Does your goat pant excessively and breathe rapidly with its mouth open while it’s out and about in the pasture?
Does he refuse to eat or drink and drool and look weak?
If that’s the case, you must watch out because those are some of the symptoms of heat stroke in goats.
While it’s not prevalent in temperate climates, heat stroke can happen, and it is fatal and should never be overlooked.
But don’t panic!
In this article, we’ll share with you the following:
- signs of heat stroke in goats
- 3 effective remedies or treatments for goat heat stroke
- and 8 life-saving tips to prevent heat stress in goats
So you can help your ruminants cool down and live a happy and healthy life.
But before that, let’s first define heat stroke in goats and discover how and why it happens.
What is Heat Stroke in Goats?
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a goat cannot cool down and its rectal temperature exceeds 105ºF/40.6ºC.
The goat’s normal body temperature is 101.5°F to 103.5°F.
And when the goat’s rectal temperature surpasses 107ºF (41.7ºC), the ruminant’s cells will start degenerating, which can lead to death.
Heat stress or stroke is also called heat exhaustion and is best measured by heat index or temperature + humidity rather than temperature alone.
Can Goats Get Heat Stroke?
It rarely happens in goats in temperate climates, but it can occur and take a toll on your ruminant’s health.
Livestock and ruminants can maintain their body temperature safely with enough shade and plenty of water.
They eliminate heat through panting and their horn which serves as the goat’s radiator.
So when a goat is disbudded, it losses its innate ability to cool down.
And when the heat gets too extreme to handle for goats during the day, they spend less time grazing and more time in the shade.
And they will browse and graze mostly in the evening and early morning if they’re given the chance to.
But some goats don’t have access to shade and enough fresh water, which sadly leads to heat stress or stroke.
What are the effects of heat stress on goats?
Effects of Heat Stroke in Goats
Heat stroke has a huge impact on a goat’s health and productivity.
Both male and female goats are in jeopardy when experiencing heat stress due to excessive heat.
Because heat is detrimental to a buck’s sperm production and libido and a female goat’s embryo survival and fetal development in does.
It’ll take six to eight weeks before the buck can return to its normal sperm production.
Even though female goats can handle heat stress better than their male counterparts, heat stress in goats can cause abortion in kids.
And even if they don’t intend to do so, many struggle with kidding due to heat stress.
Furthermore, heat stress compromises a ruminant’s health and makes him more susceptible to developing goat pneumonia.
Since many goat keepers breed their females during summer or around July, August, and September, it’s crucial to keep the ruminants’ reproductive health in mind, not just their physical.
If not treated promptly, it can result in infertility or abortion and, worse, death.
Signs of Heat Stress in Goats
A goat experiencing heat stress will sweat and breathe with its mouth open.
It’s one of the first and most common heat stroke symptoms in goats.
His respiration will also increase as he starts panting in an effort to bring his temperature down.
If the goat’s respiratory rate exceeds 40 breaths per minute, that’s a sign that your ruminant isn’t feeling well.
While it doesn’t sound serious to some goat keepers, know that it can create a cascading effect on your ruminant’s biological functions.
Your goat may experience a loss of appetite and less feed efficiency.
Furthermore, it can affect the water, protein, energy, and mineral balance in the goat’s body.
Aside from that, here are other symptoms of heat stroke symptoms in goats that you should look out for:
- panting or increased effort in breathing (respiratory rate of over 40 breaths per minute)
- open mouth breathing
- nasal flaring
- unwillingness or inability to stand
- a heart rate over 90 beats per minute
- not eating their feed or chewing the cud
- increased salivation
- having an excessively pendulous or baggy scrotum which indicates that the body is trying to reduce the heat to remain fertile
- high rectal temperature of over 104 degrees Fahrenheit
Diagnosis of Heat Stroke in Goats
Vets must conduct clinical evaluations and physical examinations to diagnose goat heat stroke.
