I Want My Free E-Book On Egg Laying Chickens

Goat Mastitis: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

goat mastitis

Have you ever noticed your goat’s udder getting swollen?

Goat mastitis is an inflammatory affliction of the mammary gland caused by bacterial infection.

It can adversely impact milk quality and production.

Plus, it is very uncomfortable for the mother goat and negatively impacts her growing kids because they will also get lower-quality milk.

In this article, we will talk about goat mastitis, its symptoms, treatment options, and how to prevent it from happening to your mother goats.

What Is Goat Mastitis?

Mastitis is inflammation in the mammary gland, which can affect goats as well as other mammals, including humans.

It is characterized by the inflammation of the udder tissue and is often caused by bacterial infection.

Mastitis can lead to various symptoms, including swelling, heat, pain, and changes in the milk, such as discoloration or clots/clumps.

How To Milk A Goat

Causes of Goat Mastitis

Mastitis may be caused by various bacteria, with Staphylococcus aureus being the most common culprit.

Streptococcus sp., Pasteurella sp., and coliforms, like E. coli, are common causes.

The condition can be acute or chronic and may affect one or more quarters of the udder.

Mastitis can result from poor hygiene during milking, injuries to the udder, or other conditions that allow bacteria to enter the udder’s delicate tissue.

Mastitis is not contagious.

With that said, the conditions that cause mastitis are usually experienced herd-wide, so it is possible to have several goats or sheep deal with mastitis simultaneously.

What Are the Symptoms of Mastitis?

There are a few signs that will help you identify mastitis in goats. Here are the most common ones.

Swollen and Hot Udders

This could be the entire udder if it’s all inflamed, or it could be just one quarter.

The udders will look swollen, shiny from the swollenness, and very warm to the touch.

Note: Touch them very gently; this is painful for the goat.

Sensitive and Painful

Mama Goat will step away from you anytime you get too close.

She might even run from her kids, kick at them, or lay down so her udders can’t be touched.

Some goats may kick at the udders, but usually, they will do their best to hide them and keep them from grazing anything or being handled.

From a distance, this will look like a bad mother who is suddenly rejecting her kid or even hurting (kicking, headbutting, shoving, or pinning) her offspring.

Changes in The Milk: Clots, Discoloration, and Decreased Milk Production

If you are milking your goat with mastitis, you’ve probably caught the other symptoms first.

But if you weren’t certain it was mastitis before, you will be when you see the milk.

The milk will look and even smell different (sometimes). It may be more yellow, brown, or red from blood.

The milk often has a different texture, sometimes clotty, clumpy, or otherwise different.

You’ll also get much less milk from the affected teat, sometimes none. This build-up of milk is painful.

Lethargy and Fever

Like most other inflammatory issues, mastitis leads to lethargy and fever.

No scientific studies report that the affected goats will be confused, dizzy, or delirious.

Still, as someone who has experienced mastitis from breastfeeding, I can say that it makes you feel disoriented and tired from the relentless pain.

Your goat will likely not have her wits about her, and she may not act as rational as usual. Keep that in mind when helping her.

Affected goats will have a fever of 105 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit.

Weak or Small Kids

A goat with mastitis produces much less milk, an issue for growing kids.

One of the signs of mastitis might be goat kids who suddenly seem weak, tired, depressed, or much smaller than the other goat babies in your barn.

If you notice a little runt, check the mama for mastitis.

sick goat won't get up featured image

Can You Prevent Mastitis in Goats?

Mastitis is not 100% preventable, but you can take several key preventative measures to reduce the risk significantly.

Practice Good Hygiene

Keep the goat barn clean, and provide dry pastures if possible. Avoid overcrowding, too.

Clean the teats before and after milking the goat.

If you are not milking the animal but notice it looks dirty, take a moment to wipe it clean with warm, soapy water. Using a warm and soapy rag is fine.

Apply some lanolin cream or bag balm if the goat has cracked, dry, or seemingly sore teats.

Bag balm may also be labeled as udder balm.

