At the end of this session farmers should be able to: 

  • Differentiate between a sick and a healthy animal.
  • Identify common goat diseases, how they are prevented and treated.
  • Understand the importance of dipping and the different methods of dipping
  • Understand the importance of hoof trimming
  • Understand the importance of dosing and vaccination.
  • Acquire skills in administering drugs using needles and syringes
  • Diseases contribute to high mortalities in goats, and they reduce animal performance.
  • It is therefore important for a farmer to closely monitor the flock. This enables the farmer to detect any sick animals and render assistance as early as possible. 
  • Early treatment reduces the chances of spread of the disease. 
  • It is important to note that different diseases may present similar symptoms therefore one disease must not be confused for another. 
  • Proper and accurate diagnosis is required before attempting to treat the animal. 
  • It is recommended that you consult your local veterinary officer if in doubt or if your goats are exhibiting some strange conditions.

The flock can be kept healthy by applying these simple techniques:

  • provision of clean fresh water
  • adequate feeding
  • provision of dry, warm and well ventilated housing

The general symptoms of an unhealthy animal are:

  • Dullness of the coat;
  • Ruffled hair;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Drooping ears;
  • Dull and pale eyes;
  • Difficult in movement;  Dropping tail; and
  • Going off feed.

A farmer should have a simple veterinary kit containing the following items:

           One bottle (100ml) of antibiotic
Wound powder (100g)
           Healing oil
           Surgical blade
           Iodine (100ml)
           Syringe (20ml)
           Broad spectrum dosing remedy ( 100 ml)
           Cotton wool
           Clinical thermometer
                  Plastic gloves

Guide to diagnosis, prevention and treatment of some common diseases

Disease /ParasitesCausesSigns and SymptomsTreatment Prevention
Pulpy kidney (Isimeme, umkhuhlane wegazi)Caused by a bacterium which is aggravated when there is a sudden change of diet or when the goats are stressed  Unsteady gait and convulsions Animals found dead without showing any signs At post mortem Soft pale kidneys Kidneys may look bloody You may see gas filled red intestines (this may also be seen in animals which have been dead for a while) Increased amount of fluid around the heart, which gets thicker and like jelly when sac is opened  When Pulpy Kidney is suspected use antibiotics    Do not change feed suddenly Strategic vaccination is the best way of prevention    
Heart water  Caused by blood parasite. The bont tick transmits the parasite. This tick is found mainly in frost-free drier parts of the country, so heart water is mainly found in these areas.  Sick animals may have temperature of 40ºC or higher Strange behaviour, for example the goat may turn its head towards its body in a strange manner. Nervous signs such as a high stepping walk, convulsions or kicking very hard. Goats that are very sick with heart water may die.    Post mortem  Froth and fluid from the nose. Fluid in the belly, chest and sac surrounding the heart,  Swelling of the lungs with froth, and fluid in the windpipe.When you notice signs of the disease, treat immediately with a broad spectrum acting antibiotic  Dipping to control ticks is recommended. Keep domestic animals away from wild animals
Disease /ParasitesCausesSigns and SymptomsTreatment Prevention
Coccidiosis (Isihudo)  Caused by a type of a single celled organism. This     disease happens when there are dirty conditions in the animal pens, sleeping areas and kraals. Young animals get this disease very easily.Watery diarrhoea Dehydration Loss of appetite Loss of condition   Post mortem There may be spots on the surface of the intestines. When the intestines are cut open, they have a bumpy appearance.  Separate all sick animals   Treat all sick animals with a remedy for Coccidiosis   Mix ½ teaspoon of salt and 6 teaspoon of sugar in 1 litre of clean warm water. Give the dehydrated kid ¼ to ½ litre of the solution 4 times a day for 3days.  Make sure that you keep the animal pens, sleeping areas and kraals dry, clean and well ventilated. Do not crowd animals into an area that is too small.  
Liver fluke  How do animals get liver fluke? The adult fluke lays eggs which hatch in water or wet pasture, giving rise to immature flukes, which cling to the plants growing around marshes and vleis and are swallowed when the goats graze there.          Pale mucous membranes Weight loss. Bottle jaw, which is a soft swelling under the chin of the animal.   Post mortem   Bleeding in the liver. Thickened bile ducts in the liver. Firm, lighter areas in the liver (fibrosis) Liver flukes in the bile ducts.  Use     a     registered     de- wormer in your animals in early spring, in midsummer, and in late autumn or early winter   If fluke infection is serious; animals may need additional treatments during summer.   If you have been treating for liver fluke and there is no improvement, then you need to ask your veterinarian or animal health technician for help.  Where possible, fence off vleis streams and dams to stop the goats going there.   Fence off the pastures that are known to give liver fluke problems. They should be grazed only in the winter months, when the fluke numbers are much lower.   Strategic dosing  
Disease /ParasitesCausesSigns and SymptomsTreatment Prevention
Roundworms (izilo zesisu)  Goats   get roundworms when they take in the immature worms while eating grass. These immature worms grow into adult worms in the animal. Young animals are most badly affected  You may see bottle jaw The inside of the eyelids could be pale Diarrhoea may occur but remember diarrhoea may also have other causes (such as Coccidiosis or toxic plants) During winter or the dry season, animals may be in poor body condition.   Post mortem   There may be bleeding or having worms on the stomach or intestinal lining.  If you see the signs treat with a worm remedy.  Have    a          flexible             dosing programme   
Pneumonia (Isihlabo)  Caused        by        a bacteria Usually occurs if goats are under stress due to exposure e.g. to wind, cold and heavy rain Animals usually develop the disease after travelling for long distances  Animals may seem tired and walk behind the rest of the flock May stop eating properly High temperature Animals show fast breathing and breathe with difficulty Mucus discharge from the nose   Post mortem The lungs look patchy with red patches and normal pink areas Large part of the lung will be firm and red in colour Lungs may be covered with white layer which sticks to the inside of the ribs Froth in the windpipe If put in water the lungs will sink instead of floatingTreat with a long acting antibiotic product  Provide shelter all the time During long journeys allow goats stops to rest, eat and drink  
Disease /ParasitesCausesSigns and SymptomsTreatment Prevention
Orf (izilonda emlonyeni)Caused by a virus found in the soil.    This virus gets into the animal through a cut in the skin   An infected kid can spread the disease to its mother during suckling  Small round scabs seen usually at the corner of the mouth   These scabs spread to the muzzle, nose and eyes   Encrusted sores may develop on the teats of suckling females  The disease usually clears on its own Apply petroleum jelly to keep the scabs soft Cannot be treated but you can spray with an aerosol antibiotic to avoid secondary infection NB always wear gloves as this can be transmitted to humans  When a few animals are affected, vaccinate the healthy animals   Do not vaccinate healthy animals when there is no orf in the flock    Kids should be bottle fed when affected to avoid spreading the disease to its mother    
Abscesses   (Amathumba)Caused by bacteria found in the dust or manure Usually develops from injury caused by ticks, thorns or wire  Round swelling which maybe red and painful on touching Usually develops in front of the shoulder on the head or neck or on the flank on the hind quarter, but can also develop on other areas on the body.  Should be done after hair has fallen off and there is a soft spot in the middle. For hairy goats, shave and cut a cross over the soft spot Use your finger to squeeze out puss. Clean the wound with boiled salty water Use a suitable wound spray to keep away flies (If this is not possible use some herbs that repel flies) If      possible      give       an antibiotic injection  If the animal has several bad abscesses or often gets abscesses it should be culled Control ticks  