They may also ask for your goat’s medical history, look for the clinical signs above and get your goat’s rectal temperature to determine if they’re experiencing heat stroke or not.
Treatments for Heat Stroke in Goats
Now what should you do if you notice your goat is showing the signs above?
One of the most important steps in alleviating heat stress in sheep and goats is moving them into an area with shade or a cool breeze.
If your goat can’t move, you may need to either pick them up or provide shade for them.
Now, what is the best remedy for heat stroke?
1. Give Them Fresh Water
Then, give your goat plenty of water or spray them with cold water using sprinklers if possible.
Water is a life-saver for goats, and it’s the most important tool in cooling a goat down.
How much water should you provide to your ruminants?
Ideally, your goats need one to three pounds of water for each pound of dry matter.
It’s best not to force goats to drink water, and you should only use a drench gun and force them to drink water if they’re too weak and tired to do so.
2. Add Electrolytes If Necessary
Adding electrolytes can also help prevent dehydration among goats during stressful situations.
So, we recommend preparing electrolytes for your ruminants so they can easily take them when needed.
How to Make Homemade Electrolyte for Goats:
Making a homemade electrolyte for goats is quick and easy. Just prepare the ingredients listed below, and you’re good to go:
- 4 quarts of water
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoon salt (we use fine sea salt)
- 1/2 cup molasses or raw honey
Here’s how to make a homemade electrolyte for your goats.
First, add all the above ingredients into a 1/2-gallon Mason jar and mix them until they dissolve.
Then, give it to your goat.
If your ruminant is unwilling to drink it, you may need to get a drenching syringe to make him drink the solution.
Drench the goat with this electrolyte recipe as often as possible.
But if you can’t, make sure to drench him at least every two hours within 12 hours.
If you don’t have time to create a DIY electrolyte, you can also purchase oral electrolytes like Manna Pro Bounce Back that you can mix with water.
- For use in times of stress or dehydration
- Glycine to support electrolyte absorption
- Great for animals of all ages
- Formulated for 9 species of animals: calves foals goat kids llamas alpacas fawns Elk calves lambs baby & adult pigs
But do take note that when using oral electrolytes, you must refresh the trough daily because it contains simple sugars that attract insects.
3. Mist Your Goat
Another effective way to alleviate heat stress in goats is by misting them with cool water from their head to their stomach, their legs, and feet.
But make sure the water isn’t too cold.
Otherwise, your goat might go into shock.
Then, consult your vet for further assistance and assessment.
How to Prevent Heat Stoke and Heat Stress in Goats
Heat stroke can happen to any livestock, and while we can’t control the climate, we can help our goats avoid heat stroke by maintaining their body temperature.
Here are some tips to keep them cool and hydrated and prevent heat stroke in goats.
1. Give Them Accessible Fresh, Cool Water
One of the most effective ways to combat heat stress and exhaustion is by providing lots of clean, fresh, and cool water to your goats.
Water is crucial for goats because it helps them maintain or regulate their body temperature, stay healthy, and survive.
Additionally, you must ensure the water is refilled and changed daily and the containers are regularly cleaned.
It’s worth noting that the water should not be too cold since introducing cold water to the heat-stressed goat can cause shock to its system.
2. Provide Ample Shade for Goats
It’d also help if you could provide shade in your pasture by simply adding trees or a roof over a specific spot.
That’s extremely important, especially during the summer months when the temperature peaks.
It can also help goats digest their food and regulate their body temperature.
If that doesn’t work for you because it’ll take a long time to wait for the tree to grow or put up a roof, you may also try building a cave-like structure in your goat’s pasture area.
You can dig holes or trenches and provide wide openings so your goats can have a spot where they can rest whenever they feel like they don’t need to.
3. Ensure Your Goat Has a Balanced Diet
Poor quality goat feed and processed grains with high starch content take more energy to digest.
That explains why unhealthy goats are more susceptible to heat stroke.
It’s also worth noting that goats who usually feed on dry forage need more cool water.
