Constipation in goats: a social media epidemic

goat constipation

In the past few years I’ve suddenly started seeing a lot of posts on Facebook about goats with constipation. I’ve never had a constipated goat in my herd. Until recently, I had never even heard of a constipated goat.

I started out my goat-raising education in 2002 in Yahoo groups. I belonged to four goat groups back then, and I don’t recall anyone ever talking about this topic. Each group had a few hundred active members, many of whom posted questions and comments daily. Just to be sure my memory was not failing me, I decided to go back to those groups to see if I had somehow missed all of the conversations about constipated goats.

In one group, there was only one post that mentioned goat constipation in the 14 years that the group was active. A woman posted about how her assumption that her wether was constipated ended with having to euthanize him for urinary calculi. She wanted to warn other members that if you ever see a male goat straining, you should first seek treatment for urinary calculi, which can kill a goat within hours.

Another group that was active for 18 years only had a couple of posts about goat constipation, mostly new people wondering how they’d know if they had a kid that was constipated. They were usually advised not to worry about it. When one person asked about an adult doe being constipated, she was advised to add wheat germ to her feed.

A group that was active for 10 years had one cross-posted question that was the same as in another group. And one group never had a question about constipation in 12 years.

When searching various Facebook goat groups, there are some where constipation is discussed at least weekly. In others, it is mentioned once a year or less. So, why are there so many posts lately about this “problem,” which really is not a problem?

I think it’s the goat owner’s version of med school syndrome — basically medical school students start to think that they are suffering from the diseases that they are studying. Yes, it’s a real thing. The more people talk about constipation in some of the groups, the more other owners think their goats have it. I saw the same thing in a chicken group with egg binding a couple of years ago. Far too many chicken owners were sticking their fingers into chickens’ vents trying to find eggs in perfectly healthy chickens. It was very disturbing. 

Unfortunately a few years ago, a popular goat website published an article about constipation in newborns, calling it a “common” problem that can kill kids quickly, which is not backed up by any credible source. This post is quoted frequently in some groups. If I were completely new to goats and read that article, I might be a little paranoid about my kids’ pooping, but after having 650 kids here, and without a single case of constipation, I’d say it is not a common problem in newborns. Even if I had one tomorrow, that would mean it happened in 0.02% of kids. Unfortunately, that post mentioned no research or even anything in the veterinary literature.

It says that symptoms of constipation in a kid are a big, firm belly, not wanting a bottle, and standing hunched up with tail down. Those symptoms do not spell out a conclusive diagnosis of constipation or anything in particular. “Hunched up with tail down” is the classic posture that means a kid is unhappy and could be suffering from a painful disease or is simply cold, according to veterinary texts and my own personal observations.

In Diseases of the Goat, Matthews says that a distended belly in a kid may be due to “prematurity, congenital abnormalities, alimentary tract defect, kidney defect, heart defect, high alimentary tract obstruction, pyloric obstruction, abomasal obstruction.” In older kids, it can be due to “abomasal bloat, ruminal bloat, mesenteric torsion, inadequate nutrition, and gastrointestinal parasitism.” An enema, which is the suggested remedy on that site, won’t help any of those problems and would simply make a sick kid feel worse.

According to Goat Medicine, second edition, by Smith and Sherman, the reasons for constipation in goats, in general, are intestinal blockage, pregnancy toxemia, coccidiosis, poisoning, liver damage, dehydration, or lack of fiber in the diet. In other words, it is usually caused by a serious medical problem that needs attention — or by a diet that needs to be corrected. Nothing in this list will be fixed by an enema. The 800+ page veterinary text does not mention constipation in newborns at all.

According to the newly released fourth edition of Diseases of the Goat by John Matthews, constipation is common in artificially reared kids “in certain herds” as a result of management practices that dictate too much grain and not enough water. In other words, dehydration and not enough fiber. He only mentions plant poisoning as a cause of constipation in mature goats. On the flip side, there is a 28 page chapter on diarrhea.

The word “constipation” is not in the index of Goat Science and Production by Sandra Solaiman. It’s hard to believe that all of the goat veterinary texts would ignore something if it were a common problem, especially one that allegedly kills kids.

The word “constipation” is not in the index of the third edition of Sheep, Goat, and Cervid Medicine by Pugh, Baird, Edmondson, and Passler, which just came out in March 2020. Again, why would a brand new veterinary textbook not include anything on constipation in its 500 pages if it were a real problem?

What’s going on?

It’s obvious that humans have a lot of problems with constipation. In 2015, American spent $1.2 billion on laxatives, so some people just assume all critters have the same poorly functioning digestive systems. But it’s widely accepted that human digestive problems are due to diets that are high in artificial ingredients and very low in fiber, as well as food sensitivities, which are not issues with goats, assuming you’re not feeding them Twinkies and Ho Hos.

However, a lot of people think constipation is “normal,” and that we have to make ourselves poop. This is not true with animals that are eating a natural diet. In 18 years, I’ve never had a single cow, sheep, goat, pig, llama, chicken, turkey, duck, goose, or any animal on this farm get constipated.

A doe in heat arching her back

Unfortunately, constipation is becoming such a hot topic that too many people are assuming that it’s a problem with one of their goats. In most cases, there is nothing wrong with the goat at all. One woman described a doe that was basically acting like a buck, arching her back and making weird noises, which can be common when they’re in heat.

Another person had a buck that started thrusting when she was taking his temperature, which is also normal, yet the first person to comment suggested that the goat was constipated. Another had a young buck that was arching his back in a manner that is perfectly normal for a buck that’s trying to figure out how to start acting like a buck. “Arching the back” is sometimes the only “symptom” mentioned by people who think they have a constipated goat. Yet, goats don’t arch their back when they poop.

Another woman had a one-day-old kid that was standing hunched up with tail down and refused a bottle, and she assumed it was constipated — even though it was a dam-raised baby that had never had a bottle. Rather than working harder to get colostrum into the kid, she gave it multiple enemas, which is advised by that other author. I have almost never had a dam-raised kid that wanted a bottle, even if it was on the verge of starvation, so refusal to take a bottle does not mean a kid is constipated.

