The Limping Goat

We got our first Nigerian Dwarf goats in 2003. We observed our first “limping goat” in 2004. Over the years we have seen this problem too many times and according to several ADGA linear appraisers and other breeders, we are not alone. In addition, because of this page, I’ve been contacted by several other Nigerian Dwarf owners who have seen the same problem in their animals. Those of you who know me, Gianaclis, and know Pholia Farm also know that we don’t hide our problems. From mycoplasm to this mysterious limp, I believe that only harm is done by not sharing troubling experiences.

So here is the story, ours anyway, of this limp.

When it starts, you can barely notice. The animal might hold one front leg, unbent, at a slight angle out in front when standing or upon getting up. When walking, you might notice a barely perceptible limp. I have seen this even at a few weeks of age. Usually when it happens young, it goes away. But not always. The next scenario I have seen more often. The animal is usually over two years old and shows the same symptoms very suddenly. It might stay mild or it might not. Here are a few case studies:

Harriet

Harriet

SGCH Pholia Farm KM Harriet 3*M : This amazing doe was about three years old and pregnant when her limp began. Being such a valuable milker (a breed leader) and show goat we took her to the vet for radiographs. A bone chip showed in her knee. After many months, it got worse, with the knee appearing to arch backward, and her entire front end movement was compromised. We still have Harriet in the retirement pen and she gets around, but is obviously compromised. In the photo here you can see her holding her leg out in front. For most goats, it is the right leg that is a problem, but for a couple it has been the left. (This same truism has been noticed by the appraisers in other Nigerian herds)

 

Jelly at the Nationals

Jelly at the Nationals

SGCH Pholia Farm HB Angelica 6*M: Anther amazing doe, who is now nine and still in milk. Jelly, as we call her, developed her limp at age two upon being moved into the main doe pen with other young does. The limp was slight, but her knee still developed the backwards arch and was noticed at the 2009 National show by the judges. At our 2013 LA, I was discussing this whole issue with Sam Whiteside and pulled Jelly out of the pen to show him what it looks like in a mild case long term. Well, her knee no longer arched back and she no longer limps, but it took many years and was never as severe as Harriet’s.  Like most Nigerians, both does share a few relatives, but neither one’s parents had “the limp”.

 

 

Miel before the limp

Miel before the limp

Miel's front legs now

Miel’s front legs now

Pholia Farm HB Miel 3*M: This doe is very interesting as she was appraised in 2013 by Sam Whiteside, and at the time we were discussing the problem. Miel was a milking 2 or 3 year old. After the appraisal, Sam said “you know what, I think this doe is going to start limping”. He had detected a slight change in the angle of her right knee. A month later, she limped. Now she is very bad and I will probably have to euthanize her.  Miel and Angelica have the same father, Bullseye.

 

++ B Rosasharn SS Aquarius: One of the first bucks we ever purchased at the same time as Bullseye, Aquarius toed out on the right and developed the limp on the right as a 4 year old buck. It was never as severe as Harriets, but didn’t get better.  He was euthanized. As with the other goats that we have had with this problem, you cannot predict if any descendants or relatives will also have the problem.

 

Pholia Farm HB Alyss:  A lovely doe who began showing signs of a very slight limp after sold, but still on our farm being bred. It became worse after leaving the farm (natural progression I am sure, no fault of anyone’s) Thank you Kristen for sharing this helpful video. Poor Alyss. 

So what is going on?

Deficiency theory: We have a very well tended herd. A wide assortment of minerals, browse, and feeds are fed. Liver mineral content is analyzed when possible. In additon, I have copper bolused those with symptoms and tried homeopathic remedies. I don’t think the root cause is a nutritional deficiency.

Injury theory: We do have a very active herd. We take them hiking in the hills and have provided benches and climbing opportunities in the pens. In addition we have a livestock guardian dog that has frequently startled the goats at night causing them to jump from sleeping platforms, etc. Harriet’s bone chip supports the injury theory.

Genetic theory: Nigerian’s aren’t known for their great pasterns and legs. Many toe out, especially on the right. I believe that some of them might be more prone to front limb injuries thanks to being poorly put together.  I don’t believe that it is passed on genetically as an injury, of course, but that some are more prone to being injured.

Audry

SG Pholia Farm RD Audrey 7*M (no limp, scored 89 on linear appraisal)

Neo side 2016 sm

What to do?

