Posts Tagged ‘Goat Health’


November 24, 2009

The mechanism which controls the breeding cycle of cows is understood only to a limited extent. With your hand in the cow’s rectum it is possible to feel the whole of the genital organs and the changes that take place in them as the breeding cycle goes along. The mechanism that controls the goats breeding mechanism is believed to be similar.

The sexual cycle of the goat is started by the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland secreting follicle-stimulating hormones which excited the ovaries at each tip of the ‘horns of the womb’, to develop a ‘blister’ inside which one of the store of eggs in the ovary rapidly develops. This blister itself secretes estrogen which in turn produces the symptoms of oestrus or ‘heat’

The womb contracts, the cervix at the mouth of the womb relaxes and opens, the vagina is tensed and lubricated by slime. The goat becomes restless, bleats and wags its tail with a red and swollen vulva often showing signs of discharges. The goat is ready to stand to the male goat billy.

When the blister in the ovaries reaches its full size the pituitary produces luteinizing hormones which causes the blister to burst which in turn causes the mature egg to start its long winding journey down the fallopian tubes. The broken walls of the blister then grow lutein which is a kind of temporary gland that secretes progesterone. Progesterone has an opposite effect to that of oestrogen. Thus the outward symptoms of ‘heat’ subside, the vagina relaxes and dries off, the cervix closes to seal the womb and the womb then relaxes and is richly supplied by blood.

If the mating is successful the egg on its way down the fallopian tubes encounters a sperm and fertilizes and upon arriving at the womb finds its place prepared for it (by the action of the progesterone) settles down and develops. The lutein remains continuing to produces progesterone until the foetus is mature

Upon maturity of the foetus the lutein is reabsorbed and at the stimulus of the pituitary, the ovaries once more secrete estrogen which relaxes the cervix, lubricates the vagina and contracts the womb to expel the kid. When the kid is born the secretion of estrogen stops.

If the egg is not fertilized on its way down the fallopian tubes the lutein persists secreting progesterone for about 10 days after which it shrinks away and the follicle-stimulating hormone is again secreted by the pituitary gland to start the cycle all over again.




March 8, 2009


Many Goat farmers do not realize unwittingly sabotage their mineral supplement efforts by giving salt blocks in addition to loose mineral supplements or mineral blocks. For many years now we have always been brainwashed advised to provide salt blocks to our Goats. These day complete mineral and vitamin supplement products that are specifically designed for goats already contain salt.

Consumption of mineral supplements is regulated by several different factors like salt content, the hardness, molasses content, and other factors. The salt is added to the mineral mix not only to meet the salt needs of the Goat, but also to mask other awful bad tasting ingredients and to maintain proper consumption. As an example, Magnesium Oxide taste terrible is very unpalatable to Goats so salt along with other ingredients is added to hide mask the unpleasant taste. Although salt is added to the mineral mix to encourage consumption, it is also added to limit consumption.

What does this have to do with salt blocks? When salt blocks are provided along with a complete mineral supplement, Goats may get all of their salt from the salt blocks and consume none of the trace mineral supplement or they will consume some of both. While they do get some mineral supplement in this instance, they usually will not receive as much as they need. When you buy a mineral supplement, you will find a set of feeding instructions on the label. The desired consumption rate listed on the label is the rate that is formulated to deliver the full compliment of mineral supplement. For example, if the desired consumption of a mineral is 1 oz. per head per day, the presence of salt blocks may decrease consumption of this mineral to 0.5 oz per head per day. Let’s also say that this mineral is designed to deliver 100% of the daily-recommended allowances for trace minerals. In this case, the goats would have only half of their trace mineral needs met by this feeding scenario and in time could develop mineral deficiencies, especially in Selenium.

In all cases, it is important that you read and follow the label directions for any Goat supplement. NEVER provide additional sources of salt to Goats receiving trace mineral supplements unless the product label specifically instructs you to do so.

The cost of a good complete mineral supplement represents a significant cost in Goat production. You are investing your hard earned money with the knowledge that your investment will pay off in an improved herd health and increased productivity. To add salt blocks that decrease the effectiveness of your complete mineral supplement significantly decreases the value of your investment.

