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Can Goats Graze and Survive in the Rain?

While most goats can graze in the rain without any issues, there are several conditions they can develop. Overall, they have an increased chance to get worms, respiratory infections, and even bloat from grazing on wet grass. Trips to the vet can be expensive, but the good news is that most of these conditions can be avoided. So, can goats graze in the rain? And can they survive it?

Some goats can graze in the rain and can get sick from it, while others won’t have any problems. Goats can bloat from grazing, but feeding them baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can help, although, you should still get an opinion from a veterinarian. It’s important to provide goats with shelter, no matter the climate.

While many goats tolerate the rain and will continue to graze, others avoid it or can get sick. So, what should you know when your goats go out and graze?

Do Goats Like the Rain?

Depending on the breed, most goats don’t like the rain and will run back to the barn when the first drop hits the ground. On the other hand, some will get used to the rain and will learn to quickly ignore it, especially when they’re hungry. 

If your goats prefer to stay inside, you can move your hay feeder, or other prepared feed, inside until the rain stops. Also, feeding them before letting them graze in the rain can limit the amount of wet grass they eat. So, if your goats tend to develop problems from wet grazing, consider feeding them prior.

However, if your goats like grazing in the rain, then there are a few things you should know to help take care of them.

Can Goats Stay Outside in the Rain?

Goats are usually able to stay out in the rain without any shelter and not develop issues. In fact, they can even be left in the rain overnight and will likely be fine. Although, this is assuming it’s a warmer rain. In these cases, they should still have access to a shelter to help prevent sickness.

Normally, goats are pretty good at coming back in when the rain gets too cold or the weather gets too severe. However, some homesteaders leave hay feeders outside and goats have no problem eating in the rain.

If your goat is under three months old or is pregnant, it’s usually not a good idea to keep them out in the rain and they should be encouraged to stay under shelter, especially in harsher weather.

Can Goats Die From the Rain?

Goats can die from the rain if they’re sickly or if the weather is severe. Respiratory infections and hypothermia are two of the most likely conditions, both of which can be prevented by raising healthy goats that have a decent layer of body fat.

The fat acts as an insulator, which can prevent hypothermia, while keeping goats healthy will help their bodies can fight off respiratory infections at a much faster, and more successful, rate.

Additionally, when it rains, parasites and worms move to the taller ends of the grass to avoid the water. Unfortunately, this tall grass is the same part goats eat when they’re grazing, so there’s a potential the goats will be infected. This can even happen with morning dew. The good news is, as long as you use a good dewormer for your goats, this shouldn’t be an issue

Lastly, if you have specific goats that are sickly or weak, then it’s not a good idea to keep them out in the rain, especially for long periods or if it’s cold. This includes kids or kidding does. It will also be harder for them to fight off the parasites or worms, so keeping them sheltered with a clean food source until their immune systems are stronger is likely the best move.

What Temperatures Can Goats Tolerate?

Goats are fairly tolerant of wet and cold weather, especially compared to other livestock. How comfortable a goat is in weather depends on the breed and coat. In general, goats should not continue to graze if they’re cold or wet for long periods. If the weather is both cold and wet, then their exposure should be reduced even further.

If goats are sheltered from the wind and are dry, properly fed, and healthy, then they can often withstand weather below -15ºF. Again, this depends on the exact conditions and type of goats you have, so make sure your goats are comfortable and check on them often if you have extreme weather.

Especially if the goats get wet or are ill during this climate, keeping them sheltered and warm is necessary for their survival.

When the weather is getting too cold for the goats, you can also bring in coats, blankets, or heat lamps (look for ones with extra safety features to avoid fires).

Kids and kidding does can’t tolerate the cold as well, so many goat owners try to breed around the start of November. By the time the does give birth, it’s springtime (either March or April) and the weather is starting to warm. This is especially important because kids are born wet, and can sometimes freeze if the weather is cold enough. If your does is birthing during cold weather, bring towels and dry off the kids as soon as possible.

Why Do Some Goats Bloat From Grazing?

Goats bloat when they are unable to burp, which can be caused by overeating, eating the wrong foods, or poor genetics. While bloating can be a normal response for some goats, it could also be caused by other issues and you should consult a veterinarian if you haven’t already.

Some vegetation should also be avoided as it can be poisonous and cause bloating. Usually, this includes any plants that are wilting, such as black cherry trees.

How to Get Rid of Goat Bloat

You can avoid goat bloat by making sure your goat doesn’t over-graze or eat the wrong foods. If your goat is still bloating, then its diet might be too rich.

To help resolve goat bloat, give the goat a syringe (orally) with a combination of either 1/4 cup water or olive oil and one teaspoon of baking soda. The bloating should quickly reduce, and you should see a drastic improvement the next day.

For more information about goat bloat and baking soda, check out this post by Manna Pro.

Final Thoughts

Goats can graze in the rain and be perfectly healthy, although some might prefer to stay in their shelter. Harsh or cold weather can lead to more sickness, so try keeping your goats inside, especially if their immune systems are weak. While goats might have an increased chance of getting worms from grazing in the rain, having a regular deworming schedule can help reduce the build-up of worms. Lastly, pay attention to goat bloat and supplement baking soda into your goat’s diet, as well as checking with a veterinarian.