Common causes of sudden weight loss in goats:
Sudden weight loss can be caused by many different things and diagnosis can be relatively easy according to what events lead up to the sudden loss of condition. Here are the most common causes that cause goats to experience a sudden loss in weight:
Gastro-Intestinal Worms - The overload of worms can cause goats to have a sudden weight loss. All healthy goats have a level of worms but when the worm load becomes too heavy, goats will lose weight and may have a rough or fuzzy coat of hair. If goats have an unhealthy worm load, the gums or eyelids of the goat will be pale in color, either white or very light pink. A healthy goat will have medium pink to red coloring in their gums and eyelids. Goats with very pale coloring will need to be treated with dewormer. Drench with Ivomec or Cydectin or like wormer for condition to improve. In some cases of extremely heavy worm load, goats will need to be treated a second time with wormer two-three weeks after initial dose.
Coccidiosis - The presence of coccidiosis normally results in a very watery diarrhea, diarrhea may be black in color or nursing kids may have brownish or orangish colored diarrhea, however, it is possible for an animal to have coccidiosis with no diarrhea present. Coccidiosis should be treated with Albon, Sulmet, or Corid. If coccidiosis has been present in an animal for an extended period of time, the organism can eat away at the lining of the stomach and intestine resulting in permanent damage. If permanent damage occurs to the lining, goats will have a healthy appetite but will be unable to acquire the nutrients from the foodstuff to sustain life. Goats will begin to lose weight although they have a healthy appetite and will become weak, unable to stand or get up and death will result.
Tapeworms - Tapeworms can cause sudden weight lose and are easily diagnosed if a heavy worm load is present. Tapeworms, either whole worms or flat whitish pieces of worm can be seen with the naked eye in the feces of an infected animal or around the anus or in the hair surrounding the tail. Goats do not commonly get tapeworms because they are herbivores. If a goat has acquired tapeworms it is likely from another source such as a cat, dog, or other animal that eats raw or undercooked meats, or from the droppings of that infected animal. Tapeworms can be treated with "white wormers" such as Safeguard or Panacur. When using white wormers to treat tapeworms, use 3-4 times the recommended dose. It may also be necessary to deworm other animals that are likely carriers at the same time, such as the family cat or dog.
Lungworms - Lungworms will cause very rapid weight loss, often a seeminly healthy goat will lose its condition within a couple week period. Lungworms are a little more difficult to diagnosis since fecal cultures may not reveal the presence of lungworms unless it is in the pupa stage and expelled in the goats feces. Lungworms are probably the hardest to treat and require repeated dosing with dewormers such as Ivomec, Cydectin, or Dectomax. Dosing should be done every 21-28 days for three or more consecutive wormings. Dewormers only kill adult lungworms so it is neccessary to repeat dosing until the worms life cycle is broken. Since lungworms live in the goats lungs, they may experience coughing, runny nose, or pneumonia. Symptoms may also include, loose stool, rough or fuzzy coat of hair.
Grains - Grains such as whole shelled corn when fed regularly can cause permanent damage to the rumen. Goats are unable to properly digest whole corn but can digest rolled or cracked corn once the outer shell is broken. The lining of the rumen contains finger-like structures that digest food and absorb nutrients. Feeding whole corn for an extended period of time can wear down these finger-like structures to the point where goats are unable to absorb nutrients and death will result despite the goat having a healthy appetite, the body is starving of nutrients.
Old Age - The average life expectancy of a goat is 12 years. When goats begin reaching 10+ years of age, they tend to lose weight as their body begins to slow down. When weight loss occurs in older goats you can begin feeding them higher protein feeds or feeding black oil sunflower seeds to help add weight.
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