There is already a wealth of information available online about goats and their care.  I have created this page to simply share some of our experiences and recommendations.   I have included many links to other content providers rather than re-creating content that has already been well put together.  There is often not a single right answer to caring for your animals – just like parenting.   Of course, you are solely responsible for the welfare of your animals and the information provided here is not meant to take the place of veterinary care.  However, I hope this page is helpful for those of us still learning – constant learning is one of my favorite parts of homesteading!  There is NEVER a lack of things to learn or add to the To-Do list!  

Table of Contents


Basic Goat Care 101

(Coming Soon)

June Feeding Vader Bottle

Dealing with Goat Health Issues

Are goats difficult to take care of?  They are definitely harder than chickens and house pets - especially when you are a new owner!  It can be difficult to know what is normal, what issues you can take a "wait & see" approach vs. what should "never be ignored".  

It certainly helps if you understand how a healthy goat looks & behaves!  Goats are generally alert and curious.  Each goat has their own personality for sure, and spending time with them will help you recognize if they are "off".  There is often one goat that is quieter than the others,  more bossy, most likely to get into trouble, etc .  When you learn these personality differences, you will more easily recognize that your usually quiet doe is calling out today, which is not normal for her.  Paying attention to their general countenance and keeping an eye on the poops will get you a long way in keeping them healthy.  Some general information to help recognize illness...   

Activity - a goat should spend about 30% of the day eating, 30% chewing the cud, and 30% sleeping.  If your goat always gets up to greet you every time you enter their area and today doesn't get up to greet you - keep an eye on them and watch for other changes.  Are they less aggressive at the feeder, lethargic, dull in the eyes, etc.  These minor changes to their countenance can be an early sign of something brewing.  These behavior changes would lead me to do a more thorough assessment as I outline below. 

As a livestock owner, having a relationship with a large animal veterinarian is super important.  There are a couple of great vets in the central VA area that are experienced with goats.  There are also some very helpful goat groups on Facebook.  I am a member of many of these groups and the best “goat health” related group I have found is called “Goat Emergency Team”.   This group has 50k members and 20+ volunteer moderators that are all experienced goat farmers.  The group shouldn’t be used in lieu of a relationship with a veterinarian, but I highly recommend joining the group and looking through the files they have for various health concerns.  This group maintains protocol files for treating everything from animal attacks, bloat, listeriosis, pneumonia, proper medication dosages for goats, etc.  

Before calling a veterinarian or asking for help online, do a basic assessment so you can properly explain what you are observing in your herd. 

Basic Goat Assessment

Temperature - Normal range 101.5 - 103.5 degrees F - owning a thermometer (or 2!) is a must.  Insert 1.5" into rectum for a good temperature.

Rumen (stomach) movements - Ensure rumen is active by listening with the ear against the goat's left side - you should hear 1 - 1.5 "swishes" per minute.

Stools - poop should be individual pellets without much smell.  What do you see?  Is it like dog poop?  Like grenades? Watery? Mucousy? Bloody? 

Physical Symptoms - Is your goat lethargic?  Laying down?  Unable to stand?  Eating & Drinking normally?  Any head pressing or teeth grinding? Foaming?  Neurological symptoms like eye twitching, circling, neck pulled to one side?  Respiratory symptoms like wheezing, coughing, runny nose?  Skin issues - bugs, eggs, nits, or scaly patches, bald patches?   

FAMACHA score - It can be helpful to know an animal’s FAMACHA score.  FAMACHA is a tool used to try to assess the level of parasites in the animal by looking at the color of the inner mucous membrane of the eye.  I have included 2 videos about FAMACHA scoring below - a very 1 min example and a longer explanation.  A fecal egg count is the best in terms of quantifying true parasite levels, but a poor FAMACHA score indicates anemia, which would need to be addressed.  Parasite management is a whole topic on its own. 

Quick 1 minute FAMACHA example (Univ of RI): 

30 min FAMACHA “Why & How” (Univ of RI): 

I personally treat all abnormal poops (grenades & dog poop look) with ProBios probiotics as a starting point.  Never ignore diarrhea (aka "Scours").  Diarrhea is a SYMPTOM of an illness, not an illness in itself. Bacteria, viruses, parasites and management practices (overcrowding, poor sanitation or nutritional problems (like over feeding, poor quality milk replacers, sudden changes in feeding schedules, ingestion of lush, wet grasses, etc.) are all causes of diarrhea. It’s always best to take a fecal to determine the cause, but all cases will carry a risk of dehydration.  

For goats over 12 weeks with diarrhea, pull all grain and feed only hay and alfalfa along with fresh browse.  Offering some electrolytes in one bucket along with their regular water will keep them from becoming dehydrated.  I would still do probiotics and also always recommend having a fecal run by the vet when dealing with diarrhea or persistent abnormal poop - especially if combined with a worsening FAMACHA score.  The fecal will help determine what you are dealing with so you can identify an effective treatment.      

