Anemic Goats

It never ceases to amaze me how many people find my blog by searching for information on goat health.  That keeps me posting more on goat health.  From the time I brought my five Saanen girls home, I swore they were trying to teach me more about goat health than I ever wanted to know.  Sometimes, I’ve learned at the goat’s expense, so I would love to be able to help other people and goats without the trial and error I went through.

This spring we have had a plethora of triplets.  Three of my girls had three babies!  It’s not necessarily a good thing.  Carrying and providing for the babies before they are born takes a toll on the mom.  In Stormy’s case, the babies were not positioned properly, and she was losing weight and getting run down before they ever arrived.  Once here, it’s difficult for them to keep up with three babies.

Pebbles and her triplets

As the babies get bigger, they want to eat more and mom’s can’t give more, so they lay down a lot.  This keeps the kids from eating, but every time they stand, their babies try to nurse.  It’s a vicious cycle.  This is why we’ve been supplementing bottles for the kids.  It’s less the moms have to provide.

I knew my triplet moms were run down.  Kizzy only has two, but she gives everything to her babies.  Her twins are huge and healthy, and Kizzy keeps losing weight.

Kizzy and her twins

Meg only has two, but she is seven and a half years old and has allergies.  Then there’s Pam.  She only has two babies and she was not thin.  Suddenly, she developed a swelling in her lower jaw.  To feel it, it was squishy and fluid feeling.  It was not firm.  This is called bottle jaw.

goat with bottle jaw

I talked to my vet because I’d heard that bottle jaw was caused by parasites.  I was surprised Pam would have parasites because she’s on the herbal wormer and it’s always been very effective.  But I wormed her, and then I started to do some more reading.

bottle jaw

Bottle jaw is NOT caused by parasites.  Bottle jaw is edema (swelling) caused by  severe anemia.  Parasites are the leading cause of anemia in goats, but it’s not the only cause.  Do a fecal check to see if your goat has parasites.  Pregnancy and nursing kids can also cause anemia.

Besides being thin, you can check your goat’s eyes to see if they are anemic.  A normal goat will have color in that membrane in the corner of their eye–pink or brown.  If the goat is anemic, it will be white (click to enlarge pictures).

healthy eye

anemic eye

The same is true of the goat’s gums.  Pale or white indicates anemia.  Pink or red is healthy (Sorry for blurry pictures; for some reason they didn’t want to model).

healthy gums

anemic gums

In light colored goats, their private parts will follow the same pattern.  Pink is healthy and white is anemic.

healthy goat

anemic goat

It’s still not a bad idea to worm a goat who is run down because they will be more susceptible to parasites when they are anemic.  Because they are run down, they are also more susceptible to other illnesses.  Stormy developed a fever and quit eating.  The vet came out and she ended up getting antibiotics and banamine for the illness.  She also got vitamin B to help stimulate her appetite.

Stormy and two of her kids

Along with treating for parasites or illness, you also need to make sure they have access to a lot of high quality food.  I put all my run down girls into one area, and I’ve given them enough hay to feed twice as many goats.  This way they can always have something to eat.  The kids will also start eating.

Stormy and three kids (not hers)

Where I have the girls now, they also can go out to pasture.  There’s something about being on pasture that just really helps promote good health.  Again, the kids like to nibble on grass and this helps them get ready to be weaned.

I’ve slowly increased the amount of grain that they are getting also.  It has to be a gradual increase in grain because goats can get sick or die if they eat too much grain.  Just keep adding a small bit more every couple of days.

Kizzy and kids eating grain

Now, my run down girls and their kids are eating twice as much as the other goats.  Also, make sure they have plenty of fresh water.  I’ve also added a goat lick tub to supplement their diet with proper minerals and salt.  Probiotics are always good to give whenever a goat is sick or stressed.

