Lumps in goats vary from tiny raised spots to large, swollen bumps that could be located in one area or spread across your goat's entire body. Lumps mar your goat's physical appearance; but, more importantly, they serve as a physical symptom of an underlying condition that may be contagious and typically requires prompt veterinarian diagnosis and treatment.
Lumps that develop in your goat's lymph nodes typically arise from an incurable contagious disease called caseous lymphadenitis. Caseous lymphadenitis, or CL, is an ongoing bacterial infection characterised by the presence of pus-filled abscesses, often in the head, neck, shoulder or upper-thigh area. The thick pus within each abscess generally possesses a green or yellow appearance and is extremely contagious. CL treatment requires draining the abscesses and flushing them with disinfectant on a regular basis. Eradicating the condition from your goat herd is difficult and generally requires selling or culling all infected animals from your herd.
Multiple conditions can result in the appearance of non-contagious lumps in goats. A localised lump in the cheek area could indicate a retained cud, tooth abscess or saliva-filled cyst. A small, swollen bump in the centre of your goat's neck, along its larynx, most likely indicates goitre, an enlarged thyroid gland that may occur in a goat suffering from improper nutritional intake, such as iodine deficiency. Lumps in your goat's abdominal area most typically arise from hernias, which require surgical correction. Goats suffering from these conditions often maintain a healthy appetite and don't experience other symptoms.
A large lump located in the centre of your goat's neck -- beneath the jaw -- may be a sign of gastrointestinal worms, a common, and potentially serious, problem in goats of all ages. Gastrointestinal worms, particularly the species known as Haemonchus contortus, or the barber pole worm, develop when a goat consumes worm-infested hay or grass. The worms attach to the wall of your goat's stomach to suck the blood. The resulting loss of blood causes water accumulation in the neck region, which leads to the appearance of a soft, swollen lump, a condition commonly called bottle jaw. Other signs of a gastrointestinal worm infestation may include extremely pale pink or grey mucus membranes in the eyes, loose or watery stool, diminished appetite and lack of energy. Failure to promptly treat the infected goat with an appropriate worm medication could result in the death of your goat.
Examine your goats on a regular basis -- preferably, once every four to seven days -- for the presence of lumps or bumps. Contact your veterinarian as soon as you notice any, especially ones that contain fluid. He'll conduct a physical examination of your goat and may collect fluid, blood and tissue samples from some of the lumps for lab testing. Depending upon the diagnosis, your veterinarian may recommend draining of the lump, medication or surgery.