Navigation Bar
    Breeders Directory
Recommended Reading
    Goats for Sale
Upcoming Events

ORIGIN: United States

Extension Goat Handbook

This material was contributed from collections at the National Agricultural Library. However, users should direct all inquires about the contents to authors or originating agencies.

DOCN 000000012
NO B-6
B. L. Hull; Ohio State U., Columbus M. C. Smith; Cornell U., Ithaca, NY
S. B. Guss; Pennsylvania State U., University Park
Management and Housing

1 Dehorning (disbudding) For humane reasons, goats to be dehorned should be anesthetized, although some people use dehorning restraint boxes for kids. A local block is sufficient, or general anesthesia such as xylazine is suitable. If local anesthesia is used, the infratrochlear nerve (at the dorsal medial margin of the bony orbit) needs to be blocked as well as the cornual nerve (at the caudal ridge of the root of the xygomatic process). Only about 1/2-1 cc of local anesthetic is injected at each of these sites. The anesthetic (lidocaine) should be diluted to 0.5to avoid toxicity.

2 Xylazine at a dose of 0.1-0.2 mg/kg bodyweight given intramuscularly or intravenously is sufficient to cause short term (15-30 minutes) general anesthesia. This has proven to be very satisfactory for short surgical procedures, such as dehorning, but weights of goats must be determined accurately and overdosing avoided.

3 Ideally, goats should be dehorned when they are very young. It is advisable to wait until they are 1-2 weeks of age and in good flesh to be sure they are healthy and not coming down with neonatal diarrhea. If discolored skin is fixed to the skull in 2 rosettes, horn buds are present. Moveable skin indicates a naturally hornless condition. At this young age, the goat can be surgically or electrically disbudded. In either case, about 1 cm of tissue should be removed around the horn to prevent regrowth and horn scurs. If an electric dehorner is the choice, it should be used very hot (to the point of being red hot) and then be applied to each horn bud for only about 10 seconds. Long term application may lead to thermal meningitis. Whether using surgical removal or this thermal cautery, the horn bud should be removed completely.

4 In older goats the surgery is much more extensive and requires opening the frontal sinus. It is a slow healing process and should not be done during fly season unless absolutely necessary. In older animals, general anesthes ++++MISSING DATA++++

5 In preparation for surgery, it is good to fast the goat for 24 hours before surgery to decrease the chance of bloat. The ventral laryngeal area is then clipped and prepped. Xylazine (0.1-0.2 mg/kg bodyweight) and a local line block serve as sufficient anesthesia, although general anesthesia can be recommended. The goat is placed in dorsal recumbency. A ventral midline incision, about 4 cm in length, is made through the skin over the larynx. Using a pair of heavy scissors, the ventral surface of the cricoid and most of the thyroid cartilage are split. The anterior limit of the thyroid cartilage is left intact. The larynx is spread by an assistant or with a small retractor. Excess spreading will tighten the vocal folds so much they become indistinct. The edge of the vocal fold is grasped with a hemostat, and the fold is completely removed with a pair of scissors. The process is repeated on the other side. Hemorrhage is no problem with removal of the folds. Complete removal of both folds is essential to stop any annoying bleating, but even then most goats can vocalize, they just can't bleat.

6 The larynx is left to granulate, but several interrupted sutures are placed in the skin. The goat should be observed for 24-48 hours for any laryngeal edema but post-operative treatment is usually not necessary. Note, this is not a technique for laymen. The operated goat should be held off feed for 24 hours, off water for 6 hours and the head should be low to prevent inhalation.

7 Wattles and Extra Teats Wattles may be cut off at the base with blunt scissors. They may not usually be a problem, except when preparing and clipping for shows. They are inherited by a dominant gene and are found more often in more prolific goats.

8 Extra (supernumerary) teats may be cut off young kids without anesthesia. However, a record should be kept on this in the herd book, since this is an inherited trait which should be avoided if at all possible. On older goats with larger teats, crushing at the base with a Burdizzo helps. If a duct is visible, it should be cauterized with silver nitrate. If two teats are fused, no attempt should be made to remove one. It is considered unethical to remove a teat that would have interferred with milking from an animal for sale, show or breeding.

9 Castration The best time for castration is about at 2 weeks of age, when the kid is in good flesh and healthy. Tetanus prophylaxis is advised. The open technique is best, even for older animals. The scrotum is sanitized and its bottom opened, or better yet the bottom quarter is cut off with blunt, sterilized scissors. This provides for best post-operative drainage. Local anesthesia may be used for older animals; but in young kids it is a procedure with only little, brief pain and nearly bloodless. However, good restraint is important. Kids are normally placed on a table or held in a sitting position in the lap of an assistant.

10 After the scrotum has been opened, the two testes become visible. In young animals, they can be pulled out or scraped until the cords break. In older kids, an emasculator needs to be used to avoid excessive bleeding. The crushing jaws are placed toward the kid's body and the cutting edge away from it. A knife should never be used since it causes too much bleeding. Cords should be cut short enough so they don't protrude and become infected. The cutting site needs a post-operative antiseptic application and is left open. Castrated kids should be kept quiet in a clean pen for a few days and flies should be under control. Normally, there are no complications.