No matter what mineral supplement you choose to purchase and utilize, protect your investment dollars by reading and following the label feeding directions. Avoid wasting money and effort allowing goat access to salt blocks unless the mineral supplement specifically states to do so.


March 1, 2009

Your young goats feeding management is important critical to the success of your farm (which I rather call a business here), whether the production system is for live animals, meat or milk. In any case, your young goat kids are raised either as replacement stock or for sale. Which of these categories these kids fall into will determine how quickly you want them to gain weight and what feeding program they should be put on. To make correct appropriate feeding management decisions, you have to keep in mind the physiological changes that a young kid’s goat’s digestive system goes through as they grow. These changes affect the types and amounts of feed that young goats can eat, and thereby their nutritional requirements. They also affect how management techniques should be carried out specifically pre and post-weaning management to minimize wastage and losses setbacks during these periods.

At birth, the digestive system of the young goat is very similar to that of you the human. During these first stages of milk feeding, the abomasum and small intestines play an important role with respect to digestion and nutrition. In young goats, the suckling reflex triggers the oesophageal groove to close so that milk bypasses the rumen and flows directly in to the abomasum where clotting and some digestion occurs. Milk protein is rapidly digested in the small intestine. If the oesophageal groove does not close, for whatever reason, then milk goes into the rumen where it ‘ferments’, allowing digestive upsets to become problems. You can refer to this post on The Digestive System Of The Goat here for a better explaination.

When the young goats begin to eat solid food, these feeds may stay in the rumen and lead to development of the microbial population. The rumen-reticulum and the large intestine begin to increase more rapidly at the expense of the abomasum and small intestine. The change from pre-ruminant to ruminant is a gradual process, fibrous feed encourages rumen development and appear to speed up the development of the muscles of the rumen wall, which are important in rumen digestion and mixing of rumen contents. These changes in the digestive system have a large impact on the feeding methods used in raising young goats and should be kept in mind during all feeding management decisions. To be successful, your feeding program has to be well adapted to the nutritional characteristics of the young goat and what the intended end use of that goat.

The milk-feeding period lasts from birth until the moment when the kid no longer consumes any milk. It could and can last for as little as three weeks, or as long as a few months more so if the kid is left with the doe. The first milk a young goat should receive is called the Colostrum and it serves three basic functions.

As a laxative to aid in the excretion of the muconium lining of the digestive tract, as nutrition providing an excellent energy source for the newborn and for energy reserves in the newborn are limited, and the high fat content of colostrum serves that purpose well. It also gives protection as it contains antibodies (immunoglobulins) to protect the newborn goat until its own immune system begins functioning about 3 weeks of age. It is always advisable to keep a reserve of frozen colostrum on hand to supplement those goats whose dams did not have sufficient quantities.

The key factor determined to affect growth rate is quality of the milk (fat content and dry matter content). Kids will grow just as well on good quality milk replacer as on goat milk. Feed efficiency appeared to be higher (less milk for the same weight gain) with goat milk especially during the first 30 days. If using milk replacer, the question often comes up whether to use goat, lamb, or calf milk replacer? What is important is the quality of the replacer. Kids perform best on replacer where the protein is 100% milk protein. The fat content of the replacer is basically used by the goat as an energy source. The type of fat does not appear to be important as the type of protein with respect to gains, but the amount of fat is (no higher than 30%). Milk fat (butterfat) is the preference (but is costly). In Kuching, we are UNfortunate to NOT have high quality goat milk replacers available commercially.

Kids fed with nipple devises have fewer digestive problems and less bloating than those fed with a pail or pan. Cool milk also prevents them from greedily drinking large quantities of milk at a time, again reducing digestive problems. Kids fed cold milk do not diarrhea as quickly as those fed warm milk, for the same reasons. Free choice access to milk is preferred especially with respect to health and less digestive problems. Economics, however, often dictates just how much, or how little, milk replacer you can afford to feed. Satisfactory growth, and not necessarily maximum growth has to be emphasized. The amount of milk consumed by the young goat depends on the level of solids (concentration) of the milk. The more concentrated, the less amount consumed in terms of volume.

