Lameness in Angora Goats
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Tuesday, 7th May 2019

Updated October 2020

When an Angora goat is lame it is important to try determine the cause to ensure it is treated correctly and give it the goat the best chance of recovery.

First determine if the lameness is confined to one leg or multiple legs.

If the producer suspects multiple limbs are affected then this can be more difficult and veterinary advice should be requested. A good history and video will also be helpful.

If it appears a multiple legs or a general lameness check:

  1. The goat is not just weak
  2. Are you sure the lameness is not neurological? This may have multiple causes

See website



Most lameness in Angora goats are localised to one leg.

This may often have a simple cause and so a basic examination must be done.


  1. That there are no ticks, thorns, grass seeds between the hooves
  2. That there are no sticks or thorns stuck in the hair causing discomfort (especially the axilla and inguinal areas).
  3. Feel/palpate the hoof margin and joint for evidence of swelling, heat or discharge in cases of abscess development.
  4. Check the hooves for overgrowth or infection
  5. Check between the hooves to ensure no interdigital dermatitis
  6. Feel and compare the joints to other limbs for joint ill and abscess formation (septic arthritis)
  7. Palpate the limb to feel for fractures

Ticks and thorns between the hooves or stuck in the fleece are the most common causes and can be easily rectified. Other causes may include trauma by other goats and conditions such as:

1. Foot Abscess ‘Sweerklou’

Foot abscess (‘sweerklou’) is a significant problem on many Angora farms leading to the loss in condition, loss in mohair and reproductive performance. The term ‘sweerklou’ or ‘foot abscess’ is often confused with ‘footrot’’ vrotpootjie’ which is a different condition effecting the hooves of the goat.

The reason that the joint is so susceptible to infection and abscess formation is that on the interdigital aspect the joint capsule protrudes (dorsal and volar pouches) above the coronary (hoof) border. At these sites the joint capsule is only protected by the interdigital skin and minimal amount of subcutaneous tissue.

The infection causing the foot abscess enters through the disruption of the skin and entry into the joint capsule due to:

  • Mouthparts of ticks Rhipicephalis glabroscutatem (smooth brown tick) and R. simus (glossy brown tick) as well as Ambyomma (bont tick) and Hyalomma (bont legged tick) species.
  • Softening of the interdigital skin after rain predisposes the skin to injury and the hoof sink deeper into soft soil causes abrasion of skin by soil particles.
  • Thorn penetration of skin around hooves
  • Grass seed penetration.

Clinical signs

The symptoms are obvious in terms of lameness. Initially the foot becomes warm to the touch and is painful if pressure applied.


The swelling then develops above the hoof margins. The digit is markedly swollen and can burst open with discharging pus.

If a severe septic arthritis develops the effected joint will often never fully recover due to the arthritic changes caused by the infection.

Treatment and control

Treatment is frustrating and antibiotic penetration into the site of infection is limited due to the encapsulated nature of the abscess. Antibiotic combinations and anti-inflammatories are also used with mixed response. Individual animals the abscess can be lanced and flushed but this is not viable when treating a flock.

The key element to controlling foot abscess is to control the ticks.

Preventive methods used by farmers: (based primarily on tick control)

Footbaths with tick control (dip), 5-10% Zinc sulphate and 5% formalin footbaths.

  • See list of tick treatments that can be used as a footbath (dipping Guidelines)


  • Copper sulphate OR Zinc Sulphate: 5g/litre water
  • Formalin diluted to make 5% solution (dilution depends on initial strength. Eg. 40% solution: 1 litre in 8 litres water would make 5% solution)

Pour on tick treatments applied between hooves

Examples see ectoparasite list as above.  


Treatment options used by farmers:

  1. ISOLATE effected goats
  2. Long acting Antibiotic (Repeat after 4 days for min 2 treatments)
  3. Anti-inflammatory in acute cases.

Vaccination options if the abscess has been culture by your vet

 See website:


Vaccinating Angora goats reduces the incidence of foot abscess occurrence in a flock where Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis ( ovis)  and Trupenella (Actinomyces) pyogene are administered.

2. Interdigital dermatitis

The interdigital skin is reddened and inflamed, with a moist exudate and some sloughing of the skin at the skin-horn junction. This may be initiated by soft soil following rains or soft conditions underfoot such as when goats are grazing on lands.

