SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Keeping your goats healthy

Healthy goats have good appetites, glossy coats, clear, bright eyes, and are interested in everything around them.

Goats tend to deteriorate rapidly when they become ill, therefore checking the herd daily for signs of injury, abnormal behaviour or ill health is recommended. If any of these abnormalities are seen in any of your goats, ensure you get immediate veterinary advice. Regular check-ups by your local veterinarian is advised to ensure the health of your goat herd.

Internal parasites

Goats are very susceptible to internal parasites (e.g. roundworms and tapeworms), and remain susceptible throughout their lives, especially when stressed. Therefore, an appropriate worming programme from your local veterinarian is strongly recommended, as drench resistance is widespread in New Zealand.

External parasites and skin conditions

Lice, ticks and mite infestations are a common problem in goats, therefore being aware of the signs of external parasites is important. In addition, some breeds of goats are susceptible to flystrike. If goats are scratching or nibbling at any area of their body excessively, including their feet, veterinary advice should be sought.


Vaccines for goats are available against some diseases and your veterinarian will be able to advise you on their use.


Scours or diarrhoea can be the result of a number of causes including: sudden changes in diet, eating toxic material or plants, or infection by internal parasites or microbes. Contact a veterinarian if the diarrhoea lasts longer than 24 hours, worsens quickly, the goat is also lethargic or depressed or if the affected goat is young.

Hoof care

Domestic goats live on different terrain as compared with their wild counterparts, therefore their hooves can become overgrown or develop diseases, such as foot rot. These problems cause pain, walking issues, posture problems and can lead to arthritis. It is important to check your goats’ hooves regularly, and for problems to be treated immediately by a veterinarian or an experienced person.


If your goat starts to limp, favours a leg, becomes reluctant to stand or move, or kneels when grazing, they should be penned on dry straw, away from healthy animals, and advice sought from your veterinarian. Common causes of lameness include:

  • Foreign bodies in the feet (e.g. stones and thorns), which can lead to infection.
  • Mud or debris compacting under or between toes.
  • Scald is an infectious bacterial disease of the skin between the digits that often makes the area sore and swollen, possibly with greyish scum.
  • Foot rot is an infectious bacterial disease where the underlying tissues of the sole area begin to degrade or ‘rot’, producing a bad odour.
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