If a newborn kid is weak, the first thing you have to do is get colostrum into it, and you cannot expect it to grab an artificial nipple and start sucking. (You have to hold the nipple in its mouth while the milk drips and the kid swallows. If a kid cannot swallow, then you have to tube feed.) In this case, the kid was one of quadruplets, and it is not unusual for a kid in that situation to wind up starving because there are only two teats. Unfortunately the kid in this case died.

In the case of the later enemas, the woman even reported that no liquid was coming back out. That means the kid was dehydrated and was absorbing the water, which would be due to not consuming enough milk. Milk is 85% water, and if you stop giving kids milk, they will dehydrate and die, although hypoglycemia may kill them first, depending upon how young they are. 

The most common reason for a kid to not poop much in the first few days is starvation. Not enough milk = little to no poop. First of all, newborns poop so little that if they are being dam raised you probably won’t see any kid poop at all for days or weeks at a time because it’s tiny and just disappears into the bedding.

If you have a kid in the house and you have a dog, most dogs will eat poop, so you may never see it, or you will rarely see it. Our dog also licks the goat’s back ends, so if they poop while he’s licking, we’d ever know. He basically thinks he is their mom. We keep baby goats in a laundry basket, which the dog has easy access to, and he keeps the poop cleaned up. 

If a kid is not getting enough milk, it will be standing with its back arched or laying down unable to stand and may or may not be crying. I used to see this a lot with a kid that was one of quadruplets, but it could also happen with a first freshener who has triplets, or any doe that’s not making enough milk. It is absolutely vital that you get milk into them immediately. They will not want a bottle because they don’t know what it is, but it’s very important to get them to take it. I learned the hard way that some dam-raised kids will literally starve to death rather than take a bottle in the beginning.

This video shows you the challenge of getting a newborn to take a bottle.

Some people think that if they give a kid an enema and poop comes out, that means it was constipated, but it does not. That is just what happens when you give any animal an enema, whether they needed to poop or not. I’ve also heard people say that the kid was crying after an enema. That’s just because the enema caused bowel contractions — NOT because the kid was constipated.

Then there are stories like the one I found in the Yahoo group from more than ten years ago where the woman assumed her wether was constipated when he really had a urinary blockage. In addition to making a goat very unhappy by giving them an enema, you are wasting time not figuring out what is really wrong with your goat — or what’s normal about your goat.

Constipation should never be the first diagnosis you make whenever a goat looks a little off. Goat constipation is a very big deal on the rare occasion when it does happen. If you do have a constipated goat, it may have one of the very serious conditions listed above that would need veterinary attention. An enema doesn’t fix any of those problems.

Or you need to make sure that your goats have plenty of clean water available 24/7 and that they have access to enough hay and forage. Without enough water, they are also more likely to get urinary calculi, which is life-threatening.

With too much grain and not enough forage and hay, they are more likely to wind up with serious rumen disturbances that can also be life-threatening. In fact, enterotoxemia, bloat, and thiamine deficiency are all well-documented conditions caused by feeding errors and are much more common than constipation.

And if you’re feeding Twinkies and Ho Hos to your goats, please just stop.

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86 thoughts on “Constipation in goats: a social media epidemic”

  1. Great article!
    Please can you advise me. My goat is 19 and only has 1 tooth. He’s on readigrass (short green dried grass) as he cannot chew hay and pigmy goat mix. He also has some low sugar cheerios cereal as a treat.
    The weather has been horrible so he’s been in his stable for a few week ( he doesn’t like snow and rain). His poos were very dry like little pieces of grit and he went off his food. Hes skinny but has always had a belly. I walk him around a bit when the weather permits.
    the vet recommended bran which he loves and his poos are larger and softer now but he’s still uncomfortable around his rumen and windy. I’ve given him some bicarbonate of soda which helps. Do you think I should continue with the bran or return to his dry pigmy goat mix ?
    Thank you in anticipation

    Reply
    • When you say he’s 19, do you mean 19 years old? That’s pretty amazing. I think that’s the oldest goat I’ve ever heard of. I’m not surprised he only has one tooth left. Goats do need a lot of fiber in their diet, so if he can eat the bran and it helps him poop, I’d keep giving it to him. Good luck!

      Reply
      • My goat is about 10 weeks old. I took him to the vet last week for boosters and they did a stool sample which showed coccidia and small amount of worms. I have him on a Med for coccidia which has not been easy to give and a de-wormer. He eats Timothy hay, no grain, and always has plenty of fresh water available. He is urinating about 3-4 times a day. He has been doing great until yesterday when we noticed very little poop. Just an occasional cluster. I called the vet who suggested soapy enemas. He poops a little after an enema but still is not back to his normal bowel movements. I’m not sure what else to do at this point. I’m going to call the vet again in the morning but I’m worried.

        Reply
        • my female is about 16 and lost her cud, and I have been giving her mineral oil, yogurt, sweet feed oats orange peels, apples she is very tight and swelled, this article talked but didn’t say anything about what to give a constipated goat to help them use the bath room.

          Reply
          • Paul, I don’t know what you mean when you say that your goat lost its cud. Cud is what is in its rumen, and they burp it up to chew it. A goat can’t lose it. If your goat’s stomach is tight and swollen, that sounds like bloat. The reason I don’t tell you what to do with constipation is because goats don’t really get constipated. People usually assume the goat is constipated when it is actually something else that is wrong.

        • April, If your goat only poops a little after an enema, then it’s either not constipated or it has an obstruction. I seriously doubt your goat is actually constipated, as it is not something that really happens to goats. Is it living in your house with you? How do you know it’s not pooping? If it’s outside and pooping little berries, they would be hidden in the grass outside or the bedding in the barn.

          Reply
        • What did they tell you cause my kid went from the runs to nothing. Making him drink a bottle. The vet said just keep fluids in him.

          Reply
          • When was the last time your goat pooped? Do you know why he had diarrhea? How old is he? I need more information about how he’s acting and what’s happening.

