A goat’s normal body temperature is around 102.9-103.1, and may be a little higher or a little lower due to temperature and environment. However, when a goat is too hot, their temp will rise and they are unable to cool themselves, leading to heat stress and death. In the summer months, it is very important to remember animals don’t sweat like humans and can’t cool off easily.
Signs of heat stress:
1. Panting rapidly. Animals don’t sweat, instead they pant to relieve themselves of heat. An open mouth and foam around mouth means they are extremely hot.
2. High body temp, anything over 103.2 in hot weather means they are too hot and can’t cool of.
3. Droopy ears, sunken eyes, lack of interest in food/water/herd.
4. Stretched out on ground and does not make an attempt to get up or moved when approached.
If you have a goat with these signs and it’s hot out, it’s super important to get them cooled off, they can suffer brain damage and death easily.
Never soak a heat stressed goat in cold water, it shocks their system and makes them worse. Same goes for giving cold water on a hot day to a stressed goat.
You should first move the goat to shade. Then take cool (not cold) water and gently pour it on the goat’s neck, back and sides (not head). Soak the goat and then put a fan on it, the evaporating water will cause a cooling effect. If the goat is alert, offer electrolytes in cool water for it to drink or carefully drench it. Never force water into a goat who is unresponsive, they can aspirate it easily. Keep tending to the goat until it is up and moving around.
If the goat is not responsive, you need to give it fluids SQ, using Lactacted Ringers Solution along with moving to shade and cooling it off. For an average sized doe/buck, give 100cc SQ in 5-6 spots on it’s body in no more then 30cc in one spot. Keep giving the fluids SQ until the goat is alert. You can put ice on it’s ears as the blood is closet to the surface there and help cool off quicker.
Any animal suffering from extreme heat stress should have a vet look at it A.S.A.P.
How to keep the goats cool:
1. Offer plenty of shade in open spaces, whether it be tarps, trees, or overhangs. Never cram animals together in a hot barn or force them together under shade, they won’t cool off.
2. Gently mist them down several times a day with a hose and put a sprinkle out for them to stand under.
3. Make sure their water tanks are always full with clean water and in as much shade as possible. Flush the tanks out every night to cool the water down. You can also add ice during the day.
4. Rig a fan under a shade area (make sure cords and fan are out of reach) so it blows air across them as they rest.
5. Cut back on grain. Grain is a quick, “hot” feed and can cause them to be hotter then on just pasture/hay.
6. Make sure feed areas have plenty of access to reduce fighting and keep overly-aggressive goats separated from the others during heat spells to keep them from harassing the less aggressive ones.
7. Add an electrolyte like Bovine Bluelite (can be used for goats) or if you can get it, Goat Bluelite to their water supply during high heat to keep their levels up.