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Recognizing Healthy & Unhealthy Animals

sick goat

A sound management program to keep animals healthy is basic to production of any livestock. Producers must observe animals closely to keep individual animals and the whole herd or flock healthy and productive. If the health status of a herd is compromised, that operation will not be as efficient as possible. To recognize clinical signs of diseases common to livestock, it is important to be familiar with what is normal or healthy. Producers should assess the herd or flock’s general health, on a regular basis, including vital signs, body condition and coat.

Signs that Indicate Healthy or Unhealthy Animals

Healthy Livestock Unhealthy Livestock
Alertness Lethargic/Listless
Chewing cud Ruminants not chewing their cud
Sleek coat Rough hair coat
Bright eyes and pink eye membrane Dull eyes
Normal feces and urine Abnormal feces and Discolored urine
Normal temperature High temperature
Gait steady, no limping Limping
Normal respiration Labored breathing/coughing
Stays in herd or flock Separates self from herd or flock
Eats and drinks normally Loss of appetite
Contentment Runny nose
Normal pulse rate Swelling on any body part

Resources to explore:

healthy goats

Steve Tonn is a Livestock Educator at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.