How young goats are fed after weaning will be determined by whether they are replacement doe kids or intended for market. Weight gain will vary according to the level of dry matter intake and particularly the level of energy intake. Generally, with market animals, maximum rate of gain is desirable. The quicker an animal reaches market weight, the lower the daily cost of feed, and hopefully the potential for a good ringgit return.


With replacement animals, emphasis should be placed more on rumen development and gut capacity, with rate of gain being secondary. As adults, goats with greater gut capacity will have the ability to consume more feed and thereby, meet nutrient demands for higher production. Avoid too high a level of fattening in young replacement does as this can have a negative impact on future performance, especially in terms of milk production.Type of protein can also affect growth rate. Fish meal gave the best results right after weaning, followed by soybean meal. Urea can be substitutes successfully for part of the soybean meal, as long as the percentage of urea does not exceed 2.25% of the grain but awful taste palatability problems can be experienced with urea, and it is also important to ensure that the energy content of the grain mix is sufficient for efficient use of the protein.

Although there is not much information are still large gaps in goat and especially, young goat nutrition, sufficient data on the internet is available to enable producers to do a good job of feeding and raising young goats. As with all young livestock, it cannot be emphasized enough, that how young goats are fed in the first 24 hours of life, the first week of life and the first month of life has a very large impact on how well they grow in their first year, and how well they produce (kids and/or milk) throughout their lifetime.



February 8, 2009

Diarrhea is a symptom of serious health problems in goats. Before treating your Goat for diarrhea, it is essential to determine the cause? Diarrhea-controlling medication could make the situation much worse. Slightly soft stool is sometimes just the Goat’s body’s way of ridding itself of undesirable products through the purging effect of diarrhea. If the scouring is slightly soft stool, just let it run its course.

But today I am just going to answer your question as to what works for me (in emergency cases) in ‘treating’ sudden diarrhea, by that I mean the very watery type. I will try my best to and find time to write at length on this topic.


I use activated charcoal pills. I figured that if it worked when i had the runs for me, it would work for my Goats and so far it has worked but I have to admit that for the past 6 months I have only had to use it on 2 occasions. Both times I crushed 2 pills and diluted with a tablespoon of water before using a syringe to force it down the Goat 3 times a day and the only feed they were given was forage. The diarrhea went away on the 2nd day.


January 4, 2009

The sweet potato is one of the oldest vegetables known to man, is native to Central America and has been grown for thousands of years, starting with the Incas of Peru and the Mayan Tribes. Columbus documented the sweet potato in 1493 on his fourth voyage to South America and the West Indies. The Portuguese traders took the sweet potato to Africa around 1540, and later to India, Malaya and China. The Spanish introduced sweet potato to the East Indies and Philippines. It remains a staple in the diets for some of these nations’ peoples today.


This root vegetable qualified as an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), a very good source of vitamin C and manganese . It is also a good source of copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and iron. Recent research studies on the sweet potato has also focused on two areas of unique health benefit. First are some unique root storage proteins in this food that have been observed to have significant antioxidant capacities. In one study, these proteins had about one-third the antioxidant activity of glutathione – one of the body’s most impressive internally produced antioxidants. Count on these root proteins to help explain sweet potatoes ‘healing properties’.


Planting the sweet potato in beds produces vigorous growth and usually can be harvested fairly easy with a sickle and fed too as a supplement to other forages you might offer your Goats. We have experimented with planting them in the paddocks but the resulting leave growth cannot keep up with the Goats eating them and the sweet potato itself is often dug up and eaten!

You can also harvest the potato and slice it thinly, the thinner the better. Then dry in the sun for at least a whole day. The thinner the slice the faster it will dry out. Feed to your Goats as a snack or treat.



December 14, 2008

While there are standards for Goat intake of energy and protein foods which are mainly useful for beginners these should serve only as a rough check for the experienced goat keeper. Problems which arise from Goat mineral needs afflict all manner of Goats and you, the experienced goat keeper and constitutes the principal difficulty of managing high yielding herds.

