infected animals

·         Maintaining a closed herd or purchase replacements from accredited herds and quarantine for 4 weeks

·         Ensure newborn kids receive sufficient colostrum that is not from infected dams (never feed pooled colostrum)

·         Keep the kidding area clean with deep fresh bedding to avoid faecal contamination.