3. Footrot

Predisposing factors along with infection by Dichelobacter nodosus are needed for footrot to develop. Secondary bacteria may invade the primary lesion.

A carrier goat is usually the cause of the introduction of the condition. Dichelobacter nodosususually cannot survive for longer than 7-14 days in soil and faeces. Goats recovering from footrot may remain carriers for up to 3 years.


  • Separate infected goats from the flock into 3 groups: No, mild and severe clinical signs.
  • Clean and trim the hoof.
  • Keep infected goats on a dry surface (ideal would be a dry cement floor).

 Topical treatment (footbath)

  • Contact time of 1-2 minutes in the very early stages but in advance disease up to 30 minutes may be required.
  • Footbath every 1-2 weeks with Zinc Sulphate (10% solution).

Formalin 5% can be used as a footbath but is not advised due to severe irritation of the skin which may also predispose to infection- rather use Zinc sulphate.

After the footbath the hooves must be allowed to dry (an hour on dry surface)

 It is a good idea to wash the mud off the hooves to reduce contamination and dirt in the footbath. The hooves can be washed with water (hosepipe) before the footbath to prevent it becoming dirty and contaminated.


  • Long acting tetracycline or penicillin.


Cure rates are usually about 80% under dry conditions.

Goats not responding should be culled as genetics plays a role.


4. Swollen Joints

Swollen joints in both young kids and adults can have different causes.

For more info on joint ill see:

a) Joint-ill usually occurs in Angora goat kids under a month old and results in the development of swollen joints, lameness and deaths.The fetlocks, knees, hocks, shoulders and stifles are the joints usually affected.

How do the kids get joint-ill?

Usually the route of infection is through the navel or any wound. The infection can also occur through the gut or respiratory tract. The bacteria travel via the bloodstream and cause a localised build-up in the joints.

The predisposing conditions usually involve intensive kidding where the environment may be un-hygienic or overcrowded.

What clinical signs are seen?

  • Affected joints are hot and painful.
  • The kids may be dull but seldom run a temperature.
  • If more than one leg is affected the kid may not be able to stand.
  • Some kids may have a swollen navel while other may have signs of pneumonia.
  • If the condition becomes chronic the legs may be stiff and the kid’s growth is poor.


If treated early with antibiotics the kid may recover.

  • Due to the possibility of the infection being due to Streptococci bacteria it is best to initially use a penicillin antibiotic.
  • An anti-inflammatory injection may also be given.

If you have a number of cases it would be better to get your vet to take samples for culture and identification of the bacteria.

  • Supportive care is required (massaging joints, soft bedding)
  • In large flocks, treating severely affected kids may not be economically justified, and humane euthanasia should be considered.


Hygiene at parturition is essential.

  • Kidding on fresh lands helps.
  • Under intensive conditions the umbilical cords of new-born kids should be sprayed with ‘blue spray’ (antibiotic spray such as tetracycline) or dipped in an iodine solution.
  • Kids must receive adequate colostrum at birth.


b) Chlamydia (enzootic abortion)which can cause septic arthritis of the joints.

See the SAMGA website


c) Post dipping lameness

Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae may be implicated as the cause of septic arthritis although any of the bacteria causing joint ill may be implicated post dipping. Usually associated with shearing injuries. Erysipolothrix rhusiopathiae is usually sensitive to penicillin.

Swollen joints must not be confused with ‘swelling disease’ in goats when often the distil limbs are swollen (oedema).


Treatment can be frustrating in longstanding infections as antimicrobial treatment is less effective in encapsulated abscesses and joints.

While awaiting results - treatment with Terramycin or Engemycin as a broad spectrum antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory may be used.


  • Hygiene- Prevent the spread and contamination- abscess burst such as in shearing sheds, kraals (races).
  • Prevent wounds
  • Disinfect the navels of young kids soon after birth
  • If the problem is identified and vaccination advised by your vet then Vaccines against T.pyogenes, C.pseudotuberculosis and Enzootic abortion can be given.
  • In some cases these animals may need to be culled.

For more info on swollen joints see  For info on swollen joints see



Joan S. Bowen, DVM, Bowen Mobile Veterinary Practice, Wellington, CO

Merk Manual

Kleinveesiektes, 1994, De Wet J en Bath, G. Tafelberg-uitgewers Bpk., ISBN 0624032035.

The sheep heath,disease and Production. D.West, A.Bruere, A.Ridler


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