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Goats/2.5 Year old with chronic recurring diarrhea


QUESTION: We have a pygmy wether that is now around 2.5 years old.
At the 6 month point we started having trouble when we moved to our new home.
Our little happy boy started having nasty diarrhea.
Our first suspicion was that he ingested some high density foam that the roofers were using as knee pads.

1st trip to the vet - Treated for cocci
No marked improvement, made pellets for a few days then back to diarrhea but didn't smell so bad and change to a green from the grey.
Trip 2 to the vet - More cocci treatment.....
Trip 3 to the vet was last April, he spent a week at the clinic.  They gave him Draxxin, steroids and drenched him with Epsom salts.  He had nice pellets for almost a week.  (the diarrhea is always a progressive thing. On the day that he has a formed stool it is almost normal formed pellets by the evening it is clumpy pellets. Day 2 it is striated logs in the morning and by evening it is soft "dog poop", day 3 it is pudding to pea soup....)This is the pattern we have had for almost a year now, cycling very week or so. The longest period that he has had a formed stool is about a week.
For the last year he has been off and on steroids, Fortified B Complex, probiotics and Draxxin .  But the pattern does not change, stool will firm up to almost normal then progress back to pea soup.

His appetite is good and he eats well, good quality orchard grass with some alfalfa and Noble Goat feed.
He is very under weight and in poor condition.
He is active, bright and alert.
His CD/T are current, as are his deworming.
Fecals are clear
Johnes was negative x2

Any ideas or suggestions are most welcome.
Thank you for for your time and your knowledge.

ANSWER: Sounds like your vet is a cow/bovine vet with all the items he uses - epsom salts, draxxin, etc.  I don't advise these on goats. Do you know what the vet used to treat the cocci?  When you say fecals are clear, how many eggs were found exactly and of what parasites?  I have never seen any fecal exam to be totally clear on livestock.  What color is the diarrhea each time?  For goats - yellow is enterotoxemia, green is coccidiosis, white is E. coli, and brown is either bacterial or just abdominal upset.  Green diarrhea can also come from goats eating alfalfa (which causes the green color).  

Some questions for you:
Is the goat on pasture all the time? Did you change diets when the diarrhea occurred? What do you use for deworming? What color are his lower inner eyelids?  Did the vet take his temperature or have you (for goats anything over 102.5 would indicate an infection)?

The dog type poop usually indicates worms.  So he may have persistent worms.  If his lower inner eyelids are white that would indicate he probably has the barbar pole worm or liver flukes along with anemia.  A goat with chronic pneumonia (which Draxxin does not always work on, and again I never use draxxin on goats) can have chronic diarrhea.  Too much probiotics can cause diarrhea.

I would change his worming medications (can give you a regimen I would advise), would start on penicillin injectable (can get from feed store) for a 10 day course with yogurt for the probiotics. If the lower inner eyelids are white then a different worming regimen will be needed along with iron for the anemia.  

As an aside, wethers and bucks should not be on a grain such as Noble Goat (calcium to phosphorus ratio is incorrect and that can create urinary calculi - that is one reason they have to add ammonium chloride to the mix with does not always keep calculi from forming) as well as not giving them alfalfa (same issue with incorrect calcium to phosphorus ratio).  The correct calcium to phosphorus ratio should be 3:1.  

I hope this helps - let me know - thanks - Donna

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

QUESTION: Hello Donna, thank you for your response.
He has just gone back out on pasture over the last 3 weeks,
prior to that he was mostly in the barn for the winter on Hay/feed (orchard grass & Noble @ .25#/day).
He has free range/choice flanked by two Anatolian Shepherds.
He is dewormed with Cyedctin (Moxidetin) and Valbazen (albendazole).  
Albon for the cocci.  
Probiotics and B complex as indicated after each treatment.
His temp is (and has been)normal, he is active and alert.
Noble goat does have ammonium chloride in to for the calculi.
Unfortunately he needs all the calories we can get in him as he is so depleted.
He is currently getting Redcell and B complex/probiotics.
There are no indications for chronic pneumonia.
Eye lids have improved to about a 3.5 since we started the redcell.
Thank you again,

ANSWER: Thanks for the info.  Re the ammonium chloride in the Noble goat, it is still not enough to counteract the incorrect calcium/phosphorus ratio.  Re his eyelids, he may be improving on his anemia but the reason for his anemia sounds like it has not been dealt with.  I don't advise Cydectin or Valbazen for goats - have not seen them work well in many cases.  Re symptoms of chronic pneumonia - those are weight loss and failure to thrive and sometimes a rough coat - it is difficult to tell when a goat has a pneumonia as many times they do not show signs that you would normally think of such as cough, or rales/wheezes in the chest, etc.  

