Anemia in Goats: From Symptoms to Treatments, Everything Farmers Need to Know




About Marc MacDonald

I’ve been raising goats for nearly 20 years now. Over those years, I accumulated a lot of information about goats and what works and what doesn’t.

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In this complete guide to anemia in goats, we answer the most common questions that farmers ask about this serious condition, including what it is, symptoms, treatments, and more.

What is Anemia in Goats?

Anemia is a condition which there is a shortage of red blood cells or haemoglobin within the body. Or anemia is a condition in which there is a deficiency of healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissue of the body. This article is about goats. Humans, particularly infants, can get anemia if they consume a diet of goat’s milk. Read about that condition here.

What is Anemia in Goats?

What Causes Anemia in Goats?

There are several causes of anemia in goats. The shortage or deficiency of red blood cells can be due to the lack of nutrients. This deficiency of nutrients will lead to the inability of the goats to produce the number of red blood cells.

The lack of copper, cobalt, and iron can also cause the development of anemia. On the other side, the copper’s overload can also cause anemia in goats. The loss of blood can be from the visible source like injuries, wounds, etc., or can be from discernible reasons.


The blood loss can be due to an external injury like wounds or other trauma lead to anemia. The other causes of blood loss or that cause anemia in goats includes parasites both external and internal parasites. The external parasites include fleas, ticks, lice, and mites. The internal parasites include the stomach worm or the barber pole worms, liver flukes, etc.


An inadequate diet can also cause anemia in goats. Some parts of the world don’t have enough amount of iron and copper in soil naturally. The goats require iron and copper through browsing. Apart from the iron and copper amount in the land, the quality of the food also matters. A poor quality feed can also be a reason for anemia in goats.

The foremost nutritional cause of anemia in goats is the copper. The lack of copper or the overload of the copper can lead to the anemia. The lack of copper occurs due to deficiency of copper in the soil of the area where goats are raised.

An excessive amount of molybdenum in the ground or other elements that can bind with copper to make the level of copper lesser than required can cause anemia in goats. The goat will have different signs like loss of appetite, loss of growth, poor hair coat, dull coat color, and muscle problems with the low availability of the copper.

The overload of copper can cause copper toxicity and eventually leads to the anemia in the goats. The toxicity due to copper leads to the damage to the red blood cells and result in depression and weakness in goats, along with anemia, and sudden death. The toxicity of copper usually occurs due to error in mixing the premixes and minerals for the goat feed.

The imbalance of minerals is also a leading cause of anemia in goats. Anemia cases due to mineral deficiency are fewer as compared to that of copper. Some plants, like Brassica and kale, are also the source of anemia in the goats.


A pregnant goat can have anemia during parturition. The process of nursing the kids can also cause anemia in goats as the female goats have to provide the kids everything they require to nourish.


Coccidiosis develops diarrhea in the goats which in severe cases lead to bloody diarrhea and leads to anemia in goats. The coccidia will injure the gastrointestinal tract and result in excessive blood loss.

Liver flukes infect the liver of the goats. Liver fluke is also an internal parasite of goats that will cause poor body coat, loss appetite, anemia and rapid death.

Some bacterial diseases like Johne’s disease or paratuberculosis can cause anemia in goats. This bacterial disease will cause diarrhea in the goats, loss of appetite, loss of weight, and anemia in goats.

Symptoms of Anemia in Goats

Anemia in Goats
Is your goat anemic? You can’t always tell by the way it looks or behaves. You have to check you animal’s eyes to be sure.


The goat may appear healthy and active even suffering from anemia. The goats may look like like they are healthy and fat; however, by viewing the color of the eyelids you can more easily tell if the goat is anemic. If the color is pale, then the goat is more anemic. The color of gums and eyelid will provide an idea about the anemic status of the goats.


In the anemic goat, there are chances of development of sub-mandibular edema (swelling under the chin). This condition is more common in bottle jaw disease.


The goats suffering from anemia will look tired and dull. The eyes of the anemic goat will have a dull look in the eyes and the give an appearance of sickness.


The body coat of the anemic goats will become weak. The goat will not show interest in eating or drinking.  

How to Treat Anemia in Goats


The first line of treatment is to de-worm the goats. However, diagnose the actual cause of anemia and then use appropriate de-wormer to reduce the worm load. The overuse of de-wormer will cause resistance in the worms against the de-wormer and efficacy of the de-wormer will reduce.


Administration of vitamin B12 injection in the muscles along with the iron supplement weekly either orally or via injections for at least two weeks are essential remedies. The dose of vitamin B12 is 4cc/100 pounds of body weight.

The dose rate of iron supplement is 6cc/100 pounds bodyweight. However, do monitor the goats after administering iron supplements, as it may contain some copper too. Therefore, adjust the amount and frequency of the supplements accordingly. Nevertheless, take cautions while offering iron supplements to the goats.


As the anemic goat will not have much interest in the feed, therefore, injecting some probiotics or some vitamins will help to make the feel well. Providing a high-quality diet will help to boost the health, but make sure that there is no sudden change in the diet of the goat.

Addition of food like grain in a small quantity and then increasing gradually is a good idea to feed the goats. However, grains shouldn’t replace grass or hay.


If the goat is suffering from severe anemia, then it better to transfuse blood to the anemic goat. The blood transfusion is an excellent way to boost the red blood cells in the anemic goat, and it will aid in healing and generation of more red blood cells in the anemic goats itself.

Anemia in Baby Goats – Symptoms and Treatments

The baby goats become anemic may have diarrhea that contains blood in it. The baby goats become lethargic (sluggish) with a drop of energy, reduction in appetite, and rapid loss of weight.

Severe Anemia in Goats – Symptoms to Look Out For

The goat suffering from severe anemia will go totally off feed. The severe anemic goat will develop edema under the face that happens in bottle jaw disease. The gums and the skin of the goat become pale. The membrane of the eyes also becomes whitish, indicating severe anemia in the goats.

Goat Anemia Eye Chart – Where Can I Find One Online?

You can rate the anemia level of your goat and rate it using a FAMACHA scorecard. If you are not a veterinarian, you can only get an official scorecard once you have received training and certification.

Fortunately, the University of Rhode Island has an online class to receive the certification. It is a relatively short 4 step process:

  1. Watch four training videos. In total the video instruction is less than one hour long.
  2. Take a quiz (there are no as to limits to how many times you can re-watch the videos and retake the quiz)
  3. Make a short video of yourself demonstrating the FAMACHA method on a goat using an index card as a stand-in for a FAMACHA card.
  4. Upload the video and pay a fee (approximately $20.00) to complete the certification and purchase the card.

You can access the class using this link.

Don’t Print a Card from an Online Copy

Note that while there are plenty of copies of the card online, we advise that you do not print out a copy of the card from an online photo. The accurate colors on the card are what is important. When a card is photographed, the colors can change as a result of the lighting. And when the photo is printed, the ink in your printer can also alter the colors.

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