May 2011 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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Don't miss Goat Camp™ 2011 The week of October 24th
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JeffersLivestock.com

TIP:

Do NOT rotate dewormers. Use a single dewormer until it quits working, then change to another class of dewormers.

The white-colored dewormers (Safeguard, Panacur, Valbazen) no longer kill stomach worms in most areas of the USA.

WEAK KIDS OR FLOPPY KIDS?
Diagnosis and Treatment

Weak kid or floppy kid? Making the proper diagnosis can be confusing to goat producers. This is a life-threatening distinction because the causes and treatments are very different, and if the wrong choice is made, the kid will probably die.

A weak kid is a starving kid, either from a stressful birth that has resulted in hypothermia (sub-normal body temperature means a chilled kid) or from the nursing kid's inability to get sufficient milk from its mother. In the latter case, the kid could have gotten separated from its dam or it could have been out-maneuvered for milk by stronger siblings. The dam might have mastitis or congested udder or she may not have received proper nutrition during her pregnancy therefore she cannot produce enough milk for her kids. A weak kid born out of a doe infected with an abortion disease is starving because abortion organisms cut off the placental food supply in an effort to kill the kid in utero. If the dam is infected in the latter part of her pregnancy, the kid can be born weak but unable to stand and nurse. Whatever the situation, the kid is weak because it is starving.A floppy kid is a kid that has been overfed on milk, usually as a result of bottle feeding but sometimes because the dam has been penned in such close quarters with the kid that she cannot walk off and keep the kid from nursing too often. This usually does not occur until a kid is about seven to ten (7-10) days old. Newborn kids do NOT have Floppy Kid Syndrome, unless they are being overfed as bottle babies. When a kid is overfed on milk, it is unable to digest the contents of its milk stomach quickly enough before more milk is put into it, setting up an overeating-on-milk scenario. Similar to overeating disease in ruminating goats, the kid cannot digest all the milk, so a toxic situation is set up and it is poisoned from within. No vaccine exists to prevent pre-ruminal kids from overeating on milk. If the kid is being bottle fed, the producer must learn how much milk can be fed and at what specific intervals of time for the kid's weight and age in order to prevent Floppy Kid Syndrome.

WEAK KID SYNDROME

Weak Kid Syndrome is the term used to describe newborns who are unable to stand and or nurse -- regardless of cause. If the producer does not take steps to intervene quickly, the newborn will die. Kids thought to have been smothered or crushed by other goats usually were too weak to stand to nurse their dams and actually starved to death. Getting sufficient colostrum into a newborn during its first few hours of life is critical to its survival. See my article entitled The Importance of Colostrum to Newborns on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.

Kids born prematurely for any reason, newborns of does infected with abortion organisms late in pregnancy, and hypothermic kids (sub-normal body temperature) experience Weak Kid Syndrome. Cold and/or wet weather strikes, the doe goes into labor, and her newborns are at risk for hypothermia. A weak kid cannot stand to nurse its mother. A dam is not going to waste her energy or colostrum on a kid that cannot stand and is -- to her - clearly not going to survive. If the kid can stand at all, its back legs will be splayed apart from its body. A very weak kid will be limp and its neck may fold back like a bird's neck towards one side of its body. Such a kid is not only weak but is dehydrated, cold, and almost dead. Do not confuse this kid with the occasional newborn who develops early-onset fever due to its inability to regulate its body temperature during extremes of weather. A kid born with fever or who develops fever soon after being born has the ability to suck but won't nurse until medication is given to stabilize its body temperature at the normal level. Goats with fever go "off feed." This condition is discussed in depth in my article entitled Weak and Abandoned Newborns on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.

