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The goat is one of the smallest domesticated ruminants which has served mankind earlier and longer than cattle and sheep. It is managed for the production of milk, meat and wool, particularly in arid, semitropical or mountainous countries. In temperate zones, goats are kept often rather as supplementary animals by small holders, while commercially cows or buffaloes are kept for milk, cheese and meat, and sheep for wool and meat production. Nonetheless, there are more than 460 million goats worldwide presently producing more than 4.5 million tons of milk and 1.2 million tons of meat besides mohair, cashmere, leather and dung; and more people consume milk and milk products from goats worldwide than from any other animal. Cheese production from goat milk, even in France, Greece, Norway and Italy, is of economic importance. Goat herds, on the other hand low producing though, are an expression of capital assets and wealth in Africa and Asia where they are found in large numbers. In the United States, there are between 2 and 4 million head; with Texas leading in Angora, meat and bush goats; and California leading in dairy goats.

Goats can survive on bushes, trees, desert scrub and aromatic herbs when sheep and cattle would starve to death. Goat herders often have neglected a rational numerical balance between goat numbers and sparse vegetation. Over-grazing has destroyed many tree and woodland areas which was blamed then on goats rather than man, and this has caused widespread ecological and political concerns, erosion, desertification and even ban on freely grazing goats in some areas. On the other hand, goats are valued by cattle and sheepmen in the fight against brush encroachment on millions of acres of open rangeland.

Swiss goat breeds are the world's leaders in milk production. Indian and Nubian derived goat breeds are dual-purpose meat and milk producers. Spanish and South African goats are best known for meat producing ability. The Turkish Angora, Asian Cashmere and the Russian Don goats are kept for mohair and cashmere wool production. In addition, there are Pygmy goats from Western Africa of increasing interest as laboratory and pet animals.

Goat milk casein and goat milk fat are more easily digested than from cow milk. Goat milk is valued for the elderly, sick, babies, children with cow milk allergies, patients with ulcers, and even preferred for raising orphan foals or puppies. Fat globules in goat milk are smaller than in cow milk and remain dispersed longer. Goat milk is higher in vitamin A, niacin, choline and inositol than cow milk, but it is lower in vitamin B6, B12, C and carotenoids. The shorter chain fatty acids (C6, C8, C10, C12) are characteristically higher in goat milk than in cow milk. Otherwise milk gross composition from goats or cows is similar except for differences due to breeds, climate, stage of lactation and feeds.

Breeds of goats vary from as little as 20 lb mature female bodyweight and 18 inches female withers for dwarf goats for meat production up to 250 lb and 42 inches withers height for Indian Jamnapari, Swiss Saanen, Alpine and AngloNubian for milk production. Some Jamnapari males may be as tall as 50 inches at withers. Angora goats weigh between 70 to 110 lb for mature females and are approximately 25 inches tall. Birthweights of female singles are between 3 and 9 lb; twins being often a pound lighter and males 1/2 lb heavier. Twinning is normal in goats with a high percentage of triplets thus giving several breeds an average annual litter size above 2 per doe and more than 200 reproduction rate. Females are called doe, young are kids, males are bucks; one speaks of buck and doe kids, and doelings, and of wethers or castrates.

Differentiation Morphologically, goats may have horns of the scimitar or corkscrew types, but many are dehorned in early age with a heated iron, caustic or later on with a rubber band or surgical saw. Goats may also be hornless genetically. They can be short haired, long haired, have curled hair, are silky or coarse wooled. They may have wattles on the neck and beards. Some breeds, particularly the European, have straight noses, others have convex noses, e.g., the Jamnapari and Nubian breeds or slightly dished noses (Swiss). Swiss and other European breeds have erect ears, while pendulous, drooping, large ears characterize Indian and Nubian goats. The American LaMancha breed has no external ear. A ''gopher'' ear rudiment in LaMancha is less than 1 inch long with little or no cartilage; an ''elf'' ear is less than 2 inches long, but bucks can be registered only with gopher ears. The responsible gene for rudimentary ears is dominant, thus sires with gopher ears will always have gopher or elf-eared offspring, no matter what the genotype of the dam is to which he was mated.

Goats come in almost any color, solid black, white, red, brown, spotted, two and three colored, blended shades, distinct facial stripes, black and white saddles, depending on breeds.

Teeth in goats are a good guide to age. Six lower incisors are found at birth and a set of 20 ''milk teeth'' are complete at 4 weeks of age consisting of the eight incisors in the front of the lower jaw, and 12 molars, three on each side in each jaw. Instead of incisors in the upper jaw there is a hard dental pad against which the lower incisors bite and cut. Some goats have an undesirable inherited recessive condition of ''parrot'' (overshot upper jaw) or ''carp'' mouth (undershot upper jaw) which does not interfere with barn feeding conditions but handicaps the goat severely in pasturing and browsing, because the lower incisor teeth cannot cut correctly against the upper dental pad. With progressing age, the permanent teeth wear down from the rectangular crossectional shape and cores to the round stem which is a further distinguishing mark of age. Furthermore, there are pregnancy rings marking horns and telling age.

The digestive tract of the goat after nursing has the typical four stomach compartments of ruminants consisting of the rumen (paunch) (4-6 gallon), the reticulum (honeycomb) (1-2 liters), the omasum (maniply) (1 liter), and the abomasum (true stomach) (3.5 liters). The intestinal canal is about 100 feet long (11 liters), or 25 times the length of a goat. The total blood volume of the goat approximates 1/12-1/13 of bodyweight; it takes about 14 seconds for goat blood to complete one circulation.

Among diseases, goats are not too different from cattle and sheep in the same regions. Goats tend to have more internal parasites than dairy cows, especially in confined management. They tend to have less tuberculosis, milk fever, post partum ketosis and brucellosis than dairy cows and their milk tends to be of lower bacteria counts than cow milk. They have more prepartum pregnancy toxemia than dairy cows, and are known to have laminitis, infectious arthritis, Johne's disease, listeriosis, pneumonia, coccidiosis, scours, scabies, pediculosis, liver fluke disease and mastitis.


The skin of the goat has sebaceous and sweat glands besides growing the hair cover, horns, hooves and the two compartmented mammary gland (udder). Before the first pregnancy, the udder is underdeveloped, but with sustained repeated gentle massaging, a small, normal milk producing gland can be stimulated in virgin does and even in goat bucks. In contrast to sheep, the teats of goat's udders are conveniently long and large for hand milking.

Tails, scent and horns distinguish goats easily from sheep and cattle. The goat tail is short, bare underneath and usually carried upright. Major scent glands are located around the horn base. They function in stimulating estrus in male and female goats, improving conception. The goat odor is, however, a detriment to goat keeping and milk consumption if not properly controlled. Many goat breeds are seasonal breeders, being influenced by the length of daylight. Artificial insemination is commercially practiced in regions where numbers of females make it economical. Goats are in puberty at 1/2 year of age and can be bred if of sufficient size. Does come into estrus in 21 day cycles normally, lasting approximately 1 to 2 days.