  2. I appreciate you sharing your experiences, but please do not act like you are the end all of goat husbandry. Thankfully you have not seen it all when it comes to goats.

    Reply
    • I know I have not seen everything in goats. That’s why I searched through all of the veterinary texts on my shelf, as well as searched through years of archives that represent the experiences of thousands of goat owners.

      Reply
      • It’s interesting that you set out to prove wrong the diagnoses of constipation -and you succeeded.

        Truth is, more people are into goats. Not everyone has had years of experience in dealing with various intestinal issues in their stock.

        When weather is wonky — wet, then dry, temps fluctuating widely – we are going to see the goats’ health take a hit. Often, this is expressed through digestion issues.

        This year, my area has had quite a bit of weather fluctuation. We went from a cosmically wet Spring into a drought-stricken Summer and Autumn. This Winter, temps have gone from sub-freezing up to 70*, all in a matter of a day or two, conditions my dear old grandpa used to call “pneumonia weather.”

        We now have a 2 week old buckling in the house. We suspect he has an intestinal blockage, which some would call “constipation,” and that is what it did look like at first. There is a very distinct cry that accompanies gut pain, and once you’ve heard it, you never forget it – and you pray that you will never hear it again.

        We have done everything we know to do to treat this little guy, but chances are good he isn’t going to make it. All we can do is keep him comfortable.

        BTW, we did see this very thing about 9 years ago, in another buckling. It may have started with dehydration in that one, as we received him from a person who was not terribly attentive in maintaining her bottle babies.

        Goats are always an adventure. Most of the time, it is a joy and pleasure to live with these incredible animals. There are those times, however, when they will break your heart into a million pieces.

        Reply
        • Mrs. Pony,

          I have a 12 month old young doe who makes that horrible cry that you never forget. I’ve tried everything and nothing seems to be working. What are your insights based on your past and most recent experiences regarding this most peculiar Gastro pain/Issue/blockage? Please tell me everything you can. Thank you so much! Feel free to email me. BronnaMichelleHaley at GMail.
          ~BronnaMichelle Haley
          Haleys Heffas ~

          Reply
          • You really need to provide more details about what’s happening. A goat will have that horrible scream if they break a leg or have any painful condition. The person who posted above you probably had a buck with urinary calculi, which is unfortunately often confused with constipation. Lots of people have been constipated but very few have had urinary stones, so when they see a goat pushing and screaming, they just assume it’s trying to poop rather than pee. Urinary stones can kill a buck pretty quickly.

  3. I sincerely appreciate you and this post. I’ve been around goats for the greater number of years in my life but only recently became an owner again. It seems that “constipation” is a word used for anytime someone thinks their goat is acting odd and not pooping when they are looking. I had never heard of such a thing until I started reading some of the posts throughout the internet and thought I must really be ignorant.
    Your article is extremely well wittten and thoroughly researched. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. Best Wishes, Suzie

    Reply
  4. Hi! I am a new goat owner and have a two week old bottle fed male kid. Every article I have read says they should eat 4 times a day, with different amounts being listed in every article. My goat doesn’t eat on a schedule because he won’t take a bottle every 4 or 5 hours. I know when he’s hungry by how he behaves. He will come to me and jump on me and nibble at my fingers. Some days he eats four bottles some he will only eat 2. I offer fresh water every day which he doesn’t seem interested in yet. But I have noticed that in the past few days he hasn’t been pooping more than once a day. And just a small amount. Which is way different than when I got him where he was pooping every time he finished eating. He lives inside so I know I’m not missing anything if he has pooped. Is it normal for him to be so little and not pooping but once a day? How often and how much do you suggest feeding him? And how much?

    Reply
    • The amount they eat depends upon their weight. It should be a minimum of 10% of their body weight but no more than 20% of their body weight, and remember to convert pounds to ounces when figuring it out. Here is a post that gives you more info on that:
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/bottle-feeding-goat-kids/
      If you have a dog, he may be eating the poop. Dogs love baby goat poop!
      They utilize the milk really well so may not be pooping a ton.
      However, he really should be outside and with other goats. Kids normally start eating when they are only a few days old. They are imitating their mother or other goats. Trying to get a kid to eat when they’re alone is incredibly challenging. I’ve heard of kids 4-6 weeks old still not eating, which is not great for them. At some point, it will affect his growth. As browsers, they should have food available to them 24/7, meaning hay or pasture. His body has to make that transition to being a ruminant. I personally won’t sell a single kid. Here is more info on why they need other goat friends:
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/debunking-9-ill-conceived-notions-abou/

      Reply
  5. I ran across your post after searching for constipation in goats, because I was told my goat was constipated but I just couldn’t believe it. She’s 3 months old and weaned, she’s knew to my herd and she had scours so I isolated her. Pale gums and eyes so I wormed her. Provided electrolytes and minerals as well as fresh hay. In a few days there was improvement so I kept her separated for one more day and then brought her in with the rest of the goats. All was well until I went out to feed one morning and she was in the hunched tail down position with a distended looking abdomen. I drenched for bloat and massaged her ramen, no luck. Took her to the vet, no worms barely any coccidia which he couldn’t believe and he didn’t suspect bloat. I am at a loss! I love this precious little girl and it pains me to see her like this. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hunched up with tail down is just the sign of a sick goat. A distended belly is not bloat unless it’s as tight as a drum. She could have some type of bacterial infection in her intestines, which caused the diarrhea. Coccidia can be hard to see on a fecal because it’s really tiny. Sulfa drugs kill both coccidia and bacteria. How much does she weigh?

      Reply
      • She’s only 15 lbs. She’s hanging on and we thought she was getting better yesterday evening, walking some trying to eat blackberry leaves, but later that evening she went stiff and could no longer stand. If she did manage to get up she could only move backwards because her rear legs were so stiff. She’s been getting daily antibiotic shots that are broad spectrum. She’s in pain and I feel terrible. Thank you for your response!

