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Goats/several sick bottle babies


QUESTION: We are new to raising goats but jumped right in getting 11 babies 11 days ago. The gentleman we bought them from said they were approximately 10 days (give or take) at the time, had all transitioned fine to the bottle without milk skids, and to call if we had any questions. He suggested milk replacer at a rate of 14 oz. 3x's per day. We started per his instructions. Several days later (and at the tail end I started researching online) one was going downhill which we eventually lost. Since then we have followed your regimen to switch over to store bought cow's milk. Today (Tuesday) was the 2nd day of full cow milk, 8 oz. 5 x's per day is what we're able to do in our schedule. Some are doing very well. Some still seem to have scours (when should this completely go away after switching to cow milk if there are no other problems?) and some have additional problems. I think this is difficult since we have so many and they have never been healthy since receiving them (and starting on replacer) we may be dealing with multiple issues. I've found a lot of help here, but am wanting to advice with what we should do next. The remainder are all apparently sick. They are coughing (or sounds more like sneezing), are snotty, still have scours (even after using the "how to transition to cow milk" directions with electrolytes, booster, and corn syrup) and at least 1 is grinding his teeth. The one in the worst shape drank 3 bottles well today, and the other 2 started but after ~2 oz pulled off, walked away from the group, and stands with her head level, ears partially down, back hunched and shivering. I have not taken temps but plan to in the morning. I have looked for the CD Antitoxin but will have to order and wait for shipping (no one has local). The goats are all also dirty on the backside from having no mom and all the scours yet I'm afraid to clean them off due to the weather (Central Iowa 47 tomorrow and 57 next day forecasted - can I soak them or just wipe off?). The worst goat still has a good attitude most of the time but am concerned since the one we lost seemed to start like this. I have no idea what vaccines their moms had or themselves, and the seller has not returned our calls from day #1. We have 3 Alpine,2 LaMancha, and 1 Sannan billies, plus 4 Sannan ninnies. 2 of the ninnies are especially healthy and the other 2 are our most reluctant eaters/sickest at the moment. I know we have a lot to figure out but where do I start? Thanks so much!!!!

ANSWER: HI Nicole;

I'm sorry  - the milk replacer did start this  succession of events I think. AND you have no idea the actual health of these goats before you got them or what they had been exposed to  :(

CD Antitoxin is the first thing you need to have -  ALSO Neomycin Sulfate  in case this is ecoli or salmonella - it's oral and at feed stores.  In the mean time,  molasses and electrolytes in bottles for  nutrition and fluid therapy -  milk will be hard to  digest - you also can give a tad of pepto for soothing the gut , but do not try to stop the poops, scouring is their way of getting the bad stuff out and is a symptom  - not a disorder.
ALSO I'd say they may also have shipping stress related pneumonia in which case  Tylan200 is the best over the counter antibiotic you can get to give them for this - ALSO found at feed stores - it is the best one for upper respiratory  - better than PennG or LA200 .  You can clean them using wet cloths but I do not think I would try to bathe them.. additional stress will make them  sicker. Maybe hold the butts under a running faucet in the tub? then make sure to dry them off completely  - not fun I Know.

Start with symptoms - take rectal temps a few times per day per baby - see if any are running fever or  lower temp than normal.  101.5 to 103.5 is normal.  Scouring could be pneumonia,  gut related (most likely as  they were on milk replacer) and the ones not eating you can suspect  maybe even a combination of pneumonia and gut related - so treat both.  They are IMHO too young for cocci or wormload but do not rule it out completely.  

I suspect the seller knew they had been ill or were from a bad  beginning  since they are not returning calls  :(  - not all sellers are responsible and just sell  kids with issues to get them out of the herd and never say a word or worse tell folks they are healthy etc.. suggesting the replacer tells me they are  not  responsible to begin with - they should have sent you with the milk they had been drinking - a gallon for each kid and told you how to change them to regular milk  - I am so very sorry you are going through this. Grinding teeth is a sign of gut pain usually..  the pepto may help - only a tsp . Shivering goat may be weak due to  illness and lack of nutrition  - or may have pneumonia or both - rectal temp will tell you. I hope you have ordered the CD antitoxin . I'm sorry you are going through this.

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

QUESTION: Thanks for your answer. Unfortunately by the time we were able to get the Tylan200 (the feed stores were closed for the eve) the sickest girl passed. I had left a msg with a large animal vet that several goat owners in the area recommended that day also and he returned the call in the eve agreeing it was pneumonia. The good news is we started giving it to all the remaining 9 (as even the 2 healthiest ones had cough, runny nose, and temps of 103.8). Another girl was starting to go downhill and even after the 1st dose seemed to improve. She's doing much better now. I do have a follow up question about 1 in particular though. We're on day 4 of the Tylan shots and have been switched to store bought whole cow milk for over a week. Several still have scours. Besides the milk they only have hay available (although I rarely see them nibbling yet) and water in a bucket. Is this possibly just from the meds and pneumonia and should go away soon? We have 2 LaMancha's and they both (yesterday & today) seemed to be doing the same - unhealthiest 2 of the bunch. They grind their teeth and were sometimes rejecting their bottle. We gave them a dose of pepto, seemed to help a lot. Also they have the worst scours of the bunch so I switched them for 24 hours to the electrolyte/corn syrup/nutridrench solution. However one of them, after resuming full bottles, seems to be just as bad (as far as pneumonia symptoms go) and has excess mucus coming out his mouth. Could this possibly be an allergic reaction to anything? We gave him pepto again (making 1 small dose yesterday and 1 today) with his last feeding but about an hour after feeding he is still alone, in pain, with the mucus mouth. They've been receiving the neomycin sulfate since your response daily along with the Tylan and he has had pepto - but no other shots (I don't have the AntiToxin yet). I'm concerned that he looks as bad as the others we lost (with the downfall I can't see what position he would hold his ears in) with the new symptom of frothy mouth. Thanks!!!

ANSWER: HI Nicole-
Have you dewormed them? they are what? 3 weeks old about now? 3 weeks old is typically when you can worry about wormload -  this will cause scouring  like the cocci does - you  have to cover all your bases -  use Valbazen  on them orally - I use 1cc/10lbs  follow up in 10 days - and again in another 10 days -  do not let anyone talk you into using safeguard, it does not  work except on tape worms for goats -  is the CD Antitoxin on it's way?  5 ccs minimum per kid  every 6 hours injected SQ until symptoms  go away - you cannot over dose it.  What they do not need they pee out. When does the mucus come out? After he drinks a bottle? or all the time.. what is the rectal temp of the ones not doing well?
:( When they are shutting down  the will have clear sticky slimy drool that comes out the mouth - it's usually cold to the touch.. this is typically the beginning of the end in most cases.. :(

BUT I never give up  until there is no more to give.. so  continue trying with him..

I hope he turns around.. if his rectal temp is below 100  - this also means he is shutting down..  I'm sorry, but I'd rather you be prepared than it hit you  by surprise..

Keep me posted..  I hope things turn around for him and you.. it's been a rough road these last few days..  it never gets easy even after you have had goats for a long time.. I have had things like this happen too..  not fun  - <3

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

QUESTION: We have not dewormed them yet but I will make sure I get that - thanks for the warning on the Safeguard as it's easier to get my hands on. If worms how quickly do you see an improvement? The antitoxin is on it's way.
He only had mucus 2x's yesterday. He was fine in the morning, had a bottle of milk, then when we went for the next feeding had a frothy mouth. It did seem like clear sticky slimy drool. We wiped it off and he took another bottle and gave him his Tylan 200 shot. I checked in shortly after and he was frothy again. I came in and reread your advice and decided we should be giving him the electrolytes until he's much improved. He's had small amounts since then. We moved him into the house yesterday afternoon, took his temp in the night which was 104.1, has strong but labored breathing (although not as quick as the ones we lost which is good, I haven't counted/min), and now has a dry nose and mouth. His coughing has reduced to only if he moves (which sounds bronchial) and grinds his teeth only after coughing. We gave him another 1/2 does of pepto little bit ago hoping it will help with the feeding today. He seems pretty weak (as far as muscular strength) so we're going to make sure he gets the bottle down this feeding. Off to feed him...Unwilling to eat but we got it down him eventually. Temp 102.6 and breathing 48/min (sounds like a machine with a little click at the end of every breath).

HI Nicole,
IF yu have some robitussin expectorant (walmrt or walgreens)  you can give him a tsp or 2 of this - it may help the congestion - how much tylan200 are you injecting? The dose I use is 1cc/25lbs - usually for small kids about 1/2cc - twice a day

ALSO recell or nutri drench will help with  energy - its a liquid orally - nutri drench comes in a pump like hand lotion.. 2 pumps directly into the mouth a few times a day - does wonders - redcell is in the horse section of the feed store.. comes in a pint  bottle I think.. I use a 3cc syringe no needle into the mouth.. a few times a day.. into the side of the mouth and do not lift the head - how to administer oral meds for kids (photos)

ALSO you can try something else.. hold him upside down by his back feet  and pat him firmly on the side of the chest a few times..  he will not like it but it "may" dislodge some of the guck

If he is not pooping nasty stuff go ahead with the milk -  he needs the nutrition  unless you have the nurtri drench..   then you can use this  a few times a day and electrolyte bottles..

When they get the clear slimy drool before passing, they are usually so sick they are laying down, if this is not the case it might be a similar thing but  not to think he is on his way out necessarily - :)

Deworming will usually show improvement in a few days..  2 or 3 I usually notice. The nutri drench will help with weakness -  also some molasses or corn syrup on your finger into the mouth a few times a day will bring blood sugar levers up some..
Keep me posted.. I'm rooting for this little guy..  and you :)


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Specializing in New Goat Owner understanding of goat physiology, goat anatomy, goat care and herd management. *I am not a veterinarian, any advice and information should be verified by your veterinarian before administering to your goats. (! During times of severe weather in the Midwest, I may experience a delay in internet service due to the interference of the satellite reception - but will answer your questions as soon as service is restored. !) Note: Keep in mind, the goat expert is volunteering her time to help other goat owners, she also runs her farm with her own herd of 100 goats and may not be at her computer at all hours. Questions are answered as soon as she can possibly read and answer them, usually within 24 hours.


23 years experience of raising goats and herd management. Active hands on experience with goat herd and research with various Caprine University Research and Extension Centers nationwide. 15 years dedicated to helping other goat breeders/owners with goat anatomy, goat disease and goat health care issues via phone, published goat care articles and internet interaction. The information I have to offer is not only from personal experience and years of research updated often as new information is made available to me, but supported by many Veterinary Research colleges and all medications and information I have to offer on how the medications work and what dosages "I" use, is information I have acquired by discussing directly with the company's veterinarians and staff research experts.

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