In temperate zones, goats breed normally from August through February. Nearer the equator, goats come into estrus throughout the year. Thus more than one litter per year is possible, considering the length of pregnancy of 150 days. Five days after ovulation one or several corpus luteum form to protect the conceptus from abortion. The goat pregnancy is corpus luteum dependant in contrast to cattle. If no conception occurred, the corpus luteum disappears and new ovulation takes place. A buck ejaculates normally 3/4 - 1 1/2 ml of semen with 2-3 billion spermatozoa each. The life of an ovum after ovulation is about 8-10 hours. As the ovum travels down the goat's oviduct, it is fertilized by semen which traveled up through the uterus. The fertilized embryo becomes firmly attached to the uterine walls and surrounds itself with a nourishing placenta starting at 52 days after conception. Semen of goat bucks freezes as well as that of bulls and may be stored for years in 1 ml ampules or 1/2 ml straws in liquid nitrogen tanks for artificial insemination use.


Wild goats or escaped feral goats are found in many countries and islands and can be harmful to the vegetation if numbers are left uncontrolled. Truly wild goats are found on Creta, other Greek islands, in Turkey, Iran, Turkmenia, Pakistan; in the Alps, Siberia, Sudan, Caucasus; the Pyrenees, the Himalayan, Central Asian, Russian and Tibetan mountain ranges, and prefer rocky, precipitous mountains and cliffs. Goats can not be herded as well with dogs as sheep; instead they tend to disperse or face strangers and dogs headon. Relatives of true goats are the Rocky Mountain goat, the Chamois of the Alps and Carpathian, and the muskox.

Goats belong, scientifically, to the Bovidae family within the suborder of ruminants (chevrotain, deer, elk, caribou, moose, giraffe, okapi, antelope), who besides the other suborders of camels, swine and hippopotamuses make up the order of eventoed hoofed animals called artiodactyla. They have evolved 20 million years ago in the Miocene Age, much later than horses, donkeys, zebras, tapirs, rhinoceroses, who make up the order of uneventoed hoofed animals; and the hyrax, elephants, manatees who make up the ancient near-hoofed animals. All these are herbivorous mammals, i.e., they live from plants and nurse their young with milk from an external gland after the young is born, having been carried in pregnancy to term relatively long in an internal uterus with a complex, nourishing placenta.

Goats and sheep make up a tribe within the Bovidae family called Caprini that include six goat, six sheep and five related species. Goats have a 2n chromosome set number of 60 while domestic sheep have a 2n set of 54; yet living hybrids of the two genera have been reported. The six species of goats can be distinguished by their horn shapes:


Domestic goat breeds are many. Swiss breeds are distinguished in milk producing ability and have influenced significantly milk production from goats around the world, especially in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. A few breeds kept mostly for meat are the South African boer goat, the Indian beetal, black Bengal, the Latin American criollo, the US ''Spanish'' goats and most of the small or nondescript goats. Fiber producing goat breeds are the Angora in Turkey, USA, South Africa; the Cashmere in Afghanistan, Iran, Australia and China; and Don breed in Russia.

The major breeds of US goats are:

Adjustment Factors for Milk Records

Lactation records of milk and fat production provide important information for managing a dairy goat herd and for breeding better goats. Environmental factors such as length of lactation, age of doe, and season of kidding should be standardized through appropriate adjustment factors to make genetic evaluations more accurate.

A lactation length of 305 days has been defined as the standard for dairy cattle and also is used for goats. This standard assumes a 365-day interval between parturitions, which includes a 60-day dry period. However, many goats do not milk 305 days. A recent study shows that only one-third of all does with official records ending with a dry date milked 305 days. One reason for shorter records is that production of many does declines sharply with the onset of seasonal estrus and the does then are dried off. A standard lactation length of less than 305 days might be more useful for comparisons among does; however, the 305-day standard allows for reduced computing costs because doe and cow records can be computed the same way.

If a doe's lactation ends on or before 305 days because her production declined to the point at which continued milking was not worthwhile, then her record is considered complete. Such records are not projected to 305 days but are treated as complete 305-day records. If a lactation ends before 305 days for any reason other than going dry, such as the doe's being sold or the herd's discontinuing testing, the record is considered incomplete and is adjusted. If a doe is still milking and has fewer than 305 days in milk, the record is considered incomplete, adjusted, and referred to as a record in progress. If a doe milks for more than 305 days, the production for only the first 305 days is included in the 305-day record.

A method to adjust incomplete records and records in progress uses the USDA projection factors in Table 1. Different categories of factors are required to adjust records because of variations in the lactation curve, particularly in the rate of decline of production after the peak and the number of days milked. To select the appropriate factor, the following information is necessary: breed, herd average production, month of kidding, days in milk, and age of doe at kidding.  An adjusted or projected record is the incomplete record plus an estimate of production for the rest of the lactation. That estimate is the projection factor times the last sample-day production times the number of days from the end of the incomplete record through 305 days.

Suppose a Nubian doe freshens in March at 25 months of age. She has an incomplete record at 130 days of 800 lb milk and 27 lb fat. Her last sampleday production is 5 lb milk with 3.4 The herd average is 1,725 lb. Then, her projected record would be 800+0.69(5) (305-130) =1,404 lb milk and 27+0.76(5) (0.034) (305-130) =50 lb fat.

Age-Season Lactation production increases with age until maturity and then declines. Month or season of kidding also influences lactation production. For example, does kidding in the early spring produce more milk than those kidding later in the year. Lactation records can be adjusted to a common age and season of kidding to standardize the effects of age and season. The factors in Table 2 standardize production to that expected from a doe kidding from January through March at 36 months of age.

The adjustment factors vary by breed, age, and season of kidding. Records are adjusted for age and season by multiplying production by the appropriate factor from Table 2. To illustrate, consider the Nubian doe from the previous example: Adjusted milk=1.07(1,404)=1,502 lb Adjusted fat=1.08(50)=54 lb.

The factors in Table 2 were computed by assuming a smooth change by age and by ignoring lactation number. Recent results, however, suggest that lactation number should be considered, particularly for does kidding about 24 months of age. Equations recently developed at the University of California in Davis provide factors that vary by parity. These factors may be more accurate; however, the factors reported here should contribute to improved comparisons among does.

Artificial Insemination

If you have a few backyard does that you enjoy as a hobby, with little concern for genetic improvements of their offspring, then artificial insemination (AI) is probably not for you, assuming a suitable buck can be located for servicing the does. The expense of purchasing the necessary equipment and learning to do AI are likely not worthwhile. However, if there is an experienced inseminator in the area who is willing to work with your goats, then this may prove to be a viable alternative and certainly is much simpler than hauling your does in heat to the buck's home.

AI has some key advantages over natural breeding.

Once the decision to use AI has been made, the next step is to determine whether to do the inseminating yourself or pay someone else to do it. If there are only a few does in your herd, and an experienced inseminator of goats is available, then it may be more practical to pay to have the service done. However, if the number of does in the herd is rather large, or an experienced inseminator is nowhere to be found, then its probably time to learn how to practice AI techniques yourself.

AI technicians of the cattle industry may not necessarily be of much help when it comes to inseminating goats, for the modern method of inseminating cattle (rectal palpation) differs from that of breeding goats (speculum method) considerably. The speculum was used on cattle early in AI history, and some cattle inseminators may be capable of teaching goat insemination.

The cost of getting started in AI, not including semen purchases, will generally run around $500, of which $400 to $450 is tied up in the liquid nitrogen tank, which is necessary for storing semen any length of time. Temperatures must be kept at -320F (-196C) for sperm survival to be maximized at breeding time. It may be possible to share the cost of the tank with neighboring goat owners or dairy farmers, thus alleviating some initial costs of an AI program.