        Reply
        • That’s very small for a three-month-old goat. I don’t wean kids that small. She hasn’t had enough milk. Perhaps her owner didn’t leave her with mom 24/7 for the first 3 months, or she was one or triplets or quads, and her mother was not producing enough milk. I hope you weren’t planning to use her for breeding. Getting her to survive at this point will be very challenging, and if she does survive, she will likely never be big enough or healthy enough to breed. I personally would treat for coccidia at this point. Her immune system is very immature, and without mom’s milk, she’s not able to fight off normal stuff that’s in her gut — and coccidia is normal. Coccidia is very hard to see on a fecal because they’re quite small, and they can do permanent damage to the intestines so that goats can never absorb nutrients properly, so it’s not something you want to risk. The longer she has it, the worse the prognosis. And if it’s not treated, it can kill her. Here is more on coccidia — https://thriftyhomesteader.com/preventing-coccidiosis/
          And here is more on how many kids a doe can feed and the importance of kids getting enough milk — https://thriftyhomesteader.com/how-many-kids-can-doe-feed/
          Good luck! and let me know what happens.

          Reply
  6. Mom had 4 kids we left all kids with Mom and supplemented with bottles 3 of the four. One of the males started going down hill , not standing falling over , so we took him to the vet, he had coccidia and a bit of fever and congestion. He was treated and sent home with meds Baytril and something for the coccidia. He has even gotten worse , no pooping , eats a bottle then cries and falls over, no walking lungs are rattling. He is currently in a cage in the house , I have given him 2ml of banamine it seemed to ease him and he ate . But he keeps crying out I feel like he is miserable, he has good gut sounds and his stomach is soft and palpable, I think I need to have him put to sleep , but he is such a fighter , any suggestions? And it being a holiday weekend Er vet is gonna be very expensive

    Reply
    • What color are the inside of his eyelids? If light pink or white, he is anemic, which is probably due to barber pole worm, so he needs a dewormer. If he’s not eating, he’s got nothing to poop out, so that’s not a surprise.

      Living through scenarios like this and worse is why I almost never leave four kids with a doe. Here’s a post on that: https://thriftyhomesteader.com/how-many-kids-can-doe-feed/ If they are not getting enough raw milk, they are more susceptible to worms and coccidiosis because they have a very immature immune system and need the antibodies in the milk, as well as the protein and calcium for growth.

      Keep me updated!

      Reply
  7. Thank you for sharing!
    I think one reason we are hearing more about constipation in goats is because more and more breeders are pulling kids to bottle feed and many are now feeding Vitamin D (whole cows milk) from the grocery store. My understanding is that cows milk is harder for baby goats to digest and switching them from goat milk or milk replacer can cause constipation. What are your thoughts on this now, fairly common practice?

    Reply
    • The point of this post is that constipation is NOT a problem. It’s a misdiagnosis. That’s why it’s a social media epidemic — NOT a goat epidemic. Dam raising today is actually far more common than it was when I got started in 2002. Back then almost everyone pulled kids at birth and bottle-fed because of the fear of CAE. People who dam raised back then were accused of being lazy and irresponsible and not caring about their goats. Some people refused to buy dam raised kids at all. The world of Yahoo groups was pretty hostile to those of us brave enough to admit we dam raised back then.

      As for the milk that is being fed to bottle babies — it is almost always cow milk, whether it is from the store or whether it is in milk replacer, which is made from cow milk. If someone has a dairy, they almost always use milk replacer because it is far less valuable than the goat milk, which is why they do it. They make more money by feeding the milk replacer and using the goat milk to make into cheese. So if cow milk caused constipation, we would have it a lot back when I got started, and that was not the case. And as I said in this post, it’s not just kids, it is adults that are being misdiagnosed too.

      Reply
  8. What do I do if my whether is grunting and pushing like he is trying to poop and has already pooped? He’s been doing this for a day now, he’s not eating but he’s drinking. He’s pooped and he keeps grunting and farting, could he be having troubles peeing? He keeps laying down and groaning, he has a brownish yellow liquid ring around his anus.

    Reply
    • If he is not eating and has all of the other symptoms you mention, it sounds like he has some type of obstruction, which would require veterinary attention. A urinary stone could cause a blockage and make it impossible for him to pee, but if he ate something like a plastic bag, it could cause an intestinal obstruction or something stuck in his rumen. Either type of obstruction means he could die without veterinary attention.

      Reply
  9. Hi, my goat kid is around 2 month old, had high fever and dyrehea, after medicines fever is normal and started eating, but next day onwards stopped eating and drinking. I gave energy drink and milk and bcomplex but situation did not settle, I continued with same and gave antibiotics but still the situation becoming worse, not sure whether it will be alive tomorrow or not, we don’t have experienced vet doc near by.

    Reply
  10. My goat’s belly is feeling like a balloon he hadn’t passed motion since 2 days and hardly urinate 3-4 times he’s shouting with pain. Plz suggest anything that can i do in this situation.

    Reply
    • If he is screaming when trying to urinate, he probably has a stone. He needs to see a vet. If he has a urinary blockage and can’t pee, he will probably die without surgery.

      Reply
  11. Hi I have a 4 month old goat that got head butted in his stomach area. He is crying can’t sit down without pain hasn’t peed or pooped in 2 hours and acts like he needs to poop. The vet said it should subside with in a few hours or bring him in tomorrow any suggestion to help him? He is also walking backwards and crying. I have brought him in away from the other kid so he doesn’t get hurt any more.

    Reply
    • There is really nothing you can do for him. Hopefully he doesn’t have a broken rib or broken hip bone. The fact that he can’t lay down makes me worry about the hip bone the most. There isn’t really anything you can do for that either. He will probably be in better shape tomorrow. It’s amazing how resilient they are. What you see is not him trying to poop. It’s just that he’s in pain. Goats in pain or goats that are cold have an arched back.

      Reply
    • Milk is about 85% water, so there is no need to give him water in a bottle. Just leave a bucket available, and he’ll start drinking from it when he wants. Hopefully you have other goats there because he will learn to eat solid food and drink water from a bucket by watching the other goats. Goats always need a goat friend and do not do well alone.

