October 2021 Issue



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Cleft palate is a congenital malformation of the inside upper roof of the mouth. The most common defect is a split in the roof of the mouth than runs lengthwise from the front gums to the back of the mouth.

When a kid is born with a cleft palate, this condition may not be noticed immediately. You may wonder why the dam did not feed her kid, when in fact the kid with a cleft palate does not have a good sucking reflex. Oftentimes the dam knows something is wrong with a kid and refuses to feed it when first born. A defective kid is a threat to the genetic integrity of the herd as well as to its overall physical safety.

If the kid lives, begins to nurse, and subsequently eats solid foods, the cleft palate will get wider as the kid grows. Liquid and soon solid food will begin to come out of the kid's nose, giving the appearance of its having runny nostrils. You will begin to notice that the kid is not growing at the same rate as other kids, because nutrients that the kid's body needs in order to grow are not reaching its digestive system. By the time the kid is three to four months old, if it lives that long, it will be significantly smaller and poorer than other kids of its same age.

As time passes, the cleft palate kid will develop health problems. The runny nose usually turns into pneumonia and subsequently death. Sometimes other congenital birth defects, often heart-related, appear along with the cleft palate. A wise goat raiser will check the inside of every newborn's mouth for the presence of a cleft palate.

Cleft palate is a congenital birth defect that is hereditary. If you breed the dam to a different buck, the problem likely will not recur. Surgical repair of a cleft palate in a goat is not only difficult but also expensive even if you can find a vet qualified to do it. Because cleft palate is passed genetically from parent to offspring, you should not breed a goat with this condition, even if the cleft palate is repaired. The most realistic option is to put the goat down when it begins to suffer serious ill health resulting from this birth defect.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto
ONION CREEK RANCH Revised 10-01-21

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Goat Management, Health, Nutrition

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, owner of Onion Creek Ranch in Texas, developer of both the Tennessee Meat Goat™ and the TexMaster™, and author of dozens of articles on meat goat health, nutrition, and management over the last 25+ years, is now offering individualized consultation services to goat raisers. Suzanne is not a vet but has extensive experience raising quality meat goats since 1990 and will tell you what she would do to solve a specific problem if the goats were hers.

Correct information on goats is hard to find. Few vets know anything about goats. Information on the Internet is often wrong.

Personal access to Suzanne Gasparotto via cell phone, email, and text through this subscription. Contact her at onioncrk@centex.net for details and provide your name, location,and phone number. This service is affordably priced and will bring you peace of mind as well as valuable help with your goat health, nutrition, and management issues.


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Bending Tree Ranch located near Greenbrier, Arkansas

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