If AI is to be used with any hope of achieving a good level of success, much  must be known and well understood by the prospective inseminator.

Reproductive Organs and Functions

The two ovaries are the sites of egg formation. They produce estrogens and progesterone, and as such are determining factors of heat cycle, ovulation and pregnancy. Basically the estrus (heat) cycle in goats operates as follows:

Purchase and Preparation of Semen

In most cases, the inseminator will acquire the semen needed by direct purchase from a commercial operation, in which case it will be shipped to the inseminator. It is of the greatest importance that the semen be transferred to permanent storage (the liquid nitrogen tank) without exposing it to anything approaching air temperature. Generally, this means transferring the container element which houses the semen directly to the liquid nitrogen tank. Here it can be safely stored for long periods of time, since biological activity practically stops at liquid nitrogen temperatures (-320F). Semen is generally to be used within 6 months, but conceptions have resulted from semen stored for several years, although sperm survival is decreased, resulting in lower conception rates.

Semen Collection Bucks are handled basically the same way as bulls for semen collection. Three basic methods may be employed, but all three require an artificial vagina, a double walled device with an opening at one end and collection tube at the other. The inner lining holding warm water should be coated with a light application of water soluble lubricating jelly.

The three methods of semen collection are:

Semen, once collected, may be used in one of three different ways:

Following are steps in semen extending:

  1. With a commercial preparation, use a diluter to semen ratio of 19:1, adding the semen to the diluter, and rolling the bottle gently to achieve a thorough mixing. The semen and diluter should be at the same temperature. This mixture can be stored in the refrigerator and used for a week, or slowly cooled and stepwise frozen for storage in a liquid nitrogen tank for later insemination.
  2. For a homemade milk diluter, it is best to use fresh 3.5 pasteurized, homogenized whole milk. It must be heated and held at 210F for 10 minutes in a glass boiler, keep the lid in place so that no moisture is lost. Next, the milk is cooled in a water bath with the lid on. When the milk is in equilibrium temperature with the water bath, the water condensation on the inside of the lid is shaken back into the milk. To every 400 cc of milk, add 100,000 units of potassium G crystalline penicillin and 500 mg crystallin di-hydrostreptomycin sulfate, mixing well. Warm this diluter to about body temperature before adding the fresh semen at 19:1 ratio. Place the diluted semen in a water bath at body temperature of 101F and allow to cool slowly. Semen may be frozen, if the extender contains an antifreeze compound, slowly, stepwise for storage on dry ice or in liquid nitrogen.
  3. A microscope, capable of 900x magnification is an essential tool when doing your own semen collection in order to determine semen quantity and quality. First, place a semen sample on a clean slide and cover with a coverslip or another slide. Set the magnification to 400x and observe the appearance of dark patches or spots thru the scope; four dark areas or more per microscope field represent high concentrations of sperm, a really good sample. Three dark areas is somewhat chancy for use at a diluted service, but is good enough for natural service. Two dark areas should be used only for natural services and one dark area means that the concentration of sperm is too low for even natural service.   Switching to 900x, the sperm cells can be individually observed for normal structures. Diluting in warm saline is helpful. Coiled tails, broken tails, absence of tails and abnormal shapes all constitute deficient sperm cells. Sixty to 70% good motility before freezing should be observed in a good sample, with a minimum of 30% motility after freezing and thawing.

Any insemination program, no matter how carefully carried out, will yield poor results if the concentration and quality of the collected sperm is not of high standards. Sophisticated techniques of washing the sperm free of seminal plasma before extending and freezing will improve post-thaw viability.

The concentration of a buck semen ejaculate can be determined accurately by using a red blood cell diluting pipette and standard hemocytometer techniques. Typical results during the breeding season are 3 to 5 billion sperm per cc. Optical density can also be used to estimate sperm concentration if the photometer has been calibrated for buck semen. A simpler technique involves the determination of a spermatocrit using microhematocrit pipettes. The aliquot of semen is centrifuged for 10 minutes; for each percentage point of packed sperm, approximately 200 million sperm cells per cc are present. Correction is made for the percent motile sperm, after which the ejaculate can be diluted appropriately to supply a minimum of 125 million motile sperm in each breeding dose. It is often difficult to introduce more than 0.2 ml of semen into the cervix, so dilution to a final concentration of 600 million to 1.2 billion live sperm per cc has been recommended. When no laboratory support is available, fresh semen for immediate use may be diluted up to 5 times in extender if it is yellowish and 10 times if the ejaculate is white. A straw holding 0.5 cc of this diluted semen will provide adequate sperm if excessive reflux does not occur.

Storage and Removal of Semen from the Liquid Nitrogen Tank

A liquid nitrogen tank is basically a very large thermos-bottle in which liquid nitrogen is placed to keep the inner temperature near -320F (-196C). The spacing between the inner and outer walls is insulated and under vacuum. The temperature in the tank is maintained uniformly at -320F up to the bottom of the tank neck until the liquid nitrogen level gets down to around 5''. To measure liquid nitrogen, use a piece of black metal rod that is long enough to hold and touch the bottom of the tank. Dip the rod to the tank bottom and remove after 30 seconds. By waving it in the air, a white frost line will appear on the rod. This line indicates the liquid nitrogen depth of the tank. Levels nearing 5'' require a refill. The only real differences between tanks is their storage capacity (number of ampules or straws that they will hold) and their length of holding time (liquid nitrogen evaporation rate). The neck diameter varies somewhat also, with wider openings being easier to work with, but an increased evaporation rate usually results.

When working with semen in the liquid nitrogen tank, it is important to keep the racks below the frost line in the neck of the tank. Removal of semen from the tank for periods as brief as 10 seconds, such as for identification, before replacing it to the tank will often result in lowered fertility levels. If the right rack can't be located in 5 seconds, lower the canister back to the bottom of the tank for at least 30 seconds before trying again. Also, when handling semen, try to stay out of any direct sunlight, as ultraviolet light has a spermicidial effect.

The semen comes in two basic types of packaging: ampules (1 ml) and straws (0.5 or 0.25 ml). The ampule is the most common type of packaging for buck sperm. Both ampules and straws are stored in racks (canes), which are aluminum pieces that hold a vertical row of ampules, usually six.

A few key reminders concerning semen storage:

Thawing Procedures

Methods for semen thawing vary among manufacturers, and it is best to follow their recommendation. The thawing procedure for 1cc ampules, the most common for goat semen, is generally the ice water bath. 

Ice water (38-42F) is placed in a styrofoam box long enough before-hand to allow temperature to equilibrate. Remove the ampule from tank and place immediately into thaw box. Ampule may be placed in a small plastic cup with holes in the bottom. This prevents ice from coming into direct contact with ampule. Ampule should thaw in 3 to 5 minutes. Check for slushiness and allow more time if needed.  Ampule may sit in ice water for as long as 30 minutes with no damage. Once removed, the semen must be used right away.   The layer of ice on the ampule must be peeled off before opening to avoid possible contamination. The ice water thaw method is especially good during winter breeding of does because of low risk of cold shock to thawed and exposed semen. Thawing of semen can be done from -320F rapidly, but any subsequent exposure to lower temperatures after thawing will kill many or all of the sperm.