11 Another technique is the bloodless use of the Burdizzo emasculatome (pinzer). Each cord ought to be crushed twice by holding the instrument in the closed position for about 15 seconds. Disinfection is only needed when the skin of the scrotum is broken. Swelling can be expected for a few days. The scrotum will remain for the animal's lifetime but the testes should degenerate.

12 A third technique involves heavy elastrator rubber bands. They are placed with an appropriate applicator above the scrotum and will cut off blood supply to the testes and scrotum. After about 2 weeks, the scrotum with the testes will drop off. The animal feels prolonged pain for a least the first day and may be off feed several days. Tetanus prophylaxis is advised, although this procedure is bloodless. Some disinfection and fly control during the 1st week is also advised.

13 Cesarean Section Most caprine dystocias can be corrected manually since difficult kiddings are often caused by abnormal position of presentation. The maternal pelvis in goats is usually large enough to permit manipulation of the fetus and correction of the problem. A cesarean section may be indicated, however, and several approaches can be used at the discretion of the operator. However, performance of this and other surgical procedures should be attempted only by licensed veterinarians.

14 The right flank offers little or no advantage over the left flank. The left flank approach is advantageous, since it is easier for a single surgeon to hold the rumen in, than to keep the intestines in place. Consequently, the left flank is probably preferable over the right. Flank incisions for cesarean sections offer the advantage of requiring little or no tranquilizer or general anesthesia (both of which will depress the fetus). If the surgeon feels tranquilization is necessary, 1-2 mg of xylazine (total dose) should be sufficient. This often permits restraint of the animal in lateral recumbency. Flank incisions also avoid the abdominal veins associated with the udder and greatly diminish the likelihood of an evisceration or post-surgicial hernia.

15 The ventral incision (midline or paramedian) is probably preferred with: 1. fractious animals who may not stand for the entire surgery,
2. toxic animals who are too weak to stand,
3. dead mascerating fetus.

16 Toxic animals may be tied and restrained in dorsal recumbency. However, fractious animals will require either a general anesthetic or a large dose of tranquilizer such as xylazine (0.1 mg/kg bodyweight). In either case, a large area should be clipped and surgically prepped. In standing surgery, the goat oftens moves around and drapes tend to be more of a detriment than an asset. Doing surgery without drapes requires a large, surgically clean area. If the animal is restrained in lateral or dorsal recumbency, the ani ++++MISSING DATA++++

17 After routine entry into the abdomen, one should locate the ovarian end of a pregnant uterine horn and gently bring it to, and if possible, through the incision. In doing this, it is often helpful to grasp a limb through the uterine wall and use this as a handle to help elevate the uterus. In case of a live, uncontaminated fetus, the uterus can be opened within the abdomen if necessary. However, if the fluids are contaminated, the portion of the uterus to be opened must be exteriorized. An incision parallel to the long axis of the uterus and along the greater curvature (3-5 inches long) will avoid most of the uterine blood supply. Grasping the feet, or the head and feet, the kid is delivered through the incision. Passing the hand back into the uterine incision, the uterus is checked for more kids. If present, they are delivered in a similar manner. Rarely is more than one incision into the uterus needed.

18 After the last kid is delivered, the uterine wall should be closed with an inverting suture (Cushing, Lembert or Guard's Rumen Stitch) using a #1 chromic gut. In the case of contaminated uterine contents, a second inverting suture should be used to oversew the first suture line. Either as the uterus is being closed or after surgery, through the vagina, some type of uterine medication needs to be used. Any type of antibacterial prepartion is probably acceptable for this, although 1 ounce of soluble tetracycline powder seems to work best; it medicates the uterus, is absorbed, and will provide a good systemic blood level.

19 Body closure can be accomplished in 2 or 3 layers depending on whether one p ++++MISSING DATA++++

20 Near parturition, the ligaments left and right of the tailhead on the sacrum are very much relaxed and sunken-in. The udder is full, tight, and milk is present. Some udders do not fill until after kidding.

21 Quiet does, pregnant 70 to 100 days, can be palpated rectally with a plastic rod about 50 cm (20 in) long and 1.5 cm (0.6 in) in diameter. The doe is placed on her back and the well-lubricated rod inserted about 35 cm (14 in) (inclusion of a soapy enema helps). The anterior end of the rod is moved toward the abdominal wall cranial to the pubic bone. The pregnant uterus can be felt through the abdominal wall as the rod forces it upward. The end of the rod is felt instead in the nonpregnant doe. Holding the doe off feed over night helps by reducing rumen fill. Injuries may occur if the doe struggles.

