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Two goats with an overlay stating ‘Backyard Biosecurity, it’s up to all of us’ and ‘Agriculture Victoria’
Edition 9: Goats
In this edition:

In this edition we will cover a few of the things you need to know about goats to keep them out of trouble.

Feeding and nutrition
4 goats eating hay

Goats are ruminants, however, unlike sheep and cattle, their preference is to browse bushes and trees.

If goats are not well confined, they will devour your garden flowers and plants if given the chance. A goat’s digestive system copes well with a variety of plants but there are many plants that are highly toxic and should be avoided. Common toxic plant examples are azaleas, rhododendrons, lantana, bracken fern and oleander.

Goats should have access to pasture and when you don’t have adequate pasture, supplement with a good quality hay. Goats should always have access to clean water.

A common problem for goat health is overfeeding of concentrated feeds like grains and pellets. While it is true that your goats will love it, and eat all of it, these feeds can lead to significant digestive problems and diseases e.g., bloat, ruminal acidosis, enterotoxaemia and urinary calculi in males.

A guide is available to help goat producers recognise and manage goat diseases. Visit Meat and Livestock Australia to download the Goat Diseases – The farmer Guide.

What you cannot feed your goats

What is Restricted Animal Material (RAM)?
You must not feed any Restricted Animal Material (RAM) to your goats. RAM is any material that consists of, or contains, matter from an animal (including fish and birds). It also includes eggs, untreated cooking oils, poultry litter and other manures.

Why is the feeding of Restricted Animal Material to ruminants banned?
RAMs pose significant health risks to ruminant animals including risk of exotic diseases that are not present in our Australian herds.

Australia is free from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and other Transmittable spongiform encephalopathy (TSEs).

The Ruminant Feed Ban, and its enforcement, serves to ensure that if the BSE disease agent were ever introduced to Australia it would not be able to be amplified and spread to other animals.

What common foods should I watch out for?
Chicken, dog and cat foods, as examples, can contain RAM and must not be fed to your goats. It’s important that you keep these feeds safely stored away from your goats – who are always curious to give all sorts of food a try!

Household leftovers or ‘kind offers’ of surplus food from local businesses should not be fed to goats if there is any risk that the food contains matter from an animal (including fish and birds), eggs, or untreated cooking oils.

Pastures that have been spread with poultry litter and other manures also need to be avoided for at least 3 weeks.

Stock feed labelling
Stockfeed products are required to include a statement on their packaging or invoicing whether they do or do not contain RAM. It is important to check labelling before feeding supplements to goats.

Close up of stock feed label with red circle and cross overlayed on top

"This product contains restricted animal material - DO NOT FEED TO CATTLE, SHEEP, GOATS, DEER OR OTHER RUMINANTS".

For bulk product the labelling may be applied to an invoice. For feed or meal in bags a tag must be attached to the product.

Manufactured stockfoods that do not contain Restricted Animal Material must be labelled: "This product does not contain Restricted Animal Material".

What are your responsibilities?

  • Ruminants, including goats, must not have access to feeds containing RAM, including for example chicken, cat or dog foods.  RAM and non-RAM feeds should not be mixed.
  • Pastures which have had manures and poultry litter applied must not be accessed or grazed by ruminants, including goats, for at least 3 weeks after application.
  • Do feed your goats healthy non-RAM foods that are suitable.

Watch animation on ruminant feed ban

Goat health
Person checking goat's eye

Foot trimming

If your goats are only running and feeding on soft surfaces like grass and soft grounds, foot trimming every two to three months is an essential part of goat care. The frequency of hoof trimming will depend on the hardness or abrasiveness of the ground that the goats are grazing or living on.

Overgrown feet can cause an abnormal gait and loss of production; they can put stress on joints, tendons and ligaments and are often painful. Goats with overgrown feet will not be willing to move and consequently will eat and drink less or they may get around on their knees. Poor foot conformation or poor hoof maintenance can lead to other conditions including shelly toe, foot abscess, interdigital dermatitis and footrot. Refer to Browser's Bulletin 6 - How often are you trimming your goat's feet for more information.


There are two types of lice that affect goats; these include a biting louse (Bovicola caprae, Bovicola limbata and Bovicola crassiceps (exotic to Australia) and a blood sucking louse (Linognathus stenopsis and Linognathus africanus) which lead to itchy skin and hair loss around the head, neck and back.

Goats with biting lice will be seen rubbing against trees and fences, which damages goat fibre and decreases the value of fibre, as well as skin quality. The blood sucking lice will cause reduced weight gain and anaemia.

Infestations of lice often come from new introductions, contact with stray goats, goats that were missed at the last treatment or contact with other goats at shows/ field days/ fence lines. Good biosecurity practices are crucial in managing these risks and should be a key component of your biosecurity management plan.

It is recommended to treat lice in late summer/ early autumn when the lice numbers are at their lowest. The entire herd should be treated twice, 14 days apart and all at the same time, with a product that does not also affect internal parasites.

Liceboss has a wealth of lice management information.


Goats are very susceptible to worms. Common signs include reduced appetite, weight loss, diarrhoea, lightened gums, lethargy and/or weakness. Debilitated, young and pregnant does are very susceptible, however goats of all ages are easily infected by worms. Severe anaemia followed by death can be caused by a Barber’s Pole worm, and diarrhoea is usually seen with Black Scour worms.

