Common problems in does are extra teats, double teats, and fish-tail teats with double orifices. In cattle, extra teats can be removed with impunity, but in dairy goats there is often a functional milk gland behind the spare teat.
Newborn goats must be fed colostrum, and if CAE is a problem, heat treatment is essential for control. Later, kids can be fed (in decreasing order of desirability) goat's milk, goat-milk replacer, lamb-milk replacer, or cow's milk. Any fresh milk fed should be pasteurized or from stock known to be free of CAE virus, mycoplasmas, and paratuberculosis. Newborn goats should be fed at 10–12% of their body wt per day. On average, they are fed 1 pint (500 mL) of milk twice daily, but often they are overfed.
Kids should have access to hay and a grain-based creep feed as early as 1 wk of age. They can be weaned when they are readily eating a large handful of grain per day; this should be no later than 8 wk of age in dairy breeds and at 6 wk in others. Weaning is delayed in many goat operations because there is no commercial outlet for doe's milk other than to feed it to kids.
Dairy goat doe kids of European breeds should be disbudded at 5–7 days of age. Bucks of the European breeds should be disbudded 2 days earlier to maximally inhibit horn growth or subsequent development of abnormal regrowth (scurs). Nubian doe kids have the least vigorous horn growth, and disbudding can be delayed until 2–3 wk of age. Hot-iron disbudding is the method of choice, using either a restraint box and nerve block, or general anesthesia. Excessive applications of the hot iron can lead to brain damage or subsequent death. Disbudding kids with caustic paste is not recommended.
Angora goats in range operations are not disbudded because the horns are thought to be helpful against predators, and because owners handle the goats by their horns. When goats are housed in winter, disbudding is advantageous; it reduces trauma and prevents accidents in which goats are trapped by their horns in feeders and fence lines. Pygmies can be disbudded according to the owner's preference; it is not a cause for disqualification or discrimination in the show ring in the USA. Dairy goats generally are disbudded, and horned animals usually are barred from the show ring in the USA. Tetanus can be seen after disbudding or castration and, as a precaution, antitoxin (150 U/kid) can be given.
Dairy goats and pygmy bucks are castrated in the first few weeks; Angoras are castrated later, after they have attained good horn growth. In males to be kept as pets, castration should be delayed to allow maximal urethral development, which reduces the likelihood of urolithiasis (see Noninfectious Diseases of the Urinary System in Large Animals: Urolithiasis in Ruminants). To improve their desirability as pets, these goats also should have the scent glands, located caudomedially to the horn base, removed along with the horns.
Last full review/revision July 2011 by David M. Sherman, DVM, MS, DACVIM