The Goat being a small ruminant works at a higher metabolic rate hence naturally with greater ‘wear and tear’ and therefore requires more mineral supplements and maintenance. The workings of the digestive tract involves the use and loss of large quantities of minerals in the digestive juices.

The Goat has an outstanding mineral requirement because it has a small body with high metabolic rate with a digestive system occupying one third of their body and producing milk richer than cow’s milk and greater in volume than sheep. Feeding which may seem adequate for other farm stock is most probably deficient for the goat.

Many of us think we know enough after some experience and reading and thus coming up with our idea of what a balance mineral supplement should be. Such commercial mixtures usually serve a purpose at a cost way out of proportion to the value of our Goat. Since it is designed to meet the requirements of cattle under orthodox systems of mineral management, that particular mixture will not be balanced for your Goat. Even commercial mixtures for the Goat may supposedly be balanced but it may just be not that for the individual goat as it depends on its feeding and expected yield, meat or milk. However it must be clearly understood that an excess of minerals becomes a heavy strain of your Goat’s kidneys which is largely responsible for getting rid of any surplus. An excess of any one mineral is liable to make another non-available. A chronic excess of many minerals deranges the workings of the vital processes.

Calcium and Phosphorus are the principal components of the goat skeleton and are essential for the chemistry in a variety of vital functions. Calcium for example is concerned with blood clotting and in the control of the metabolic rate and in nervous control. Phosphorus is needed for the release of muscular energy, for the digestion of oils, fats and for body cell making whether for growth, replacement or reproduction.

Calcium and Phosphorus are deposited in the bone together. If the need for either is needed by the body and the present diet cannot provide for it then both are released from the bones. These two minerals are always associated yet they are opposed in the effect on the body’s chemistry.

When there is a Calcium deficiency in the blood the goat will tend to overdo it. It will eat well, yield well and be very excitable. Then all of a sudden it will collapse. Phosphorus deficiency may take other forms but is always accompanied by a rather dull and apathetic attitude towards life.

In simple terms think of Calcium as the brake and Phosphorus as the accelerator. In those capacities they act on the thyroid gland which controls the metabolic rate and the rate of which Calcium and Phosphorus is withdrawn from the skeleton to serve the needs of milk production or meat development.

Magnesium in small quantities is required in the diet where it is a needed companion and assistant to Calcium in the chemistry of the goat’s body. Some functions of Calcium cannot be performed without the presence of Magnesium. When the Magnesium content in grass falls with the seasonal changes, grass fed goats are prone to Tetany. Apart from this problem lack of Magnesium can lead to general slight ill health.

Now let’s look at Iodine. The thyroid gland which controls the metabolic rate needs a supply of Iodine which in turn is needed for the manufacture thyroxine. If the supply of Iodine is not within its requirements the thyroid gland increases in size to make most of small resources and a goitre is produced. But this is an unreliable symptom and the least important consequence of Iodine deficiency which can and will cause ill health without any or noticeable difference in the size of the thyroid gland which is located in the throat. Iodine deficiency produces symptoms which include harsh coarse dry hair, dead parchment skin, still born and often hairless kids. Coming back to the thyroid gland, the goat’s ability to assimilate vitamin A and Carotene depends on its thyroid activity. So Iodine deficiency bears in its train of consequences of vitamin A deficiency as well which means retarded growth, infertility and low resistance to infection. Compared to a cow the goat has a thyroid gland which is half as big when proportioning bodyweight. The more productive your Goat, the greater will there be a need for Iodine.

Iodine differs from all other minerals in that it is only present in very small quantities in plants and almost entirely available in soil. It is rich in soils that hold their moisture well, peats, clays and humus rich land. Lime blocks the uptake of Iodine from the soil as it suppresses the effect of thyroxine in the blood. Over limed corps should be avoided as with corps subjected to heavy applications of artificial manures.