      Reply
  12. My 5 year old pygmy doe is having some issues. We believe she went into heat and then ended up with a uterus infection. She has blood that drips from her vagina. She is my pet so she has never been bred. She struggles when going to the bathroom. She hunches up and bears down. When she seems like she wants to go the bathroom She walks sideways in a hunched position. She is on her third round of antibiotics, we have tried apple cider vinegar mix with water, soy meal oil ( she will not eat), and two enemas. I am also giving her probiotics once a day. She is eating her grain and hay, and always has water, she has a heated water dish. She walks around the yard when I let her out of her pen. The vet has seen video of her trying to go to the bathroom. He thinks she may have a uterus infection and her uterus scarred to her intestines? We are not sure. He is contacting Minnesota vet hospital. He is thinking if this round of antibiotics doesn’t work, we will have to fix her. I am ok with that. She is just really uncomfortable when trying to go to the bathroom. She is urinating and pooping some. She always has hay, mineral, and sodium bicarbonate available to her for free choice. I bring her out warm water twice a day when I feed her. She us grained twice a day, a handful, with a few goat treats. Any advice? I have also tried water mixed with corn syrup, baking soda, and salt. She will not touch it. My other two goats drank it.

    Reply
    • This does not sound like constipation. This sounds like uterine pain, especially if she is dripping blood from her vulva. If she is hunching up and no poop is coming out, you should not automatically assume she is trying to poop. Does in heat hunch up and arch their back like that, and if your vet has never owned goats, he or she may not realize this. Removing her uterus sounds like a good idea.

      Reply
  13. Great article! Thanks for sharing this information. An animal with constipation is easy to spot. The best way to treat constipation is by administering an enema.

    Reply
  14. Hello. My 1.5 month old baby doeling has been off lately. I came here because everyone is telling me constipation, but she is pooping, it’s just soft larger balls. She is a twin, her brother is doing well. She stands with her tail tucked a lot, and isn’t as active as the others. She eats lots of fresh hay and I see her nurse, they have access to fresh water and some warm water in the mornings with molasses as well. She has dry flaky poop on her tail all the time,. Am I worrying for nothing?

    Reply
    • Dry flaky poop stuck on a kid’s back end is actually from diarrhea or softer poop, NOT constipation. Too much water in the poop mean diarrhea and that would create poop that could stick to the back end. Constipation is caused by too little water in poop. Kids with poop on their back end are usually dealing with coccidiosis or a case of intestinal parasites (worms).

      Reply
  15. I currently have 4 goats; two dams, a wether and a doeling who were the result of their dams’ first freshenings. Before I got them I joined every goat group I could find. As time went on, I got out of a lot of the groups that seemed to have agendas or where the advice I saw there didn’t seem logical or dependable – ie. when I looked up the advice given, I found conflicting information from reputable sources. I am, by nature, a catastrophic thinker, and the last thing I need is a bunch of alarmist, non-factual advice. I have now narrowed down where I get goat advice from to about three online sources, my very able traveling farm vet, and a few local folks who are very knowledgeable about goats. You’re one of the few online sources I trust, because you combine your hands-on, practical knowledge with factual information from trusted sources.

    Thanks for not being another Henny Penny, running around telling everyone the sky is falling!

    Reply
  16. I have a 7 month old that is having a hard time pooping. The first 2 days i noticed there was blood coming out as well as runny and solid poop. Today it just looks runny with no blood. This is my first time raising goats and i dont have the money to take him to the vet. Can anyone help me out with whats going on with him?

    Reply
    • That’s not constipation. That sounds like either worms or coccidiosis, or it could be a combination of the two. Here is more on diarrhea —
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/diarrhea-in-goats/
      And here is more on coccidiosis —
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/preventing-coccidiosis/
      Since he is 7 months, that’s a little old to have coccidiosis, as it usually affects younger kids when they’ve just been weaned. Trying a dewormer first might be your best bet. You can get Safeguard goat dewormer at the farm supply store. Research shows that you need to use 2 times the dosage on the label. You should see improvement within no more than about three days if that was the problem. He should be back to pooping berries.

      Reply
  17. I have a doeling 4 days old, who we brought in during the night because she had gotten so weak and cold. I tube fed her warmed goat milk, 2 oz, and kept her warm. She acted better when I checked her a few hours later and tubed her another 2 oz. In the morning she was standing, had urinated and was hungry, wanting to eat. I took her back out to mom and her twin, she nursed. Then went back to standing hunched , noticed belly bloated. I took her back in because it is so cold. Massaged belly. She urinated several times. No BM and very clean backend. I started thinking constipation because she had not pooped in 12 hours, had urinated several times, bloated belly and not wanting to eat much. I did give her an enema with warm soapy water and she did have hard little mustard colored pebbles come out. I did it several times but did not get past hard little stones. I put her back out with mom and sister hoping this would get her started on regular bowel movement. Not sure she is back to normal though.
    We have been raising goats for 11 years and have never had this problem before. We have Boers. I was wondering if mineral oil was safe to administer to a baby in hopes to move her feces on through. And what could be causing her problem?

    Reply
    • A goat has to have enough to eat to make poop. If she is not nursing enough, she won’t poop. The milk is VERY well utilized by the body. Milk is about 85% water, and that’s gets peed out very quickly. Much of the rest of it is absorbed by the body. Only the excess is pooped out. She needs more milk. If she had not had enough milk, she will be weak. Cold kids stand hunched up. That’s actually a photo in vet textbooks. The fact that very little came out when you did an enema — which I do not recommend — shows you she had nothing in there to poop out.

      I know it’s challenging to get a dam-raised kid to take a bottle, but it is possible. You just have to hold it in her mouth until she gets the amount she needs. She should be consuming at least 10% and up to 20% of her body weight daily. Here is more information on bottle feeding — https://thriftyhomesteader.com/bottle-feeding-goat-kids/ — and calculating how much she needs to be consuming. Two ounces for a boer kid is nowhere close to what she needs.

