Keeping your goats healthy will be a breeze with this spring goat care guide.
A spring goat care guide is an essential resource to guide you through one of the major parasite seasons of the year.
Spring is such a blessing! It is literally a breath of warmer fresh air that pulls all the weight and stress from my shoulders.
Well…almost all of the weight. You see, there is this animal called a goat and this animal attracts Spring-loving parasites. In fact, in the past several years of raising goats, the months of April and May have been the absolute worse parasite months for me as a meat goat breeder. And I know other breeders can relate to the struggle.
First of all, the parasites in the spring are AWFUL! Especially the barberpole worm. Yuck.
Furthermore, bottle jaw is another issue producers fight during spring. Bottle jaw is a symptom of anemia in goats when they are affected by the barberpole worm overload.
So, this spring goat care guide is a resource to help you as a breeder have a successful and goat-healthy spring.
5 Ways To A Better Spring
There are five main ways to provide preventative and current care for goats that I will share with you. I’m getting pretty good at catching the symptoms before they turn into bottle jaw. And you will be, too.
Also, understand that every region of the world and every goat herd is different. I’m sharing with you what has worked for me to be sure that my goats stay healthy through the spring.
First of all, Shelter
Shelter is ideal for stress relief for the goats to hide from the spring showers. I love spring showers! They bring May flowers and they make everything new and fresh again. But, goats do not really like being left out in the rain. It stresses them out, which causes a jump in the worm load.
The easiest way to provide shelter is just to offer a small building for them to call home. But, trees and brush work, too. Believe me! It’s what I have used and my goats almost prefer to find their own places to hide.
Last summer, my goats were out on pasture with no buildings and they hid in low areas covered with trees. I actually tried to get them to come home and they wouldn’t. They were happy in their natural setting.
Like with any species, nutrition is very important for goat health. Provide a great mineral for them so they can get some good trace mineral. I use a loose mineral named Cargil Onyx, which is a cattle mineral with a high trace mineral content.
You might think it’s weird or not right that I would feed a cattle mineral to goats. As my herd continued to grow, I started asking around for a better mineral I could buy in larger bags. This mineral is the mineral of choice for many goat breeders.
I’m a huge fan of the Cargil Onyx Mineral now. The goats love this mineral and perform very well on it. Check out our homemade mineral feeder!
Goats really don’t need extra protein in the spring because the grass nutrient content is at it’s highest level. In the pastures, they find plenty to eat. In fact, I have tried setting out an extra protein source. They were not interested.
Since I was breeding them in the Spring, I wanted them to have access to plenty of good nutrition. The vegetation has plenty of nutrition during the Spring and Summer months. The mineral assures me they are receiving plenty of trace minerals they need.
This topic is obviously the most important part of the spring goat care guide. Every goat producer struggles with parasites in their goat herd. No goat herd is completely immune from parasites.
But there are some good ways to control parasites and keep on top of them.
You see, when goats graze or eat anything off the ground, this increases the worm load in the goats. The spring months are prime time for the Barberpole worms to wake up from their long winter maps.
I always consult my veterinarian before applying any dewormer protocols in my herd. I also use Famacha, which is a good indication of barberpole worm infestation. Famacha is the process of examining the inner eyelid color and comparing it to five colors from Dark Pink to White.
The dark pink color indicates a low worm load of barberpole and white indicates a dangerous level of the worm.
So, as a precaution, if the inner eyelid is light pink, it’s time to spot treat for barber pole worm.
Deworm As Needed
Before spring rolls around, I consult with my veterinarian to make sure I am using the most up to date dewormer and protocol available to treat worms.
A fecal sample is the key to locating with worm you are dealing with. It may not be barberpole worm, so you want to make sure you are using the correct protocol on the correct worm.
For barberpole worm, I use a fenbendazole dewormer, such as Safeguard at a triple dose for 5 days. Ten days later, I give one dose of a stronger dewormer, such as Cydectin sheep drench. I also remove the animal from the pen and put them into a dry lot pen to help make it easier to treat them.