We went almost two years without seeing any kids limp, but a couple of adults still succumbed to this problem as 2 and 3 year olds. Including one that I sold. As a breeder who is proud of their reputation, this is very distressing. I thought that maybe I had improved the kids odds of growing properly, by giving a vitamin supplement regularly, but just the other day (summer 2014) saw one limping. A kid with no close relatives to any of the above goats ( a great, great grandaughter of Aquarius). Her mom is fine and her dad too. It seems to be gone now, but I have noted it and will not sell her.

I hope that other breeders will share any information that they have on similar problems. Or email me privately to share. Thanks! Gianaclis

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22 thoughts on “The Limping Goat

  1. My 2-3 year old lamancha recently climbed up on the chicken coop, I assume to reach oak leaves. She apparently fell off the top of the coop, and cut the back of her front right knee. She must have fallen a max of 3 feet. There was initially a pretty good scrape on the back side of the front right knee and she had a mild limp with hyper extention of the affected right leg. Fast forward 2 weeks, wound is healing but limp is getting worse. Took her to the local large animal vet. He treated her wound. Have her a shot of antibiotic and clipped her hooves. 1 day later, limp is unchanged as is the hyperextention of the right leg. After reading your posts, I see a lot of similarities and I would have to say that this condition is almost certainly due to injury. Now whether some goats are more genetically predisposed to this or not is a good question in my mind. Any feedback would be welcome.

  2. http://www.dillsalittlegoatfarm.com/solutions.htm Ellen Dorsey has a goat showing this on her website, which she says was possibly cured with copper/selenium. I have a yearling buck showing this problem. He is showing it in both legs, but the right more than the left. I am concerned. The first thing I noticed was him holding a leg up, shortly after I put him in a new pen that we build in a hilly spot with a LOT of browse and I had wondered if he had been injured there. I have been very bad about providing proper minerals to my bucks and was wondering if this was part of the cause. 😦 It is interesting to say the least.

  3. Hi there. I purchased an 8 month old Nigerian Dwarf doe a few months ago. When we got her she didn’t limp and was very active. In the last 2 months her left front leg started to swell at the knee joint and I’ve only observed her putting weight on it a time or two – when she does it appears to hyper extend backwards. I took her to the vet January 28th and had her x-rayed and there was no fracture. The swelling seems to have gone down some but she still won’t walk on it and she’s supposed to kid around mid June. My family just loves her and I hate to put her down, and my other goats have never had problems like this. Do you have any suggestions for us? I’m planning on splinting it tomorrow to see if that helps but any suggestions would be appreciated.

  4. I’ve had a couple over the years that have had that characteristic limp. I had one young buck euthanized and have kept a close eye on the only daughter that I have. She’s 5 now and doing fine, as are all of her offspring. I had a doe kid (Samse) who had a horrible developmental issue as a young kid. She looked deformed in front legs, but she completely recovered after shotgun treatments with herbs, minerals, etc.. She is now about 5. Developed a limp two years ago, which was x-rayed and diagnosed as arthritis. The limping stopped with treatment (DMSO, herbs, minerals). She has kidded twice since then and shows absolutely no limping, which is interesting to me because arthritis doesn’t usually just go away. She was also tested several times for CAE, and continues to be negative on that.
    I’ve only had that characteristic bowing that we’re seeing in Nigerians in a few animals from other and unrelated bloodlines. Unless we x-ray all of these cases, it will be hard to figure out — and maybe even then. That bowing is a whole different thing from an injury type limp. I would be most interested to see what that looks like on xray.
    With a more “normal” limp issue, it could be a joint or tendon issue in any part of the leg or shoulder that just gets worse. Favoring a leg can snowball into other problems. Injuries happen and sometimes we don’t even see it happen. Impossible to tell if a goat is prone to injury physically, or just unlucky or naughty. I would wonder if there is a structural component to this. We are seeing, in the drive for a “dairy” look, some pretty extreme front structures. I think we need to really dissect (not literally) the structure on the front ends of any afflicted animals.
    Nutritionally, not every goat has identical needs, which is why you can get one or two in a herd that develop problems (like Samse’s) when they are on the same management.
    An intriguing topic for sure! Thanks for sharing, everyone!

    Margie

  5. Thank you Gianaclis for sharing this information and starting the discussion. I have one showing these symptoms currently and have a vet appointment for radiographs and possible bloodwork. I’ll keep you posted.