      If this is a first-time mom, I’d be concerned that she is not producing enough milk. If she’s a proven dam, I’d be checking the udder to be sure one side is not hard and hot. Or maybe the kid is having some kind of challenge with nursing.

      Reply
  18. Thanks for the great info. I have a 4 day old doeling that seems to be having problems. She was the first born and was really active at first but is now a lot less active than her siblings. She has a great appetite but after eating she often hunches up her back and clamps her tail down. I thought she might have cramps or something because she ate to much but when i felt her belly it wasn’t very full. She also seems to have a hard time pooping. Any tips on what it could be and how i could help her? I’m thinking of getting my vet to take a look but i wanted to ask around in case someone had an idea what it is.

    Reply
    • You say she is not as active as her siblings, meaning there are at least three. If a kid isn’t pooping much, the most common reason is because they are not consuming enough milk, and if there are three or more, that is very common. Since you say her tummy does not feel full, it sounds like the mom is not producing enough milk, and this one is not getting enough. This is why I now weigh kids daily for a couple of weeks. With Nigerians, I want to be sure they are gaining an average of 4 ounces per day. For more info on this:
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/how-many-kids-can-doe-feed/

      Also, keep in mind that the milk is very well utilized, so they don’t poop much at all. If she is with her dam, she may be pooping more than you think because kid poop just disappears in the bedding.

      A kid that is arching its back with its tail down is often cold, especially this time of year, but that is also typical when kids are starving because they can’t keep warm and are just generally depressed from not enough milk.

      Reply
  19. We got out first goat a week ago (3/7/20) and we were told she was a week old. The guy didn’t know much about her, just said that he had traded her with someone else. We were fortunate enough to run into someone at the local feed store that could help us out with what we would need to make sure she was healthy. We slowly noticed that her poop changed to diarrhea and she was grinding her teeth a lot. She was also covered with both types of lice. We made an appointment with the vet and they said she was anemic and gave us dewormer, a steroid and an antibiotic. In a week we have gotten 3 more goats for companionship for her. The past two days her appetite has dwindled to her eating around 1-2 ounces per feeding and that’s if she chooses to eat. She is still grinding her teeth, and her poop has changed to a black sticky glob when she does go. She does not show interest in playing with the other goats today and a really has not had anything to eat in over 12 overs. She is also standing hunched. I have felt her stomach and finished like she has just finished a bottle. She also has not pooped in about 24 hours. My husband said this morning he also felt a loose tooth. Is this normal for a new kid? I don’t want to treat for constipation if it could harm her, but I definitely want to her to feel better and spunky again.

    Reply
    • If she is not eating, she’s not going to have anything to poop out. At the rate she is going she will die of starvation. Grinding teeth is a sign of pain. Black tarry poop usually means there is internal bleeding. It sound like she has some serious medical problems. I’m sorry the vet was not able to help you. A loose tooth is not normal either, and I can’t imagine why that would have happened. Sounds like she needs to see a knowledgeable goat vet. Unfortunately not all vets have much experience with goats.

      Reply
  20. I have a 3 year old Doe. Yesterday evening she just laid down. She won’t get up unless forced. She attempts to poop, but only passes gas. She moans as she hunches down. Due to weekend, she needs comfort until she can get to vet on Monday. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Reply
    • That actually sounds like a goat in labor. Since I don’t know how much experience you have or whether it’s possible that she could be pregnant, I have no idea if this is plausible, but that’s what your description sounds like. I have heard people say, “she’s trying to poop but can’t” when a doe is actually in labor.

      If she legitimately cannot poop, I’d call the vet’s emergency line and have a conversation about all of her symptoms. If she ate something like a plastic bag and has a blockage, she may not survive until tomorrow. If she is not eating, you definitely need to call the vet. Once goats go off feed, they don’t survive very long because their rumen needs constant feed to keep working. They can’t go without food as long as a single-stomach animal.

      Reply
  21. Hi
    We have a week old mini baby goat. hes back arching, tail is down and not really enjoying himself although he sometimes gets energy especially when it’s milk time.

    Just wondering what you think is going on?
    Went to the vet and they did an enema. Which after that he pooped.
    We have changed his diet from powered milk to normal cows milk from the shop( the same one we drink) as the powered milk was just not doing any good. So today is day 2 of this.
    Maybe we are not giving him enough milk? It’s so hard because if we overfeed him that will cause issues being a mini baby goat.
    We are currently feeding him 50ml milk x4 daily. He is 1.8kg ( sorry I’m in Australia so it’s kg here)

    That’s what we were told but I don’t know…
    and also maybe he needs extra electrolytes?? But what do you give? All the site say it but don’t say what to give and how much if at all is needed?
    The vets are useless because not many peopl Le have mini baby goats as pets.

    Any help much appreciated

    Reply
    • It doesn’t matter whether you are using pounds or kg, he still needs 10-20% of his body weight every day. So …
      1.8 kg = 1800 grams, so he needs 180 to 360 grams of milk per day. Milk is only slightly heavier than water, so you can just convert straight to ml, so 10-20% of 180 to 360 would be 18 to 36 ml per day. You are giving him the minimum at 20 ml per day, so you can definitely increase the amount of milk per bottle.

      Although powdered milk replacers can work, one potential problem with them is not adding enough water. If you do that, you could cause constipation because basically the baby isn’t getting enough water. Feeding whole cow milk is a perfectly acceptable alternative. Milk is 85% water and is the perfect food for babies. In the US, there is not much cost difference between milk replacer and cow milk, and feeding cow milk from the store is certainly easier since you don’t have to do any mixing.

      Baby goats do NOT need additional electrolytes — just plenty of milk.