The warm water method of thawing is more exact than the ice water method, but probably will not work in cold weather, although it may give somewhat better results the rest of the year. The procedure is basically the same as for the ice water thaw except that the water must be maintained at 92 to 98F. This requires a source of warm water and an accurate thermometer.  Thawing will be complete in about 1 minute with no ice layer formation of the ampule. Ampules thawed with the warm water method should be used within 5 minutes.

Straws (0.5 or 0.25 ml) can be thawed by either of the previous two methods. A given amount of semen in a straw will take about one half as long to thaw as an equal amount in an ampule. Many inseminators simply thaw straws by placing them into their shirt or pants pocket.

Inseminating Procedures

All the care in handling, storage and preparation of semen will be useless if the inseminating process is not done carefully and cleanly. Hygienic practices at this point cannot be over-emphasized. All reusable items such as inseminating guns (for straws), scissors for cutting straws, scribe for cutting ampules, etc. must be wiped clean with 70 0sopropyl alcohol and allowed to dry before reuse. Disposable items should be kept in their sealed packages until they are to be used. The speculum should be sterilized after each use (this is one reason why the cattle industry discontinued the speculum method; the inseminator would have to carry a few dozen specula on his daily rounds, sterilizing them each night). This is best accomplished by boiling for 10 minutes, allowing to air dry. Then place inside a sterile container or wrapping, such as a new plastic AI glove. Disposable plastic type specula for goats can be obtained from mail order companies, eliminating the need for constant resterilization.

Materials needed for artificial insemination:

Preparing Ampules:

  1. Partially remove an inseminating pipette from its plastic bag.
  2. Place bulb or syringe on exposed end.
  3. Thaw ampule according to the described methods.
  4. Dry ampule after thawing, hold in paper towel and scribe (with proper tool) one side of ampule collar. Some ampule types do not need to be scribed, but can be snapped open.
  5. Pull syringe back 1/2 cc on plunger or squeeze bulb closed before placing pipette into ampule. Tip ampule to slight angle and maintain constant suction on pipette while it is slowly inserted into the ampule. Try to get all the semen into the pipette, keeping the semen column down near the end of the pipette.
  6. When filled, the pipette should have a semen column with no air spaces, with the bottom of the column being 1 to 2'' from the pipette tip. Do not draw semen into the syringe or bulb.
  7. Keep the ampule for information to complete breeding records.
  8. Keep the pipette away from sunlight or cover with paper towels.
  9. The semen is now ready to be placed into the doe in estrus.

Preparing Straws:

  1. An inseminating gun, designed for your type of straw is needed, obtainable thru farm supply houses or the local cattle AI technician. Have cover sheath available, sealed until needed.
  2. Place straw in thaw box.
  3. Remove when thawed, wipe dry. Check buck information.
  4. Pull plunger on gun back 4 to 6'' and insert straw into gun, cotton plug end first (towards plunger).
  5. Hold gun in upright position, allowing air bubble to rise to the sealed end.
  6. Cut sealed end of straw with scissors. Take care to cut straw squarely for proper seating.
  7. Install the sheath over the gun, fastening it down with the provided O-ring. Install it so that the wider side of the ring faces the straw, with the narrower side facing the syringe end.


Assuming that the doe has been observed in heat, has been suitably restrained (i.e. in stanchion) and the steps for preparing the ampule or straw have been followed. The next steps are:

Frequently, the pipette cannot be passed all the way through the cervix even though the doe is in heat. If it has penetrated deeply into the cervix (3 to 4 cm, as determined by laying another pipette alongside the first and observing the distance by which the outer ends are offset), cervical insemination will provide a conception rate almost equal to that of intrauterine semen deposition. The conception rate expected from intra-vaginal insemination, however, is less than 30.  If semen is very valuable, it may be advisable to pass a trial pipette to determine patency of the cervix before thawing the semen unit.

In France, a doe is usually restrained by a second person who straddles the doe's neck and elevates the hindquarters to a vertical position while holding the hind limbs tightly flexed. The inseminator is free to stand in a comfortable position. He holds the speculum and the goat's tail in one hand and the pipette or straw gun in the other hand. If excess mucus is a problem, the assistant lowers the goat's hindquarters almost to the ground; if the mucus does not run out of the speculum, the latter is removed and shaken to clear it. The goat is then lifted to its former position. If many goats are to be bred, the assistant may tire using this technique. If the doe is not held in a vertical position, it is often impossible to adequately visualize and penetrate the cervix. Various slings have been devised to suspend the goat in the appropriate position.

Angora Goats

Angora goats may be the most efficient fiber producers on earth. These makers of mohair came from and were named after Ankara (Angora prior to 1930), the Turkish province where they have thrived for centuries. Turkey guarded these goats against exportation until 1849 when seven does and two bucks were imported into the United States. Later, more were imported from Turkey and South Africa, the two principal mohair producers in the 19th century. But now, the United States has become one of the two biggest producers (along with South Africa) of mohair - the long, lustrous, wavy hair that goes into fine garments. The other primary fiber from goats is cashmere.  Never the twain should meet! To cross Angora with cashmere goats results in a fiber called cashgora, with very limited uses and characteristics of neither fine fiber. The two goat types differ in temperaments, too. The Angoras are pretty laid back and docile, while cashmere and/or Spanish meatgoats are often flighty and high strung. (Incidentally, Angora goats, which do produce mohair, do not produce Angora hair; only rabbits can produce that.)

Although Angora goats are somewhat delicate, they grow their fleeces year-round. This puts considerable strain on the animal and probably contributes to their lack of hardiness. About 90 percent of the U.S. mohair clip originates in Texas, but the goats are raised over wide areas of the United States. They adapt well to many conditions, but are particularly suited to the arid southwestern states. Central and southwestern Texas have all the major mohair warehouses.

Shear twice a year

Angora goats are sheared twice a year, before breeding and before kidding. The hair grows about 3/4 of an inch a month, and adult hair should be 4-6 inches long at shearing. Shearing most often follows the method developed by the Mexicans, with the goats lying down with legs tied. Shearing should be done on a clean-swept floor or sheet of plywood. Care should be give to keep mohair clean and free from contaminants-weeds, grass seeds, or urine. Buyers severely discount unclean hair and hair showing second cuts. Fleeces should be bagged separately in 6-foot burlap bags. Not acceptable are polyethylene bags or poly twine. Each bag should show the grower's name marked with a permanent-type felt-tip pen, be tagged, and contain only one fleecetype clearly marked:  Kid, yearling, young adult, adult, buck and stained with spring or fall clip. Special problems, such as burns or coarse, extra long, or short fleece, should also be listed. Buyers slit the bag's side when inspecting before buying; sellers must present a uniform product. An adult goat usually will produce 8-16 pounds of mohair ayear. Kid mohair should be 4 inches long, is finer, and may yield 3-5 pounds a year. Mohair fiber diameter ranges from 20 to 40 microns. If kemp fiber (long, straight, hollow and brittle) shows up on any goats, especially along the backbone and thighs, such "kempy"animals should be culled, as suggested by the U.S. Mohair Marketing Board. Kemp fiber breaks easily and does not readily accept dye. The U.S. Government has a direct-payment program for mohair producers which helps maintain a viable industry. The direct payment through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) is based on thedifference between the national average market price and a support price. In one recent year, producers received an average of @2.475 for every dollar's worth of mohair marketed. Details can be found at ASCS offices in many counties.

