It is not uncommon for farmers to find a goat, that appeared perfectly healthy yesterday, with its feet in the air today.
The trouble is we know very little about stress. It can be caused by abnormal cold wet conditions, by handling, by low nutrition, by social disruption in the flock hierarchy.
By a host of factors which we often do not recognise.
It is also possible, if goats are anything like deer in this respect, that stress can be cumulative.
A deer can suffer the stress of capture, of being introduced into a new social grouping, of a major dietary change, and possibly survive all these.
Only to suddenly go off her feed and die within a matter of a day or two, as a result of one quite minor case of stress which was nevertheless the ‘final straw’.
If this is the case, it is probable that stress will be less of a problem if we’re talking about captured ferals specifically as they become more acclimatised to the farm life, and less evident among their farm-born progeny.
The other thing about stress is that it may not be the evident agent of death.
It may simply reduce the animal’s capacity to cope with disease infections which, under normal conditions, it would throw off.
On the other hand mild stress may not cause death of even apparent illness;
In the case of the Angora, for instance, it has the ability to stop producing from the secondary follicles in response to stress.
There is a tendency for us to look on ferals as somehow tougher than Angoras.
But in respect of stress at least, they are probably much more susceptible and therefore require greater care and management skill.
Veterinarians suggest that stress is a precursor to pneumonia, yersiniosis, and listeriosis.