      Reply
  22. I have a 5yo Nigerian Pygmy Doe, Amelia.
    Never been bred, but incessant pseudo-pregnancy with one bag full all the time.
    She and my other Doe, Sage, come in heat simultaneously and breed each other, although not as much this past year.
    Amelia has lately seemed to be cramping, looking as though she is having ‘contractions’…. Her poops have been looking like Very dark brown, Very dry ‘corncobs’, NOT pellets!!
    She is a ravenous eater, was bottle fed and raised in my house. When large enough moved outside in a pen with another female and then the two eventually moved into their own stall in the barn with my Morgan Mare.
    I gave Baking Soda which she ate initially but doesn’t seem to be eating now.
    My first inclination is that she is not drinking enough water even though she has water available 24/7/365.
    I have been letting her eat the Mare’s gruel(30yo, bottom teeth worn) which is Triple Crown Naturalizer/Balancer Cubes soaked in warm water.
    I take a handful and pour Mineral Oil over 6 or 7 handfulls in the am after she’s had her 1/2 Cup grain and she eats it right away. At night I pour Phillips Milk of Magnesia over them and she likes that also….the grunting slowed down but last night she had cramps again. My thinking was that way she got more water and help with her movement. Her grain has PROBIOS sprinkled in it.
    She is not nearly as distended as she was but is still not ejecting Pellets.
    ANY INPUT would be helpful and
    appreciated!!

    Reply
    • When a goat starts pooping like a dog, it means the poop is getting wetter — NOT drier. So she is moving closer to diarrhea — NOT constipation. Goat berries are actually very dry. Poop logs are usually due to a heavy worm load. If you have barber pole worm in your area, you can check her eyelids. They should be a bright pink or red. If they are a light pink or white, it means she is anemic. Other worms do not cause anemia, so you may want to get a fecal. Here is more information about using dewormers:
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/deworming-goats/

      Pooping like a dog can also happen if the goat is eating an unusually large amount of grass — if they have been eating mostly hay in the past. It can take a few days for their body to adjust to the higher moisture content of grass.

      Reply
  23. Hello! Thank you for the very informative article. Honestly, I believe I fell for that popular online article. I have a week old buckling whose mama died when he was two days old. He took to the bottle extremely fast, and is constantly searching for more milk. He had an orange, softer poop the first day I had him home, but this changed to a darker brown cracked one, which then turned to nothing. I am with him almost all day. He stays in a roomy container at night, yet I see no fecal matter. I had started doing enemas, and like you said, a bit of poop came out but most of the enema just remained within. He is also searching for water a lot when we go outside, since I have multiple places with water. The baby was 6lb, dropped to 5.75, and I really hope no lower than that. I have been feeding him 3oz of milk mixed with a bit of mineral oil, heated to 100F, 4-5 times a day. Is this too less? Why wouldn’t he be pooping? I feel like he cries due to abdominal pain. Whenever he sits, his cries are short and distinct, and sounds like he is saying “mat”. Im really concerned for him…

    Reply
    • If he has not gained any weight in a week, I’m surprised he is still alive. He should be gaining at least 5-7 ounces per day, depending upon his breed and based on his birth weight. It is also very odd for a baby goat to be looking for water. It sounds like he is dehydrated, which can happen with repeated enemas.

      He needs a minimum of 10% of his body weight but 20% is better. A 6# kid is 96 ounces, so 10% would be 9.6 ounces, so he needs about 10-20 ounces of milk per day and will need more as he grows. NO mineral oil. It is a petroleum product, which no one should ingest.

      A normal goat sound is “maaa,” so that could be totally normal, and you could be worried about nothing.

      If you have a dog, he could be licking up the goat’s poop without you ever seeing it. They really do not poop much at all at that age because milk is so well absorbed and utilized by their body. But that brings me to another question — what kind of milk is it? If it’s an all-species milk replacer, those are terrible and may be causing a problem with dehydration, especially if it is not being mixed with enough water.

      As I said in the article, constipation is NOT normal at all, and if he truly is NOT pooping and not gaining weight in this case, then something is seriously wrong with him.

      You didn’t say why his mother died, but I wonder if it’s something related to his health.

      Reply
  24. Hi, my baby goat is only 4 days old. born on Sunday. He pooped some the day after he was born. Tuesday he started him yellow explosive poops. It was normal kid poop. Tuesday at 5 he pooped. He didn’t poop again. 24 hours later and my trusted goat friend tells me to give him an enima. He pooped right after I did it. The poop was hard little chunks. He didn’t poop again after that and I kind of stress about my goats way to much to Thursday morning (this morning I did it again and he pooped those little chunks again. He didn’t poop all day again so I just did it and he pooped chunks again. He’s been eating very good. I bottle feed him. He started to eat slightly less today and I’m stressing haha. He’s acting normal. What can I do to make him poop normally?

    Reply
  25. Also my baby is In areas where I could see him poop. My dog doesn’t go inside my goats pen and I’ve searched the entire pen which has a solid ground with no bedding and there’s nothing so my dog isn’t eating it and it’s not getting lost anywhere so I know he’s not pooping.

    Reply
  26. He ate 17 oz. total yesterday. 14 oz. today. So less than I’d like today. He weighs about 3 lbs right now. I’ve been feeding him about 4 times a day as of right now.

    Reply
    • If he really weighs 3 pounds, I’m surprised he doesn’t have diarrhea. They should have 10-20% of their body weight in 24 hours, so 3 pounds = 48 ounces, which is 4.8 (10%) to 9.6 (20%) ounces. So you’re actually over-feeding him. Usually newborns stop pooping if they are not getting enough milk.

      The other things that pops into my head is what you are feeding him. If you are using milk replacer and not mixing it correctly — using too much of the powder — that could cause constipation. You could just switch to whole cows milk that you buy at the store. Many people have reported problems using milk replacer, sometimes resulting in death. Quality varies tremendously from one brand to another, which is why some people say it’s great and some say it killed their kids.

      The bottom line is that you do NOT have to do anything to make a healthy kid poop. They just do. So if he is not pooping, then there is either something wrong with him or something wrong with what you’re doing.

      Reply
      • I’m feeding him milk directly from his mom so i milk her then feed it to him. He seems to do better today. Still not pooping but he isn’t acting like he has a sick tummy.