22 Ultrasound instruments in common use with swine or sheep breeders can also be used successfully in goats.

23 Normal Values To check the health of goats and determine suspected illness, it is useful to know their normal physiological values. Pulse is about 83 +/- 6 per minute but the range may be from 50 to 115. Respiration is around 29 +/- 5 per minute with a range from 15 to 50. Panting under heat stress can increase this greatly. Body temperature is about 39.8 +/- 0.5 C (103.6+/0.9F) with a normal range of 39.0 to 40.0 C (102.2 to 104.0F). Desert goats may range wider, especially on the lower end in partial adaptation to take advantage of night time cooling. It is useful to determine the body temperature of healthy goats in the herd for comparison.

24 Clipping Various approaches and needs for clipping exist. For general management, the milking and the buck clip suffice.

25 The milking clip means that the hair is clipped around the udder, flank, thigh and hind legs up over the tail head to increase sanitary conditions during milking. During cold winter and in loose housing, such clipping may not be advisable.

26 The buck clip aids in reducing buck odor which stems from the normal urinating behavior of bucks, that often includes sprinkling of their forelegs, brisket and beard. Clipping includes the whole belly area, brisket, neck and beard, which have no special value to bucks except in cold winter and in open loose housing.

27 Show clipping may include the entire animal, or just the tail, legs, udder and head, depending on preference. The purpose is to accentuate dairyness and ''clean-cut'' bone, and to reduce the impression of coarseness. Total clipping during cold, wet, snowy winters, or during the summer when many insects especially sheep flies bother the goats, is not advised unless these factors are controlled. Total clipping aids in the treatment of lice.

28 Tattooing Permanent identification is most reliably done by tattoos in the two ears, or into the tailwebs in the earless LaMancha. Colored ears are tattooed with ink of contrasting color, e.g. green, black or white; white ears are best or most lastingly done with greek ink.

29 The ears are wiped clean of earwax and disinfected. When kids are 3 to 6 months old, the ears have good size for tattooing and for best permanently readable identification. Restraint of the goat is needed. Tattoo pliers and numbers should be tried on a piece of paper before use, to check the correct number sequence and letters; preferably, directly into the herdbook unto the dam's page of the kid to be tattooed. The tattoo plier should be placed midway and between the cartilage ribs of the ears, so that the numbers are readable when one is facing the goat. After quick, firm and steady impression of the tattoo needles, ink is rubbed into the puncture holes by hand. If some holes were bleeding, the ink may not take; therefore repeat inking may be advisable, especially if a few holes need to be repunctured again with a hypodermic needle.

30 The right procedure for tattooing is to place the herd identification into the right ear, or right tailweb in LaManchas; and to place the animal number into the left ear or left tailweb. Usually a letter is used for the year of birth; starting with ''A'' in 1968 (no ''G'', ''I'', ''O'', or ''Q''), and ''S'' stands for 1982. Following the year letter comes the birthing number for that kid in that year.

31 Other means of identification include neck chains, leg bands and ear tags, none of which are reliably permanent. However, ear notching is practiced in some goats, especially Angoras. It has the advantage of visible identification from a distance without catching the animal. The number and equipment system used in swine works well with goats too and can identify up to the number 9999. It is not suitable for show animals, but economical. The animal is restrained and bleeding after use of the ''V'' shaped ear notches and hole punch is treated with iodine. Notches on the left ear mean: 1 (top), 10 (bottom), 100 (end), 1,000 (center); on the right ear they mean. 3 (top), 30 (bottom), 300 (end), 3,000 (center). Thus, a goat with the number 135 would look as follows:
1 notch on end of left ear;
2 notches on top of left ear;
1 notch on top of right ear;
1 notch on bottom of right ear.

32 Freeze, fire, caustic or laser branding may also be used as in cattle and horses. Freeze branding requires usually liquid nitrogen (-320F), number irons, safety gloves and a styrofoam cooler box. Freeze branding will destroy the melanocytes (color producing cells) and the hair grows out white. On white animals, deliberate overbranding kills the hair follicles. Five quarts of liquid nitrogen will be needed for 20 head to be branded. The irons are held against the clipped and alcohol soaked skin between 30 to 60 seconds on colored skin and 2-1/2 minutes on white animals.

33 Weighing Keeping good weight records is important for proper feeding and medication, besides good management. Tapes can be used for estimation of weight by measuring the heart girth behind the forelegs:

Body Weight Lb
Heart Girth Inches
Body Weight Lb
Heart Girth Inches
35 There also exists normal growth curve to age-weight relationships.
For large breed male goats, they are in average as follows:
1 month
25 lb
2 months
40 lb
3 months
55 lb
4 months
65 lb
5 months
75 lb
6 months
85 lb
8 months
100 lb
9 months
110 lb
10 months
115 lb
11 months
120 lb
12 months
130 lb
18 months
155 lb
24 months
170 lb
30 months
180 lb
36 months
205 lb
10 months
115 lb
11 months
120 lb
12 months
130 lb
18 months
155 lb
24 months
170 lb
30 months
180 lb
36 months
205 lb
36 For smaller breeds and females, these standards are less, proportionate to the lesser adult bodyweight. There are positive correlations between higher body weights in growing kids and later lactation milk yields.
ORIGIN;United States


Copyright© 2004-2018, All Rights Reserved