It might seem like a big job. But here ~ I will give you the record sheet I use to track parasites in my large goat herd.
Another dewormer I use if the first protocol did not work is a lavamisole, also known as Prohibit. My vet gave me the dosage for this dewormer. It has proven to do the trick on the most aggressive cases.
Please Consult With Your Vet!!
There are many many dewormers out there for use and their effectiveness is always changing. It’s really best to consult a veterinarian for an up to date dewormer protocol.
Please understand that most good vets are keeping up to date on changes and updates to dewormer protocols. My vet attends professional development seminars on goat care and keeps up to date on these changes. I really appreciate that he does this.
And, I am not a vet so I work closely with my vet to determine the correct protocol to use via the situation. Again, if you are unsure of the type of worm you are wanting to hit, you will want to take a fecal sample into your vet to determine the types of worms you are going to be deworming for.
By spot treating for the right wormsand rotating pastures, I have greatly reduced the cases of barberpole problems in my herd. This was my greatest motivation for writing the spring goat care guide.
Rotate your pastures
So, I know accumulating goats and growing your goat herd can be a real struggle. I’ve seen lots of jokes and memes about “the crazy goat collectors” and “you can never have too many goats.”
And while I will never ever deny that I have been there, done that…I want to stress the importance of understocking your goat pastures. WHAT?
Because overstocking causes a worm overload. You should only keep the amount of goats you can handle. Otherwise you will have problems with parasites and lack of vegetation for browsing and grazing.
So, here’s an example: The rule of thumb for our area of Kansas (keep in mind we get about 36 inches of rain each year) is 10 goats per acre. This is 5 goats per cow on a brome and fescue grass pasture that also has a lot of brush.
Also, we have several pens we rotate them but we also understock them on the cow pasture as well. We rotate those goats with the cattle to keep parasite loads down. If you didn’t know, cattle and goats help each other out by ingesting parasites.
So, to figure out how many goats you can have on a pasture, you can use the cattle rate. If you don’t know this information, contact your local county extension agent to find that out.
Finally, as you release your goats out to graze as they please, you’ll need to check those fences. This is the final component of the Spring Goat Care Guide.
Over the winter, fences can be damaged by heavy snowfall, ice or wildlife. So, patching up those fences prior to grazing season is also very important. The only fencing that helps me sleep at night is woven wire with two strands of barbed wire on top. Keep it tight at the bottom so nothing can crawl under and you will be good to let your goats go where they please!
Some of the fencing supplies we keep on hand includes:
- Fencing Clips
- Baling Twine
- Steel Fencing Posts
- Hedge posts for patching up the bottoms of fences
Then, you really need to check the bottoms of the fences for any holes or ditches. Again, goats like to crawl under things. If you keep those holes patched, they are more likely to be contained.
You’ll also need to watch your goats closely for any who might have a bad habit of sticking their head through the fence. They might not be able to get it out! So, make a habit of checking the goat herd at least once per day. Twice (morning and night) would be even better if you can.
Why You Should Care About Spring Goat Care
Your goats are important to you and you want to keep them as healthy as possible. So, why not follow my spring goat care guide and provide the best preventative care for your goats?
In conclusion, I’ve discussed the top 5 management strategies for you to manage goats this spring:
- Shelter in the pasture
- Nutrition (Trace Mineral and Water)
- Parasite Control (THE BIG ONE!)
- Rotating Pastures
- Maintaining fences & goats in the fence
Hopefully this spring goat care guide will help you to keep your herd healthy, happy and thriving as they groove into the grazing season!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. There are links within this post on which I can earn a commission if you purchase something, but at no additional cost to you. This is how I can continue to post high quality content for your enjoyment.
The Best Way To Track Goat Worms?
I'll give you what I use for my herd of 60! Using this record sheet helps me to remember who needs to be treated after FAMACHA & Fecal Checks. To get my printable record sheet for tracking goat worms, please subscribe to
Farm Fit Living.