Friday, May 1, 2015

Into the Woods and Out Again - A Sick Goat Tale....

Usually when the kids get to around 3-4 weeks old, I lock them up together at night and then milk the girls in the morning.  Then everybody gets turned back together until evening and the process is repeated.  

I had already begun milking Tulip morning and evening, simply because Erika couldn't use all of her milk, and I wanted to keep her production up.  Weekend before last I started locking the kids up and began milking the girls......well that was my intention anyway.

Star had other plans.

I had been worried about Star for a while now.  She just seemed off.  I checked her eyelids, and spent countless hours watching her.  She was eating, pooping, loved going down to browse, but she just seemed off to me.  She had no interest in grain whatsoever, and I hadn't seen her chewing her cud much.  She was still eating mineral, still eating baking soda, loved it when I brought  her a banana or an apple core, but she just didn't seem like herself to me.

Friday night (5/17) I locked them up and went down that Saturday morning to milk.  I always milk Tulip first because she's boss goat.  She hops right up on the stand and I can milk her out in less than 3 minutes.

 Then it was Star's turn....and she refused to get on the stand.  Flat refused, nope, not going to do it and you can't make me.....

Ha! Well I did make her, but it wasn't easy for either of us.  Once I got her on the stand, she stood quietly like she always has, and I began to milk her, but she wouldn't let down.

You may not know this, but a goat has to "let down" their milk or you just aren't going to get any!  Tulip usually takes about 60-80 squirts before she lets down really well, and you can feel it immediately when she does, her teats just fill up full and then you can milk her out whippety quick!

Star wouldn't let down.  She had been locked apart from her kids all night, and was full as could be and I got less than 1/2 cup of milk from her.  I tried again Sunday morning, and the same thing, I had to wrassle her up on the stand and she wouldn't let down, and she wouldn't eat her grain.

She's never not been interested in grain, and she's never, ever given me trouble about getting on the milk stand.  This was all new behavior for her which is why I was so concerned.

I started her on probiotics and kept watching her, checking her eyelids and general condition.

Wednesday I took Erika and Bear back to the vet as they had a bit of horn growth and I wanted to get them redone.  As I went down to the pasture to collect the kids, Star was kind enough to poop so I scooped it up in a dixie cup, put it in a sandwich baggie and took it with me to have the vet do a fecal.


Actually he said it by the real name of  Haemonchus contortus and I didn't even know what it was until I got home and looked it up.  I did know what Barber Pole was though!

Yuck, and scary so I was faced with a now what?  I've never dealt with it before but I got on the internet machine and started doing tons of research, which can make you feel better or just scare you even more.  The vet recommended I deworm everybody, but I chose to check eyelids and evaluate condition before doing that.  I don't want to treat an issue that isn't there.  Tulip is as healthy as an ox as are the kids.

I didn't think Star was at deaths door or anything, but from what I read, they can go downhill quickly with this.  The vet gave me Panacur for her, and I gave her that and also gave her Morantel Tartrate.  Yes I combo wormed her.  I didn't want to mess around with this.  I didn't want to lose my Star!  I also started her on vitamin B shots as well as continuing the probiotics.

By Thursday evening, she had perked up a little bit, and when The Youngun went out to bend trees over for the kidlets, Star was more than ready to eat some leaves.....which I was excited about, until a couple hours later when she bloated!!

Yup, I went to check on her and she was laying in the barn, moaning like she was in labor again, and her tummy was as tight as a tick.  Now bloat is something that can kill a goat quickly as well, so I was afraid I was going to lose her from that.  I grabbed her around her front end and sat her up on her hindquarters to get her to "burp" and then massaged her rumen.  I went and did that several times throughout the evening, and her stomach began to loosen up.  I know there are several remedies for bloat, including drenching with a weak dish-soap solution, but I was so afraid to cause her any more distress that I finally went to bed hoping and praying for the best.

I really thought she might be gone when I went out Friday morning to do chores, but she was laying in there cuddled up with Bear, (who was feeling a little under the weather due to being a wether, he he, see what I did there), and she got up with a little bit of prodding from me.

