March 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.

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GRASS TETANY (STAGGERS)

In parts of the United States over the last 18 to 24 months, we've experienced extreme drought or unusually large amounts of rain. In Texas, we had 18+ months of sub-normal rainfall and very high temperatures. In the spring of 2012, we are now having unseasonal rain and alternating cool and hot weather patterns. Pastures are lush and goats are dying when producers don't limit access and provide minerals high in magnesium to counteract toxic reactions.

Grass tetany, also known as grass staggers and hypomagnesemia, is a metabolic disease in goats. Although often called wheat pasture poisoning, grass tetany is not restricted to wheat fields. This disease usually occurs in springtime in lush pastures, but it can also appear following cool rainy weather in the fall when cool season grasses and green cereal grains are beginning to grow.

Like prussic acid poisoning and nitrate poisoning, grass tetany kills quickly. Death often occurs within two to three hours of onset of the disease. It is basically a magnesium deficiency caused by an imbalance of potassium with calcium and magnesium that usually requires veterinary assistance to treat and producer involvement to prevent.Symptoms include wide-eyed staring, muscle twitching in the ears and flanks, hypersensitivity to sound and touch, staggering, foaming at the mouth, and convulsions. Goats most at risk are lactating does (milk production involves the utilization of lots of magnesium) and older goats. Least at risk are young goats, wethers, dry does, and younger adult bucks.

Soil conditions and fertilization practices can contribute to grass tetany. Soils and fertilizers high in potassium and nitrogen can produce plants that contain high potassium and low calcium and magnesium levels that can suppress magnesium absorption. Mineral interaction is complex and a field of study unto itself.

If the producer can obtain veterinary assistance quickly, the proper treatment involves slow intraveneous (IV) administration of calcium and magnesium. This is not something that the average goat producer can do. In an emergency when a vet is not available, the producer can try to save the goat by treating it as if it had "milk fever" ( hypocalcemia) with repeated dosing of CMPO or MFO orally. See this writer's article on Hypocalcemia on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.Prevention is the key. Producers should offer quality hay free choice to goats that have access to pastures that can cause grass tetany, and producers must make sure that goats have eaten hay before letting them out onto lush pasture each day. Goats should also receive a quality loose mineral properly formulated with higher levels of magnesium and offered on a free-choice basis.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, ONION CREEK RANCH Lohn, Texas 3/9/12

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Pat’s Potion for Poisoning that causes Frothy Bloat/Vomiting
(this only works for frothy bloat and vomiting)

Pepto Bismol – 30 cc for 150 to 200 lb goat
20 cc for 100 to 150 lb goat

Penicillin ORALLY- 5cc to 10 cc

Mineral Oil – 10cc to 15 cc

CD ANTI-TOXIN 10cc – 15 cc ORALLY

Mix the above ingredients together and use a drenching syringe to dose animal. Give it slowly as they may choke and gag from the vomiting. You will see relief almost instantly.

Inject CD ANTI-TOXIN subQ according to label recommendations.

Banamine injection (use weight appropriate dose which is 1 cc per 100lbs)

  • Pepto Bismol coats the gut and esophagus.
  • Penicillin slows the growth of the bad bacteria that is opportunistic under these circumstances.
  • Mineral Oil also coats and helps move the toxins out. It also breaks up the froth/bloat.
  • CD ANTI-TOXIN provides protection from Type C/D Clostridium Perfringens
  • Banamine soothes gut pain

This formulation be repeated in 12 hours if needed but omit the penicillin if dose. One dose usually stops the frothing and vomiting.

 

Withhold feed and hay until goat is recovered. They can have water but do not offer hay until 24 hours after the vomiting stops. Once they are eating hay for a 24 hr period with no problems you can slowly add feed back into their diet.

Dose with Register Supplies 1-888-310-9606 probiotic paste “SYNGUARD/GOAT GUARD” which has a guaranteed analysis of 1,000,000,000 (one billion) colony forming units per gram of Bifidobacterium Thermophilum, Lactobacillus Acidophilus to repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria after the vomiting/frothy has been stopped for 24 hours.

Pat Cotten © 2012
www.bendingtreeranch.com

TIP: Anti-bacterials, including antibiotics, are either bacteriostatic or bacteriocidal in function. Bacteriostats slow down bacterial growth by various mechanisms, while bacteriocides kill bacteria outright. One classification is not better than another; each has important functions and specific applications. As a general rule, you should not use a bacteriocide (example: penicillin) in conjunction with a bacteriostat (example: oxytetracycline).

NAIANI LOSES HER TWO NEWBORN KIDS: A Case History

This is the true story of a pregnant doe at Onion Creek Ranch and how she lost both her kids.

OCR Naiani, eight-year-old Tennessee Meat Goat™ doe, began exhibiting early signs of labor by staying to herself slightly away from the herd and displaying an engorged udder full of milk. She came to feed and otherwise acted normally. No visible signs of labor were observed and she showed no distress.

At 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, some slight discharge from her vulva was observed. She was standing close to her herdmates inside a shed. Again, no distress and no signs of labor like pawing the ground, getting up and down repeatedly, etc.

At 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, two dead kids were found near Naiani. The first dead kid was covered with dirt inside the corner of the shed. She had cleaned it up and when it would not stand, she gently pawed it to try to get it up. This is normal behavior on the part of a dam. The second kid was still in the placental sac. Both kids were dead when born (stillborn). I will explain how I know this later in this article. Naini was brought to the Vet Building and placed in a kidding pen, where her rectal temp was taken (a normal 102.1*F) and she was given the first of five days of penicillin injections. She was eating normally, both grain and hay, and appeared none the worse for wear. She was completely uninterested in other does and their kids in adjacent pens.How do I know that they were stillborn? If even one of the kids had been born alive and made a sound, Naiani would be calling and searching for it. She would also be interested in the other dam's newborn kid in the pen next to her, calling to that kid as if it were her own.

Pregnant does will "talk" to their kids in utero when kidding time is close, and they definitely communicate with live-birthed kids that die. Numerous attempts to graft an extra kid onto her failed. She simply never had her maternal instinct kick in by the sound of newborns. She had kidded numerous times before and had always been a good mother -- and will be again next time she is bred.

I don't know why she had stillborn kids. Many things could have caused it, including but not limited to a fetal malformation in one of the kids that resulted in enough toxicity in the womb to kill the second kid. Or Naini could have been hit by another goat, killing one or more of her kids. Multiple other scenarios could have caused the kids' deaths. The important thing is that she managed to deliver them dead (without the assistance that live kids provide by turning their bodies as they approach the birth canal for proper delivery positioning) rather than having them rot inside her and kill her too.

Giving birth is a dangerous event, particularly when multiple kids are involved . Too many people raising goats don't understand or recognize this fact.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, ONION CREEK RANCH, 3/9/12

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WHEN MEAT MATTERS...

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

Tennessee Meat Goats™ and TexMasters™ are usually available year round.
Contact us for ages and pricing by calling
325-344-5775 or emailing onioncreek@tennesseemeatgoats.com

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Tennessee Meat Goat™ does at Onion Creek Ranch

 

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