*The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act describes the legal ages for the following goat husbandry practices:

  • Castration – less than six months of age
  • Dehorning – less than one month of age.

If any of these husbandry practices need to be done to goats older than the prescribed ages, the operation must be carried out by a veterinarian using pain relief and haemorrhage control.

**Goats must be suitably identified applicable to the production system and current regulations.

*All citizens in NSW must comply with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTAA)

**All goats must be tagged in accordance with the NLIS

Approved activities Category
4. Ear marking/tagging of livestock 3
6. Hoof paring: sheep, goats & alpacas 3
8. Shearing of sheep & goats 3
12. Milking 3

22. Castration of kids

  • elastrator
  • knife
  • emasculator




34. Disbudding of calves and kids 4

Routine husbandry activities for goats include:

  • Internal parasite control
  • External parasite control
  • Vaccination
  • Identification (branding, ear tagging, tattooing)
  • Castration
  • Hoof trimming and paring
  • Milking.

The facilities required to safely and competently carry out these husbandry activities will vary with numbers of goats held, flight zones of individuals and activity to be completed. Equipment appropriate for the activity and in good working order must be used, e.g. an elastrator for castration.

Castration and ear marking or tagging are usually carried out together. Vaccination is typically carried out at this time. When carrying out several operations on the one animal at the one time, plan the operations so that the operation causing most stress is performed last.

These operations should be carried out by a skilled person only. Castration should be carried out to all male kids, other than those kept for breeding purposes, before the kids are 4 – 6 weeks of age. Entire bucks will cause management problems and will tend to fight as they reach puberty.

Castration should not be undertaken during extreme weather and should be planned when fly activity is minimal. Good hygiene practices should be practiced in relation to facilities, hands, handling and instruments. Disinfectant should be used and changed frequently when numbers of kids are being castrated.

The incidence of tetanus, as a result of infection from castration, can be limited by ensuring does have been routinely vaccinated and that kids are vaccinated when castrated.

Kids should be separated from their mothers for the shortest possible period of time and monitored afterwards. It is advisable that operations such as castration, and other operations with a potential for complications, not be carried out just prior to school holidays when monitoring may be less constant.

Disbudding is the destruction of the cell layers around the horn buds. If correctly done, the animal will not grow horns as it grows. Disbudding should be carried out to kids during their first week of life and by an experienced operator. Care should be taken when disbudding young bucks as damage can be done to the scent glands which are located near the horn buds.

Ideally disbudding should be carried out during cool sunny weather when fly numbers are reduced. Protection from tetanus, caused by disbudding, is gained by ensuring that the doe is vaccinated at least two months prior to kidding and the kid has had access to colostrum.

Castration and disbudding have the potential to cause pain and distress and school staff should consider the use of pain relief for the animals undergoing these procedures. The use of suitable pain relief should be discussed with a veterinarian who is familiar with goats and advice can be accessed at Flyboss – Pain relief – frequently asked questions.

Movements of goats into NSW must be recorded on the NLIS database. Goats must not be moved within NSW unless they have an approved ear tag in their ear. Approved ear tags are printed with the property identification code (PIC). They can be either breeder tags (coloured according to the year of birth) or post-breeder tags (pink).

All goats must be tagged before they leave the property on which they were born. This tag should ideally be the breeder tag in the correct year colour. A goat can only have one breeder tag. If a goat bred at your school has lost its tag, it must be re-tagged with either your school breeder tag or your pink post-breeder tag before it leaves your school.

If goats that have been purchased have several different tags, you can choose to tag them all with your pink post-breeder tags. Each time a goat moves to another property it may be given the post-breeder tag of that property. This means a goat can have several post-breeder tags.

Sheep and Goat NLIS

All schools must comply with NLIS requirements.

Angora goats should be shorn twice a year by a shearer experienced with goats. Adequate shelter, feed and water must be provided for goats off-shears. Particular care needs to be taken if cold, wet and windy weather is experienced soon after shearing.

For goats, hoof paring needs to be done often. To avoid taking off too much hoof and causing bleeding or damage, the horn of the hoof should be cut back in several stages. Ensure the foot stands level and cut the sider first, then the point of the toe and the head. Very overgrown hooves should be cut back gradually by trimming at weekly intervals. Trimming the hooves after wet weather or heavy dew when the hooves are soft increases the ease of the job.

Image: Trimming the hooves after wet weather or heavy dew when the hooves are soft increases the ease of the job.

It is essential that all aspects of milking employ high standards of hygiene. This includes cleaning all equipment, washing hands, washing and drying teats and disinfecting teats after milking. Milking provides the perfect opportunity to check the health of the doe’s udder each day and recognise any early signs of mastitis.

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