When a goat is having multiple symptoms treating via "kitchen sink method" is what I have found that works.  

I would advise starting him on a course of penicillin injectable, along with a worming method that would take care of possible bankrupt worm or liver flukes or barber pole worm (all of which cause anemia and failure to thrive).  I would also start him on selenium/D/E oral supplements (even if he has salt that has selenium in it or grain, that does not give his system enough and selenium is important in immune and other system functioning in a goat).  I advise use of Safeguard oral horse wormer given using three times the goat's body weight to find the dosage on the plunger, repeat once a week for a total of three weeks. This will not hurt him and will take care of the above three parasites.  As an aside, for a regular worming schedule I use Safeguard oral horse wormer and Zimectrin oral horse wormer switching between each every 2 months and using twice the goat's weight to find the dosing on the plunger.  The switching allows no resistance to build up by the worms.  These wormers can be used on any production of goat starting from age 2 months.  Re the penicillin injectable, I would start with this and if in 7 to 10 days you see no improvement would switch to Biomycin or LA200 as this could be a fungal pneumonia.   I use sulfa for cocci as it knocks them out within 24 hours and Albon sometimes does not kill totally.  

Re calories he needs, the 1/4 of a pound of grain he is currently getting is not enough to help him out.  As a build-up nutrition formula, feeding 5 to 6% of their body weight per day in total feed with 1/3 of that in grain and 2/3 of that in roughage is a good place to start.  For maintenance the goats get 3 to 4% of their body weight and some of our goats don't need the grain (such as packgoats during winter otherwise they would get fat).  I might also advise putting him calf manna (purina) starting at 1/4 cup twice a day and building him up to 1/2 cup twice a day over 2 weeks time.  The calf manna has a huge amount of protein and fat and is easily digested.  You would not need to keep him on the calf manna for a long period of time, just until he starts to gain weight.  I have never used "brand" name grains - for all my goats I have always used, with great success, a general pelleted livestock feed of 14% protein and then when I needed to add more protein and more fat in certain instances, they would get the calf manna added to their diet.

I advise use of human selenium tablets (200 mcg tablets) giving ten of these tablets to goats over a year of age, crushing the tablets and dissolving in a little hot water and to that add all the oil from a 1000 IU capsule of vitamin E and all the oil from an 800 IU capsule of vitamin D, mix well, cool and give orally and repeat in 10 days.  I used to use Bo-Se but had to get this from the vet, got tired of giving so many injections to upwards of 75 goats, and ended up having to give oral vitamin D along with it as the selenium and vitamin E really need the D to help them work their best.  I use this on a regular 3 times a year basis and anytime a goat looks ill or hair coat seems less than soft or not as full as it should be.

What does his hair coat look like?

The lack of weight gain is due to something as well as the anemia being due to something.  When you say 3.5 are you talking rosy pink?

Hope this helps - Donna

I did want to say that it is nice you have a vet you can talk with.  We had to learn all our own veterinary care through books and an old vet who did not know anything about goats.  So, now we try to share our successes and experience.  

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

QUESTION: Thank you,
A lot to consider.
Will give the Strongid and Ivermection a try, and reconsider the Pneumonia.
Concerned about the CalfManna (goat) as the Ca:P ratio is 1:1 to 2:1, perhaps rice bran...
As you can see, we have been at this for awhile and have considered may culprits, i.e., Copper, Cobalt, gram +/- bugs, parasites, the list is almost endless.
Will keep you posted on our progress.

Totally understand.  I have helped with so many ill goats over the past 28 years.  Re the calf manna and its calcium/phosphorus ratio because you are only giving a little it is not the huge part of the diet.  Goats are one of the more difficult to diagnosis, so different from horses, sheep and cattle/cows, which I have also worked with a lot.  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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