By Katherine Drovdahl MH CR CA CEIT DipHIr QTP
Kat Drovdahl answers your questions about runny goat noses, kids with diarrhea, leaking does, milk production drops and whether you should let your goat eat frozen clover.
Q: One of my kids had a runny nose. Should I do anything about it?
Absolutely. A runny goat nose is a hint that your kid is trying to get rid of something that doesn’t belong in its respiratory tract. It could be bacterial, viral, or mechanical such as dust. If I have an animal get sick, this is exactly the stage I like to catch it at — in its very beginning. To ignore this is really to hate oneself because most often these develop into a larger problem that will be more time consuming, more expensive and could put your kid’s life at risk. Now why would anyone want to do that to themselves and their kid? I find that the vast majority of these are easily solvable by putting a tiny smear of Eucalyptus globulous essential oil onto my fingertip and dabbing that on the goat’s nose, at each nostril. Notice I said a tiny smear, which is quite a bit less than a drop. Eucalyptus g. has antimicrobial and bronchial-dilating therapeutic characteristics which are perfect for this situation. I find that one dab takes care of most issues within two hours. If the runny goat nose issue is still lingering after that, I do more assessment and take more action.
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Q: One of my doelings has the runs. Where did this come from?
There are generally four sources of diarrhea in kids, none of which can be ignored or they can jeopardize your goat’s life at any age. One would be increasing their feed amounts, types, or increase in quality too quickly, causing acidosis (or enterotoxemia in bad cases, which is an emergency). I address the kidneys and GI tract in this situation. Another would be feeding poor-quality milk such as most milk replacers, which requires a careful change to better-quality feed, such as real disease-negative goat milk, as well as herbs to help soothe and dry up the inflamed GI tract. A third source would be a parasite problem such as strongyles or single-celled parasites such as coccidia. These are picked up in their pens, from stall walls, eating hay off of the ground, etc. For those, regular herbal or chemical products must be used to keep your kid or kids stable. Fourth would be exposure to mold or toxins in hay, grain, black-oiled sunflower seeds, their environment or pasture, which will cause liver toxicity. The liver dumps its waste into the top of the small intestine. For those issues, I focus on cleaning and supporting the liver and kidneys as well as the GI tract, which could be getting burned from the toxins running through them.
Q: How come my goat is leaking milk?
I rarely have a goat that leaks, but when I do, it requires some sleuth work on my part. The first question I ask myself is, “When is she leaking?” I check is to see if her udder is too tight. If it looks full and the skin is shiny, especially around the teats, and is firm to the touch, then she is too full and her udder can’t (and shouldn’t) hold it back. If her teats start turning red on top, then she is way too full! If she’s allowed to remain that way, then the internal pressure will cause cellular death within the udder and can blow the medial suspensory ligament, which is responsible for holding the udder firmly against the body and out of harm’s way. It is a built-in safety for the goat to leak, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. A leaking goat means an orifice is open, allowing bacteria to run into the teat and mammary gland to multiply in its warm, nutrient-rich environment. Some first fresheners bred for high milk production may come into milk so fast that they leak the first few times before milking. Often, those does correct themselves within the first few days. I like to keep antibacterial salve on the teats and udder to avoid bacterial problems. Also, olive oil in the salves helps mammary tissue stretch sooner to accommodate the milk production. When raising goats for milk, it can also be beneficial to add a third partial milking to the schedule for a few days, to avoid becoming full to the point of leaking. Sometimes, a doe will have a weak sphincter muscle at the orifice. I had a doe like this years ago. She leaked on and off all day. For these, I use tissue-building salves, especially ones containing comfrey, to encourage muscle to strengthen. As mentioned above, also be proactive to avoid mastitis. Some goats will leak in anticipation of milking. If you have does like this, it’s very important to keep them on a regular milk schedule as well as milking them first, so they aren’t leaking while waiting, to avoid mastitis issues.
Q: My doe is coming into the milkroom with quite a bit less milk this week. What could be going on?
Check for mastitis by using a CMT kit or other mastitis indicator test. Sometimes the only visible sign you will get from mastitis is a half or whole udder that is producing less. Also check is to see if she is drinking enough water. Check water cleanliness, taste, and quality, especially if several in the herd have sudden decreases in milk production. Changes in hay quality can definitely change milk production, either positively or negatively, as quickly as with the first new bale. Beware of electrical cords, fences or underground electrical wires getting wet and causing a charge at the tank, which will discourage or eliminate drinking. If you have a mixed herd, watch for kids stealing milk from milkers. Two different years, I had two different dairy does steal a Boer kid off of their dams. It wasn’t nice of them to blow my milk test like that. Stinkers! Goat diseases will cause a doe to be down in milk, as well being in heat, unseasonably hot or cold weather, or a parasite overload.
Q: I was told to not let my goats out on pasture when it is frozen. Why?
If your pasture has legumes such as clovers or alfalfa, then allowing goats to graze on them while the plants are frozen can cause a life-threatening frothy bloat problem. Frothy bloat is bunches of tiny air bubbles in the rumen and is much more difficult to battle than a few large air bubbles in more common bloat issues. Any form of bloat needs to be dealt with immediately. Very strong peppermint tea, carefully drenched every 15 minutes, as well as three drops of the same essential oil mixed with a tablespoon of olive oil and rubbed onto the rumen area on the left side of the goat, will help you move forward if you caught it soon enough. Also, walk them, if you can get them to walk, and firmly massage the rumen area. If you aren’t comfortable working with this or any condition while caring for goats, then, by all means, hire your veterinarian’s expertise.
Katherine and her beloved husband Jerry are owned by their LaManchas, horses, alpacas and gardens on a small piece of Washington State paradise. Her varied international alternative degrees & certifications, including Master of Herbology & lifelong experience with creatures of many kinds, give her unique insight into guiding others through human or creature wellness problems. Her wellness products & consultations are available at www.firmeadowllc.com.
Do you have a question for Kat’s Caprine Corner? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in the March/April 2018 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.