  6. I purchased 4 Alpine milking does herd last year of various ages from 6 year old to 1 year old. It is my first ever goat management experience and I am learning the hard way: on my own mistakes. The first thing I did was to overfeed them with grain as I had no idea how much is enough. All of them had nasty diarrhea the following morning but 6 year old doe also was limping on her right front leg and had hard time standing Next time she was limping was due to stale hay I fed to everybody for the lack of having a fresh one.
    So, from my observation, I could make a conclusion that my oldest doe limping was attributed to adverse food reaction that ultimately resulted into severe inflammation of her right food joint. Application of DMSO on her joint did the trick and she would completely recover in a couple of days or less depending on severity of inflammation.
    I am not a vet and my conclusion is personal observation based; but I would argue that goats front leg inflammation is due to either feed, stress, infection, or injury. In my specific situation both time it was food based.

    Regards

  7. Hi, Gianaclis. Thanks for sharing this info! I have one doe that had limped from age 1.25 until recently. I was pretty sure it was an injury of some type causing the problem. My herd receives good mineral/herbal/medical care, supplements, and high quality feed year round. I have no one else with the problem. The vet said it looked like a possible injury, but since it seemed to have occurred earlier, we didn’t want to possibly exacerbate things by re-breaking, etc, to ‘fix’ something and possibly make it worse in the long run. Now, I’ve noticed in people and animals that when we have an injury of some type, we will ‘favor’ the other side and ‘nurse’ the once injured side to avoid more pain even after the injury is healed. In humans, when one ‘falls’ on a knee or injures it in some way, one can easily tear or rupture the anterior cruciate ligament, which will make the knee hyper-extend ‘backward,’ cause a lot of pain, and cause swelling. The ligament is then weakened, and it can be easily re-injured during play or an accident. I was thinking about this in my goat, but she doesn’t seem to hyper-extend. Instead, she just lifts the leg and seems unstable on it at times. When examining both legs closely, I noticed that one even seemed just a tad shorter. Apparently (from my research), broken, and even fractured bones, can cause a leg to shorten due to 1) the area healing in the wrong place and/or 2) damage close to the end of the bone, which can slow normal growth in that area. So if a break occurs on the end of a carpal bone near the knee joint, I’m thinking growth could be slowed or could be misaligned, both causing shortening of the leg. In the case of my doe, I see her run all of the time, and she plays like nothing is wrong. However, I have noticed she seems a little stiff when she first stands up on the leg, swinging it, and the leg seemed a little short on the milk stand. I decided to trim hooves closely; I trimmed the ‘swinging’ leg to be a little– just a hair–longer than the other; I know she will wear it down some as she adjusts to it, and I wanted to give her an opportunity to have two ‘even’ legs. That was almost 2 months ago, and so far, no more limping at all! She even gets up from sleeping as if nothing is wrong. She has full use. I hope it stays that way. 🙂

    *Some interesting info:
    Healing of the goat anterior cruciate ligament after a new suture repair technique and bioscaffold treatment.
    Tissue Eng Part A. 2013 Oct;19(19-20):2292-9. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2012.0535. Epub 2013 Jul 10.Nguyen DT1, Geel J, Schulze M, Raschke MJ, Woo SL, van Dijk CN, Blankevoort L.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23725556

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  9. I have some milking 2-6 yr olds and noticed within 2 months of buying them that 3 of them are limping. I am feeding them rolled hay and free choice alfalfa, I give them two cups feed twice a day. the feed is corn, distillers grain, oats and barley with vitamin a d and e. I’m not sure what to do , they also have soda and minerals.

  10. HI my name is Melissa at Mistwood fields.
    I have a doe with similar problems you explained in your page. I thought it was a injury or someone bashed her. But after reading this page i’m know convinced it maybe something else. My Doe turned 2 in 2015 was fine I showed her and LA her in Jun. About the first part of July I was bring the girls up for milking and notessed my doe holding her leg up like it hert. Well this continued and was getting worse. with in a few months I started seeing bowing dropped pasturens and do to holding up the bad leg the shoulders begin to weaken and look very loose. I started her on herbal joint support and MSM as well as extra BO-SE and Copper. After a couple month I saw a little change in her holding up the leg at milking time. But when I dryed her off and bred her for 2016 kids She is know back to favoring that leg. I was hoping their was something I could do, but after reading your story on your does I feel her leg will not get better. Now I wonder if she will be able to live with her leg or will this come to over time putting her down. Now I’m wearied for her 2015 Doe kid.