Selecting Bucks

Bucks should be chosen for body conformation and fine hair. Preferred are open-faced bucks not blinded by hair. Bucks should be left with does for 6 weeks. Angora goats are seasonally in estrus. The normal breeding season is from late September into December. The gestation period for goats is usually 150 days, but it can vary several days each way. Kids are usually dropped from late February through April or early May. Twins may account for 40 percent of births, with a much lower percentage being triplets.

Fiber Comes First

Angora goats have high nutrient requirements and give nutritional advantage to fiber growth at the expense of other demands. Meeting nutritional needs should be the producer's main concern. Range forage of browse and forbs, protein supplements, grain and crop residues, and cereal crop pastures can help supply needed nutrients for growth and reproduction. Goats, browsing animals, can be pastured with sheep and cattle; each species prefers different plants. Goats prefer brush, tree leaves, and rough plants. They can improve pasture, clear reforestation areas, control leafy spurge and destroy multifloraroses, red cedars, sand burs, knapweed, hound's tongue, Canadian thistle, sagebrush, backbrush, giant ragweed, sunflowers, and many other weeds. When growing plants are not available, Angora goats need supplemental hay and perhaps grain. While gaining at breeding time, young does should weigh at least 55 pounds (sheared weight) and mature does at least 75. Does need extra feed before and after breeding so fetuses can develop hair follicles. During pregnancy and lactation, does need almost 1/2 pound of crude protein daily. Supplement feeding must start as soon as does begin to lose weight and condition. Improved nutrition brings more and better big growth kids and heavier fleeces. Poor nutrition is the leading cause of abortion and poor mothering. Young or lighter-weight goats are most subject to abortion. Stress from disease, moving long distances, or cold wet weather also cause abortions. Goats should be given adequate nutrition before and after shearing.

Angora goats must be able to take shelter from wet and cold; great death loss can occur without shelter for 4 to 6 weeks after shearing. Goats to not carry layers of body fat, unlike sheep. 

Kidding on the Range

Due to lack of labor and facilities, large herds are usually kidded on the range, while many smaller herds use a more intensive confinement system. For open-range kidding, small pastures with shelter, centrally located watering and supplement feeding areas, and bedding spots reduce numbers of lost kids. Angora does and kids should be undisturbed for several weeks, since does may abandon their kids. When goats are moved, pastures should be rechecked for kids. An even more intensive kidding system uses buildings, small individual stalls, heat lamps, and feeder space. This "system kidding" can be done earlier in the year but is much more labor intensive and therefore more expensive. But a larger kid crop can be realized with good management. Before kidding, does should be outdoors except in cold or wet weather or at night; this helps keep bedding cleaned and dry and encourages needed exercise. As does kid, they should be moved into stalls and kids' navels treated with 7 percent iodine. C and D antitoxin should be given. Cold kids will not try to suck and may need a heat lamp. When warm, they will usually suck by themselves but may need help to begin. Angora kids, very sensitive to cold, can die within a short time if too chilled. Immersion in warm water to speed restorationof body temperature and then thorough drying may save severely chilled kids. After identification with matching paint or ear tags, well fed does and kids can be moved to group pens or holding areas. Twins and triplets should not be grouped with singles since stronger kids often rob milk from usually smaller multiple-birth kids. Groups should contain kids of similar age.

Parasites Trouble Goats

Among goats, major health problems are internal and external parasites, coccidiosis (in kids before and after weaning), and pneumonia. A good health care program includes vaccination for most diseases and should be established between a grower and a veterinarian. Goats' hooves may need to be trimmed, depending upon walking conditions. Rocky ground may take care of that problem.

Goats may need special 4-foot-high fencing to keep them in and predators out. Goats like to go under or through obstacles. Five wire electric fences, with three wires hot and two grounded, make a good system. Woven wire fences may be used with the addition of a 12 inch "outrigger" electric wire about 12 inches above ground. Small-mesh fencing also may be used. Horns caught in the fence or the crotch of a tree become life-threatening, not only from predators but also from other goats. While most goats are not aggressive toward humans, they are not always kind to other goats and in seconds can do serious or lethal damage with their horns. A goat raiser may find horns useful-as handles. For safety, both for the handler and for other animals, horns' sharp points may be clipped, using a bolt cutter or similar device.

Angora Goat Production

Angora goats are an important enterprise for ranch operators in certain areas of Texas, mostly, but also in New Mexico and a few other Western states. Angoras produce income from the sale of mohair and meat. They also are used for biological control of brush and weeds in range improvement programs. Production costs have increased in recent years. This places a heavier burden on the ranch manager for decision making for greater efficiency in production and higher economic returns.

Goats require the same major production resources as other species of livestock. These include land, labor, capital and management. Goats often are grazed on forage land less suited for other livestock. They prefer browse, thus are not totally competitive with cattle and sheep for limited land resources. However, goats must convert forage into salable products to justify their presence in most multi-species operations. Since land is a costly resource in ranching operations, goats should recover their share of the costs.

The total annual cost of maintaining an Angora goat varies by area and from ranch to ranch. This is influenced by the productivity of the land resource and by the level of management. Annual income per goat also varies for the same reasons.

Type of Production

Doe and kid operation should consist of a flock of healthy animals of productive age, three to six years of age.

Range Management

Use stocking rates consistant with the area of production. Practice mixed grazing of livestock consistent with the area of production. Practice rotation grazing for pasture improvement and internal parasite control. Follow range improvement practices recommended for the area and consistent with ranch economics. Make use of supplemental grazing when available.

Breeding Practices

Flush does by supplying 1/4 to 1/3 lb of supplemental feed daily or move to a fresh, rested pasture about two weeks before turning bucks out. Protein blocks may be used in flushing when range conditions are not too severe. When ranges are extremely dry, it may pay to give does vitamins A, D and E two weeks before breeding.

Follow a good selective breeding program. Mate best does to best bucks, second best does to second best bucks, etc. Save replacement does from top two groups. Adaptability to the area of production is probably the most important single point. Good bucks are essential to a good selective breeding program. Purchase bucks from one breeder whose goats possess the desired characteristics to produce a uniform flock. Select animals for quantity and quality of mohair but do not sacrifice size and vigor. Fleeces also should be uniform in quality and length over the body of the goat

Use three to four bucks per 100 does, depending upon the size, brushiness and roughness of the pastures. Avoid using one buck per pasture in commercial goat production. Condition bucks by supplemental feeding about two weeks before turning them out. Breed does in September and October for February and March kids. It is not good management to run does and kids in the same pasture with wether goats. Wether goats travel too much.

Supplemental Feeding

Angora goats respond to supplemental feeding more than other livestock. They reflect this through heavier fleece weights. Feed goats during dry periods and especially during the winter months. Feed 1/4 to 1/2 lb of cottonseed cake, 1/2 to 1 lb of yellow corn or 1/2 to 3/4 lb of goat cubes per head daily depending upon the condition of the pastures and the does. Pregnant does require larger amounts of feed than dry animals. Abortion often can be prevented by supplemental feeding.

