June 2009 Issue



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“Choke” a condition in Goats??

Coming from an equine background I understood what the term “choke” meant but I never thought it could affect goats as well.

I’ve used both textured feeds (whole grains) as well as pelleted feeds during my years of raising goats. I’ve seen goats gobble up their feed, cough, sputter, sling their heads, slobber trying to cough up the too big mouthful they just tried to swallow. However, the time I experienced true “choke” with a goat it was not a big gobbler of feed.

My experience with “choke” was in a doe that had kidded about 4-5 days earlier. I had pulled her up to a small, private pen out in my yard to keep an eye on her as she was a young first freshener and her twins were ones I wanted to make sure nothing bad happened to. I stepped outside one morning and saw that she had not eaten her feed from the previous day and it gotten damp from the morning dew. I dumped out the old feed, gave her some fresh and went on about my business. She tended to her babies and it wasn’t until that evening that I noticed she had not eaten again and that her water bucket was still full. It also looked as though she hadn’t touched her hay.

I crawled back into her shelter with my thermometer in hand……….temp was normal. Her sides were drawn in from dehydration and I noticed she was slobbering and shaking her head periodically. I mixed up some electrolytes and brought my stubby syringe out to drench her. She willingly took the fluids but they ran back out of her mouth. Her throat was so constricted with blockage that she wasn’t even able to swallow her saliva, or burp up a cud. We were in serious trouble. I called my vets office and told them I was on the way up for help. I also called Suzanne and told her what was going on. Between my vet and her vet we worked out a plan of action. My vet refused to do the “hands-on” treatment himself but he provided the medications as well as instructions on what to do.

She was given a weight appropriate dose of Banamine as well as another medication that must be “compounded” by a pharmacist as it is no longer on the market in the US. I administered that drug via IV injection. We waited 45 minutes to give the medications time to relax her smooth muscles, put her in my tilt table with her head kept lower than her body. I wet tubing in a bucket of clean water that I used to run down her throat and gently inserted the tubing down her throat until I felt the blockage. I gently tapped the blockage, pulled the tube out along with a lot of chewed hay, and slimy slobber. I continued this process until she was able to cough some of the blockage out herself. We opened up her throat enough that she could now swallow her salvia as well as drink water.

At the advice of the vet we pulled all hay and only gave her small amounts of finely ground feed. Just enough to give her a couple of good licks several times a day. We used some ground range meal(cattle feed) to start and slowly added a little crimped oats, pulverized pellets and a sprinkling of beet pulp shreds. We also continued the dosing of Banamine twice a day for three more days. After 4 days we tried adding a handful of hay back into her diet and she “choked” once again.

Back to the vet for more of the “compounded” medication to go with the Banamine and we repeated the process from the initial treatment. This go round it was much easier to get through the blockage when we tubed her and she remained trouble free. We waited about 10 days this time before adding hay back into her diet. We pulled pine needles and handfuls of green leaves offering these to her several times a day along with her ground feed.

It’s been two years since this incident and she has remained trouble-free. I hope no one ever has to experience “choke” with their goats. It seems whenever I feel comfortable in my knowledge of goats they find some new problem to throw at me.

Pat Cotten
Bending Tree Ranch
e-mail: bendingtreeranch@cyberback.com ©2009

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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A healthy rumen produces B vitamins. A sick goat's rumen stops B vitamin production. It is always good to give a sick goat supplemental B vitamins, especially B1 (thiamine)


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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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