FAQ:  My Goat Has Lost Some Teeth!
Maxine Kinne

Q.  One of my goats is missing a couple teeth! It's hard to tell because she doesn't like me to put my hands in her mouth. When she talks, I can see that two are missing. Is this a sign of dietary deficiency or disease? 

You are very observant. My guess is that she is 4 years old or under.

Goats have 8 lower front incisor teeth. There is a dental pad instead of teeth on the top front of the mouth. At about one year old the two middle incisors are lost, and the permanent incisors grow in. Where you see missing teeth now, there will soon be larger adult teeth. In about a year, the same thing happens to the next two incisors. The third pair is replaced at about 3 years old. By 3 1/2 to 4 years of age, she will have all her permanent adult teeth.

Incisors can wear down when the goat has to forage for feed. Old sheep and goats are sometimes called "gummers" or "broken mouth" when their incisors are very worn down. They sometimes can't eat enough to sustain them in good condition.

Goats also have molars on the top and bottom jaws in the back of the mouth. Molars are good for chewing the cud which grinds hay into very small pieces so they can be more thoroughly digested. Kids are born with three molars on the top and and three on the bottom of each side of the mouth for a total of 12 molars. The three baby molars are replaced just like the incisors, and at about the same ages. In addition, they grow three additional molars behind the three existing ones, for a total of 24.

On the other hand, if she is over four years old and has missing teeth, your veterinarian may be able to help if gum disease is present.

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