Pam with twins, Tayet and Scout

I will keep feeding this girls hard, and I will keep giving the kids bottles.  As soon as the kids are doing a good job of eating hay or grass and grain and I can safely wean them, the kids will be separated from their moms.  They just can’t keep up with their babies.

41 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. naturegirl
    Apr 15, 2011 @ 21:04:01

    First time here and I just LOve your blog and all the goats and pics and babies and info! I have always wanted to have a goat..but it will never happen so I will stop by here and enjoy looking at and getting to know your goats! You made me smile today with all these pics of babies! Thank You!


  2. texwisgirl
    Apr 15, 2011 @ 21:20:14

    I know your vet bills must run high, but you’re really good about calling in help when you see something abnormal that doesn’t ‘fix itself’ within a day. THAT’S what people need to remember about having animals (of any kind). Just food, cat litter and a once a year vaccine visit to the vet is never going to be all you spend for a cat. There’s ALWAYS something that’ll be needed for medical care or whatever. Same for farm animals – they’re just not as easy to tote to the vet and often require farm calls. Folks really need to consider that when they adopt a pet or get pasture animals because they require food, love, work AND vet visits as well as meds and supplements. Great job, Teresa. You always make it plain and clear what’s involved with caring for your animals. :) And, yes, I also know it’s all worth it. :)


    • Teresa
      Apr 15, 2011 @ 21:29:46

      My vet bills used to be really high. The more the girls teach me, the less I need to call them. I don’t know how to listen for pneumonia or if they need antibiotics sometimes. I do get more self-sufficient all the time. My vets are really good also about just talking on the phone and advising me. Yep, it’s worth it!


  3. Sharon
    Apr 15, 2011 @ 22:06:32

    You teach me a lot about goats, although I will more than likely never use the information, myself, it doesn’t hurt to learn about everything you can! I’m hoping you new Moms gain their strength and feel great asap. How old are the kids when you wean them? I will try to get back here if I can to find out. :-)


    • Teresa
      Apr 15, 2011 @ 22:14:00

      My preferred weaning time is around three months. Pebbles let her girls nurse until they were over four months last year (kind of big). Bare minimum is two months if they are doing a good job of eating roughage and grain.


  4. Pat
    Apr 15, 2011 @ 22:08:01

    You visited my blog. Thank you. I’ve come to see yours. Wow! I’m not into goats… I’m lucky I’ve talked Honey into chickens. Goats… would be harder. Not to mention… I’m new to all this or rusty to some of it. Goats sound like a much bigger adventure… I’ll be reading more I’m sure.

    I’ll be baaaaaa-aaaack! he hehe…
    Nice to meet you, Pat


    • Teresa
      Apr 15, 2011 @ 22:14:50

      So glad you stopped. I was certainly a town girl until I moved out her 12 1/2 years ago. I too started with birds, and it’s kind of snowballed since then. Goats-you either love them or hate them!


  5. Mary Ann
    Apr 15, 2011 @ 22:44:44

    Another excellent Eden Hills post! I am learning so much about goats from you. It’s too bad you had to rehome the donkeys, but I would have done it too. We once let a friend put a mare and foal here, and the mare constantly attacked our llamas; after two weeks we called it QUITS!


    • Teresa
      Apr 15, 2011 @ 22:48:06

      I felt so bad to have to have them leave, but there was not way they were going to fit in with everyone. Sometimes you just have to admit it isn’t going to work. so glad you stopped by.


  6. liesl
    Apr 16, 2011 @ 00:04:01

    Very,very informative post Teresa,your ladies are in the best of hands!


  7. Sandy
    Apr 16, 2011 @ 06:50:52

    Well you certainly have had a time of it. Hope you can get everyone back on their feet, um hooves quickly! It surely adds to ones work load when some of the crew is sick.


    • Teresa
      Apr 16, 2011 @ 07:22:56

      I think they are all doing better. Litha is feeding both of her kids that are here. Pebbles and Meg are doing well. Pam no longer has the swelling in her jaw. Stormy’s fever is gone. Overall, they are slowly improving.


