January 2010 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.

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ESOPHAGEAL ABSCESSES IN GOATS

The esophagus is the muscular membranous tube that permits passage of food from the mouth to the stomach of a goat.

Goats foraging/browsing in pastures bite and swallow small woody pieces of plants, thorns, or stickers that can lodge in the esophagus as the food is passed to the stomach and then regurgitated for cudding. As ruminants, the goats swallow plant materials that are only partially chewed. Sometimes these sharp and rigid pieces lodge in the esophagus and begin to irritate it.

When this happens, over time an esophageal abscess can form, putting pressure on the adjacent trachea through which the goat's body passes air into the lungs. The goat may not lose weight but has difficulty breathing, especially in hot and humid weather.

By the time the producer figures out what has happened, the condition is often in an advanced stage. Because of the shape of the goat's head and the location of the esophagus in its body, it is inoperable from a practical standpoint and may even be physically inoperable. The producer should make the goat as comfortable as possible and euthanize it when it begins to suffer.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto 1/13/2010 ONION CREEK RANCH
Lohn, Texas 76852

Did you know that the primary determinant of lifespan in a goat is its teeth? When the teeth of a ruminant wear out, it can no longer feed itself and it dies a natural death from starvation.

With this issue of Meat Goat Mania™, I am offering the first of a continuing series of actual case studies of problems with goats that I've experienced at Onion Creek Ranch™ and what I did about it. Some of the case studies will report success; some will illustrate failure. All are informative.

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ALYSSA -- ACTUAL CASE STUDY

TexMaster™ doe about 4 years old who was likely but not visibly pregnant and udder had not filled was found by SWG sitting under a tree in the pasture closest to my house. At about 4 pm Saturday, I walked up to her and she was mouth breathing -- open, panting, and drooling.

I trailered her to the Vet Bldg, put her in a stall, and fully expected her to die. Usually when lower lip is hanging open and drool is coming out, the goat is dying. Imagine my surprise when her rectal temp turned out to be 102.7*F on a 40*F day in December in Texas. Thinking possible pneumonia, I administered Nuflor, Banamine, and Expectahist, gave her warm water with electrolytes (which she would not drink), checked her again at midnight (she was still mouth breathing and drooling) and expected to find her dead on Sunday. Sunday morning she was still mouth breathing but not drooling. I continued the medications and but deliberately did not stomach tube fluids into her because if this was pneumonia, I didn't want to risk having fluids come back up as heavy drool and wind up in her lungs.

On Monday a.m., she was standing, eating hay, drinking water, and breathing much less hard. By Wednesday, you would never have known that she had been sick. I continued the medications Nuflor (daily) and Expectahist (twice a day) for 5 consecutive days to avoid relapse.

Had I caught her in these weather conditions only a couple of hours later, I fully believe that she would have been sub-100*F body temp and would have been dead by Sunday morning.

So the point of my story is although I don't recommend giving antibiotics when fever isn't present, if your gut tells you to do it as it told me to do so in this instance and if you know the goat and know that these variable winter weather conditions are hard on them . . . . then take measures similar to what I did. Had I not done it, she would have been dead. I am positive of that.

Follow-up: By Friday at 5 p.m., the day after I finished the antibiotic regimen, doe was on her side,acting like she was trying to push kids out. She had developed a smallish udder. I decided to go in. Gloved up, got ranch hand to hold her still, and pulled out two dead and severely rotted kids. In fact, they came out in pieces. Got all of the dead babies out and went inside again with my hand to make sure that no babies, alive or dead, remained. Mixed up about a quart of equal parts of oxytetracycline 200 mg/ml (generic LA 200) with distilled water and flushed her uterus with it, using a turkey baster and then an enema bulb when turkey baster failed to work well. Put her on procaine penicillin daily for 5 consecutive days. Doe is fine. Back in pasture with her herdmates.

Moral of this story: I did the right thing for the wrong reasons, but it turned out well because I watch my goats and know their behaviors.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto 1/15/2010 ONION CREEK RANCH
Lohn, Texas 76852

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Texmaster™ buckling OCR Titan at 24 days of age. Triplet.

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Example of a TexMaster™ doe, OCR Tyna with her son OCR Titan and his two sisters at 39 days of age.

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TexMaster™ kids are
on the ground now!
Reserve yours for pickup
at weaning time.

Contact Suzanne Gasparotto at
325-344-5775 for prices and availability.
Representative Examples Shown

 

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