How Do You Know When a Goat is Dying?

Many people believe that they can actually tell when a goat is dying. The signs of death for goats are not always clear, but there are some clues to look out for. 

If you notice your goat has stopped eating or drinking, this could be an indicator that it’s time to start making arrangements with the vet. It’s also important to note if your goat seems uncoordinated during feeding time and shows unusual behavior like circling around in one spot or pacing along the fence line over and over again.

These behaviors may indicate something serious like tetanus or listeria which will need immediate attention from a veterinarian who specializes in farm animals.

Understanding how to cater to your goats is sure to give you an edge and improve the chances of your goats surviving. When a goat is sick or dying, there will be signs.

Once you can identify these signs, you may be able to do something to help where it is possible.

Signs your Goat is Sick or Dying

There are several ways you can tell that your goat is dying or sick. It’s important to be able to identify these so you can have your vet take a look at the goat and prevent it from dying or getting worse.

Some of the symptoms you may experience with a sick or dying goat include,

  • Isolation
  • Lethargy
  • Unusual Sounds
  • Shivering
  • Swelling
  • A loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Standing with their head drooped down
  • Appearing very thirsty but not wanting to drink water when offered

Some of the most common signs include:


Goats tend to move together and while they may not all be in the same place, they will always stay close to each other. There may be those who are slower than others and won’t keep up but even they will find a way to remain close to the rest of the goats.

If you begin to notice a goat stay away from the rest, then this is an indicator that something is wrong. Goats can’t help but stick it other, whether it’s for communication or just to be around others.

So, once you see not mingling with the other goats, this is a clear indication that the goat is probably sick or it is dying. Either way, you may want to call your vet to give you a confirmation.

Lethargy or Weakness

Goats are usually full of energy and when they are healthy, they can’t help but display this energy. They cover distance and are never tired of returning to their favorite stomping grounds.

All these will only apply if your goat is very healthy and if otherwise, you will find your goat simply stuck in one place. If the goat does get up, you will notice that it isn’t walking or behaving as it normally does.

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Some other physical indicators include drooping ears or the entire head drooping. If the goat feels extremely weak, then it probably won’t even get up, which is the most alarming scenario.

If you do find sores on the goat’s nose or mouth, then you can attribute this condition to a viral infection. Such infections may be contagious to humans, so you should minimize physical contact with the goat and contact your veterinarian.

Unusual sounds

The most common calling cards for goats are the sounds they make. They tend to bleat and make other sounds, communicating with other goats.

If your goat is dying or sick, or in any form of pain, then it will be reflected in the sounds it makes. If you are attentive to the sounds your goat normally makes, then you will be able to notice when the change occurs.

It is also important to note that a goat can also make strange noises when it is hungry. So, you will need to be able to tell the difference and know when something serious is wrong with your goat.

Once you can tell that there is a problem, you should contact your veterinarian.


Shivering can be a result of other things like the weather especially when you are in cold regions or the winter. However, when the temperatures are warm and your goat is shivering, then there is a problem.

These are indicators that your goat is sick or dying and should be taken care of immediately before it’s too late. If the weather conditions are extreme then you should not rule out this possibility.

So when you notice your goat shivering more than usual, you may want to contact your vet.

Swollen Mid-section

Yes, your goat’s belly can swell when it is not pregnant. If your goat is a male, then pregnancy is ruled out and any swelling is a sign that something is wrong with your goat.

If it’s a female goat, then there are ways to detect if the goat is pregnant, and if that’s not the case, then you need to contact your vet. Swelling can be caused by a blockage in the stomach, and if the cause is something like this, then it’s time to see your veterinarian.

In most cases of blockages in the stomach, surgery is needed to remove whatever has choked up your goat. Depending on the situation, your vet might recommend a solution of using medication on the goat.

Difficulty Breathing

Goats are able to breathe with ease. They are not temperamental animals and they have an incredible immune system. So, when you see your goat having a hard time breathing, then something is wrong.

If there’s no obvious reason why this should be happening, then you should contact your veterinarian right away.

The veterinarian will take a blood sample and run some other tests on it to possibly determine the cause of difficulty breathing.

Standing with their head drooped down

This is another thing that can be said for very healthy goats. They are able to stand up, wag their tails and run around, but when they are dying or sick, this will not be the case.

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A goat’s head is something that should always stay up high. When you observe your goat standing with its head drooped down to one side, then there may be an issue.

Stumbling and losing balance

This should not be common among healthy goats, but dying or sick ones will definitely exhibit this behavior. If you see your goat staggering or losing its balance frequently, then there is something wrong.

If the goat loses consciousness at any time, then you need to take it to your veterinarian immediately.

What to do when a goat is dying

When a goat is on its last leg, you might be tempted to euthanize it. But if you want to give the animal an opportunity at life, there are some things you can do first.  

Some of what you can do when you know that your goat is dying include the following –

Corrective measures: Knowing a goat is dying doesn’t mean it has to die. Where the cause is a disease, then you can take the necessary steps to ensure the goat recovers.

In cases of illness, early detection is key, especially when the disease is very deadly. In some cases, the cause of discomfort for the goat may be minor and can be fixed easily, but some will require advanced care.

However, none of this will happen unless you know that something is wrong with your goat. You will therefore be able to minimize the mortality rate of your goats.

Preventing an outbreak: Some goats may be carrying highly contagious viral diseases that can cause massive fatalities in your flock.

Once you notice something is wrong with one of your goats, it is advised to immediately isolate them from the rest of the herd. Isolating them will ensure you don’t risk the infection spreading to other members of the herd.

You will however need to be on the lookout for any other members of the herd that could already be infected and isolate them as well.

Financial value: When a goat is dying and nothing can be done to stop it, then it may be time to sell it off. This will only make sense if the cause of death is not something contagious but an injury.

You can also choose to butcher the animal instead. This way, you’ll be able to make use of the meat and other parts like fur or hide.

This way, you don’t risk infecting anyone who ends up with the goat.

Maintain good hygiene: Since most cases of dying or sick goats are caused by bacteria or viruses, then you should always maintain good hygiene. This includes frequently washing your hands, cleaning out the goat’s shelter, and making sure you feed them fresh water

It also helps to hose down the goats at least once a week or more depending on how hot it is.

Notify your veterinarian: Don’t be afraid to contact your veterinarian when you notice something wrong. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose the problem and offer suggestions on how to get rid of it.

This way, you can prolong the life of your goat and continue getting milk and other produce from it.

Final Thoughts

It is important to note that several diseases could cause a goat’s discomfort. Each disease has unique symptoms that can help you identify it. This can help you know the right steps to take for your goats to recover.

Familiarizing yourself with different disease symptoms will no doubt be helpful when dealing with your goats. In order to prevent this from happening, you need to take preventive measures.

Vaccinating the goats against common diseases can be a good way of warding off some diseases before they even start. You also need to keep certain things in mind when raising goats so that nothing bad happens. For example, it is important not to overfeed your goats. If you have a heavy goat, then it might be hard for them to walk and this can cause injuries

In addition, it is important that you always maintain a clean area for your goats. This will ensure that they do not get any infections from standing in their own filth or getting diseases from the ground where other animals have been.

It also helps to provide a safe shelter for your goats during cold weather. Don’t leave them outside the whole night as the temperature drops as this can cause their death.

In conclusion, it is best that you take preventive measures to ensure that none of your goats end up dying suddenly.