Self-feeding, using salt as an inhibitor, may be used in large, rough or brushy pastures. Keep salt as low as possible and place the feeders 3/4 to 1 mile from water. Move feeders for better pasture utilization. A popular mixture is three parts of ground milo, one part cottonseed meal and one part salt. Salt-controlled feeding is not recommended unless all other methods are impractical.

Feed kids during winter months to insure good growth and development. This will improve the kid crop on two-year-old does. Cull undeveloped kids that do not learn to eat. Protein blocks may be fed during kidding season. This method of feeding prevents kids from becoming lost from their mothers.


Use rested pastures for kidding and do not disturb does during the kidding season. Kid in a small pasture, confine kids and let does out to graze until kids are large enough to follow mothers.


Vaccinate kids for soremouth and earmark for identification when most of the kids are large enough to travel. Plastic ear tabs are a practical way of identification. Castrate kids the following December or January or when the kids are about nine to ten months old. This produces a heavier horn on wether goats that buyers prefer.


Spring shearing time is January through March depending on the area of production. Goats may be shedded during this period. Goats may be caped. Caping is the practice of leaving a strip of unsheared mohair about eight inches wide down the neck and back of the goat. This should be sheared after a month or six weeks. If capes are not sheared, they should be taken out and packed separately at shearing. Goats may be sheared with special goat combs. These combs leave about 1/4 inch of stubble on the goat and give him about two weeks start over goats sheared with regular combs. Producers usually supply the special combs and pay a small premium for shearers using them. Goats are sensitive to weather changes for a month to six weeks following shearing.

Fall shearing runs from July through September. Most producers shear with regular combs in the fall but some prefer the special combs. The responsibilities of the producers are to:

The responsibilities of the shearer are to:


Spray goats out of the shearing pen and again in twelve to eighteen days for best control of external parasites. Change sprays occasionally to get best control. Spray so goats will dry before dark. Use only recommended sprays or dips in strengths advocated by the Food and Drug Administration. Follow guidelines for spraying or dipping animals to go to slaughter. Do not spray under a shed or barn. Spray with the wind, not against it. Do not mix solutions with your hands. Spray or dip animals at a time of day when you will be able to bathe and change clothes. Do not mix chemicals.


Watch animals closely for signs of internal parasitism and drench as necessary. Drench out of the shearing pen using one of the recognized drenches. Change drenches occasionally so that parasites do not build up resistance to any specific drench. Move animals to a fresh pasture following drenching. Phenothiazine salt is not recommended for goats because it stains the mohair. Use care in drenching animals so that the linings of the mouth and throat are not injured.

Weaning Kids

Leave kids in the pasture and move does. Kids are familiar with the pasture and know where to water and rest. Wean in the drylot. This practice gentles kids, teaches them to eat and builds up their strength. Do not wean in an overgrazed, internal parasite-infested pasture. When weaning in a different pasture, move kids to a rested pasture along with a few gentle does who can lead them to water.


Some producers sell kids out of the hair after first shearing. Most producers prefer to market as yearlings after the second shearing. Sell through a reputable commission man or through an auction that specializes in handling goats. Market mohair through one of the recognized wool and mohair warehouses. Select one that provides service to meet your requirements. If the bulk of your clip is finer than 24s, it may pay to have your clip graded. Follow the recommendations of your warehouseman in preparing and marketing your mohair. Do not artificially oil goats.

Defect Control

Rearrange shearing dates so that a minimum of plant matter is in the fleece. Use supplemental pastures to avoid vegetable contamination. Provide for control of burr-producing plants in your pasture improvement program.


Keep accurate records of percentage of kid crop, fleece weight by age group and staple length to assist with the breeding program. Keep records of costs and returns to aid with income tax returns and planning business program of the ranch.

Angora Goat Selection

The Angora goat has been selected almost exclusively for fiber (mohair) production, and as such can be considered one of the outstanding success stories in animal breeding. Many Angora goats produce up to 20-25% of their body weight annually in fiber. In terms of growth rate of mohair fiber, they produce approximately double the rate of most types of sheep. Expressed as a function of body weight or feed intake, their rate of fiber production is about four times that of most sheep. However, since a high proportion of their nutrient intake is expended for fiber production, Angora goats are relatively poor meat or milk producers. Of course, slaughter of cull breeding stock provides some meat. It may be possible to develop dual-purpose meat and fiber producers, but only under conditions of better nutrition than that where most are run at the present time. Thus, for this discussion it is assumed that Angoras are bred primarily for fiber. The possibility is recognized that Angoras are kept for their usefulness in clearing brush and weeds on the farm or ranch also and that some are simply pets.

In selecting for fiber, one is interested in both quantity (weight) and quality of fiber (length, fineness, style, character, absence of kemp, etc). In addition to fiber, one must be concerned with traits that contribute to the survival or viability (soundness, fertility, etc.) of the individual and flocks.

Selection for quantity of fiber is accomplished efficiently by using fleece weights of those Angoras (mostly young males or young females) which are being considered for use as breeding animals. However, history indicates that most producers practice visual selection. In this case the predicting indicators of fleece weight are: size of the animal, completeness of cover, length of fiber, diameter of fiber and differences in density. The amount of grease (oil) or dirt in the fleece contributes to overall fleece weight, but not to fiber weight. It is preferable to emphasize fiber weight over total fleece weight. Environmentally (i.e. phenotypically), the two tend to be positively correlated, but genetically they are negatively related since the oil production requires a substantial amount of feed-energy. Similarly, one should not overemphasize the size of Angoras as a means of obtaining fleece weight.

Phenotypically, size and fleece weight are positively related but genetically they tend to be negatively correlated. For assessing efficiency of production, the genetic correlation is the more accurate term since it is not possible to produce meat and fiber from the same units of feed-energy. Fiber diameter is phenotypically and genetically positively related to fleece weight, but negatively to fleece quality since the finer fiber is more desirable. Completeness of cover includes mostly head, neck, belly and legs. They are genetically related to fiber production. Face cover, however, can interfer with vision and have serious effects on the animal's welfare. This is even more true with range goats where reduced vision can interfer with their ability to graze selectively. The amount of mohair cover on the face contributes little to total fleece weight, but is genetically linked to total cover at other points. The amounts of fiber on neck and belly make important contributions to fleece weight, but the value of fiber grown on the legs (below the knee or hock) is rather low. Therefore, selection for body cover should be limited to the neck and belly, primarily the former. Animals with extensive cover in the face should be eliminated.

Selection for mohair quality includes primarily fiber diameter (finer fibers preferred), length (four inches minimum), freedom from kemp (coarse, brittle, chalky white hair mixed in the fleece), and desirable lock formation. There is little technological support for selecting for a specific lock type or formation, but in the absence of detailed studies it seems undesirable to allow the fleece to become straight or without some more appealing lock character.

Limited research indicates that all the desirable economic traits of Angora goats are moderately to highly heritable and can thus be changed through selection. Some strong negative relationships exist. Also, problems may be encountered due to genetic, environmental interactions. For example, selection for high level of fiber production tends to make the animal poorly adaptable to the range conditions under which most are produced presently.

Age of selection deserves some discussion. Weaning or first shearing is a poor time to select Angora goats. The second and third shearing (one year and 18 months) provide a much better age to appraise the fiber production potential. Angora goats tend to have high longevity. Thus, culling of Angoras with advancing age can be based on fiber production and less on teeth wear as practiced with sheep. Fleece weights tend to deteriorate (quantitatively and qualitatively) with advancing age. Removing Angoras with deteriorating fleece production can improve directly the evaluation of fleece traits and long-term selection.


