Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
Onion Creek Ranch "Chevon, cabrito, goat... No matter what you call it, it is the HEALTHY red meat™
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Goat Raising 101: How Goats Survive in Unmanaged Surroundings
and How Producers Foil the Natural Process

Bottlejaw occurs when a goat is so worm-infested that serious blood loss via the gastro-intestinal tract results in anemia. Bottlejaw is visibly apparent -- the flesh immediately underneath the chin becomes enlarged and puffy. As the day passes, the puffiness usually gets worse. Sometimes it goes down overnight but re-appears the next day.

Just as anemia is life-threatening in humans, so it is with goats. Many goats die from anemia. It is a difficult and a long-term process to bring a goat back from severe anemia. Very wormy goats, when dosed with dewormers, may initially become sicker; the shock to the goat's system from sloughing off the heavy worm load is difficult for an anemic goat to handle Severe diarrhea commonly accompanies the expulsion of a heavy wormload, therefore rehydration is critical. This writer's article on Dehydration is available on the Articles page.

Worms and wet climates go hand in hand. Here is some basic information on goats as a species that some people who are raising goats either do not know or understand: In terms of how they live, eat, and forage/browse, goats are "first cousins" to deer. Goats prefer weeds and leaves; they are not grass eaters or grazers. Goats eat "from the top down," creating a browse line (again, like deer). This is how they protect themselves from worms. Goats are very susceptible to worms -- particularly stomach worms. Goats will eat grass if forced to do so to survive, but they will get wormy and remain wormy -- if they survive.

Goats, like deer, need lots of acreage to roam over. In an unmanaged state, goats are constantly moving -- looking for a wide variety of high-quality weeds and leaves. These two mechanisms -- constantly moving and eating "from the top down" -- are how goats protect themselves from worms.

If goats are raised under managed conditions, they must be rotated to fresh fields every three weeks (the life cycle of a stomach worm). If goats are dewormed and placed back in the same pasture, they will be immediately reinfected by ingesting the worms that they have just shed via feces. Goat pills are not mushy piles of poop like cattle feces. They are small dry round objects that easily mix with leaves and weeds and are readily picked up by mouth as goats browse on tasty plants. Kids are particularly adept at ingesting goat pills, as they "mouth" just about everything while learning to eat solids.

If you do not have at least four rotational pastures/fields AND if you do not have adequate acreage for the number of goats that you own, you will never be able to raise healthy goats.

Unfortunately, some producers do not have land that is suitable for raising healthy goats. Much of the land in the United States is too wet or not well enough drained for goats. Wet marshy land is not goat country. Two inches of rain is enough to hatch out a good crop of worms that will quickly climb up blades of grass and wait to be ingested. In an attempt to challenge these statements, some folks have pointed out that this writer's preferred breed (Myotonics) was discovered in Tennessee in the 1870's, that Tennessee has areas of heavy annual rainfall, and that Myotonics still exist and thrive in Tennessee. These statements are correct. However, the areas of Tennessee where Myotonics live and thrive are well drained. Moreover, most of the Myotonic producers there have allowed "survival of the fittest" to occur, adapting the Myotonics to their environment over many decades. A lot of Myotonic goats died during this adaptation process as the worm-tolerant animals lived and the others didn't.

Goat breeds can adapt to wetter climates, but the most well-known breed in this country -- Boers -- has not been allowed to do so. Boers were developed in South Africa to live in a very dry climate. For Boers to adapt to America's wet areas, producers have to let the weak die off and the strong survive. So far, few Boer producers are permitting this to occur. Goat breeds native to this country do better than imported goats because they have had the opportunity as well as the time to adapt so that they can survive and thrive.

Adaptability is the most important trait in any goat, regardless of breed. (This writer's article on Adaptability appears on the Articles page ) Without adaptability, the goat cannot survive and thrive. It is absurd to think that a goat can be moved from one climatic condition to a totally different one and expect it to adapt immediately. People have difficulty doing that, and we wear clothes and live in houses that protect us. The simple act of moving the goat creates stress. Add in a completely new climate and new herdmates under different living conditions and different feed, and big-time trouble is at hand. The producer has to learn how to adjust conditions and management style to accomodate these stressed animals.

These statements apply to all meat goat breeds. A wise producer will tailor his meat-goat operation and management style to fit his land -- rather than trying to force goats to fit into his mold.

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Important! Please Read This Notice!

All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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