Copper is needed by the Goat in very small quantities and is needed to aid digestion and the use of iron in the body. The symptoms of Copper deficiency is scours, a dull and staring coat and loss of pigment from the hair giving the goat a washed out appearance. If you do not have access to a mineral supplement that contains Copper you can make your own. The recipe is 1 gm. of Copper Sulphate dissolved in a litre of water to be poured over 3 kg. of Salt. Let this mixture evaporate naturally and when dry add 600 gm. of red oxide of iron. Your Goats should have free access to this.

Cobalt is needed by the Goat to provide the bacteria in its digestive tract to synthesize vitamin B12. This vitamin is the antidote to pernicious anaemia. Lack of it causes this disease and encourages acetonamia and possibly other diseases. Some internal parasites rob their hosts of this vitamin when it enters the body from the digestive tract. The proportion of Cobalt included in commercial trace elements mixtures has proved useless for deficient Goats. Dissolve 10gms of Cobalt Sulphate in 300 ml of water, wet it with 2 kg of Salt and offer to goats as free access. If your goat has anaemia as a consequence of worm infestation or acetonaemia that accompanies a low fibre diet, you can counter this by adding 10gm of the above mixture to the feed everyday for a week. You can notice a chronic deficiency of Cobalt when it is evident by a gradual loss of appetite , wasting and sensitivity to cold.

We may cater for the mineral needs of our goats in three ways, Treating the soil on which (if) we grow Goat food, selecting the species of plants we grow for goat food or by feeding a concentrate of mineral mixture.

To be continued…


December 14, 2008

The male Goat has a habit of marking anything he fancies with his personal ‘stink’, by rubbing his head on them. What he is rubbing with is his musk glands which are situated in a 3/8 to ½ inch wide band immediately and along the inside edge of the base of each horn.

These musk glands are present in both sexes. As these are activated by the presence of male hormones in the blood, this activity is seasonal in the male and unusual in the female. In an adult, if you remove the normal hair you can see these glands as an area of thickened and glistening skin.


The de-odourization procedure is a simple extension to the debudding technique, the glandular area being scorched by a disbudding iron.

A few animals will have small patches of musk glands on other parts of their bodies and these can be located by nose, but shampoo first and when locating cauterize the same way. A Goat that produces ‘Goaty smelling’ milk can be ‘tested’ by rubbing the suspected area by hand for a few moments then sniffing.


November 30, 2008


Himalayan salt licks are mined in Pakistan from deposits over 250 million years old. Supposedly to be rich in 84 minerals and trace elements it has that distinctive pink color. They are extremely hard, making them very weather resistant and more difficult for the Goat to bite chunks off, which is what often happens with the softer mineral blocks we use. Just put an order through to trial it out.


November 23, 2008

In our very hot and humid climate here in Sarawak, we must have found that the heat and humidity can and will cause a reduction in the amount of food our Goats intake.

We must realize that a great deal of heat is produced in the process of digestation, which must be lost if the Goat is not going to overheat. Most of this heat is going to be lost through ‘sweating’ which become much less effective in humid environments. Goats rely on evaporative cooling from the respiratory tract. Consequently, high humidity associated with high temperatures is stressful to the animals as it interferes with their ability to regulate body temperature. If indoor temperatures rise above 30°C (85°F), a comfortable environment can be maintained by keeping the relative air humidity below 60%.

Above 30°C (85°F) your Goats will start to experience mild heat stress, more so when the humidity turns up the heat index. As heat and humidity climb, Goats will start to develop a serious problem with thermal stress. Goats get 8 times more relief from panting than sweating so rapid breathing is their primary form of cooling themselves.

During the hotter parts of the day you will notice your Goats will stop eating. You may also notice them lying on their sides flat out. They have stopped not because they have a full tummy but because they are having difficulty in keeping their body temperatures down to a tolerable level if their rumens are very actively digesting food and producing heat.

How we tackle this is to allow our Goats to go out into the paddocks in the early morning for their foraging and come back in the mid-afternoon where they are fed at around 3pm. They might be let out again for more foraging before being let back in during the late evening.