The limb joints of animals are designed for mobility. In conjunction with the muscles and tendons, the joints allow for flexion and extension of the legs and permits a wide range of motion and activity. Normal joint function is essential for good health, particularly in grazing animals such as goats which may have to cover large areas over varying terrain in search of food. Normal joint function also allows flight from predators and is important for breeding success in active bucks. In addition, lameness or swellings over joints may reduce an animal's chances in the show ring.

Normal limb joints are comprised of several structures. First are the bone ends, covered with cartilage and shaped to interlock for increased stability. The cartilage is quite smooth, for reducing friction and wear in the joint. A space exists between the cartilage surfaces called the joint cavity. This space is filled with joint (or synovial) fluid which lubricates the joint and acts as a shock absorber to reduce the trauma associated with movement. The fluid is held in place by a fibrous joint capsule which is lined with a synovial membrane that produces the joint fluid. Outside the joint capsule are numerous ligaments, muscles and tendons which add further strength and stability to the joint. The tendons are also surrounded by sheaths containing fluid known as bursae. Inflammation of the tendon sheaths is known as bursitis. Inflammation of the joint from any cause is known as arthritis. Any or all of the structures comprising the joint may be damaged in arthritic conditions.

Recognizing Joint Disease

Arthritis may result from a variety of infectious and noninfectious causes. A single joint may be affected or multiple joints involved (polyarthritis). Depending on the cause, signs of arthritis may vary. For example, in bacterial or traumatic arthritis, the affected joint may be swollen and warm to the touch. In early viral or nutritional arthritis, no visible change may be detected in the joint. In these cases, the presence of arthritis is suggested by observation of signs such as reluctance or difficulty in rising, slowed return to the barn at milking time, inability of bucks to mount does at breeding time, limping or uneven gait, or complete disuse of a single limb. Even when these signs are noted, other conditions which might result in abnormal motion should be considered. These would include fractures, laminitis or founder, foot rot, and white muscle disease (vitamin E/selenium deficiency). In addition, various neurological problems may be misinterpreted as musculoskeletal disease.

Several diagnostic procedures may be employed to identify the cause of arthritis. Examination of the joint fluid obtained by aseptically tapping the joint may be useful. Large numbers of neutrophils in the fluid are suggestive of bacterial arthritis. Large numbers of mononuclear cells are more indicative of viral arthritis. Little change in the fluid composition may be observed in traumatic or nutritional arthritis. In the case of bacterial arthritis, joint fluid may be cultured to identify the causative organism and to select the appropriate antibiotic therapy.

In cases of nutritional or traumatic arthritis, radiographs may be helpful in establishing a diagnosis and prognosis for recovery. Serological testing may be required for the diagnosis of arthritis due to virus or mycoplasma. Successful treatment of individual cases of arthritis and control and prevention of additional cases depends on accurate and specific diagnosis.

Specific Causes of Caprine Arthritis Bacterial Arthritis

Lacerations or puncture wounds over joints can lead to bacterial infection. Injuries such as these should be cared for immediately. The affected area should be cared for immediately. The affected area should be cleaned thoroughly with soap and water. If the joint has been opened, suturing may be indicated. Antibiotic therapy should be initiated to prevent infection.  In young kids, bacterial polyarthritis can occur. The organisms involved are usually E. coli, Corynebacterium pyogenes, or staphylococci. The condition is recognized by lameness and swelling in one or more joints, particularly the front knees (carpi), hocks and stifles. This condition is secondary to bacterial infection elsewhere in the body, usually the navel or digestive tract. The bacteria are carried to the joints via the bloodstream. Therapy is often ineffective and prevention is the preferred method of control. Unclean environment and improper kid care promote the incidence of polyarthritis. Improved management practices will reduce the occurrence of this disease. Maternity pens should be used for kidding, and kept clean and dry with bedding changed between births. Navels of newborns should be dipped in iodine immediately after birth. Kids should receive adequate colostrum within six hours after kidding. They should be housed in warm, dry quarters, and not overcrowded.

Mycoplasma Arthritis

Mycoplasmas are small microorganisms which differ from bacteria in that they do not have a cell wall. They are difficult to culture in the laboratory and much confusion exits with regard to the species of mycoplasma responsible for caprine arthritis in the United States. Several species of goat mycoplasmas are known in the US but Mycoplasma mycoides subspecies mycoides, large colony type, appears to be most responsible for cases of mycoplasmal arthritis. The prevalence and distribution of caprine mycoplasma arthritis is unclear, and sporadic reports from several regions of the US have appeared in the veterinary literature, most notably from California.

Mycoplasma infection produces a severe systematic disease in which arthritis may be the only sign or may be accompanied by high fevers, inappetence, pneumonia, diarrhea, keratoconjunctivitis (pink eye), or sudden death. All animals in a herd may be affected, but the more dramatic signs are seen in kids and younger adults. Outbreaks are often preceded by some stress such as dehorning. The infection may be carried unnoticed in a herd for extended periods.

Whenever several animals in a group are suddenly affected with arthritis along with signs of illness elsewhere in the body, mycoplasma should be suspected. Any dead animals should be submitted to a diagnostic laboratory for specific diagnosis. Blood samples from living animals should also be taken for evaluation of titers to mycoplasma infection. Correct diagnosis is important since few antibiotics are effective against mycoplasma. Tylosin and tetracyclines may be useful in controlling herd outbreaks although losses may be high.

Viral Arthritis

(CAE) A recently discovered retrovirus has been identified as a cause of chronic arthritis in goats. It is very likely that many previously unexplained cases of caprine arthritis were the result of this slow virus infection. The caprine arthritis encaphalitis virus (CAEV) was first recognized as a cause of progressive paralysis in two of four month old kids resulting from infection of the brain (encephalitis). Later it was demonstrated that the same virus also produces a progressive chronic arthritis in older goats. The presence of this virus in the US goat production is believed to be very high.

Nutritional Arthritis

One specific syndrome of arthritis related to feeding deserves mention. It involves the excessive consumption of calcium in the ration by mature bucks. Lactating does and young growing animals may require supplemental calcium in the diet. However, mature bucks fed in similar ration are likely to develop arthritis due to excessive deposition of calcium in the bone (osteopetrosis). Proliferative calcification (osteophytes) forming on the margin of joints disrupts normal joint architecture and may impair mobility and breeding effectiveness. Osteophytes may be visible radiographically. To prevent this problem, mature bucks should be fed either grass hay or not more than two pounds of alfalfa hay daily.

Traumatic Arthritis

Because goats are prone to fighting, traumatic joint injuries (sprains, dislocations, torn ligaments) are not uncommon. Sudden lameness and swelling of a single joint without fever is suggestive of traumatic injury. Affected goats should be isolated and confined with exercise restricted. The joint may be wrapped with an elastic bandage and cold compresses applied to minimize swelling. The animal may be placed on aspirin to reduce pain and inflammation. The degree of recovery is dependent on the extent of the injury.

