I am a very firm believer in the wonderful benefits of probiotics for animal healthcare.

I’m going to share the story of Goliath’s illness because I’m hoping someone might learn.  Goliath was born here on the farm, and he was always a snuggler and a hugger.  He was so sweet!  I decided to keep him.  I even went out and bought three lovely boer nannies so he would have some girls of his own.

When he was a year or so old, we had a very horrible winter.  Off and on all winter long, Goliath would struggle with a couple days of fever and diarrhea.  Then he would get better.  All winter it went on.  Finally, in April he got sick and wasn’t doing better.  He had antibiotics, wormer, herbal wormer, Pepto-bismol, and I don’t know how many other things.  Thank goodness, he was so easy to give medicine.  Just put it in a syringe and stick it in his mouth.  He’d eat it.  The only hard part was getting the syringe back out of his mouth.

He improved, but then he got the diarrhea back.  I couldn’t get him to clear up.  I had him confined to a small area so he wasn’t using lots of energy, and I was feeding him more food than any one goat should have ever been able to consume.  I would cut grass out of the ditches every day so he always had fresh green food.  He got hay.  He had grain.  This goat ate more food than I would have thought possible, and it just went straight through him.

Now the vets always say worms.  He was on herbal wormer.  If it’s in his system, it has to work.  I watched him eat it.  There is no way he could have worms.  Finally, I gave in and they did a fecal sample, and he was filled with worms.  I was floored.  It wasn’t possible if it was in his system.

We treated him for worms, and the vets felt that was the full diagnosis.  I knew that the worms had to simply be a symptom of something larger.

Finally, I had an epiphany!  The wormer wasn’t getting in his system.  That meant he had a digestive problem.  His rumen was not working.  I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I saw him chewing his cud.  He was either eating or looking for something to eat.  I called the vet to discuss my billy goat that was starving to death.  Of course, he didn’t believe me that the goat’s rumen wasn’t working at all.  He said if that were the case he would…

Nope, he didn’t finish the sentence.  He would starve to death.  After all, that’s why I had called to start with.  I gave Goliath about two doses of probiotics, and it was a miracle.  His diarrhea ended.  All that food that was pouring through him started sticking.  He gained weight.  He grew.  He became huge!

Lessons to be learned.

1.  Don’t be stubborn.  Just have the vets do the fecal test so you can eliminate it or see that it is a symptom.

2.  Always make sure that your goat’s rumen is working.  You should see them chewing their cud pretty much all the time except when eating and sleeping.

3.  Always keep probiotics on hand and use them whenever you give antibiotics, someone is run down, before or after kidding, or whenever you feel like it.  You can’t give too many probiotics.

32 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa's Chaos
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 18:34:07

    Probiotics work wonders for people too. I have had many issues since colon surgery and they help a lot. Your billy is beautiful!!!


    • Teresa
      Mar 14, 2011 @ 18:57:10

      It’s amazing all the products that are now speaking praises of probiotics. Glad to hear they have helped you. Goliath certainly was a cute kid and impressive as an adult.


  2. texwisgirl
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 18:41:49

    Look at that big handsome boy! SO glad he got better. Even tho I don’t have goats, I appreciate these helpful posts as it could help others out there (or even me with my critters.) :)


    • Teresa
      Mar 14, 2011 @ 18:58:02

      I actually have had a large number of search engine hits on goat health topics. Makes me feel like I might actually be helping someone out.


  3. Chai Chai
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 18:42:47

    Great post, I too am a believer in the healing use of probiotics. He sure is a handsome fellow!


  4. Sandy
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 18:59:25

    Agreed! I also agree they are wonderful for humans as well! and boy your Buck sure grew up to be one handsome fellow!


  5. Joani
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 19:16:54

    Awesome. I’m so glad U put UR mind to work & figured it out. Sometimes it is just that gut feeling. Have a great day.


