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Goats/Sick Dairy Goats


QUESTION: We just had a young buck die. We bought him about a month ago from a breeder whom we have purchased from before. I believe he was about 4-6 months old?
He acted alert but had a look in his eyes like he was not feeling good. He was very skinny and had relatively bad (but not overly watery) diarrhea. Also he would strain occasionally trying to defecate.

He did not have any sores, bloody stool, mucus or discharge from the face. Once he died, he went from looking emaciated to bloating (this could have been natural like all death things do but it seemed peculiar).

At first I though he just wasn't eating enough so I upped his food, gave him grain, and even put him back on milk to try and gain weight. We thought worms so we dewormed him -- no luck. We have had coccidiosis in the past but with much younger kids and they would not eat or move around much (this buck did) so I am not inclined to believe it was that infection.  

From the time he started with diarrhea to death was about a week. He acted sick but would eat and was eager for hay the night he died (he died not more than 8 hours later). I am very concerned about it being something which will spread to our other goats. Do you have any ideas?

ANSWER: Sorry for the loss. Do appreciate all the info.  What color was the diarrhea? Did you ever check lower inner eyelid color?  Did you ever take a temperature on him? The color of the diarrhea helps to make a better diagnosis.  Brown is either bacterial enteritis or stomach upset, green is coccidiosis, white is E. coli, and yellow is enterotoxemia.  Brown diarrhea also comes with worms and pneumonia.  Because he was eating up to almost the end it does not sound like pneumonia but instead liver flukes or the barber pole worm, especially with him being very skinny.  A bacterial enteritis also is in the diagnosis mix.  Where are you located? What type of pasture do you have - natural water around or wet a lot of the time? Please lt me know the answers to my questions and I will get back to you.  

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

QUESTION: Thank you for the response. The diarrhea was brown and no I didn't think to check eyelids or temperature. We are located on the plains of eastern Colorado. It has just started getting cold at night and is still relatively dry. He did not have access to our pasture (just grass hay) but it is mostly winter wheat, alfalfa, tumbleweeds, etc. in the fields.

Part of the reason why I am asking is that the other young doe we had with him is looking off too. However, she has what looks like a bloated hay belly but is very thin in the hip and shoulders. I am concerned because she is active and eating (like him) but without diarrhea. Would any of those possibilities align with her symptoms?

What color are the doeling's lower inner eyelid? What does her poop look like? Is she up to date on worming?

A pneumonia is still a possibility for the other kid, and indeed this doeling could have that too.  Re the doeling's belly is not normally bloated?

I might re worm the doeling.  What wormer regimen do you use?  I can give you the regimen I use if you'd like.  

If the doeling's lower inner eyelids are light pink to white she may have the barber pole worm causing anemia and the weight loss.  

Chronic pneumonia can cause severe weight loss too.

You could treat preventatively for the pneumonia with injectable penicillin, probiotics and vitamin B complex (human tablets work well); and treat for possible worm issues by using a different regimen, which I would be happy to give you mine that is very successful.  

As an aside, kid goats need extra protein, which grain gives.  We use calf manna on our kid goats from age 4 weeks through 6 months, and then at 6 months they are switched to a general pelleted livestock grain.  

Hope this helps - 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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