  11. Thank you for posting your experience and findings. I am new to raising goats, 2 Oberhasli dairy goats specifically. They have the run of plenty pasture and with the best shelter and conditions that anyone could provide. One of the does (2 yo) that I purchased only about 7 months ago appears to have very similar symptoms in her right front leg( limping, standing with leg raised, no noticable hyper-extension). She has been limping for a couple of months now. She never appeared to be super active, however, she has declined in activity due to her limp. She spends more and more time lying down or on her knees as it has progressed. I thought that she may have injured her leg when I first noticed her favoring it, or that she was just experiencing something related to pregnancy. I also thought that may be hoof related. Now I believe that there may be other causes undetermined. I have already had the local large animal vet examine her and he was unable to identify the problem or cause. In his examination, he didn’t find any heat or swelling in the joints, but did feel that all of her joints were a bit tight in comparison to my other goat, as well as other herds that he has examined. He felt that it wasn’t as severe as arthiritis, yet was resulting in the same condition, immobility. Her hoof and diet(free choice hay/2 cups grain daily) checked out fine as well. Pregnancy side effects were ruled out based on his experience. The only course of treatment so far is aspirin taken orally and linament oil applied to the knee joint. Treatment has been ongoing for just over a week with no signs of improvement. Her CAE tests results were also negative. If the problem persists, then I will have another CAE test performed just to rule out a false negative.

  12. I have 4 Nigerians 2 of which I’ve spent over $2k just trying to figure out why they are stiff in their front legs, alternating feet or not even using them by walking like a HUMAN! Please let me know if u ever found a source of your problems at the barn.

  13. I saw your post about the knee/leg problems and I also have had several show up with similar symptoms. I have taken some to the vet for xrays but still have no answers

  14. My name is Ondrea Paolino from Spring Hill Farm, RI. I have a small herd of nine and one is a wether. My Milly got pregnant and I noticed during her pregnancy she had a hard time getting up and I noticed a limp. I called the vet and she said that maybe due to her weight she was pinching off a nerve..well the babies are now 2 and 1/2 months and she still has a limp and holding her leg up. And her leg is bowed.. Vet took X-ray and stated her leg is over distended to wrap it and hopefully this will fix on its own.. well it has been 3 weeks of trimming her hooves and wrapping the leg.. nothing.. I don’t know what to do for her I love her very much and want this fixed! She is so lovable and gives kisses and loves to cuddle.. what should I do? Is this painful?? Is she hurting??

  15. I have a Boer goats that has been limping for awhile now done seen the vet a few times spent seven hundred on test he’s on Meloxicam he’s still limping I noticed his right back hoove is not touching the ground like all his other hooves it looks like it’s going upwards an his leg is longer than the rest.

  16. I am having the same issue with my Nubian front right leg. Vet gave us some pills for pain, and he seems to be getting worse. He walks like it it is broken and seems worse. She came out to check him and gave him shots and trimmed his hooves. I noticed his knee is larger than the other. This is my first time with goats (just for pets) and he is absolutely adorable and loving and it is tearing me apart. Vet said she can give more meds for him, but wonder if it will work. Will NOT put him down, should I ace bandage it?

  17. We have a 2 1/2 year old Nigerian wether that we’ve had since birth. He started limping a few months ago and we thought he hurt himself out in the pasture. Our Vet came out and said that he had arthritis and a poor conformation in his front left leg. He has been prescribed Meloxicam and it only helps a little bit. He still holds it up and the Vet says it’s extremely painful. It’s sad because he is my daughter’s goat. Chances are he will not live as long as our others because the pain will be severe that he will have to be put down. Trying what we can to keep him comfortable, but I won’t let him suffer. Thank you for this information. I had no idea it was common with Nigerians.

  18. I have a 2 year old old Nigerian doe that is doing the same thing. This is the first time dealing with this issue for me. It’s been going on now for over 2 weeks. I did the banamine per vets suggestion every 12 hr for 3 days with no improvement. I myself have given her Bose, copper, thiamine injections and replacement get plus thinking I was also dealing with a deficency of some sort. I’m at my wits end trying to figure this out. If you have any advice I’d appreciate hearing from you.
    Thank you,
    Natalie Ross

  19. Hello, I have a ND wether, turned 2 this past June 2017. He’s the oldest of triplet males. Started limping about a month ago, both legs, left side. He’s penned with brothers (either affected) and his half brother which is older and stocker. I thought and now wished it was a broadside. At this point, putting him down is unthinkable, but letting him suffer??? I helped with the birthing.
    Peace

  20. This is very interesting. I have a 13 year old wether (Pigmy) that started favoring his left front about a year ago. He now favors it more and more and hardly puts any weight on it although some days are better than others. I had the vet look at it and she really didn’t find anything. I have not had it X-rayed. Wish there was a way to help him.

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