        Reply
        • There is nothing that a goat does that means they have a sick tummy. When they’re sick for any reason, they stop eating. He is definitely eating — maybe overeating as I mentioned in my previous response. A newborn kid this size is pooping something smaller than a peanut or a pinto bean. Trying to find that in a pen is like looking for a needle in a haystack. If a goat steps on it, it’s gone (either stuck to the bottom of their hoof or ground into the dirt). You do not need to watch your kid to be sure he’s pooping. If he’s sick and not eating, then you need to find out what is causing him to be sick and treat the cause of the illness. About the only reason a newborn doesn’t poop is because (a) there is something wrong with their digestive tract and they’re going to die, or (b) they’re dehydrated or not getting enough milk. Your kid is definitely not dehydrated with how much milk you were giving him, and since he’s still drinking more than enough, it sounds like you’re probably just not seeing his poop, which is totally normal. I usually never see any of our kids poop, and all 650 have been fine.

          Reply
          • Hi, I’m in Australia and a goat novice! We have 3 x Saanen rescuse that are doing well (about 6 weeks old now) We’ve got newby kid from a dairy that is 4 days old. He’s just be put on scourban for scoures that maybe Cryptosporidiosis. He’s 3.4kg. Drinking 150ml x 4 times a day 4 hours apart. Scouring stopped almost immediately after one day of Scourban (6ml a day) but now we have seen ZERO poo for 2 x days (he wears a nappy as he stays inside with us as he’s pretty weak) should we reduce/stop using scourban? The vet we tool him too really didn’t fill us with confidence so I thought I’d ask here before looking for another vet
            Thanks for any suggestions! Anthony

          • I have not used that particular drug, but usually you do not continue giving an anti-diarrheal drug for more than one or two doses.

    • Going off feed is a symptom of just about everything that could be wrong with a goat. Does he have a fever? Do you see him stretched out like he is trying to pee, but nothing comes out? Is he making any noise? Grinding teeth?

      Reply
        • If he stretches out like he is trying to pee but no pee comes out, he could have a urinary stone, which can kill him within a day or two. The urethra or bladder can rupture.

          Reply
  27. I have 5 week old orphaned twin bucks. One of the twins took to the bottle with gusto but the other one doesn’t want anything to do with it, he is eating some grain and hobby mix as well as hay. The first 2 days he was hunched (both were) and when I was holding him attempting to give him the bottle he was shivering. He was probably just cold. Both of them seem active. Should I give up on the bottle and let him just have the mix and hay? I want to let them back with the rest of the herd at the end of the week but also want them to come back for food.

    Reply
    • You absolutely MUST get milk into him. There is no other food that can provide as much protein and calcium as milk. It doesn’t matter what else he is eating. I know it is challenging at this age, but it’s necessary. I had a doe die when her triplets were 5 weeks, and it took about a week to get them to NOT act like I was killing them. Here is more info about bottle feeding, including a video that shows you how to get started. They all act like you’re trying to poison them — even newborns who have never nursed on mom. Once they used to nursing on mom, it takes a lot more work to get them switched over.
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/bottle-feeding-goat-kids/

      Reply
  28. I have 2 day old buckling..nursing good..active but belly seems hard..no temp…is he constipated or what? Weighs 3.5 lbs…checked Anus, Dont see any poop…sometimes when he stand, he’s hunched…I don’t know..my first kidding season.

    Reply
    • If he is two days old and still alive, he’s probably fine. When goat are cold, they hunch their back. That’s completely normal. You really do not need to worry about him pooping. If he is with mom, you will probably never see any poop. I had my first goat kid for two weeks before I saw any poop and then I freaked out because it looked like mustard, but that’s normal, and so is a scrambled egg look. But I don’t usually see poop from kids that are being raised by their mom because it’s so tiny that it just disappears in the bedding or pasture.

      Reply
  29. Thank you for all the research you’ve done and all the time you spent putting in to this article and answering all the comments and questions. I cannot tell you how beneficial this in for me. Please keep it up. Knowledge is power and good information is priceless.

    Reply
  30. Thank you for all the research you’ve done and all the time you spent putting in to this article and answering all the comments and questions. I cannot tell you how beneficial this has been for me. Please keep it up. Knowledge is power and good information is priceless.

    Reply
  31. Hello, I have been worrying about my little billy but this post has put me at ease quite a bit… I am still a little worried because he is trying to poop but it seems too big for him to get out? It comes a little and then just goes back in…. Should I let him work it out himself or do… something? He is a 3 day old premie. On milk replacer. Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • If you are using milk replacer, there is a chance that it is mixed up incorrectly. Sounds like you may not have added enough water. If you did mix it up correctly, you could try switching him to whole cow milk.

      Reply
  32. I have a Nigerian dwarf goat that just turned one. She has had high eosinophils. I originally took her to the vet for diarrhea. They took blood and said she had high eosinophils so they gave me a bunch of wormers. They also gave me a medication for coccidisis. I gave her all the wormers and medications but her eosinophils were still high. My vet talked to vets at UC Davis and they said it sounds like she has eosinophilia enteritis and was put on prednisone for 3 weeks. I also gave her an antibiotic shot everyday for 2 weeks before they tried steroids. When I started the steroids she was given Drexxin by the vet. Her blood was rechecked and her eosinophils were still high. Her proteins and iron was low too. So she is now on more steroids and was given draxxin again. She has been having diarrhea so the vet told me to give her pepto bismol. She had it for a few days and her poop was better. I gave it to her twice a day. I thought I should stop giving it to her so I did but she started having clumpy poop. I gave her pepto bismol again but not she is straining when pooping and her stomach gets very hard and she cries. I was reading online about blockages. My vet told me she wouldn’t be pooping at all if she had a blockage but now I’m worried that she might have one. Oh and she lost weight. She used to weight 35.6 pounds and now she fluctuates between 29-32 and I can’t get her to gain weight please let me know what you think.

    Reply
    • This is a really complicated case. I normally recommend that you take the goat to a university vet hospital in these situations. Your vet talking to them is not good enough. They need to do a complete workup, including lab work. I am so glad that we have a university vet hospital two hours away.

      Reply

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