It never ceases to amaze me how many people find my blog by searching for information on goat health. That keeps me posting more on goat health. From the time I brought my five Saanen girls home, I swore they were trying to teach me more about goat health than I ever wanted to know. Sometimes, I’ve learned at the goat’s expense, so I would love to be able to help other people and goats without the trial and error I went through.
This spring we have had a plethora of triplets. Three of my girls had three babies! It’s not necessarily a good thing. Carrying and providing for the babies before they are born takes a toll on the mom. In Stormy’s case, the babies were not positioned properly, and she was losing weight and getting run down before they ever arrived. Once here, it’s difficult for them to keep up with three babies.
As the babies get bigger, they want to eat more and mom’s can’t give more, so they lay down a lot. This keeps the kids from eating, but every time they stand, their babies try to nurse. It’s a vicious cycle. This is why we’ve been supplementing bottles for the kids. It’s less the moms have to provide.
I knew my triplet moms were run down. Kizzy only has two, but she gives everything to her babies. Her twins are huge and healthy, and Kizzy keeps losing weight.
Meg only has two, but she is seven and a half years old and has allergies. Then there’s Pam. She only has two babies and she was not thin. Suddenly, she developed a swelling in her lower jaw. To feel it, it was squishy and fluid feeling. It was not firm. This is called bottle jaw.
I talked to my vet because I’d heard that bottle jaw was caused by parasites. I was surprised Pam would have parasites because she’s on the herbal wormer and it’s always been very effective. But I wormed her, and then I started to do some more reading.
Bottle jaw is NOT caused by parasites. Bottle jaw is edema (swelling) caused by severe anemia. Parasites are the leading cause of anemia in goats, but it’s not the only cause. Do a fecal check to see if your goat has parasites. Pregnancy and nursing kids can also cause anemia.
Besides being thin, you can check your goat’s eyes to see if they are anemic. A normal goat will have color in that membrane in the corner of their eye–pink or brown. If the goat is anemic, it will be white (click to enlarge pictures).
The same is true of the goat’s gums. Pale or white indicates anemia. Pink or red is healthy (Sorry for blurry pictures; for some reason they didn’t want to model).
In light colored goats, their private parts will follow the same pattern. Pink is healthy and white is anemic.
It’s still not a bad idea to worm a goat who is run down because they will be more susceptible to parasites when they are anemic. Because they are run down, they are also more susceptible to other illnesses. Stormy developed a fever and quit eating. The vet came out and she ended up getting antibiotics and banamine for the illness. She also got vitamin B to help stimulate her appetite.
Along with treating for parasites or illness, you also need to make sure they have access to a lot of high quality food. I put all my run down girls into one area, and I’ve given them enough hay to feed twice as many goats. This way they can always have something to eat. The kids will also start eating.
Where I have the girls now, they also can go out to pasture. There’s something about being on pasture that just really helps promote good health. Again, the kids like to nibble on grass and this helps them get ready to be weaned.
I’ve slowly increased the amount of grain that they are getting also. It has to be a gradual increase in grain because goats can get sick or die if they eat too much grain. Just keep adding a small bit more every couple of days.
Now, my run down girls and their kids are eating twice as much as the other goats. Also, make sure they have plenty of fresh water. I’ve also added a goat lick tub to supplement their diet with proper minerals and salt. Probiotics are always good to give whenever a goat is sick or stressed.
I will keep feeding this girls hard, and I will keep giving the kids bottles. As soon as the kids are doing a good job of eating hay or grass and grain and I can safely wean them, the kids will be separated from their moms. They just can’t keep up with their babies.