Goats/pregnant pygmy


QUESTION: Not far from us a lady was arrested for hoarding.  We had an empty stall have lots of horse experience, so we offered to take a couple of the mini horses as fosters.  The man from Animal Control came out and said "Perfect!  Can you take some pregnant pygmy does?"  We are now on a fierce learning curve.  One of the does, Taffy, is white and gold.  My question is what I am guessing is a cancer on her vulva.  We first (as per the vet) treated it with Hibiclens, rinse, and triple antibiotic.  No help.  Then antibiotic injections twice a day (Naxcel).  In about four days no help on her vulva but severe scour.  I fed her ProBiotic immediately and she was fine in two days -- normal black marbles. Injctions stopped. Maybe a yeast infection?  Monistat topically for three days (used half a syringe worth each time after washing with Hibiclens).  No real help.  Lesions bleeding a little and teeth grinding.  So the next day we washed again and put on Desitin.  Two days of that and she was so much better.  BUT she is close to delivery now and I'm seeing multiple round (possible) 'tumors' around her vulva.  It has been swollen the entire time, but at least there are no lesions now.  We have no idea when any of the does were bred as they were running with a buck in the open field.  But three of the four look very close.

Her teeth tell us she is about four years old.  She's carrying the babies wide out to the sides (both sides!).  Her bag is starting to fill.  Some of the vulva puffiness may be because labor is close....did I say something about a learning curve?  

I'll call our vet tomorrow, but I am wondering about cancer -- presumably skin cancer (SCC?)as she is very light colored and was out in the open until captured.  We are in southern Oregon and have had some bright, hot summers.  

If this is cancer, can, or should, it be treated if we can before the kids are born?  

Really really appreciate your availablity.  Thanks.


ANSWER: Okay, first off you're good people to take in these animals - I work with a hooved animal rescue in our county.   Re the vulvar lesions - this could be simple dermatitis, or a fungal infection such as Candida which can come from breeding, or it could be an allergic reaction or it could be precancerous, or other items.  This could also be a Staph infection.  With all this said would advise wearing gloves when you treat this.  The Desitin would take away inflammation and help heal.  At this point I would advise starting her on a course of penicillin injectable - intramuscularly - 3 cc/100 pounds twice a day for 5 days - goats are like horses in that they are allergic to antibiotics injected into their veins - so you must draw back on the plunger once the needle is in to see if any red/blood comes into the plunger.  I use the thigh muscles of the rear legs for injection.  This would cover her for Staph or other bacterial infections.  I would also try an antifungal cream after cleaning the area, twice a day for 3 days, to cover for possible fungal infection.  If cancer I would not worry about any care for that currently - try the other two items first.  The penicillin will not hurt the kids.  During her antibiotic therapy she also needs to be on probiotics to keep her rumen functioning correctly.  

As to figuring out when the does are close to kidding the best way is to check for the pelvic ligaments.  Place your thumb and forefinger about 5 inches from the head of the tailhead and begin spreading out the thumb and forefinger in a V shape as you move back to the tailhead - in non pregnant goats you will feel the pelvic ligaments like pencils and as they get close to kidding the ligaments begin to soften and 36 to 48 hours before kidding the ligaments are totally gone where you can literally put the thumb and forefinger around the tailhead.  The sides of the abdomen also drop and sink such that the doe looks like she is very skinny around the hip areas.  The vulva also begins to swell and lengthen and soften up within 48 hours of kidding.  Since we will assume that these does have not had any of their needed vaccinations I would give the kids 1/2 cc of CDT toxoid - subcu or intramuscular is fine - the first day of birth.  If the does are thin you also might assume that the kids are going to be small and may need extra help the first few days of life in keeping warm and getting to the doe's teats.  I would advise also giving the kids an extra immune enhancer - oral type - extra powdered colostrum (bovine is fine - feed store has) mixed in a little warm water and given orally.  Re the needles for kid goats - advise 22 gauge 3/4 inch needles.  

