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

Monday, 15th April 2019

Angora goats may be exposed to stress during various times during management procedures on the farm and it is vital to minimise these stressors.

Research by the ‘Landbou Navorsings Raad’ (LNR) was conducted to determine the effect of routine handling of goats on the levels of stress by measuring the cortisol levels (recognised as the stress hormone). The stressors that the goats were exposed to include:

  • dosing (with water)
  • vaccination (pulpy kidney)
  • Exposure to 3 hrs of sunlight and temperatures >30 degrees C
  • Withdrawal of feed for 48 hrs
  • Withdrawal of water for 48 hrs

Results showed that the procedures where goats were handled (dosing and vaccination) the levels of cortisol were nearly three times the normal level.

When the goats were exposed to environmental stress and deprived water and feed the basal cortisol levels remained below the normal (basal levels).

Some stressors to be aware of on the farm

Handling (fear of being caught and handled), Overcrowding, Unfamiliar objects or procedures, Dominance, Disease and injury, Hunger, Thirst, Fatigue, Temperature, Ventilation, Transport, Change of environment, Parasites, People –familiarity, Dogs, Jackals, Weaning stress, Isolation.

Some signs of stress:

  • Bleat, Try run away– (flight), Aggression (fight),
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Isolation
  • Increased respiration rate, Increased heart rate
  • Decreased water intake
  • Decreased sexual maturity and activity (decreased fertility)
  • Poor growth
  • Compromised immune system (susceptibility to disease and parasites)

On farm Management to reduce stress:

It is important that correct handling procedures are followed to reduce the impact of stress on the Angora goat.

  • Work calmly
  • Work quietly
  • Don’t chase unnecessarily (good facilities)
  • Provide shade, ventilation, clean water
  • Prevent overcrowding- allow to lie down, eating space, drinking space. Move from one place to another easily
  • Ensure good Ventilation in sheds and non-dusty environments in Kraals
  • Allow the goats to adapt to the environment before working with them. Adapt to people, dogs, handling facilities.
  • Plan working facilities to allow goats to express normal behaviour and movement and minimise pain
  • Maintain good parasite control
  • Maintain vaccination and disease control
  • Avoid nutritional stress

Specific stressors:

  1. Weaning stress


See website article Weaning Shock


  1. Transport stress


There are two kinds of transport stress

  1. Short acting- have emotional effects. These include fear, unfamiliar surroundings, unstable footing, movement of the vehicle
  • Load goats carefully, do not lift by horns, ears, hair or legs. Lift supporting their body
  • Provide non slip bedding/surface.
  • Plan the initial loading so it does not involve excess turning, stopping or changing of direction
  1. Long acting- accumulate over time while being transported. These include noise, vibration,(noise has more of an impact on stress than motion) lack of exercise, prolonged standing, no food and water, forceful contact between animals and vehicle

The stress responses of goats due to transportation begin decreasing within 3 hours after transportation. However blood tests show transportation stress may have a prolonged effect on goats that could affect their immune system.

Reduce transport stress:

  • Prevent engine exhaust from entering the area occupied by the goats.
  • Stop and check on the goats after the first hour of the trip and every 2-3 hours afterward.
  • Avoid cold stress during transportation. Goats, kids in particular, are susceptible.
  • Keep goats dry.
  • In hot, and particularly, humid weather take precautions to avoid heat stress. Upper limit of heat tolerance for goats is 35 to 40 degrees C. Overcrowding creates severe heat build-up. Reduce the loading density by 15% from normal on hot/humid days. Schedule transportation for night or early in the morning. Keep the frequency and length of stops to a minimum to prevent rapid build-up of heat. Do not park a loaded vehicle in direct sunlight.

Signs of stress during transport

  • Goats continue to scramble for footing and remain vocal.
  • Goats involuntarily lie down and may not be able to get up.
  • Goats pant when overheated. Animals standing with neck extended and with open-mouthed breathing indicate severe heat stress.
  • Post mortem examinations show goats become susceptible to respiratory infections after prolonged trips under adverse weather conditions. ‘Shipping fever’.




Leon Kruger, Landbou Navorsingsraad, Irene

Drs. Faffa Malan, Veeartskonsultant, Shaun Morris  Voerkraalkonsultant, Pof. Gareth Bath, Voorsitter van die LWCC

Transportation of goats: effects on physiological stress responses and live weight loss.

Kannan G1, Terrill TH, Kouakou B, Gazal OS, Gelaye S, Amoah EA, Samaké S


Lowering Stress in Transported Goats

Craig Richardson, Animal Care Specialist

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