For other diseases consult your local veterinary office


The routine health management practices include dipping, dosing, vaccination and hoof trimming.


There are quite a number of diseases that are caused by external parasites such as ticks and mange mites. The most effective way to prevent these diseases is to control these parasites using acaricides. There are different methods of dipping that can be applied to goats. 

Pour On

  • The acaricides comes in small containers and is poured on the back of the animal using the weight of the animal to determine the quantity to be poured. 
  • The acaricide then spreads throughout the animal as it sweats and in the process killing all the external parasites on the body of the animal.
  • This method requires individual handling of the animal and in large flocks it becomes very laborious. It is recommended when a few animals are affected by ticks and during the dry season.


  • This involves the use of acaricides in the form of grease with tick grease being the most common. 
  • The tick grease is applied directly on the ticks usually under the tail, on the udder and the ears. This is also commonly used when a few animals have ticks.
  • Some tick greases are used as tick repellants.


  • At times the animals pass through a spray race and the animal is sprayed throughout its body. The acaricide will be in the spray coming out through the nozzles. 
  • The only problem with this method of dipping is that sometimes the nozzles get blocked and the animals do not get sufficiently sprayed. 
  • In some cases the knapsack is used to spray the animals. 

(iv). Plunge dip

  • In this type of dipping the animals swim through a plunge dip with an acaricide. 
  • The whole animal’s body gets in contact with the acaricide thereby killing all the parasites on the body. 
  • This is recommended in large flocks as it is not laborious and does not require handling of the animals. 
  • When the dip tank has not been constructed one can make use of half drums to dip the goats in a plunge way. It is however critical to dispose the dip solution safely and not cause harm to the environment. 
  • The typical dip tank for small ruminants has a capacity of 4266 litres. 
  • The dip tank should drain well.

Frequency of dipping

 In summer dip once every week because tick burden will be high and dip once in two weeks in winter because tick burden will be low, but aim to dip on warmer parts of the day to avoid pneumonia. 

A typical plunge dip tank for small ruminants. 


  • This is making the goat take liquid medicine orally. 
  • This is usually done to control internal parasites. 
  • A dosing gun fitted to a two litre container and a graduated syringe is usually used in large flocks. For small flocks the medicine can be drawn from the container using a small syringe.
  • Sometimes a bottle with a long neck is used for drenching. It is important to exercise caution when drenching your animal. 
  • The syringe, gun or bottle should be placed in the animal’s mouth in such a way that the liquid runs slowly into the mouth and swallowed. 

 Hoof trimming

  • When animals walk on hard rough ground hooves become overgrown and need regular trimming to prevent injury.
  • A sharp curved knife is used or a pair of foot shears.
  • Cut away the overgrown part of the hoof. If the heels are overgrown cut them as well. 
  • Be careful not to cut too much hoof and expose the live tissue.
  • Dip the hooves in copper sulphate solution to make them hard and prevent cracking and foot rot. This can be done once a year before the onset of the rains.


Injections are use when vaccinating and when treating some diseases. There are three routes for injections:

(i). Intravenous

This is the kind of injection given to the animal directly into the blood stream through a vein. This is usually for treatment of some diseases and to get a quick response. A veterinary specialist usually does this.  A long needle is used for this type of injection.

(ii). Intramuscular

These injections are given deep into the muscle of the back leg or the shoulder. This is usually for treatment of diseases and a long needle is used.

(iii). Subcutaneous

This kind is given under the skin usually in the neck or behind the shoulder. A fold of the skin is lifted up and the injection is given beneath it. This is used normally used for vaccination and uses a short needle.

NB: Syringes and needles should be sterilized by boiling them in water for twenty minutes