Goat Foot Problems and Treatment Options

Footrot in a goatGoats living out on rocky hill slopes have no foot trouble, but on a farm situation where they may be confined to soft ground and lush grass, lameness is almost certain to appear.

As a preventative measure it is worth noting that one experienced goat farmer has found foot problems have reduced since he placed a large limestone boulder in each paddock.

Goats of all ages ‘play’ on these rocks and in so doing no doubt keep their hooves in trim. The more traditional method is to check feet at regular intervals and trim hooves back.

Scald is more common than actual footrot, but the latter is more serious, and it is therefore logical not to use bucks that have this problem.

If one or two goats are seen limping it is advisable to bring the whole mob in and run them through the footbath.

The trough should be long enough that a goat cannot jump it, and should contain a 5 —10 percent solution of formalin, or a 10 percent solution of zinc sulphate.

There are those who find formalin best, but they emphasise that if the solution is stronger than 5 percent it can make the situation worse. The goats are put through the footbath and held in pens, or in the woolshed, overnight.

Others have found that formalin can cause the goat some temporary pain, with the result that they will be reluctant to enter the footbath thereafter. These people prefer zinc sulphate, but as this does not penetrate as well they find the addition of a ‘wetting agent’ of benefit.

There is, on the market, a circular trough which can be placed in the yards or paddock, which contains a central feeding unit to which the goats are attracted.

Goats have to wade through, and stand in the footbath, to get at the feed. The device might suit those with smaller flocks, but could not be considered a complete safeguard since goats with feet most severely affected would probably forego the tempting feed in favour of keeping their feet out of the solution.

It is also possible that a dominant goat will take control of the feeding platform … and there may be farmers who object to wading through drench to replenish the `lure’.

Spread of footrot can be controlled, and number of infected sheep can be reduced, by footbathing, paring and vaccination.