Other Causes of Arthritis

Herd outbreaks of polyarthritis in lambs due to Chlamydia sp., a virus-like organism, are known to occur in the United States. It has been suggested that chlamydial arthritis in goats also occurs, especially in herds which have experienced outbreaks of chlamydial abortion. As interest in and recognition of caprine diseases continues to develop in the United States, chlamydia as well as other organisms may be identified as causes of arthritis in goats.

Avoid Residues in Goat Meat and Milk

The wholesomeness of American food is a cherished goal for all involved in the production and processing of edible goods. In cooperation with producers, federal regulations ensure that food is
safe and free from objectionable levels of residues.  All persons involved in the daily production of  meat and milk are constantly aware of the necessity to closely monitor their management practices to assure that their products, whether used on the family table or sold for processing, meet accepted  standards.

Occasionally, animals become ill and require medication. Goats are no exception. However, the  owner has little guidance in the use of medication because few drugs are labeled for goats and professional advice often is not available. As a result,  treatment of an ailing animal may require a more cautious approach when deciding on the method of drug application and dosage. There is a greater chance for error and the possibility that goat meat and milk could contain unwanted
chemical residues for an extended period of time.

A survey conducted among goat breeders in Pennsylvania as part of the USDA Residue Avoidance Program found that many goat owners subscribe to the organic method of food production. An awareness of situations that could induce residue problems in any food supply appears to be  foremost in their management programs. Even so, there are numerous instances where medication of  an animal for various ailments, infections, and  parasite problems is a necessity. In nearly all cases, when animals were given medication there has been extreme caution in the use of milk and  meat from the treated animal. Withholding products several days beyond the recommended period is an
accepted practice among goat owners.  This type of concern and caution has sponsored a supply of meat, milk and milk products for use in the home or for sale, that meets federal standards.  One packing house that slaughters approximately  1,000 goats each year has yet to find a carcass with  a residue violation. This would support the observation that goat raisers are thoroughly conscious of potential problems and are taking steps to assure a wholesome product. The industry is to be

There appears to be an ever increasing number of  persons practicing goat husbandry. The  homesteading movement with its agrarian intent, but often limited to small acreage, finds the dairy  goat a perfect animal to meet home food production needs. Many newcomers to the business are  not agriculturally trained. The lack of knowledge about adequate ventilation in goat housing and  uncertainty about sanitation procedures could lead  to a greater incidence of pneumonia, diarrhea,
and  parasite problems. This, coupled with a scarcity of drugs labeled for use on goats, and in some areas, no access to veterinary care, increases the risk of accidental medical application. Those raising goats  for a long period of time find it difficult to make treatment decisions. It is doubly difficult for the newcomer.

Let's examine the route that drugs and   chemicals take to get into meat and milk. Medication may be given orally, injected subcutaneously (under the skin) or into the muscle, infused into the udder or
reproductive tract, or applied to the skin as a salve or a powder. Regardless of the treatment  method, the medication may be absorbed into the  blood stream and carried to all parts of the body.  Therefore, a drug injected into the muscle to treat  pneumonia symptoms or fed to the animal to control internal parasites will eventually find its way to the milk secretory cells and all body tissues.  Body tissues may retain detectable levels of drug residues longer than body fluids such as
milk. It is  not uncommon to find labels stating a longer withholding time before it is safe to send the  animal for slaughter as compared to using the milk. Withholding times vary! When you treat an  animal, be sure to follow directions when administering the drugs. If it calls for intramuscular
injection and you inject subcutaneously, the stated withholding time on the label may be rendered inaccurate. Unusually large doses of medication will require longer withholding times, so stay with the
recommended dosage if you expect the label to be an accurate guide.

Mastitis medication formulated  for dry treatment generally has a long meat and  milk withdrawal time because the drugs are mixed in a slow release, long acting vehicle. Treatment over several days can extend the withdrawal  period because of the additive effect. Therefore, depending on the drug you use, the dose given, the length of the treatment, and the drug vehicle (substance used to mix
with or dissolve the drug), you may need to extend the withholding time to allow the body to eliminate the drug residue.

Residues may occur from sources other than medication. Forages, such as hay, weeds, and  browse that may have grown on or near roadsides or right of ways that have been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides can become polluted by spray or spray drift. If eaten by the goat, they
can be the cause of residues in meat and milk. The browsing nature of goats can lead them to eat both dead and living forage that another species of animal might shun. In addition, if you spray or dust your sweet corn, cabbage, turnips and other garden vegetables   to control disease or insects, do not permit the goats to eat any of the garden plants.

Be careful when purchasing a grain mix,  especially one not formulated for a ruminant. Read the feed tag. If it says medicated on the tag be sure you read further to find what limitations may be recommended. Also, some milk replacers may contain a medicated ingredient that could pose a problem in the sale of a kid consuming the replacer in its daily ration.

If you have treated a milking doe for mastitis,  milk her last and discard all the milk even though you may have treated only one side of the udder.  By milking her last, you prevent possible contamination of milk from other does. As little as a teaspoon of milk left in a pail or in a milk line can contaminate the milk from the next doe. Don't take chances. Mark a treated animal with a paint stick or a dye to remind you and anyone else doing the milking that the milk from that doe must be discarded.

Testing for Residues

Modern-day testing methods make it easier for officials to test for trace levels of residues. Levels  that once went undetected now are found in both meat and milk. In addition, procedures have been
developed to permit the tracking of a carcass in a slaughter plant back to an auction or buyer and  finally to the person who sold the animal. Not only are the tests becoming more accurate and refined,  it is now easier to identify the person who committed the error.

Several tests have been developed to assist the producer in checking for the possibility of residues  present in the animal or the milk. The Live Animal Swab Test (LAST) developed by scientists in the
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service  (FSIS), is the first tool available for on-the-farm  use in checking animals for antibiotic residues before they are shipped for slaughter. LAST is an  adaption of a test used since 1979 by FSIS, called   STOP (Swab Test on Premises). STOP has been used in slaughter houses to check presence of antibiotics and other antimicrobial substances in the killed carcass. Now producers and/or their veterinarians can perform the LAST on live animals at the farm simply by testing the urine of any suspect animal. Test kits are available for purchase and anyone wishing to learn more about the test and how to perform it may write to Publications Office, FSIS-ILA, Room 1163-S, USDA, Washington, DC 20250.

The DELVO test has been used for several years by milk plants and sanitarians and more recently  by dairymen to check for levels of antibiotics in milk. More and more farmers are routinely running  this test on milk from any treated, mastitic cow prior to including her milk with that of the herd. It is also used on milk in the bulk tank prior to shipping. Contact any dairy sanitarian, milk plant, veterinarian or Extension agent for information on  purchasing this test kit. Or, write to G. B. Fermentation Industries, Inc., 555077 Centre Drive, Charlotte, North Carolina 28224. Other test kits are being developed for on-farm use. LAST, STOP  and DELVO tests are all designed to detect the  presence of antibiotics and sulfas. They will not detect other chemicals such as wormers or insecticides. Federal meat inspectors use other methods to detect these chemicals.

Today, there is little reason to use or sell residue-contaminated products. You can test a product to  be sure it is residue free. This should be especially  good news to the goat producer since most of the goat products are used by the family. Rather than   to waste several days milk or hold a live animal an extra couple weeks just to be sure the medicine has been eliminated from the body, you can now test and know when the product is safe to place on the family table.

Avoid Residues

Ask your veterinarian's advice regarding:

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This page was last updated on November 15, 2002