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Updated 09/12/2009

The information on this page has exerpts from
the following:

Texas Agricultural Extension Service & Agricultural
Communications, The Texas A&M University System with
permission from:
Dr. Toby L. Lepley, PhD, Assistant Professor,
Extension 4-H and Youth Development Specialist,
State Learning Strategies Coordinator
Texas Cooperative Extension

Disclaimer: Reference to commercial products or trade names
is made with the understanding that no discrimination
is intended and no endorsement is implied.

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The key to a healthy wether is the development of a preventive health program. Most wethers purchased for club projects are on a health maintenance program and have had a variety of vaccinations. However, as you develop your preventive program, assume that the wether you have purchased has had no treatments. Vaccinations and treatments for certain common problems should be included in your program.

The most important aspect of goat health is observation and being able to recognize the difference between an unhealthy and a healthy goat. When symptoms are noticed early, the chance for complete recovery can be very high. When a goat stops eating or appears lethargic you should take action immediately. Valuable information can be obtained by taking the goat’s temperature and examining its mucous membrane color and fecal consistency. This information can be relayed to your veterinarian so they can form a diagnosis. Fecal samples should be collected from a sick goat and checked for internal parasite populations. Normal body parameters for a goat are listed in the table below.
Rectal Temperature
Respiratory Rate
101.5-104.0 F
70-180 beats/min
10-30 breaths/min
101.5-104.0 F
70-90 beats/min
20-40 breaths/min


A major cause of death in club wethers is entrotoxemia or overeating disease. Afflicted animals seldom exhibit symptoms and rapid death is usually the result. A clostridial organism normally present in the intestine of most goats causes this disease. Goats that have their feeding schedule abruptly changed or consume large amounts of grain are subject to entrotoxemia types C and D. Feeding changes can cause the clostridial organism to grow rapidly and produce a powerful toxin that causes death in a few hours. All show wethers should be vaccinated with a combination (types C and D) vaccine (such as Convexin 8 or one of the several other vaccines). Most reputable breeders will have vaccinated the kids at the age of 3 months. Ask the breeder if the kid has had his shots, what vaccine was used, and when the kids were vaccinated. The kid will need another vaccination within 2-3 weeks of the last vaccination. If the breeder has not vaccinated the wethers then you will need to vaccinate your wether immediately after purchase with then again with a booster usually with in 2-3 weeks of the initial vaccination. Read the label on the vaccine or ask your veterinarian.

Internal Parasites

Internal parasites are a continual problem. Newly purchased wethers should be drenched immediately for internal parasites and a second drenching should follow about 3 weeks later. Few drenches are approved for treating goats for internal parasites. Your veterinarian will have the best information on the most effective drenches. Because internal parasites develop resistance to a drench over time, it may be effective to rotate the use of products.


Coccidiosis causes weight loss and continued inefficiency in goats. The disease is characterized by bloody diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss and weakness. Sick wethers should be separated and given individual treatment as prescribed by a veterinarian. Most commercial show wether rations are medicated with a coccidiostat (such as Monensin) that should help control coccidiosis.

Sore mouth

Sore mouth is a contagious, viral disease that causes pustules about the nose, mouth, eyes, anus and hoofs that will turn into to watery blisters, then to sticky and encrusted scabs. Swelling of mouth and gums is not unusual and this virus will usually run its course in about three weeks. Animals can die if they are unable to eat or nurse because of the sore mouth. Dress with antibiotic spray or ointment such as Iodine. Isolate infected animals. This virus can affect humans, so be careful when handling wethers with sore mouth. The Texas Agricultural Experiment Station manufactures an excellent sore mouth vaccine. As with all live virus vaccines, use extreme caution when administering the product.


Ringworm has become a serious problem in the show wether industry. Ringworm is contagious and can be transmitted from wether to wether, from wether to human, or from infected equipment to wether. Ringworm appears as Grey-white crusty areas of skin. Skin is usually thickened and the hairs thin or absent. Enlargement of affected areas occurs. A good prevention program is necessary. The following products have been used with varying results:

• Fulvicin® - powder given as a bolus or used a top dress feed.
• Novasan® - 3 ounces per gallon of water sprayed on wethers,
  equipment and premises.
• Bleach - 10 percent solution sprayed on wethers, equipment and


Excessive watering of the eye and clouding over of the pupil characterize this contagious disease. Wethers are susceptible to pinkeye especially after they have been transported to a new location. Dry, dusty pens and constant exposure to sunlight can be contributing factors.

Coni Ross provided the following recipe for pink eye treatment, which has worked, excellently for us:

Take a small travel hair spray bottle to the vet, and have him mix: 10cc-100mg/ml Gentamycin, 10cc- 2mg/ml Dexamethasone, 10cc distilled water or Normal saline. Gentamycin is approved for topical use in food animals, and the eye is considered topical. Spray the eye once a day for 2 or 3 days, or until the eye is clear. Most of the time, one treatment will clear the eye. If your vet doubts it, have him call David Behrends, DVM 830-388-5140.

If you do not notice improvement within a few days after treatment, contact your veterinarian.

Illegal Drugs

State and federal laws and regulations concerning the use of drugs for livestock and poultry are established to protect human and animal health. These laws and regulations state that instructions and restrictions on product labels must be strictly followed. The labels state the species or class of livestock or poultry for which the drug is to be used, the recommended route of administration, the approved dosage rate and specific conditions to be treated. When administering drugs, always follow label instructions.

The use of a drug in a manner other than stated on its label is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and may be done only under the control of a licensed veterinarian. The veterinarian assumes the responsibility for making medical judgments and you, the client, agree to strictly follow the instructions. Most Texas livestock shows have strict policies against the illegal use of drugs and will disqualify animals if such drugs have been used.

Dehorning or Tipping

Some shows require that wethers be dehorned. If you plan to dehorn, it is preferred to “disbud” wethers at 7 to 14 days of age. The older the wether is and the larger the horn, the more stressful it will be on the wether. Other shows request only that wether horns be tipped for show. Tipping can be done easily without causing much stress to the wether. Horns should be tipped 4 to 6 weeks prior to the show to allow the horns to heal properly. Dehorning or tipping rules are made for the safety of the exhibitors.