Goat Care, Month to Month
Customize this schedule to keep you on track when things get hectic!
Reading Time: 4 minutes
When things get crazy and hectic, that goat care calendar will be one of the tools keeping you on track.
When I first got into raising goats, despite reading livestock books, I was still at a loss when it came to yearly health and management of my herd. Nailing down a schedule for my goats was one of the many challenges I encountered, and I am out to ease those growing pains for Goat Journal readers who still need to make the leap.
Most goat vaccination schedules and care revolve around pregnancy, so this calendar will as well. My girls are usually bred in October. Use my schedule as a guide but remember to edit it with your specific dates, with your goals in mind. Once you have a calendar that works for you, print it out and stick to it! When things get crazy and hectic, that goat care calendar will be one of the tools keeping you on track.
Monthly maintenance: Assess each goat on an individual basis around the first of each month. During this time, write down the FAMACHA and the Body Condition Score (BCS). Check coat for bugs or dandruff. Check the feet for overgrowth or problems. Trim all hooves. Check the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth for any obvious issues. Consider doing an at-home fecal float test before and after worming goats to determine resistance and coverage, then worm according to needs. During the cold months, ensure goats are being fed enough and have good shelter.
Does: Check for pregnancy 45-90 days after breeding. Look for signs of miscarriage or heat to indicate that the doe is not pregnant. Blood tests are optional. Administer CD&T shots for goats six to eight weeks prior to kidding.
Look for: In wet months, look for signs of hoof rot. When the weather changes rapidly from hot to cold, watch for pneumonia.
Does: Check for signs of miscarriage or early labor. Repair any kidding areas and prepare a kidding kit for the upcoming month.
Look for: External parasites like goat lice prefer cold, dark, and damp environments. Watch for these during the cold months in particular.
Does: Check for signs of labor, assess cartilage and the presence of discharge for readiness to kid. Move does into kidding areas based on their estimated due dates. When kids are born, dip their umbilical cords in an iodine solution. Record the details of the labor and kid’s health to the does’ records.
Look for: Predators are attracted to the scent of birth. Watch the kids to ensure they are nursing and getting enough nutrition. Monitor for floppy kid syndrome or respiratory illness.
Does and kids: Assess does frequently for mastitis. Kids get their first CD&T vaccination at one month of age. Begin milking does. Consider providing supplemental feed to lactating does based on BCS. If you are banding males, it is best done within 45 days of birth.
Look for: Begin to look for goat pink eye as conditions get warmer and dusty. Remember, goats can get allergies.
Does and kids: Give kids their second CD&T vaccine. Make sure kids are being dosed correctly for goat dewormers, as underdosing can lead to resistance. Weigh kids before administering as it is dosed by weight.
Look for: Flies as irritants. Consider traps or sprays if it is a bad year for flies.
Does and kids: Start to wean kids, continue to milk does. Monitor for mastitis.
Look for: Check over records of herd. Determine which animals to sell or process. Determine the following year’s goals. Continue to monitor for any signs or symptoms of common goat diseases.
Does and kids: Worm kids if necessary, using an updated weight. Sell kids marked for sale in your records. Process kids meant to be processed. Create individual records for the kids you are intending to keep.
Look for: Heatstroke.
Does and kids: Continue milking does.
Look for: Continue to monitor for common diseases and heatstroke.
All goats: Draw blood samples from all goats and test for CAE, CL, Johne’s, and Brucellosis. Kids must be over six months old to be tested for CL, so the test may need to be completed closer to the end of the month.
Does and kids: After blood has been drawn for testing, administer CL vaccine to kids. If it is done prior to the blood draw, it could cause a false positive on the test. Worm kids using an updated weight. Flush all goats you are planning on breeding by giving them extra grain rations.
Look for: Obtain a high BCS for any breeding animals to prepare for breeding season. Separate does not putting on or maintaining weight.
Kids: Give second CL vaccine.
Breeding: When does start showing signs of being in heat, place the buck in their pen for 42 days. Doelings from this year may be bred only if they are showing signs of being in heat and have grown to 60-70% of their expected adult weight. Do not breed any animal with a positive pregnancy blood test from last month.
Look for: Exhaustion from the buck. If utilizing a marking harness on the buck, look for signs of the doe being bred.
All goats: Ensure goats are getting enough food in the colder weather.
Look for: Foot rot, fix any drafty shelters.
Look for: Respiratory illness.
Keeping goats is exponentially easier once you take some mystery out herd health management. This calendar tool helps break the yearly goat care management tasks into easily digestible chunks. Take it, make it your own, and live by it!
Originally published in the January/February 2020 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.