Anemia in Goats: Treatment & Recovery

If you’re a goat owner, you probably know this feeling: a routine check of eyelid color turns into an emergency situation when you pull the lid down and it reveals a pale, unhealthy color; or worse, the lid is white!

FAMACHA scoring is the scoring of the color of inner eyelids to gauge the worm-load and health of a goat. Bright pink and red will tell you that your goat is healthy and not anemic, and pale pink or white will tell you that your goat is anemic and needs immediate treatment. But, what can you do help your goat when he or she is severely anemic? Read on to find out!

Regularly score your goats’ eyelids. It is good practice to check them weekly. I will attach a FAMACHA score chart below, and I recommend you watch this helpful video made by the University of Rhode Island.

Photo curtesy of thegoatchick.com

Alright, while checking a goat, you see that a FAMACHA score is poor. What is the first thing you do?

Okay—I forgot for a moment this is a blog post and you can’t reply…my answer is: make sure the goat is stable! While a poor FAMACHA score is an indication that your goat needs to be treated for parasites (specifically, Barberpole worm), white eyelids can lead to a goat going down FAST! I always recommend giving some kind of iron support as soon as you possibly can.

When eyelids go past borderline “safe” color, iron is imperative to keeping them stable. I highly recommend Red Cell (a liquid for horses) as an iron supplement. However, some also use injectable iron. DO NOT use both at the same time. CHOOSE ONE! NOTE: injectable iron can cause an anaphylactic response, so keep Epinephrine or high doses of Benadryl nearby. I feel that Red Cell does a fine job, so that is my medication of choice. The dosage I use for Red Cell is 6cc per 100lb (but please consult a vet or licensed professional if you are unsure about dosing). Red cell can be given daily for one week straight, and if eyelids have not become borderline safe after this period, it is recommended to use it once weekly thereafter (in certain cases, the timeline may need to be extended for more frequent dosing). NOTE: as Red Cell is a horse product, dosage for goats has not been proven and confirmed. Use at your own risk based on your own dosing methods of choice.

Unfortunately, Red Cell alone is not enough once a goat has gone severely anemic. If a goat’s eyelids are completely white, consulting a vet about a blood transfusion is a viable option. However, for those who do not have the access and resources for that, or if the situation is not severe enough to require one, here are some things you can do by yourself:

You will need to give daily Fortified Vitamin B Complex injections. Again, label dosages for these products do not always include goats, and as their metabolism is very different from other animals, numerous sources confirm that the goat dosage is 6cc per 100lb subcutaneously. Extra Vitamin B Complex will be expelled via urine, so do not be afraid to give a dose of this daily—it is paramount in the recovery of red blood cells.

I highly recommend a daily dosage of 30cc of raw organic Apple Cider Vinegar and water (50/50 dilution) in a drench. This has aided in the recovery of anemia and is a wonderful support for the goat’s digestive system. The addition of 1-2 drops of DoTerra Brand (high quality food grade ONLY) Lemon Essential Oil will also help in the support and recovery process.

Goats should be fed very nutritious, high-protein foods during this time. Alfalfa, fresh browse, green leaves, branches, and vines that are safe for your goats to eat will be wonderful support for your goat.

If a goat is down, and not eating well, a “super nutrition smoothie” is a great way to support them. Carrots, celery, kelp, dark greens, alfalfa, parsley, and wheatgrass with molasses, and some water so you can drench it easily.

Some garlic and Probios won’t hurt either!

Do make sure to keep the goat well fed and hydrated. 

If the goat is severely underweight and still having trouble eating without the nutritional smoothies, Dyne High Calorie liquid will aid in providing much needed calories for the body during this time.

REMEMBER: make sure to TREAT the problem itself! I highly recommend getting a fecal done to analyze your worm-load, but in an emergency situation, it’s important to treat the parasites quickly. Consult a vet or mentor to determine what the best dewormer is for the situation, or try out an herbal blend if that floats your boat! I have had great success with them!

LAST NOTE: There are other reasons (such as certain mineral deficiencies, or other parasites) for anemia that are NOT Barberpole worm, though it is most likely the culprit—and that is why fecal tests are very important!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a vet, nor am I a licensed professional. I am in no way a “goat expert” and my opinions are only that of personal experiences, and my insights shared are not medical treatment suggestions, care suggestions, or any directions for raising goats at all. I am simply sharing my own personal opinions. Any and all changes to your goats’ health regimen, care, etc. should be approved by a veterinary professional or licensed professional. I also believe that every goat owner has their own way of doing things, so just as my opinions are my own, and cannot apply to anyone else, your opinions are also regarding your individual goats, and I welcome you to share them in a kind, constructive manner. Disclosure: This post may contain Amazon Affiliate Links, from which I will earn a commission.

2 thoughts on “Anemia in Goats: Treatment & Recovery

  1. Finally! A blog post that is actually helpful!! Most are just vague “this is what I do” with no dosages, and wrong information that new goat owners will soak in, but you give detail!! I know you from TGS, and even there, you give good, detailed info for newbies!! Many people could learn so much from you me posts in the giving goat!!

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    1. Thank you!! Many of us have to be careful about putting out “dosages” as these products are not all confirmed safe for goat use – and of course, I am not a veterinarian! But I feel that good information, on HOW to use certain things, is incredibly important – so with lots of encouragement to consult a vet for dosage information, I still put out what I do personally so others may learn from it.

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