We do not offer free choice baking soda at Rockville Ridge, but we do put it out when anyone is having abnormal poops or when grass is first coming back in the spring if someone looks a little overfull.   We do always have mineral available free choice and we like Sweetlix Meat Maker Mineral.

Mating Genesis and Mocha

Goat Breeding

Breeding season is an exciting time.  Some Nigerians cycle all year, but ours seem to start cycling in early August.  Does come into heat about every 21 days during the season. Standing heat only lasts 6-36 hours, making it easy to miss if you aren't prepared.  We do not recommend running bucks with does for many reasons.  Keeping bucks does mean that you need to care for, and house, those bucks even when they are only needed for a short part of the year;  however, owning your own bucks is the easiest way to manage timing of breedings and to avoid biosecurity risks.  I recommend keeping your own bucks if possible - and would be happy to help you find a buck from one of our breedings that would help you meet your herd goals.  There are other options for breeding if you do not have a buck - some include renting a buck, coordinating a "driveway date" with a buck on another farm, and Artificial Insemination (AI).  Keep in mind that anytime you introduce animals from another farm to your animals or property, you do expose yourself to biosecurity risk.  For this reason, we maintain a closed herd and do not rent our bucks or breed with other herds.  However, it is an option that works for many.  If you are interested in learning more about AI, I have included additional resources below.

Our Approach -- Once one of our does is in standing heat, assuming it's a month that we would like her bred, she is only then put in a temporary pen with a buck for a "date" that generally lasts about 30 minutes. If the doe appears to still be in heat the following day, we will put them together one more time if she is receptive.  This approach "pen breeding" or "hand breeding" ensures we don't have accidental breedings and that we know the exact due date. 

If you leave bucks with your does, you will have no control over breeding and will not know when to expect kids. Without a known due date, it will be very difficult to give the doe proper prenatal care (proper dry date, late gestation diet, etc) and may risk her health or that of her kids.   In 2021, I had a doe struggle with both Ketosis and Hypocalcemia because of improper feeding late gestation.  What really happened was that she came down with Listeriosis just 3 weeks before she was due.  This illness threw her off feed and set her into a cascade of metabolic issues during those 3 weeks prior to kidding.  By God's grace, she pulled through AND had a successful kidding of triplets!   I learned a lot about the importance of nutrition in pregnancy - especially for goats carrying multiples.  The For the Love of Goats podcast has 2 excellent episodes on preventing & reversing Ketosis and Hypocalcemia (aka Milk Fever).  And, I am including an article on Listeria in goats since I've mentioned it. 

Some additional resources:

Gestation - 145 days for miniature breeds & 155 days for standard breeds

"Breeding Season" For the Love of Goats podcast:

"Breeding Season" video by Twin Pear Farm on YouTube:

"Artificial Insemination in Goats" For the Love of Goats podcast:

"Pregnancy Toxemia in Goats" For the Love of Goats podcast:

"Hypocalcemia in Goats" For the Love of Goats podcast:

"Goat Polio or Listeriosis?" Onion Creek Ranch:



Fencing is a very important part of keeping goats - although, it's not been our experience that "any fence that won't hold water won't hold goats".  We've found that Premier1 electric fencing works very well for us and that as long as the goats have food, they aren't difficult to keep fenced.  I love that I can change my fence lines easily with the electric netting.  I also found that using electric netting allowed me to move my fencing many times as I got started and wasn't certain how I wanted to layout my pens.  It also allowed flexibility as I added goats. We do still use some wire fencing around the barn and the perimeter of our property, but the electric has been great.  The only issue we have struggled with is keeping the fence well energized since we use our woods as our majority space for the goats and our energizers are solar-powered.  Goats are SMART!  They will figure it out if your fence isn't energized and that can cause a dangerous tangling hazard at worst and lead to accidental breedings as well.  So, if you go with electric, be sure you have a good energizer with plenty of sun - or a plug-in unit.  You must also train your goats to the fence.

If you do not use an electric fence, beware that goats WILL climb on, and rub on, a non-electric fence and tend to push it over if not well constructed. Cattle panels for fencing can work quite well on level ground, but their price has doubled here in the past two years.  We do use cattle panels for a temporary breeding pen each year and as permanent fencing in areas where there is a short run that needs to be made to connect two separate electric netting zones.  Nigerian Dwarf kids can get through regular cattle panels for quite a long time so we are careful about using them in areas where kids will frequent.

Fences also need gates.  I love the auto-locking fence gate latches and use them on all our gates.  These gates allow you to use them one handed, which is so handy when you have milking supplies in hand, and you can open the gate either direction and it will lock automatically when closed.  A link to these latches is below.

Whether you use electric or wire fencing, you must make sure it is secure - holes must be small enough to keep kids from slipping through and it must be secure enough to keep predators out. 

Some additional resources:

Speeco Two-Way Locking Gate Latch:

Premier1 Supplies Electric Netting:



(Coming Soon)

Doe Barn


(Coming Soon)

adga plus member image

Why Registered Goats?

(Coming Soon)


Some of My Favorite Resources

(Coming Soon)