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The Normal Goat

One of the keys to managing any livestock operation is the ability to identify sick animals very early. However, in order to find illnesses, you should first understand what is a normal animal.
A normal goat should appear bright eyed with the head in a normal position. Most goats will also be rather nosy.

A normal goat should appear bright eyed with the head in a normal position. Most goats will also be rather nosy.

Many livestock producers spend much of their time observing their animals during feeding time. This is a great time to take at least 10 minutes to do nothing more than observe the animals.

Watch for any changes in behavior. Are any animals standing off by themselves? Are any animals less aggressive than normal? Do any animals have lower hanging ears than normal? On closer inspection, watch the animal's breathing for any puffing or respiratory distress. Rapid and difficult breathing may indicate pneumonia. Check the eyes and gums for color. A light or gray color may indicate anemia, often caused by internal parasites.

Another consideration is to evaluate the hair or wool coat on the animals. The hair should lay smoothly on the animal and should be glossy and shiny. Animals with dull and shaggy hair coats may need their rations adjusted or they may need dewormed. For sheep with broken wool fibers, you may need to look at their nutrition and deworming program also. Keep in mind that stress will also affect the strength of wool fibers. Lambing will often cause ewes to lose their wool if they were stressed during labor.

The table below lists some basic health information for a normal animal.
 
Goat Sheep Beef Cattle
 Rectal Temperature (F)

 102.3

 102.3

 101

 Respiration (breaths/minute)      

 -

 16-34

 26-50

 Heart Rate (beats/minute)

 70-80

 70-80

 48-84

 Estrus cycle (days)

 21

 17

 21

 Gestation

 145-155

 144-147

 281-289

 
 
 

When in doubt, you can always take a rectal temperature to support your first determination. Your veterinarian will often ask for a temperature when you first contact them about a sick animal.

Always take time to observe your animals every day.