You can use lanolin balm in a pinch for humans, but it will be more expensive with fewer products.

Keeping hooves trimmed is another good idea.

Trimmed hooves are not as sharp, and a kicked goat is less likely to suffer serious cuts (especially if kicked in the udder).

Milk Regularly

If you are milking your goat, you absolutely have to be consistent with your milking schedule.

Being erratic with it and not emptying her udders on time will lead to mastitis almost guaranteed.

Milk shares with her kids if you cannot keep a tight schedule.

This means keeping the goat kids in with her, not separating them, and milking her whenever possible.

You won’t get as much milk this way, but your goat will be healthy and not in pain if you’re late to milk her.

If you are not milking your goat, ensure her kids eat regularly.

If she loses one or more of her kids, then milk her and slowly “wean” her to acclimate her to produce less milk.

Breed and Buy Goats with Good Conformation

Goats with good udder conformation are far less likely to experience mastitis.

A deformed teat will likely be milked or nursed incorrectly, leading to cracks, sore spots, or even an open wound from consistently improper nursing.

Even if your goats never get mastitis, having faulty udders or teats is generally uncomfortable, so avoid breeding goats with bad conformation–especially if you want to create more milk.

If you have a doe who is chronically getting mastitis, cull her and consider not breeding her offspring either.

Keep the Kids Healthy

Pasturella, a nasty bacterial infection, may lead to pneumonia in the kids and mastitis in the mothers.

The best way to avoid pasturella and other respiratory illnesses is to clean the goats’ living areas.

They also need good ventilation, dry lying places, and mud-free walking spaces.

The water should always be available, clean, and relatively fresh.

Don’t let the goats jump into their feed troughs or hay mangers. Urine and manure in the feed will lead to several issues, including respiratory problems.

Avoid overcrowding your goats because overcrowding can exacerbate each of the above issues.

ALSO READ: Pneumonia in Goats: The Causes, Signs, Treatment & Tips

How to Treat a Goat for Mastitis

Treatment typically involves antibiotics to combat the bacterial infection, along with supportive care such as:

  • frequent milking to keep the udder empty
  • applying warm compresses
  • providing pain relief if necessary

There aren’t labeled products (antibiotics) specifically for goats or sheep, so any medicine given to your goat will be extra-label, also called off-label.

Good antibiotic options are cloxacillin, dicloxacillin, and flucloxacillin. Penicillin is another option.

Pay close attention to the withdrawal period for each antibiotic because you do not want to drink the affected milk for some time after giving the medication.

thiamine injection for goats

FAQ on Goat Mastitis

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding mastitis in goats.

Will a Goat Get Mastitis Again?

Goats that have experienced mastitis in the past may be more prone to developing it again, especially if underlying causes or risk factors are not addressed.

Proper management practices, such as maintaining cleanliness during milking, ensuring proper nutrition, and promptly treating any injuries or infections, can help reduce the likelihood of recurrence.

Is Mastitis Painful for Goats?

Yes, mastitis can be painful for goats.

The inflammation and swelling of the udder tissue and the presence of infection can cause discomfort.

Goats with mastitis may exhibit signs of pain, such as reluctance to be milked, increased sensitivity in the udder area, and changes in behavior.

Providing pain relief, such as anti-inflammatory medications, and ensuring proper care can help alleviate the discomfort associated with mastitis.

What Should You Do With Goat Baby If Mother Has Mastitis?

If a goat mother has mastitis, it’s important to take steps to prevent the kid from nursing on the affected udder quarter, as this can exacerbate the condition.

Consider temporarily separating the kid from the mother and providing alternative feeding methods, such as bottle-feeding with a milk replacer.

Goat Mastitis: Before You Go…

Goat mastitis is a painful inflammatory condition affecting the mammary gland, often caused by bacterial infection.

Timely veterinary intervention, proper hygiene during milking, and attentive management practices are crucial for prevention and effective treatment.

Early detection and care contribute significantly to maintaining the health and productivity of goats.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *