Goats/Goats Dieing


QUESTION: Hello and thank-you in advance for your help...
My cousin has been raising goats for 15 years , this spring they were blessed with six kids..But have lost three kids and two Mom's in the past two weeks.They are fine running around one minute and dead in the morning, no wounds on them...Any idea what it can be, we live in NC and have had extremely wet and humid weather the past month..
Than-You for your time.

ANSWER: So sorry to hear of this.  Had their lower inner eyelids been checked for good color recently? This would rule out anemia/barber pole worm and liver flukes.  Were they all in otherwise good shape, not too fat and not thin? Were they eating well?  What plants/any toxic in their pasture?  Have they been on the same diet over the past two weeks.  Any change in water?  Any change in pasture area?  Any new hay? Any foam around their mouths when they were found dead? Are they all up on their CDT toxoid vaccinations? No bloat issues? No diarrhea?

It could be they are eating a poisonous plant that is in their pasture or in the hay.  Do they have a vegetable garden and if so are there any tomatoes in there?, any rhubarb?, any potato plants?  

How old were the does/moms?  

If they were under condition/slightly thin this could be the barber pole worm or liver flukes - can they go to a pond or other water source that other wild animals can use?

All had the same symptoms with good in the evening and dead in the morning?

For kid goats the looking good and then dying could easily be enterotoxemia (CDT toxoid vaccination is used to prevent this) but generally older goats are not bothered as much by enterotoxemia.  

Let me know about my questions if you could - will get back to you after that - thanks - Donna

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

QUESTION: Thank-You Donna for your quick response..The kid's have been escaping into the garden and surrounding area for at least a month and there are tomatoes and potato plants ..The does were 4-5 years old..I have been told there was no foaming or any signs of illness on them... They are given grain once a day and their hay comes from what the owners cut  themselves .They have not changed their grazing area..Can weather be a factor ?  They were all very healthy looking..and yes they all died overnight...
Thank-You again

ANSWER: Thanks for the update.  Overnight deaths generally indicates either a fast acting toxin or enterotoxemia as the illness.  I might advise the owners to check the grain to be sure there is no mold and also to check the hay the goats have been on in the two-week period to also be sure there was no evidence of toxic plants.  Weather could be a factor if the goats had been ill/not eating/not drinking/lethargic within a few days of their deaths, as this could indicate a pneumonia, but not overnight issues.

Do you know if there are any mushrooms in the pasture?  Do you know if the owners vaccinate for enterotoxemia?  That would be CDT toxoid vaccinations.

Re the kid goats, if they had ingested green tomatoes or the potato plant leaves that could have caused death overnight.  

Hope that helps - let me know - Donna

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

QUESTION: They were not vaccinated for enterotoxemia ...I was informed the kids had been having diarrhea the past week.. There are also other goat farmers who have been losing kids in the same area ..Someone told them it was the lung disease that kills deer, is this possible in your opinion ? Thank-You for bearing with my many questions.

Thanks for more information.  Re the kids, if the diarrhea was brown it is from bacterial infection or digestive upset, if it was green in color that is coccidiosis, if it was yellow in color it was enterotoxemia, and if white it was E. coli.  And any of these could have killed the kid goats if they were not treated for that diarrhea.  Deer in the midwest and east can get a mycoplasma pneumonia (fungal) that can kill the deer and, yes, goats can contract that, but that is a long process of illness from not eating, getting very thin, coughing, snotty nose, breathing difficulty.  Let me know - 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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