By Saturday morning when I went out to milk Tulip, Star was waiting at the gate to her barn, looking at me with bright and shining eyes, ready to be let out!  She was wagging her tail as she browsed, and her poop is finally totally normal and in a nice quantity.  She is painfully thin to my eyes, and I'm thankful she was in such good flesh to begin with, or I can't imagine how thin she'd be.

I continued giving her probiotics daily, and she got the vitamin B shot every for about 5 days, when she felt good enough that I couldn't shoot her by myself, which I thought was an excellent sign.  She is also talking more again and just generally looks like her old self, except for the weight loss, however she still isn't interested in grain.  The only grain she will eat is sunflower seeds or dry beet pulp.  She wants nothing to do with anything else, including alfalfa pellets, although that seems to be changing as the days go on.

Eating sunflower seeds out of my shirt...
I've ordered some copper bolus and will give her that, as my research has shown me that copper oxide wire particles are helpful and effective in controlling barber pole worm.

This is the first time I've had to deal with a sick goat, other than the registered Kinder buck Luke  getting coccidiosis and being wormy at the same time, and I don't like it much!  It's pretty scary, and not fun, but such is all part of owning livestock.  They do get sick and sometimes they die and it's all just part of the circle of life.  I'm thankful that I have the opportunities to spend a lot of time with my girls and that way I can tell when something isn't right with them.  Star never got bottle jaw, never got overly pale membranes (a little pale, but not drastic) never really had any symptoms other than being "off" and having a bit of a rough hair coat which could have been from the time of year.  I just knew she didn't feel good and I'm glad shes feeling better!

I'll continue to monitor her condition and hope that after Bear and Fancy are weaned she will begin to put weight back on.

I'm very thankful she seems to be on the road to recovery at this time!

Till next time...

God Bless,


  1. Sorry for the rough spot, but I'm glad all is well now. Way to trust your instincts! I'm looking into getting sheep at some point, so I've been researching worms (I think they are even more susceptible to worms than goats). Barber pole is usually the one that scares everyone the most. Glad you caught it when you did!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment! I'm very glad she's on the mend now. She seems to be improving every day, and will even fight Tulip a little bit now, when Tulip is being a bully! I've heard that sheep are very susceptible to worms and other ailments, and I'm a firm believer that doing your homework is key! :)

  2. Goodness gracious, so glad you were watching Star so closely! I don't know anything about goats or their potential problems, but barber pole sounds very scary. Thankful she is on the mend again and that all of the kids are doing well, too.

    1. Thanks for commenting! Yes, barber pole is scary! It affects them so fast! :)

  3. Glad Star pulled through. I admire the way you are so in touch with your goats, but my husband does not 'connect' with goats so we don't have them here anymore. but do have two cows which he has tremendous affection for. As for me, I think I would like to try goats again, but I would look after them instead of my husband. Perhaps in another year or so......

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Vera! I really do love my goats. I think the key is to get goats that have the personality you are looking for. It's wonderful that your man has a good bond with his cows!

  4. It shows when you know your animals well enough to know they're off. Maybe not why, but just to know they are not quite right. I'm glad she's doing better, which means you're doing better, too. Whew! With all of the rain we've had this year I've been extra vigilant about worms. Thank you for teaching me something.


    1. Hi Fern! I was so stressed out about her, it's silly, but really worked up over it. And thanks, I am doing better now that she's doing better. Her appetite is coming back strong, and she even "fought" with her mama Tulip this morning!

  5. Whew, good thing you took that sample along with you to the vet. Sometimes (most of the time) it is so hard to figure out what's going on with them. So much guesswork and worry. So glad you got the correct diagnosis and information to properly treat, and especially that it all worked out well.

    1. Yes, I'm very thankful that she was courteous enough to poop right at the time I needed her to! Thank you Leigh for taking the time to comment! :)

  6. I'm so glad shes shes doing better.


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