  8. Nancy
    Apr 16, 2011 @ 07:34:23

    That sounds like alot of extra work for you, Teresa. I can tell you love your goats very much. This information is very interesting and I’m sure will help others cope with similar problems. :)


    • Teresa
      Apr 16, 2011 @ 08:00:48

      My goats really are family. I do hope it can help others. People tend to get goats because they are cute and don’t realize the wealth of health issues they can have. Does that sound like I’m talking from experience?


  9. Chai Chai
    Apr 16, 2011 @ 09:38:09

    Thank you for this wonderfully informative post. I really enjoyed the comparison pictures, very demonstrative. Reading posts like this really help newbee’s like myself.

    That picture of Pebbles with her triplets is gorgeous.


    • Teresa
      Apr 16, 2011 @ 10:57:10

      It’s always so sweet to see moms and babies sleeping together–even when the babies are a year old and about to become moms themselves. That family bond is one of the things I really like about goats. Glad you found the post useful.


  10. Kim Hollar
    Apr 16, 2011 @ 10:41:27

    You know I have been thinking about getting goats. After reading your post I don’t know If I would want too. I had no idea that there was so much to pay attention to and take care of. I never knew they could get anemia. You do have very nice goats though. Thanks for stopping by, I really like your farm and I have always loved that poem by Robert Frost. Before we built our house, we built fences. I am glad that we did that first, even though the neighbors threw fits about it.
    It just gives a good piece of mind.
    I will be stopping by for a visit on your farm, it is lovely.


    • Teresa
      Apr 16, 2011 @ 10:59:16

      I would hate to think you didn’t get goats because of me. They really are wonderful. I think it’s just important to know about the regular maintenance and the added issues pregnancy can involve.


  11. Prairie Farmstead Ponderings
    Apr 16, 2011 @ 15:43:32

    Oh, Teresa! Your goat fur babies (all of them) are just gorgeous! The kids are too stinkin’ cute, too! It is quite apparent the great care you give to your babies, and I applaud you for that.

    I think I would have cried when the little guy got his clips on his eyes. I sure do hope they fix the problem with his lids, bless his little heart.

    Love your blog, too!


    • Teresa
      Apr 16, 2011 @ 18:09:13

      The clips will take care of it. Of all things that can be wrong with a goat, that is one of the easiest to fix. So glad you enjoyed your visit. I admit, I do love my goats!


  12. Joani
    Apr 16, 2011 @ 16:51:44

    Loved the post. I don’t know how you are able to keep up with all the names of these mothers and there babies and who belongs to whom. Great job.


    • Teresa
      Apr 16, 2011 @ 18:10:21

      I used to have a hard time keeping track of kids when all we had were solid white. With all the colors, it’s a lot easier to tell them apart! There’s still a few I have to look at twice to tell who it is.


  13. Sherry from Russ-Stick Acres
    Apr 17, 2011 @ 09:07:10

    Teresa ~ Wonderful, informative post. We have raised several breeds of goats through the years, including Saanen. Your goats are gorgeous! Another good resource, as you probably know, is Fiasco Farms – I was so thrilled with the information I found when we had an issue with a new little Boer buck, that I donated ~ she saved me the emergency vet call from an hour away. Thank you also for visiting our Blog, and the nice comment you left about my dog, Zip. I can’t wait to see the growth of your little ones.


    • Teresa
      Apr 17, 2011 @ 09:09:27

      I visited Fias Co. Farms quite a bit. I also like a couple of the state extension web sites for goat information. Glad you stopped by.


  14. Lorie
    Apr 17, 2011 @ 17:23:20

    So much to learn! You take such great care of your animals! What adorable kids! Our lambs will be lambing any time…I just love the little ones!


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  16. Mimi Foxmorton
    Apr 20, 2011 @ 09:54:33

    You have no idea how I value your health blogs.
    There is no substitute for experience and I love that you share yours.