The first thing that the producer should do with any sick goat is to take rectal temperature. Normal goat body temperature is 101.5*F to 103.5*F. Body temperature below 100*F means the goat is in critical condition. Fever is much easier to bring down than sub-normal body temperature is to bring up. Fill a sink with very warm water and put the kid's body in it, holding its head out of the water. Gently massage the kid's legs to stimulate blood circulation. A cold stressed newborn's body will shunt blood to essential organs (lungs, heart, kidneys -- not stomach) to sustain life, leaving its legs with poor circulation and therefore cold. When the chill is off the kid's body and its body temperature is at least 100*F, remove it from the warm water bath, towel the kid dry, and administer Lactated Ringers Solution under the skin (SQ) at each shoulder.

Do NOT put colostrum into the stomach of a kid whose body temperature is under 100*F.If you do, it is likely to die. When the body is struggling to fight off death, the stomach is not at that point in time an essential part of survival and blood is shunted to vital organs like heart, lungs, and liver. If you put colostrum or milk into the kid under these circumstances, there will be no blood flow to the stomach to assist in digestion, the colostrum or milk will remain there undigested, toxicity will set in, and the kid will die.

Lactated Ringers is an inexpensive veterinary prescription item that comes in an IV bag and is used to rehydrate the kid. Using a 60-cc syringe with a new sharp 18 gauge needle attached, withdraw 60 cc of LRS from the IV bag and warm it in a pot of water before giving it SQ to the kid. Test the temperature of the Lactated Ringers Solution on the inside of your wrist to make sure it is not too hot. Tent the kid's skin at the shoulder and inject 30 cc's Lactated Ringers Solution under the skin (SQ) per side. Use an 18 gauge needle to keep the skin tented so that the needle does not nick the kid's flesh. Do not use the same needle twice; LRS must be kept uncontaminated. Lactated Ringers Solution is best kept refrigerated, especially after opening.

Lactated Ringers comes in various sizes up to a 1000 mL IV bag, but do not give it intravenously to the kid. The goal is to hydrate the kid's body tissues -- not to put it in its bloodstream. The knot of fluid which appears under the skin will soon be absorbed by the dehydrated kid's body. Continue to give Lactated Ringers Solution until the kid's body quits absorbing it rapidly, but space the dosing over reasonable periods of time. Give the kid's body time to absorb and process the fluid. A newborn kid can live several hours on SQ fluids and without colostrum in its stomach. Rehydration to get the body temperature above 100*F is vital. LRS can be used frequently and safely in small amounts as described. Anytime a kid is dehydrated, whether from Weak Kid Syndrome, pneumonia, eColi, diarrhea, or other causes, Lactated Ringers is a good product to use for rehydration. Many illnesses are accompanied by dehydration and fever is always dehydrating. Do not trust the skin pinch test to determine dehydration. (Adults usually require stomach tubing because it is difficult to give them enough Lactated Ringers Solution SQ to resolve their dehydration problem.)

Once the kid has been hydrated with LRS, use a hand-held hair dryer set on *low* temperature and blow warm air across the kid to help raise and hold its body temperature. Take care not to burn or further dehydrate the kid. For quick energy, put some molasses or Karo syrup on your finger and rub it onto the kid's gums and inside the kid's mouth. Stomach tube a weak kid who cannot hold its head up with a small amount of Karo syrup or molasses diluted in warm water or with a solution of equal parts of 50% Dextrose and water. A weak kid with sub-normal body temperature is able to absorb these simple sugars while it cannot digest colostrum or milk. Give the simple-sugar mixture slowly and in small amounts -- probably no more than two ounces at a time, depending up the size and breed of the kid. Do not put colostrum or milk into a weak kid that cannot hold its head up until its body temperature is above 100*F. Once the kid's rectal temperature is above 100*F, milk the kid's mother and stomach tube a small amount of colostrum into it, even if it cannot hold its head up. If the dam's colostrum is bad (stringy or bloody or won't flow when the seal over the teat has been carefully removed with a fingernail), thaw some colostrum that has been previously frozen in plastic soda-pop bottles or use colostrum replacer (not colostrum *supplement*) and tube feed the kid no more than two ounces at a time. It is important to use the dam's colostrum if the producer wants to graft the kid back onto its mother. A dam uses smell to identify her kids; the kids' feces must smell like her milk or she will reject them.

