Goats are ‘browsers’, this means they will prefer to eat bushes, trees, bark and scrub over grass  and will graze on small quantities throughout the day. Since they are ruminants the majority of their diet should be forage based, although supplemental feeding may be required for growth and during late gestation and lactation. Any adjustments in food should be done slowly to allow the rumen flora to adapt.

Copper is vital to a goat’s nutrition and so always feed a mineral supplement or concentrate feed that provides a source of copper. Salt licks should be available at all times.

Housing & Fencing

Goats are curious and independent and as a result they will often climb on fences to reach hedgerows and find escape routes. High stock fencing or electric fencing is most suitable, but make sure all electrical wires and fittings are kept out of reach.

Shelter is a must for all goats, either by form of indoor housing or a field shelter for those kept mainly outdoors.

Kids will benefit from things to play with such as a bench or small bales to climb on, but be careful to ensure that any hay racks or feed troughs have lids to prevent goats getting stuck or sustaining injuries as a result of misadventure.


Goats have a very different immune system to many other animals and so require booster vaccinations on a more regular basis; for vaccines against fewer diseases (ie Lambivac), every 6 months; but for vaccines covering more diseases (ie Heptavac P), every 3-4 months.

Clostridial disease

Includes tetanus and black leg. The pathogens are endemic in the environment and live in the soil, so all animals are at risk of disease. Infection can be rapid and fatal.


Respiratory disease caused by bacteria usually found in the lungs. Disease occurs as a result of stress, housing conditions, lowered immunity or secondary to other diseases.


Due to their browsing behaviour, goats develop limited immunity to worms and so will need lifelong regular worming control.  They also metabolise worming products much faster than sheep so will often require 1.5-2 times the sheep dosing.

Worming control should be monitored using routine faecal egg counts (we can do these in house, please bring us a sample!) and managed using grazing cycles and reducing resistant worms.

Common Diseases

Caseous Lymphadenitis (CLA)

CLA is a chronic disease caused by Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis.

Symptoms include large masses around the head and neck associated with abscessation of lymph nodes.

Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE)

CAE is a viral disease, closely related to Maedi Visna in sheep, spread predominantly via colostrum shortly after birth.

Johne’s disease

Johne’s is caused by Mycobacterium paratuberculosis avium, animals are infected early in life but do not show signs of disease until several years later.