Mineral Supplementation - Use a loose mineral blend designed specifically for goats for the best results. Goats need lots of minerals to stay healthy. Look for a loose mineral that has less than 20% salt, over 1500 ppm of copper, added selenium, and a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1. I prefer Sweetlix Meatmaker 16:8 for my goats. It works for all types of goats, not just meat goats. Maximize your goat's mineral consumption by not having baking soda, mineral blocks or salt licks available at the same time as their loose minerals.Mineral blocks and non-goat specific minerals or "all stock" minerals will not have enough of the essential minerals that goats need.
Fiber/forage/hay/pasture must be fed in addition to any grain and loose minerals. The breakdown of fiber in the goat's stomach keeps the good bacteria working and producing B vitamins. If the bacteria are compromised by too much grain and not enough fiber they will die and stop synthesizing B vitamins. Goats will get "Goat Polio" which is blindness and paralysis caused by a lack of the B vitamin Thiamine. Immediate supplementation with thiamine is essential to reverse the effects of goat polio. The good bacteria also produce heat for the goat so constant access to fiber is very important in winter.
Fresh, clean water is a must for all goats. Goats don't like stale water.
Parasite Control - All goats have internal and external parasites. There are many different kinds of them. The internal parasites include stomach/gastrointestinal worms, lungworms, liver flukes, meningeal worm (brainworm), and coccidia. These parasites may need different kinds of dewormers and antibiotics to kill them. Check your goats for internal parasites by assessing their body condition, looking at the color of the lower eyelid membranes, and fecal samples. Only deworm or treat goats for parasites after you determine what type of parasites they have using these assessments.
External parasites can be a problem. Check goats for lice and mites. Ticks, fleas, blackflies, mosquitoes, deer flies, and biting flies can bother goats.
Hooves - Trim your goat's hooves often. Check them every 4 - 6 weeks to see if they need to be trimmed.
Horns - If you don't want goats to have horns you must disbud them at under 2 weeks old. This is the best method to use.
Common Diseases - There are 4 main diseases that goats can have. You can test for these by sending a blood sample to WADDL (Washington University Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory).You do not need a veterinarian to do this for you. You can take the samples yourself and send them. All 4 tests can be done on the same sample of 2-3mL of blood.
CAE is Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis. It is found in 70-80% of all goats in the world. 10% of these goats will exhibit clinical symptoms. The other 90% may never show symptoms but can pass the virus to other goats. The virus is only found in goats. It does not effect humans. Symptoms of the virus include paralytic encephalitis in kids, arthritis in adult goats, and hard udders at freshening. The only way to know for sure if a goat has CAE is to do a blood test. There is no vaccine, cure, or treatment for this. CAE spreads from infected moms to their uninfected kids through the milk. CAE can be prevented from infecting new goats by pulling the babies from their moms at birth, and feeding baby goats heat treated colostrum and then pasteurized goat milk. The virus is killed by heat treatment and pasteurization. Negative animals must never consume raw milk from positive goats. I recommend testing your entire herd for CAE. Retest all negative animals annually until you feel confident that your herd is CAE-free. CAE positive animals can live long lives and be healthy. It is important to address their other health concerns, such as mineral supplementation, feeding, and parasites, to keep them healthy as long as possible. Be sure to use CAE prevention if you want to sell goats as breeding stock from CAE positive parents.
CL is Caseous Lymphadenditis. It is a bacterial disease that infects goats, occasionally sheep, and rarely humans. The bacteria causes large internal and external abscesses around the lymph nodes as well as other parts of the body. There is no treatment or cure for the disease once the goats have the bacteria in them. There is a vaccine that is used in sheep but may not be effective in goats. You can test for CL with a blood test or by testing the pus from an abscess. The abscesses can burst and spread the bacteria all around your herd and property. If a goat is positive for CL I recommend euthanizing them immediately.
Johnes or paratuberculosis is bacterial disease that effects all ruminants. It can spread for goats to sheep to cows and vice versa. The disease causes a thickening on the intestinal wall to the point that the animal will starve to death even though they are eating well. It is highly contagious and lives in the soil for a long time. There is no treatment, cure or vaccine for this. Testing can be done by blood or fecal sample. I recommend euthanizing positive animals immediately and moving all negative animals to new, uninfected property.
Brucellosis is very rare in the US and not found in NY at this time. It causes late term abortions and infertility in goats. People tend to test for this because it can be done by using the same blood sample that is used for testing CAE, CL, and Johnes.