  6. Alica
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 19:34:21

    So glad you were persistent, and figured it out! We have found over the years, that even though the vets know a LOT, sometimes we just have to go with our gut feeling, and we end up being right! :)


  7. KFS
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 19:44:48

    You have no idea how timely this is. We are goat family quite by accident. What I know about goats you could stuff in an olive, and yet I have three. I don’t say this lightly or like “oh ha ha how funny!” these are living, breathing, loving things depending on us for their care and I know nothing. Scary.

    Your tutorial is wonderful and I really, REALLY appreciate it. As a sort of ‘accidental goat owner’ I’m trying to learn all I/we can to keep them safe and healthy, and your sharing your experience is invaluable.

    I thank you. My family thanks you. And Gertie, Billy, and Penny thank you. :)


    • Teresa
      Mar 14, 2011 @ 19:55:42

      I am so glad you found this helpful. I do have a page on goat information that has other links to posts I’ve done. If you ever have questions, feel free to ask. I might not know everything, but I’ve been doing this for quite a while now.


  8. Rob
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 19:54:08

    A friend of ours who works for a swine pharmaceutical company gave us a probiotic sample for baby pigs this year. He didn’t give it to us until we had only one more sow left to farrow. Her litter was the only one that didn’t ever have scours, and the only one I never had to give antibiotics to. Everything else was the same for them as every other pig in the barn. Count me in as a believer in probiotics!


  9. Sharon
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 20:28:25

    Goliath did turn out to be a rather majestic fellow, didn’t he?
    You sure do know your goats!


    • Teresa
      Mar 14, 2011 @ 21:27:13

      I’ve had some excellent teachers. Sometimes you just have to learn from your mistakes, and if I can help someone else figure things out, I will be very happy.


  10. Julie
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 20:49:34

    Fantastic post!!! Thanks for sharing this valuable info!


  11. schoonoverfarm
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 00:59:18

    Great post. It is best to share what we know so we do not have to make the same mistakes. The before and after photos are very helpful.


  12. Amanda
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 07:22:03

    We started feeding our chickens yogurt for the protein and probiotics. I’m not sure if that is as good as a straight shot, but this winter has been pretty rough on them and I was hoping this would help.


  13. Mimi Foxmorton
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 07:56:53

    I love when you all do these posts as it keeps me one step ahead of my learning curve. I’m a big believer in prevention as opposed to cure and reading the experiences of others gives me an idea of what to keep an eye on.

    And, may I say, what a grand beast he tured into! Massive!
    (But I have to say that those wee stick legs are super cute!)

    Have a lovely day!


  14. Gattina
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 11:16:22

    What a nice story fortunately with a happy end ! What a big boy he became. I do the same with my cats when they have something, I know them better than the vet, of course I also listen to her (my vet is woman)


    • Teresa
      Mar 15, 2011 @ 12:06:48

      The problem with goats and vets is that goats, like sheep, don’t show illness until they are almost dead. I know when they aren’t feeling well before they show signs and before the vets will believe.


  15. Mary Ann
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 22:28:51

    Oh, my, I am learning SO MUCH about goats from reading entries like this. Your goat turned out to be a very handsome young boy, didn’t he? I’m glad you found the solution, and I’ll file that in the back of my mind for when we get ours.


  16. Dawn
    Mar 18, 2011 @ 17:30:17

    I can absolutely believe that the probiotics worked wonders on Goliath.

    My introduction to probiotics was when I used them to help tiny calves that were dying with rotavirus. I added the little bottles of Yakult to their milk and then left the milk sitting for awhile to hopefully let the good bacteria increase. It worked very well although nowdays I think they have probiotics especially for animals.

    Good on you for refusing to accept the ‘medical experts’ at face value and pushing for the real answer.


    • Teresa
      Mar 18, 2011 @ 17:44:48

      I love my vets, but goats are not a high priority. I just know my animals better. The tube in the picture is labeled for most mammals. They make a powder to add to bird water. Probiotics are widely available for animals now.


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The information on this web site is supplied for general reference and educational purposes only. This information does not represent the management practices or thinking of other goat breeders or the veterinary community. I am not a veterinarian, and the information on this site is not intended to replace professional veterinary advice. This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your veterinarian. I disclaim all liability in connection with the use of this information.
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