Furthermore, fat goats find it difficult to eliminate heat.
So, watch out for your goat’s diet and make sure they’re not too fat.
Some breeds, like Boer goats, can easily become overweight, so if you have one, ensure they don’t overeat processed grains.
4. Add Trampolines
Trampolines aren’t just boredom busters for goats; they’re also effective in combatting heat stress in goats and ensuring they can maintain their body temperature.
You may think, “What for” or “How can it help alleviate heat stress or heat stroke?”
Well, goats can hide underneath a trampoline or climb to stand and play on top of it to stay off the hot ground.
That might not make sense initially, but air circulation that blows underneath them can help.
Just make sure the trampoline or any other similar structure can handle the goat’s weight, and it should be fine.
5. Avoid Moving Goats During Hot Season
We also discourage handling, moving, and transporting livestock animals like goats during warmer days.
If you really have to move your family members and goats, it’s best to do it in the morning.
You need to be extra careful, though, because too much stress can cause heat stroke, and being in tight spaces could lead to anxiety among goats.
6. Set Up a Mini Pool Near Their Nesting Area
Most goats hate water, but some dairy goat breeds will love having a mini pool to dip their body and cool down if necessary.
So, if you notice your goat enjoys getting wet, get them a small pool because they might have a blast and appreciate it.
7. Shave Wooly Goats and Sheeps
As for wooly animals or goat breeds with long coats, shearing their wool, if conditions allow, can also help prevent heat stress.
But make sure you don’t overdo it.
Otherwise, your ruminants will have no protection against the blazing heat of the sun and sunburn.
8. Make Their Home Well-Ventilated
And lastly, make sure there’s enough ventilation inside your goats’ pen, barn, or building to ensure that the airflow is working fine and the goats can have enough air and cool themselves down.
You can also use an electric fan inside their pen to help them maintain their normal body temperature and live happily inside their home.
FAQs About Heat Stress and Heat Stroke in Goats
What happens when a goat gets too hot?
If a goat’s body temperature exceeds beyond exceeds 105ºF/40.6ºC, it might experience heat stroke, and it can result in loss of desire to eat and drink water, reduced milk production, and infertility.
How do you know if a goat is overheated?
We know our goat is overheating if he is panting, open-mouth breathing, drooling, and lethargic. Another common sign is if it has a high rectal temperature of over 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
How do you treat heat stroke in goats?
We found that the most effective way of treating a heat-stressed goat is by offering plenty of water and misting its body. Furthermore, adding electrolytes to their drinks can also help them cool down.
How do you keep goats cool in extreme heat?
We best keep goats cool by placing them in a shaded place, misting them occasionally, and providing them with water and caves or structures that can protect them from extreme heat.
How do you lower a goat’s temperature?
We help our goats cool down by sprinkling them with water and keeping them in a shaded place. We also like to use fans on their barns or pens if necessary.
What temperature is too hot for goats?
Goats start experiencing heat stress when the THI( temperature humidity index) is at a moderate level of about 82 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. And when it exceeds 86˚F, your goat will be at a high risk of getting heat stroke.
Final Thoughts About Heat Stroke in Goats
Dealing with heat stroke in goats can be challenging, and prevention is easier than cure.
That’s why it’s best to keep them hydrated at all times and in a shaded place.
If you utilize your goats in clearing brushes your land, minimize their work during the day, especially if you live in an area with excessive heat, drought, or high humidity.
And don’t forget to feed them high-quality goat feed.
The healthier your goats are, the higher their chances of surviving intense heat.
And remember that goats with darker coats, young kids, fat and older goats, disbudded or dehorned ones, and those with poor diets are at a higher risk of experiencing heat stress.
So they need more TLC during the summer season when the heat intensifies.
Have your goats experienced heat stroke? What did you do to help cool them down?
We’d like to know your experience in the comment section.
You can also check out more of our articles about goats and goat health below.