It is important to do regular monitoring with faecal egg counts and to know what worm species are on your property and in your goats. Your local veterinarian can prescribe appropriate treatments as not many drenches are registered for goats. Appropriate monitoring and treatment of worms will also help avoid worm resistance in your goats.

Wormboss has a wealth of knowledge on worms, their life cycles and on-farm management practices you can undertake to reduce the effect of worms.

Notifiable Diseases

Two important notifiable goat diseases are Johne’s disease (JD), caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium paratuberculosis (Mptb), and caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE) caused by a small ruminant lentivirus.

One method of reducing the risk of these diseases is to snatch-rear kids (removal of kids from does immediately after birth). Animal Health Australia and The Goat Industry Council of Australia has developed a set of technical notes for veterinarians on Snatch Rearing and Pre-weaning Kid Management in Goat Enterprises and a similar fact sheet titled Snatch Rearing and Pre-Weaning Kid Management for producers.

The goat industry has also developed the National Kid Rearing Plan to provide additional assistance for producers, to minimise exposure of kids to JD and CAE through potentially contaminated colostrum, milk, water, feed and ground.

Caprine Encephalitis Arthritis (CAE) in Goats

CAE is a virus that is seen more often in dairy goats but can occur in any goat breed. The clinical signs of CAE are varied and include swollen joints, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), pneumonia, mastitis (hard udder) and chronic weight loss. Most CAE infected goats will show no clinical signs, but they could still be carriers of the virus.

Normally the virus is transmitted through the colostrum and milk, but it can be transmitted by any bodily secretion (saliva, urine, oral etc).

There is a blood and milk test available to check if goats are positive to CAE virus.

Having CAE in your herd will not only lead to several health issues (listed above) but can also lead to a decrease in milk yield and an increase in their Somatic Cell Count, and consequently the production of poorer quality milk.

Buying new goats
Group of 6 goats walking on a path with a fence in background

Diseases are often spread with animal and people movements. Managing the common farm diseases involves understanding the risks associated with stock and vehicle movement and carefully managing what comes onto your property.

To help you make better buying decisions the goat industry, governments and agents have agreed on a National Goat Health Declaration that encourages potential buyers of goats to ask about the health status of the goat.

The National Goat Health Declaration covers lice, footrot, CAE and Johne’s disease. For most diseases a simple “yes” or “no” answer is required, however on Johne’s disease you will also need to work out your Assurance Rating.

Read the Goat Health Brochure for more information.

Two goats standing on a field
Male goats
Two male goats standing in field

If you have a male goat kid, but do not intend to breed, your goat should be castrated with either elastrator rings or a Burdizzo when they are between six to twelve weeks old, with pain relief provided. If your male goat kids are older than 3 months, then surgical castration by your vet is the best option with the provision of an anaesthetic and pain relief.

Update your farm biosecurity plan
Close up of person using a laptop

Remember to review and update your biosecurity plan. Biosecurity is about managing disease and pest risks. Each property is different and faces different challenges, so it is critical to assess the biosecurity risks that are most likely to impact your property.

A farm biosecurity plan is a practical way of showing how you are preventing the introduction of pests, disease, weeds and contaminants to your property, spreading around your property, or spreading from your property.

A farm biosecurity plan should:

  • Define your responsibilities;
  • Outline the disease protocols used on your property;
  • Ensure property information and biosecurity measures are quickly accessible; and
  • Enable you to easily communicate your biosecurity procedures to others.

There are no right or wrong answers when developing a farm biosecurity plan – the only bad biosecurity plan is the one you don’t have.

Information on how to develop a farm biosecurity plan can be found on the Agriculture Victoria website. Workshops and webinars on developing a farm biosecurity plan are also currently being delivered. Visit for details.

Not kidding with biosecurity

This short video shows how Rhonda is practising good biosecurity. Rhonda looks after a variety of goats, including Nigerian Dwarfs and Dairy mix breeds as well as one Saanen Goat on her 5 acre property near Drouin.

Watch the video to learn how Rhonda is keeping her goats safe.

Topaz Park: Woman (Rhonda) standing with arm around a goat
Rules and regulations
Visual stating 'A PIC is like a driver's licence; NLIS tags are like the number plates on your car; The NVD is the car registration papers; A National Goat Health Declaration is the mechanic's report'

Apply for or amend a Property Identification Code (PIC) online


Victorian law requires people to have a Property Identification Codes (PIC) for the properties on which they intend to graze or keep any number of livestock.

Register for a free Property Identification Code (PIC). Update your PIC if you make changes to livestock on your property, change your phone number or email address or sell your land or relocate.

Use National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) tags


In Victoria all cattle, sheep and goats must be tagged with an approved electronic NLIS tag before leaving a property. This includes animals being given away or kept as pets. The use of electronic NLIS tags is currently voluntary in dairy and miniature goats.

Record livestock movements on the NLIS database


When cattle, sheep and goats are moved between properties with different PICs, the person receiving the livestock is required to register the movement on the NLIS database within 48hrs. Visit property to property movements of livestock for more information.

Livestock legislation in Victoria


Anyone who owns, manages, or works with livestock must comply with certain laws, standards and Codes of Practice. Visit livestock legislation in Victoria for more information.

Movement Documentation


A movement document such as a Livestock Production Assurance National Vendor Declaration (LPA NVD) or a similar document must be completed by the owner or person responsible for the husbandry of the livestock when they move. For more information see: Movement documentation.

Become Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) accredited


Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) is industry’s on-farm quality assurance program. Producers must be LPA accredited to access sheep, goat and cattle LPA NVD forms.

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Further information

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