I got a question from a reader recently asking what might be wrong with a goat that is crying and restless. Great timing, in fact, because I myself have a goat who is crying and restless — Signorina Pasqualina.
We’ll get back to her in the next post (stay tuned!), but first, and I can’t stress this enough, it is extremely important that you know your goat when trying to diagnose what the problem might be. That is, you need to know your goat’s normal behavior in order to tell if something is off — and not all goats act the same in normal circumstances, so it can be difficult to generalize. My overriding rule is that if you feel something is off, it probably is, so pay attention. But what are you looking for?
What Kind of Crying Is It?
First of all, ask yourself: what kind of cry is it? If you know your goat, you know what s/he sounds like most of the time — and you’ll definitely know the difference between normal “Hey maaaa I’m here!” bleating and any kind of pain or distress. Quick example: when Pasqualina was just a wee kid, she got herself tangled in a cord and believe-you-me, even from a pretty good distance, I knew that bleat was not just for fun and games; she was terrified (although not injured, thank goodness).
One important question to ask at this stage is whether your goat has a buddy. It doesn’t have to be another goat necessarily, but goats are social animals, and they like company. So your goat may just be crying because it’s lonely and wants some attention. But if your goat has company and suddenly starts crying for no reason, read on.
Reasons Why a Goat Might Be Crying
Once you’re pretty sure there’s something else behind the cry other than just trying to get your attention, you should look for other symptoms or behaviors that aren’t normal for your goat so you can narrow down what might be wrong with him or her. Goat bloat is where my mind always turns when I think of goat health problems, so let’s go there first.
Symptoms of Goat Bloat
Other than crying in pain, the telltale symptom of goat bloat is a larger than usual (and larger than the other side), distended left side of the goat, where the rumen is located. Goats with bloat may also show other signs of being uncomfortable like teeth grinding, kicking at their sides, and just seeming generally depressed. You should put your ear up close to the rumen and check for gurgling sounds — there should be some if the rumen is working correctly. If the bloat is more severe, a goat may also have trouble breathing.
I’ll be writing more about goat bloat and other goat illnesses in the future for handy reference, but for now, know that if you think you goat has bloat, you should first check and make sure there are no obstructions in the mouth or throat; generally you can just run your hands down the throat and feel for anything out of place. You can then start massaging his or her sides to kind of loosen up the gas that’s in there, focusing on the upper left, kind of like you’re burping a baby — your goat will hopefully start making some burps, etc. and release some gas. If some air has escaped, you can then offer some baking soda to further help balance that pH in there.
For lots more detailed information on goat bloat, visit Fias Co Farm.
There are many other illnesses a goat could have, though, so be sure to check any and all symptoms before just deciding your goat is wanting attention. Here is a handy list of potential goat illnesses along with their symptoms at from GoatWorld.
One thing we haven’t touched on, though, as a reason your doe might be crying is that she’s in heat — which is exactly what we’re going to talk about next time using our Pasqualina as a case study.
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