Goat coughing can be symptomatic of many things. Newborns that cough are a more serious issue than doelings several months old or even for adults. Newborn coughing should be monitored closely to ensure it is no pneumonia.

Questions to ask and take note of:

  1. How long has this cough been going on?
  2. Does it last for extended periods of time or it is just seemingly random for a minute or so?
  3. Is your herd in a typically dry or wet area? Diagnosis of coughing should start with the area/environment you live in as certain areas are prone to one cause versus another.

Eating and/or drinking too fast. This should be very easy to diagnose and requires no treatment.

Allergies, dust, moldy hay. This can happen for up to several months in certain areas (like ours) and requires no treatment unless you can determine and remove whatever the goat is allergic too. If it is moldy hay, remove the hay. On our ranch it is caused by dry dusty conditions which is part of the natural environment. I would wager to say that this is the most common cause for coughing in goats and is typically brief and sporadic.

Vitamin A deficiency. One of the symptoms of Vitamin A deficiecy is coughing, but it is part of a longer list (cloudy eyes, labored breathing, watery eyes and nose, weigh loss, diarrhea, etc.) Vitamin A injections are the treatment, Goat Nutri-drench will also work.

Respiratory infection. Repiratory infections will have other symptoms as well as coughing, most common would be the sniffles. You can listen to the goats lungs while coughing by putting your ear up against its ribs (rub the front of the neck – this will cause coughing in respiratory infections). You will hear a rattling watery noise coming from the lungs. Initially you can treat with VetRx for 3 days, but if there is no improvement you may need to seek veterinary assistance in diagnosis and treatment.

Pneumonia. Pneumonia is best treated by preventative vaccinations (something we use) and is most recognizable by a yellowish/greenish nasal discharge, but is also accompanied by coughing. The goat will also have an elevated temperature. Our method of treatment is an oxytetracycline (Bio-Mycin 200) and Probios. Other treatments are by veterinary prescription if necessary.

Lung worm. Often the most popular answer to coughing that people will assume is lung worm. Unless you live in a area of heavy rainfall or keep your goats in standing water or wet/undrained pastures lungworms are probably not the cause of your goat coughing. To determine lungworm requires either a Baerman fecal test or Necrospy examination. Obviously the second course of action is too late if you are trying to save a goat, but can help in assessing the condition of the rest of your herd. Off-label (need vet permission) Ivermectin 1% injectable, given orally, is a very good treatment for lungworm. Pature rotation is a very effective preventative measure against lungworm.