Why Won't My Male Goat Eat?

A male goat that doesn't eat is often very sick.
A male goat that doesn't eat is often very sick. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Goats are known for their voracious appetites, so having a male goat that doesn’t eat can be an alarming experience, especially for newcomers to the world of goats. Lack of appetite is not an illness on its own; rather, it is typically a sign that your male goat is suffering from an underlying sickness. Lean the facts about common conditions that could cause a male goat to stop eating so you can identify situations that require prompt veterinarian attention.

Digestive Problems

Serious digestive problems in male goats frequently result in loss of appetite. Just as people often lose interest in food when they have the stomach flu, goats typically experience a drastic decrease in appetite when they succumb to a digestive health problem. Two of the most common digestive problems in goats are bloat and enterotoxemia. In addition to a sudden loss of appetite, other signs of enterotoxemia include depression and listlessness, abdominal discomfort and softened or watery stool. A male goat with bloat often experiences listlessness, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and a distinctive abdominal swelling on the left side of the goat’s stomach. These two serious conditions pose risk of death and require immediate veterinarian treatment.

Urinary Calculi

Urinary calculi is a potentially deadly health condition that occurs in male goats of all ages, especially those that have been castrated or wethered at a young age. Characterized by the presence of sand-like crystals in your male goat’s urethra, urinary calculi results in the obstruction of urine flow and can cause death if left untreated. A male goat suffering from urinary calculi experiences loss of appetite and abdominal pain; he often strains unsuccessfully in an attempt to pass urine and may kick at his abdomen. Treatment varies depending on the severity of the stones and may require emergency surgery.


Parasite infestations that may result in loss of appetite in a male goat include coccidiosis and intestinal worms. Both of these conditions occur when parasites invade and overrun your goat’s digestive system. Coccidiosis develops more frequently in male goats under the age of six months, particularly those raised in crowded living conditions. Intestinal parasites occur in goats of all ages, especially those that graze regularly on short pasture. Signs of parasite problems in goats may include diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, lack of energy and gray or pale pink mucus membranes inside the eyelids. If your male goat shows signs of parasites, collect a stool sample immediately and take it to your veterinarian so he can examine it to determine the exact species responsible for the infestation and prescribe an appropriate medication.


The key to determining why your male goat won’t eat is to watch it closely for other signs of illness. In some cases, a male goat won’t eat simply because its routine has been changed or it has been introduced to a new environment. In this situation, a male goat typically won’t show other symptoms of sickness and it generally regains its appetite within 12 to 24 hours. If the appetite fails to return within 24 hours or your male goat shows any other signs of illness, including diarrhea, loss of weight, depression, tooth grinding and excessive bleating, your best option is to arrange a prompt visit with your veterinarian so he can examine your goat and determine the exact cause of the appetite loss.

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  • “Goat Medicine”; Dr. Mary Smith, et al.; 2009
  • “Sheep and Goat Medicine”; Dr. David Pugh; 2002
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