Hope this helps.  Please do feel free to give me a call if you have any emergent questions or concerns just in case I'm not watching for an e-mail.  360-742-8310  Donna

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Donna, and thank you for the prompt reply.  I won't bother you with a phone call.  The does have all been given the necessary innoculations -- we have had them for almost 2 months now.  None are underfed or skinny since we have had them that long and the we are feeding as per our vet grass hay (off the ground in hay nets), a couple of handfuls of premium goat mix with 'goat salts' for the four to share twice a day.  For the last two weeks they have also been on some very appetizing (to them)  pellets (Ceccox I think it is called) to bring down their coccydia count (865).  I literally sweep out their quarters every morning and refresh straw in the corners.  There is only one of the four that has become confident enough of us to allow me to walk up to her and pat her and little Taffy is not her.  We can pat her while she is feeding, but not any other time.  Still, that is a big step forward.  But feeling for those ligaments is not something she will permit yet and we don't want to stress her by cornering her again -- we have had to do it so many times to medicate her as it is.  So I spend about an hour in the stall after evening feed, sitting on a folding chair, hogging the heat lamps, and reading a book so they will get more and more used to me.  Slowly but surely, it's working.

We have been aware of the possibility of staph so yes, we have always worn gloves when treating her hind end.  

We have two heat lamps going in the large stall where the four does are (we have three Nubian wethers in another stall who are total pets).  We also have a separate area we have set up for birthing if we get a doe there in time and another small enclosed area (it used to be a half bath in the barn and has been transformed into a mini horse stall for our dwarf filly who was supposed to be dead at two and is now nine....) for the mom and babies for the first day or so.  We'll kick Teddy, the dwarf mini, out to share with the wethers, which she has done before and clean up her area thoroughly and have an extra heat lamp ready to go for it.  It's in the 30's at night here now.

So I think we are pretty prepared -- and we do have a big laundry basket with all the necessary towels, nasal aspirator, iodine, dipping cup, dental floss, etc. ready to go.

But we do appreciate the extra knowledge about the various possibilities of what might be wrong with Taffy's rear end.  White, puffy, with nodules that at first sight looked like fecal pellets stuck on.  The Desitin turned them white, though.  Still, there are more now.

Again, thank you.  We're soaking up all the information we can get.  I can talk to our vet with a little more informed questions and understanding tomorrow.   I did get a little scared when I saw her vulva and anal area were worse tonight.  


Thanks for the update - sounds like you have all things ready - re the coccidia, all goats carry this - it is in all pastures and grass.  Once the kids are born I start them at one week of age on preventative Sulmet liquid - I bottle raise all our kid goats so it is easy to place the Sulmet in a bottle a day.  Coccidia becomes generally a challenge in kid goats under 9 months of age, not often adults.  You may also see the mucous plug drop at about one week prior to kidding.  Once the doe starts making nests and perhaps star gazing that is generally also an indication that kidding is close.  Please do feel free to call me, really, anytime if you are not able to get a hold of your vet, especially if kidding may have problems and your vet may not be experienced in goat kidding.  Hope all this helps.  Donna


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Donna Ruelas-Semasko/Edelweiss Acres


All goat health care, nutrition, judging questions about all goats - packgoats, dairy goats, pygmy goats, meat goats, fleece goats.


27 years health care/nutrition of all types of goats, 17 years experience in packgoats, 20 years experience in 4H goat projects as leader, superintendent and judge. 20 years experience in putting on goat care/nutrition seminars.

NAPgA, The Evergreen Packgoat Club, 4H, ADGA.

Hobby Farm, many newspapers, 4H newsletters, Packgoat Manuals (youth and general), judging information pamphlets, seminar handouts about health care and nutrition.

4 years of college, ongoing education in goats.

Awards and Honors
Small Farm Award of Thurston County

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