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QUESTION: Hi Donna,

I contacted you about 2 weeks ago regarding my immune-deficient doe, Blueberry.

I have been giving her the vitamins that you suggested, exactly as you prescribed, and so far she has been doing well. I have taken her temperature 2x/day, every day, for the last 2 weeks, and thankfully she has been within normal range. She is eating & drinking well, pooping/peeing normally, and chewing cud.

My follow up questions are these:

Even though she's doing better, should I continue with the daily vitamin mixture? I'm scared to stop for fear that she'll relapse.

I gave her the selenium mixture you suggested, the first dose on 11/16 and then the 2nd 10 days later (as you suggested) - again, even though she's doing better, should I continue that in another 10 days, or would it be better to simply give her the "Goats Prefer" dose of selenium once/month?

Un-health related question: What is your opinion on deep-litter bedding in the winter? I've been cleaning out the barn entirely every 2 weeks from the day I got these goats (about a year and a half now). It wasn't that cold last winter, so I continued with the total clean-outs every 2 weeks then, as well. It's already been much colder than last year, so I'm wondering about the deep litter method. I am still mucking daily, taking out any wet straw and of course poop piles, but after I'm getting that cleared out, I'm piling more straw on top to keep it all as clean and dry as possible. I have heard that deep litter keeps them warmer due to composting waste, but my concern is parasites and overall cleanliness. Any advice you could offer would be much appreciated.

Thanks for all the help you've given me for Blueberry! I'm cautiously optimistic that she's going to be okay, but am scared that she'll relapse at any moment.

Speaking of that, do you have any advice in general for HOW to not be scared all the time of my goats dying? Seriously, I am constantly worried about them. I've had a lot happen since I've had them - brought home a mama goat and her 2 kids in May 2012 and the mama goat died 2 weeks later - still don't know from what. I think it permanently traumatized me - I'm not kidding. Then one of them broke her leg this past fall, and then Blueberry got terrible mastitis and almost died, which is why I think her immunity is so low now - I don't think she ever recovered fully from that. So I'm a nut with worry all the time. As a seasoned goat owner, how have you adjusted over the years to illnesses and losing goats? I just can't calm down about it but would very much like to.

Thanks again for all of your wonderful help.

Mandy

ANSWER: Hi there - first off, nice job working so hard with Ms. Blueberry.  You could back off of the vitamin mixture to every 3rd day to start with and see how she is and then if you think she is not as good as she was then go to every other day.  Once she passes the every 3rd day trial, you could go to once a week and see how she does on that.  She should not need any more selenium currently, but I usually give the selenium/D/E dosing every 2 to 3 months for all my goats just to be sure they are up on it.  

Re the bedding.  I let the bedding build up in the goat shelters through the fall and winter times - I do clean up large areas that are wet and poopy - I add fresh hay to their areas at least once a week.  Yes, in my opinion the build up allows warmth to build up in the areas.  All this then gets cleaned out to the ground in the spring time (as an example, one shelter or barn stall gets to be about 12 inches deep, and sometimes more, over the winter).

Re worrying about your goats - unfortunately for us, and fortunately for goats, this is a good thing for the goats.  I always worry about my goats.  I do try to catch things early - I check them in the a.m. when feeding and in the p.m. when filling up water and giving grain and or supplements.  If I see a goat that is just not "right" I start them on a regimen - this could be anything from moving them to the barn under a heat lamp and starting penicillin injectable or it could be as simple as giving them peptobismol - all depends on the symptoms.  I also go with my "gut" instinct.  There have been times when I thought all was good, but perhaps at 1 a.m. I would wake up with the thought that one of the goats just did not look/act the way it usually does, so I would get dressed and go to the pasture - sometimes that goat would be looking fine/thinking it was breakfast and runing over to me; but other times that goat would be laying away from the other goats and/or not get up when I came over to it.  Watching their lumbar score on a daily basis is important too.  Watching their poop type and hair coat also helps you stay on top of illnesses.  Keeping them up on selenium/E/D also helps to keep their immune system strong.  

Do hope this helps - Donna



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

QUESTION: It all does help - thank you.

Yeah, I know what you mean about worrying being a good thing for the goats. I just do it so much - glad to hear I'm not alone it that regard. It's just that sometimes I wish I could relax a bit, but they never let me - it truly does seem like it's "always something". I was told by so many people how low maintenance goats are (before I got them), but I have learned the total opposite is true. Keeping goats is HARD - definitely more difficult than I ever imagined. I love them and would never go back now, but sometimes they are the plague of my life! But then they make me really happy, too...and I want to give them happy, healthy lives.

I will try the vitamin mix every 3rd day and see how it goes and will otherwise follow your instructions regarding the selenium, etc. I don't know that she is going to be okay, but things at least look better than they did when the vet told me she was a "wuss" and it might have to be the end for her. I am amazed at how difficult it is to find a vet who really understands goats!!!

Thanks again for everything!!!!

Mandy

Answer
I think so many/too many folks believe that they can have goats and never worry about them - that is one thing I always make sure folks who purchase goats from me understand.  

Goats indeed make me happy too!  It's a labor of love I guess.  Goats are difficult patients.  I agree that there are not many goat experienced vets around and that's the main reason I delved into learning as much as I could and then helping others learn too.  

Do keep me posted - thanks - Donna

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Donna Ruelas-Semasko/Edelweiss Acres

Expertise

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

Experience

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.

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

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

Education/Credentials
4 years of college, ongoing education in goats.

Awards and Honors
Small Farm Award of Thurston County

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