How to read the chart – Find the temperature on top, then move to the left until you find the column for the approximate relative humidity. That number will be the temperature that it will “feel” like. For example, a temperature of 90°F and relative humidity of 50% will “feel” like 95°. Add up to 15° if in the direct sun.

Humidity can be measured indirectly with dry and wet-bulb thermometers. The dry-bulb is an ordinary mercury-in-glass thermometer and measures the air temperature. The bulb of the wet-bulb thermometer is covered by a muslin bag which is kept moist. It gives a lower reading than the dry-bulb because of the cooling effect of water evaporating from the muslin bag.

The two thermometers may be placed in a Stevenson screen, or whirled together in a sling (sling psychrometer), or ventilated by drawing air past them with an electric fan (aspirating psychrometer). The difference between the wet and dry-bulb readings is a good indication of the efficiency of evaporative-type coolers and the wet-bulb reading is a reasonable indication of Goat comfort.


November 16, 2008

Dr. Teruo Higa, a Japanese professor of agriculture, developed EM – short for “Effective Micro-organisms” – in the nineteen-seventies and published his results in 1982. In 1989 EM was made public on an international level, and is now being used in more than 120 countries but is still relatively unknown in East Malaysia.

EM is a liquid culture of aerobic and anaerobic micro-organisms mainly sourced from human food processing and from nature. It consists of lactobacilli, yeast, photosynthetic bacteria, ray fungi and filamentous fungi. It does not contain any genetically modified organisms, is safe and easy to handle, and harmless to human health even if accidentally ingested.

The sample of EM stock solution we have been testing out at The Kebun is the dormant version of EM. This stock solution is “activated” prior to use with the following materials and steps. One liter of EM stock solution and 1 liter of molasses and mixed with 20 liters of clean water free from chlorine. The container should be of food-grade plastic and must be clean, not contaminated with chemicals (remember, tap water has chlorine) plus have an airtight lid. As little air as possible should be left in the container (between the liquid and the lid). As gas pressure will develop, the lid will have to be opened everyday for a second to release it.

For the period of activation, in tropical regions such as here in Sarawak, East Malaysia, the container has to be placed in shade at ambient temperatures (20-40 degrees Celsius) without exposure to strong temperature fluctuations. Depending on actual ambient temperatures, this extended EM will be ready after 3 to 5 days. You can verify this by a pH of or lower than 3.5 and a pleasant sweet-sour smell.

From one liter of EM stock solution and one kg (or liter) of molasses, we produce 22 liters of activated EM (EMa) solution ready for use. As the ideal microbial composition of EMa will deteriorate over time, it should be used up within one month. We would advise you to prepare only the volume of EMa which you can use within one month. EM should be extended only once.

In our Goat farm practices (also in general animal husbandry), the benefits from EM, improved digestion and general health and increased productivity, can be observed quickly as demonstrated and proven at The Kebun.

The following practices are adopted:

  • EM used as a feed additive
  • EM sprayed on fodder
  • EM mixed into drinking water
  • EM sprayed in the Goat sheds
  • EM sprayed onto Goat dung
  • EM sprayed onto paddocks
  • EM spread on the bedding
  • EM used in septic tanks collecting animal wastes
  • EM used to aid our compost and organic fertiliser

The rate of addition of EM into feed is 1-5%. For adult Goats we add 5-10 ml per day, for kids 1-2 ml per day (with milk if bottle fed when weaned early). EM diluted 1:100 with water is also sprayed onto feed/forage, just prior to feeding.

We also use EM in drinking water in dilutions from 1:1,000 to 1:5,000, the higher dilutions for very young animals and for animals not accustomed to EM. We must stress that we apply it on fresh water only.

For spraying of EM in the shed, on floors and walls, we used diluted EM 1:100 with water and see no side effects even when splashed on Goat bodies. We use about 1 liter per 10 square meters once a week. We reduced the use of EM (after our second dose) when we noticed the odours were not noticeable anymore thus having some control over the general cleanliness.

EM can be added to septic tanks at a dilution of 1:1,000 but in our case with shed washing water and animal excreta are already inoculated with EM, this was not be necessary anymore.

EM is just wonderful.

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