December 2012 Issue



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Subscribe FREE now! Monthly issues with new articles and other educational information on meat goat health, nutrition, and management written by Suzanne W. Gasparotto of Onion Creek Ranch and Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch. In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither Suzanne Gasparotto nor Pat Cotten are veterinarians. None of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

Case Studies of Anemia NOT Caused by Worms

Drought has plagued West Texas since late 2010 and has spread to other parts of the USA in 2011 and 2012. I seldom have worm issues in my goats, even in what we call "wet" years (about 12 inches of annual rainfall), but when 20 months of drought were followed by two inches of rain in 24 hours in late September 2012, I was concerned about how the goats would re-act. Climate conditions have been so stressed that I feared an outbreak of wormloads in goats who almost never have worm problems.

OCR Sutton, a five year old TMG buck, became ill first. In late September 2012, I removed him from breeding does and put him with other bucks to form a mini-herd that I would later move into a larger group of bucks. This two-step process allows for less stress since moving a single buck into a herd of multiple bucks means instant conflict and resetting of the pecking order, with the new buck's likely taking bottom place.

Sutton's inner lower eye membranes were light pink on the FAMACHA scale and his abdomen was slightly distended but soft. This isn't acceptable to me so I dewormed (he had not been dewormed in a full year) and gave Vitamin B12 injections and oral Red Cell daily for two weeks. Sutton was eating but becoming more lethargic and standing unsteadily at times. Because he initially had a slightly elevated rectal temperature, I administered one Banamine injection for the fever and gave him a five-day treatment of the antibiotic Nuflor. I stomach tubed him with electrolytes mixed with Vitamin B1. His fecal material was pudding-like and blackish, so I treated him for five consecutive days with oral sulfadimethoxazole with trimethoprim. No improvement. Abdominal distension was increasing; edema (pooling of fluids) was evident. No problem urinating; if problem had been urinary calculi, he would have long been dead. After consultation with my vet, I gave him a five-day treatment of two injectible antibiotics -- gentamycin sulfate and procaine penicillin -- in the hope of addressing whatever was going on.


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Sutton was beginning to look like a very pregnant doe and was having trouble getting up and down. He was eating but his health was going downhill. Research indicated that one of two possible situations existed: either his liver was shutting down or he had perotinitis. In November 2012, Sutton was euthanized, the liver issue was eliminated, and we determined that he had ingested cactus thorns that punctured the lining (perotineum) of his abdomen, damaging internal organs and causing internal bleeding. The damage was not fixable; it was not worms after all.

About a month before GoatCamp2012™, OCR Dalila, 12 year old TMG doe, was found in a pasture unable to stand. I brought her to the Vet Building treatment pens. Since Dalila's eye membranes were light pink, I dewormed and treated for anemia as I had done for Sutton. She had elevated rectal temperature and mastitis in one side of her udder so she received a consecutive five-day treatment of Nuflor, appropriate Banamine for fever, and extensive mastitis therapy, including hot compresses and peppermint oil cream topically on the udder. Her appetite was not good. Stomach tubing electrolytes helped; she maintained but did not gain weight. Thirty minutes before a very old goat was going to be euthanized at GoatCamp™ for the necropsy demonstration, I found Dalila dead; her body was still warm. Dr. Swening opened her up in front of the GoatCamp™ students and found a hemangioma tumor the size of both of my hands surrounding her lungs. Dalila had been having breathing difficulty; it was now obvious that this blood-laden tumor was restricting lung function and causing internal bleeding. We now knew where the poor appetite, difficulty breathing, and pale eye membranes came from. Once again, not from worms.

These two goats are examples of situations that look like worms but turned out not to be worms. This is NOT the usual situation. In Sutton's case, the severe drought led he and his herd mates to eat around cactus fronds to get new growth. Even though my goats are well fed, goats will be goats and you cannot keep them from going for the new green leaves and grasses. With regard to Dalila, she was an extremely old doe by most people's standards -- you would never have guessed her age -- but I have lots of productive older goats. She kidded twin girls early in 2012 who are growing out well. As is the case with older people, older goats can develop extraordinary health problems as Dalila did. But in most cases, a sick goat either has worms, cocci, and/or pneumonia. Look for the obvious and usual problems first -- as I did. I take comfort in knowing that I did everything possible to save them.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, ONION CREEK RANCH, Texas 12/10/12




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