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

Friday, 5th May 2017

Abnormalities of the testicles in Angora rams are rare relative to sheep.

Lesions may however be detected at a breeding soundness examination or by farmers checking their rams.

The size and shape of the ram’s testes may vary considerably and they are affected by age, season, health, nutrition, genetics, trauma, testicular degeneration and infection.


Genetics plays an important role in the size of testicles and related fertility which is heritable.

Other heritable abnormalities may also occur such as:

  • Testicular hypoplasia (Uni- or Bilateral)- small testicle/s
  • Cryptorchidism and monorchidism – one or both testes in not in the scrotum. The testes may be retained in the inguinal canal.


Testicular degeneration results from an increased testicular temperature leading to seminal degeneration such as hot weather, fever and a heavy hair covering.

  • The testicles are symmetrical but reduced in size and tend to be softer.
  • As degeneration becomes severe the teste size decreases and semen quality decreases.


Localised lesions of the testes may be caused by a number of factors:

  • Trauma
  • Foreign body penetration such by thorns, ticks or shearing wounds often leading to secondary scrotal infections and abscesses.
  • blunt trauma
  • Infection

Angora goats have not been diagnosed with Brucella ovis a problem of sheep.


Infections that may be responsible for lesions in Angora goats include:

  1. The HPA group of organisms
  • Haemophilus ,
  • Pasteurella haemolytica
  • Actinobacillus seminis


  1. Other bacterial infections including
  • Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis previously called Cornebacterium ovis
  • Actinomyces pyogenes (Trupenella pyogenes)
  • Brucella melitensus


1.HPA organisms (Haemophilus ,  Pasteurella haemolytica ,Actinobacillus seminis)


This group of bacteria may occasionally cause epididymitis and are considered opportunistic and rare in Angora goats.

It is a problem in young virgin rams up to about a year old usually under intensive conditions with a high plain of nutrition. Young rams tend to clear themselves of the infection by late 2-Tooth stage.

Older rams (4-6Tooth) seldom become clear.


So why the problem?

The problem is the transmission of the HPA infection to the ewe which then may become a subclinical carrier and so the infection may be transmitted to other ewes by rams.

The infected rams develop testicular infection (‘Bybalonsteking’) orchitis and epididymitis whichwill effect fertility. It is difficult to clinically differentiate these infections from Brucella ovis in sheep.

Ewes develop vaginitis and cervicitis (infection of the genital tract) and can remain carriers.


How do rams get infected with the HPA group of bacteria?

The disease is not fully understood.The bacteria occur naturally in the environment and the disease is usually associated with rams raised under intensive conditions being fed a high plain of nutrition. The intensive conditions may lead to high levels of contamination of the environment. Rams when reaching puberty become infected as the urethra and ductus deferens (semen tube) widens which may lead to an ascending infection.

Older non- virgin rams may pick up the infection from ewes that have been infected by other rams and remain carriers. There may also be a possibility that the ewe may transmit the infection to the ram lamb but this is uncertain?


What happens when a young ram becomes infected?

One of three things

  1. The rams clears itself of infection by 15 months (most cases)
  2. The teste swells and the ram develops a permanent lump
  3. The rams remains a carrier without developing lesions of the teste


What clinical signs are seen in A.seminis  infection?


  • Epididymitis or epididymo-orchitis.
  • Uni- or bilateral swelling of the testes with loss appetite, body condition and straddled gait.
  • On incision the tunica vaginalis cavity contains fibro-purulent exudate.
  • The swelling of the teste may reduce with an enlarged epididymis remaining.
  • Testicular atrophy may occur


  • Purulent vaginitis and cervicitis within two days of mating

Young lambs

  • Acute polyarthritis



  • Clinical examination
  • Semen smears (possible that may be opportunistic and part of normal genital tract flora)

Check for neutrophils (purulent cells) with bacteria.

  • Culture from Fine needle aspirates of the testicular lesions and semen samples



  • Test young rams prior to sale or breeding – neutrophil (purulent) cells with bacteria.
  • If young rams infected treat with tetracycline before retesting.
  • Young rams tend to clear themselves between weaning and late 2-Tooth. Tetracyclines are the antibiotic of choice.
  • Older rams Tetracyclines may be effective , 3 examinations at monthly intervals conducted
  • Any lesions palpated on testicles should lead to culling of the ram.
  • Hygiene
  • Keep young rams in extensive conditions

2: Other bacteria.

These include

  • Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis previously called Cornebacterium ovis
  • Actinomyces pyogenes (Trupenella pyogenes)

These usually form abscess and often occur secondary to penetrating wounds from thorns, ticks or from shearing cuts .

See section on ‘Abscess in Angora goats’ on our website for more information


  • Brucella melitensus

A very rare condition and as yet not a problem in Angora goats.

See section on our website under diseases ‘Abortion – Brucella melitensus’ for more information.



-Actinobacillus seminis infections E.M.van Tonder and J.A. Erasmus . Infectious diseases of livestock --Kleinvee-siektes. Jan De Wet, Gareth Bath

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