How Winter Impacts Our Older Goats
Winter’s icy grip can be a challenging time for everyone, and our beloved old goats are no exception. As goats age, they often develop joint pain and arthritis, making the colder months particularly challenging.
Understanding Joint Pain in Old Goats
Joint pain and arthritis are common conditions in aging goats. These conditions occur when the cartilage that cushions the joints begins to deteriorate, leading to inflammation, stiffness, and discomfort. Old goats are especially susceptible to these issues due to the wear and tear their bodies have endured over the years.
It’s not unusual to see older goats develop a limp, have a harder time getting up in the morning, or not be moving around as much during the day. When bucks are in rut, they can also sustain injuries that are hard on their joints, and become harder to recover from as they age.
Winter often brings cold and damp conditions, which can exacerbate joint pain. Cold temperatures can cause the muscles and tendons around the joints to tighten, increasing stiffness and discomfort. Additionally, dampness can worsen inflammation and discomfort in arthritic joints.
In winter, goats tend to be less active, as they seek shelter from the cold and spend more time indoors. Reduced activity can lead to muscle weakening and further aggravate joint pain.
Slippery and icy terrain can be treacherous for old goats with joint pain. They may struggle to maintain their balance and may be more prone to slips and falls, increasing the risk of injury.
How to Fight Goat’s Joint Pain in The Winter Months
If you do have older goats that may need more joint support throughout the winter months, there are a few things you can do.
Provide Goats With a Warm Shelter
Ensure your goats have access to a warm and dry shelter during cold spells. Proper insulation and bedding can help keep them cozy and alleviate the effects of cold and dampness.
Provide Goats With a Balanced Diet
A well-balanced diet rich in nutrients is crucial for old goats, especially during winter. Consult with a veterinarian to create a diet plan that supports their joint health. Adding an herbal supplement like Achy Breaky Bites, which are created to provide support to stressed joints and help to relieve swelling and discomfort, can also provide a great source of comfort for our older herd members.
Older goats have a harder time maintaining weight, especially in the cold. This means their joints don’t have the fat surrounding them to keep them warm and well-protected. If your older goats are having trouble keeping weight on, make sure you’re offering them extra calories in the cold months.
Take Care of your Goat’s Hooves
Trim your goats’ hooves regularly to prevent uneven weight distribution that can further strain arthritic joints. Ensure their hooves are in good condition to navigate slippery terrain safely. Make sure you have a good set of hoof trimmers on hand, and be sure they are well-sharpened and free of rust. Goat hooves should be checked monthly during the winter months, as they won’t be wearing them down as much with outdoor activity.
Give your Goats Adequate Bedding
Provide soft and dry bedding in their sleeping areas to minimize the pressure on their joints and reduce the effects of cold and dampness. In colder areas of the country, a lot of people use straw as winter bedding as it holds onto body heat better. Make sure bedding is kept dry, either with layering for a deep litter method, or through weekly cleanings. Sleeping on wet, icy bedding can cause joints to be even stiffer.
All that said, older goats with joint pain deserve special attention and care during the winter months. By understanding the challenges they face and offering a little extra TLC, you can ensure that your aging goats remain as comfortable and content as possible throughout the season. Remember that each goat is unique, so consult with a veterinarian to tailor a care plan that meets their individual needs, allowing them to enjoy their golden years with grace and dignity.