Colostrum should be thick and creamy in consistency and yellowish in color. Occasionally colostrum will be so thick that it cannot be tube-fed. Dilute very thick colostrum with a small amount of goat's milk so it will flow through a stomach tube. Colostrum is required to get the newborn's digestive system operating. A combination of five (5) cc's strong coffee (not too hot) mixed with molasses or Karo syrup can be given orally to *jump start* the kid. Jeffers (1-800-533-3377) sells Goat NutriDrench which can be given to weak kids as a source of quick energy.

Orally administer CMPK or MFO (calcium-magnesium-phosphorus-dextrose solution). Often given to does experiencing Hypocalcemia ("milk fever"), CMPK or MFO will help stabilize a weak kid whose calcium balance is off from the stress of hypothermia. Use a one-cc syringe and give as little as one quarter of one cc (1/4 of one cc) at a time orally. Try to get one cc per pound of bodyweight of CMPK or MFO into the kid. Example: a six-pound kid should get up to six cc's of this product orally -- given very slowly. Also give from one to three cc's (1 to 3 cc's) of Fortified Vitamin B Complex given into the muscle (IM) -- again in small doses. Both of these products are available over the counter from Jeffers (1-800-JEFFERS) and are inexpensive. Thanks to Donna Palmer, Crown Hill Nubians, Central Point, Oregon, for this tip.

Premature kids or "dummies" who don't catch on to nursing quickly can benefit from having from one-half to one cc (1/2 to 1 cc) of Vitamin B1 (thiamine) injected IM to "wake up the brain." Girls born prematurely have teeth than are about half erupted from their gums, while premature boys usually have their teeth totally unerupted (still inside the gums).

Stomach tubing is easy but can be a big stressor to the producer. Have a vet or an experienced producer demonstrate how to stomach tube properly and read STOMACH TUBING on the Articles page of my website www.tennesseemeatgoats.com. The stomach tube must go into the esophagus and not into the kid's lungs. If fluid is tubed into the lungs, the kid will contract pneumonia and die. All producers must know how to use a stomach tube on both kids and adult goats.

Now that the weak kid has received life-sustaining colostrum, wrap or cover it loosely in a towel, set a heating pad on *low* inside a box and place another towel over it, then put the kid on the towel-covered heating pad. In very cold weather, also use a heating lamp with a 150 to 200 watt clear bulb over which a metal guard has been placed so that the kid cannot touch the hot bulb. Infrared bulbs are suitable for extremely cold climates only and should be placed out of reach of the kid and any other animal. Test the heat with your hand and adjust height and wattage accordingly. Keep electrical cords out of reach. Set the kid upright on its sternum and turn it from side to side every 30 minutes to avoid pneumonia. Keep the kid hydrated; heating pads have a dehydrating effect. Use Lactated Ringers Solution for hydration as needed. A good indication of hydration is when the kid can urinate and when its body no longer quickly absorbs the LRS when injected SQ.

If the producer is lucky enough to find a weak kid whose temperature is slightly sub-normal but more than 100*F and it can stand and hold its head up, then most of the foregoing treatments can be skipped and the kid can be placed at its dam's teat to nurse. Squeeze a bit of the dam's colostrum into the kid's mouth and it will usually begin to nurse if it has sufficient strength. Nursing takes energy. Check the kid's sucking response by putting your finger in its mouth. A kid that is only slightly *weak* will suck the finger. Remember that most weak kids won't be strong enough to nurse on their own but instead will require stomach tubing.

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WHEN MEAT MATTERS...

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

Heavily-muscled Myotonic buck for sale at OCR

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Young TexMaster™ bucks for sale at Onion Creek Ranch

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

 

NEXT... FLOPPY KID SYNDROME

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