    A friend had a problem like this and after a zillion ‘fixes’ it all boiled down to a copper deficiency. It was as simple and as elusive as that.

    Right now I’m trying to find the best mix for Darla. Her coat isn’t as shiny as I’d like. She’s been wormed twice (the feed kind) since returning to the barn but Farmer says everytime we kill one worm two more ‘resistant’ worms take their place it seems. I’m hoping it’s ‘winter coat’ but I’m keeping an eye.

    SHe has her Berry-Berry mineral bar ready to go but not until she agrees to water from a pail. She’s a stubborn bugger.


  17. sugumar
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 16:12:41

    My buck is not eating well and losing weight. I am totally new to goats. The Doe is eating well and keeping well. Today I will check whether he is anemic or not. Can I give him wormer without showing him to a vet?


    • Teresa
      Dec 21, 2012 @ 17:28:43

      You can, but unless you know what kind of worm you’re dealing with, it might not do any good. There are different meds for different worms. Not eating sounds like coccidiosis, but once they are run down, they often pick up both types and need a couple kinds of wormer. They can also end up with a secondary infection, and it’s not easy to tell if they have a temperature or not if they do have worms. It would be best to take a fecal sample to the vet. I always would recommend probiotics.


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  20. Laurie Grant
    Nov 12, 2014 @ 20:36:48

    Teresa, You are a virtual wealth of information! I have been on your page for hours. I can’t get enough of your knowledge. There are many happy happy goats out there, due to your fantastic web site.
    Have you heard of “sea kelp” and/or “Azomite”.?? I have done some extensive investigating on the Web. It really looks like an AWSOME supplement. From what I understand, you just need to be precise with dosage. Let me know what you think. Keep up your amazing work. PLEASE>
    endless thanks



    • Teresa
      Nov 12, 2014 @ 21:29:47

      Glad you’ve enjoyed the site. I haven’t heard of that supplement. I tend to be very cautious about supplements because many have not been researched on goats.


  21. FamilyGoat
    Jun 09, 2015 @ 20:20:36

    Thank you SO much for this post. So many sites say “Look at the upper eyelid. If it’s white, your goat is anemic. Well, they didn’t specifically say check the membrane! I was looking at the entire white cover under their upper eyelid and freaking out! Turns out that my girls have healthy pink gums, vibrant pink lower eyelids, and a beautiful pink membrane on their upper lid! YAY! <3 you so much for this.


    • Teresa
      Jun 09, 2015 @ 21:23:01

      It does take some time to get it figured out. And this is just one indication of health. The only true way to know is through a blood test.


  22. Emma
    Jan 01, 2016 @ 19:43:15

    Hi I have had two sick goats I bought them from an action they where both very thin I wormed them straight away and gave the Ion supp they both had very white gums sadly one died but the second goat she has improved and her gums and eyes now have become pinker she is eating fresh hay every day and i have been giving her yucult supplements and she is brighter i am letting her out everyday for an hour to pick around the house but she is still very thin can i feed her grain or any supplements to help she has become so friendly . I will get her friend but i was scared she would not make it , I have had her now for about a month the first goat died in a few days I was heart broken , I just want this goat to put some weight on .
    Please can you help I am in Sydney Australia East Kurrajong.


    • Teresa
      Jan 01, 2016 @ 19:56:38

      Be sure to re-worm. The chemical wormer only kills at one stage of the life cycle, so they oftentimes come back. You can slowly add some grain to her diet, but green grass is the best. Nettles are a wonderful nutritious weed around my part of the world. Good luck.


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The information on this web site is supplied for general reference and educational purposes only. This information does not represent the management practices or thinking of other goat breeders or the veterinary community. I am not a veterinarian, and the information on this site is not intended to replace professional veterinary advice. This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your veterinarian. I disclaim all liability in connection with the use of this information.
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