At What Age do Goats Lose Their Milk Teeth?

When your goat starts losing teeth you might be concerned that something is wrong but don’t worry! It’s possible that they’re just losing their baby teeth which is completely normal.

Baby goats will generally lose their baby teeth or “milk teeth” at 12 months old. Larger, permanent teeth will grow in sometime after that, with the entire process taking up to potentially 4 years. The middle teeth are usually the first to go.

Now you know when their milk teeth fall out. Here is the reason why, and what it can tell us about the goat.

Toothing (aka Aging)

Just like humans, goats lose their teeth as they grow older because baby teeth are neither strong enough nor big enough for the foods they eat as grown adults. However, when goats lose their teeth it also gives us a way to determine their age. This process is called toothing. I say process but really, all toothing means is taking a look at your goat’s teeth to figure out how old they are (keep in mind that a goat does have teeth in the back of their mouth, but only the front, bottom teeth can help you know the age of the goat).

As mentioned before, the goat’s milk teeth tend to fall out when they are 12 months old. Technically all the goat’s teeth are baby teeth but milk teeth refers to the two large front teeth which are always the first to fall out. The next teeth to go will be the teeth on either side of what used to be the milk teeth. This usually tends to happen around 24 months (2 years) of age. As you might have guessed, the next teeth to fall out will be the two adjacent to the previously lost teeth.

This will likely happen around 3 years of age, and so on until all eight front teeth are permanent. They will likely be finished losing teeth around 4 or five years old. Once the front teeth have all come out determining a goat’s age does become more difficult and less precise. When a goat has grown all eight permanent teeth in, age can sometimes be determined by wear on the teeth. However, this is not always terribly reliable as the goat’s diet can make a huge difference in how worn its teeth become. If its diet is made up of tough, coarse food, chances are its teeth are going to wear down much faster than they would if they were on a better quality, softer diet.

If teeth remain lost

Chances are, if your goat is young and missing teeth, it just means they’re in the process of growing in their permanent ones and there is no cause for alarm. However, if your goat is 4 years old or older and still missing teeth, you might have a problem. Here are a few possible scenarios.

Worn Incisors. Goats, as well as cattle, sheep, and horses, chew an awful lot. In the case that they have to forage for food, they will most definitely wear their incisors down (incisors are the front teeth that help determine the goat’s age). If you are vigilant in making sure your goats are getting fed and fed good food, this should not be a problem for you.

Periodontitis Disease. This disease is a serious gum infection that can cause your goat’s teeth to become loose and longer than they ought to be. Some telltale signs are obviously looseness of the incisors, malocclusion (which means the teeth are incorrectly positioned), or severe swelling. This can really only be helped by removing the loose teeth and being watchful over your goat’s diet. BE CAREFUL when removing teeth. You only want to take out the ones that are loose and dying or seriously impacted by the infection. Basically, if they aren’t that loose leave them alone. You do not want to hurt your goat during this process.

Cheek Teeth Problems (this is more common in horses and ponies but goats can still fall victim to it). The cheek teeth (or molars) are also susceptible to wear and tear so don’t neglect them! They can often become unevenly worn which then makes chewing a chore for the animal. You can tell if this is a problem if the goat is dropping feed out of its mouth, drooling, or has green stains around their mouth which is often a result of drooling. Getting the goat’s teeth filed or floated can help with this issue.

Caring for teeth

Obviously there is only so much you can do for your goat(s) teeth. They will wear down eventually which is normal, however, you can ensure longevity in your goats. Here are a few tips for giving your goats the best care.

The first thing you can do (which will ensure most of these problems are kept at bay) is to be careful about your goat’s food and eating patterns. If it is fed softer, higher quality foods, the goat’s teeth will be far less susceptible to wear and tear early on in their lifespan. For older goats especially, you do not want to let them eat out in a pasture that could have soiled or tough food that might not be suitable for aged goats. It is also important that you get the goat’s teeth filed when necessary (though if you are careful about their food this will not be a frequent necessity). Filing (sometimes also called rasping or floating) helps to keep the teeth smooth and level which in turn helps them to chew more comfortably.

Finally, you’ll want to be consistent with your goat(s) in their veterinary visits and checkups. Similar to a cat or a dog, goats need regular veterinary examinations throughout their lifetimes which can be as long as 18 years. They need vaccinations and deworming and, for male goats, castration and de-budding. Unless you have experience, you will need a vet to file your goat’s teeth when necessary and to see to any other dental needs the goats might have.

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