Guessing Isn't Good Enough
Maxine Kinne

(Pygmy goat weight and measurement chart located below.)

If you think you can accurately guess how much your goats weigh just by looking or comparing them to something like a bag of feed, guess again.

It is very important to determine an accurate individual weight to be able to figure correct medication dosages. Too much medication may cause a dangerous overdose. Too little, and the treatment won't work. Underdosing also results in organisms (bacteria, worms, coccidia, etc.) that quickly become resistant to the drug or the general drug family you are using. That means that higher doses of the medication are required for treatment, if it even works at all. Drug resistance also affects people. Tuberculosis and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are good examples of drug-resistant organisms in humans. 

The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) increasingly blames livestock owners for antibiotic resistance. (Agriculture is responsible for 40% of the antibiotics used in the U.S. - about 19 million pounds are used as growth enhancers alone.) The FDA has proposed strict new regulations to protect human health which could eliminate nearly all antimicrobials for use in livestock. Mike Apley, a clinical pharmacologist at Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, says, "We must be responsible stewards of antimicrobials in food animals, and that includes learning all we can about minimizing the development of resistant organisms."

Careless drug use is wrong. Good management does not come in a syringe.

Choosing the right drug is as important as calculating the right dose for each animal. Your veterinarian knows which drugs and dosages are effective. S/He can test feces for internal parasites to find out the extent of the infection and recommend an effective treatment. Many medical tests are well worth the expense, as they often lead to the correct treatment. Yes, tests cost money, but so do drugs. Why give them to your animals if you aren't sure what you're treating?

Many people order veterinary supplies by mail to save money or side-step the veterinary diagnosis. Very few drugs are labeled for use in goats, and it is illegal to use "off-label" drugs without the advice of your veterinarian. Drug dosages and withholding times can differ dramatically between species. And drug labeling can change from time-to-time. Don't rely on label directions for other species. Always get your veterinarian's advice on drugs, dosage levels, timing of administration and length of treatment. Guidelines for veterinarians concerning a his/her valid relationship with the client and the patient concerning drug use are clearly given in the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act (AMDUCA), passed in 1994.

There are two ways to weigh before giving any medication. 1) Pick up the goat and step on a scale. Then weigh yourself alone and subtract the difference to get the goat's weight. Or, 2) use the weight chart I developed for Pygmy goats based on heart girth measurement. The goat's shape or stage of pregnancy do not affect the chart's accuracy. Use a flexible dressmaker's tape measure marked in one-inch increments to measure the heart girth circumference just behind the front legs. The tape should be snug without being tight and the goat standing naturally with its head erect. The measurement is slightly greater with the head lowered and slightly more if it is too high.

If you weigh and measure at the same time, you may find that the chart is off by a pound or two. Well, that's certainly better than guessing incorrectly by 10 or 20 pounds or more!

Pygmy Bucks
&Wethers

Pygmy Does

Both Sexes
(relates to age only)

Age

Heart Girth
(inches)

Weight
(pounds)

Heart Girth
(inches)

Weight
(pounds)

Age

Weight Range
(pounds)

Birth

-

3.4

-

3

Birth

2.2 - 5

1 mo.

-

10.5

-

9.5

1 mo.

6.5 - 13.5

2 mo.

-

18.2

-

15

2 mo.

13 - 21

3 mo.

-

26

19.7

20

3 mo.

16.5 - 32

4 mo.

-

29

21

24.5

4 mo.

19 - 35

5 mo.

22

32

22

28.3

5 mo.

22 - 43

6 mo.

23

34

23

32.3

6 mo.

23 - 45

8 mo.

24.2

42

23.5

38

8 mo.

26 - 50

10 mo.

25.5

46

26

43

10 mo.

34 - 55

12 mo.

26.5

50

27.5

49

12 mo.

37 - 58

-

27.5

57

28

55

15 mo.

43 - 65

-

28

60

28.5

58

18 mo.

50 - 72

-

28.7

63

29

62

24 mo.

52 - 95

-

30

71

30

68

24 mo. +

50 - 100 +

-

31

76

31

72

-

32

80

32

77

33

80

Weight does not correlate well with age.
These gender guidelines are approximate averages.

Heart girth always correlates with weight,
regardless of age at measurement.

  Does mature at 24 months.

Bucks and wethers mature
at 30 months, but wethers
continue to grow slowly.

Related Reading

Dairy Goat Weight Chart
Antibiotic Resistance
Anthelmintic Resistance (dewormers)



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Updated 2002
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