Notes from Windward: #68


Becca gives us a scare

when a kid goat doesn't want to eat, that's never good


     Jewel's girls, Becca and Alison, are now about 2 months old, and have had some challenges and some adventures. Initially Becca was growing stronger and bigger while Alison seemed to languish. She obviously needed some sort of supplement, but we decided not to bottle feed her in order to better teach Alison how to be a good mom when her time to nurse came around. Instead we spent time with her encouraging Jewel to allow Alison to suckle by securing her in the milkstand, placated by a ration of grain. Once both girls were growing again, we continued to monitor their health and Jewel's milk production.

Becca and Alison posed for the camera

     Recently we noticed Becca had started to stand back at meal times, and then one day when Jewel provided nearly four times the milk as usual we knew we needed to take a closer look at what was going on with her girls. We noted that Becca had lost some weight and was standing somewhat swaybacked, and in the cool of the morning we found her shivering, were concerned that she had discharge from her eyes and nose, and was wheezing. The shivering suggested that the bacteria in her rumen were not active since breaking down cellulose is one of the primary ways that a goat generates heat internally--it's one reason why sheep and goats are good at handling cold weather.

     The discharge from her eyes looked like Pink Eye, and the wheezing made us worry that she might be getting a lung infection. We collected a 60cc syringe and feeding tube, and fed Becca about 4 ounces of warm milk before heading into town where we picked up some Probios (similar to probiotics) and antibiotics.

[Walt: probiotics is a paste made from the bacteria that populate a healthy ruminant's stomach. When something has disrupted that balance, a dose of fresh bacteria is a safe was to "kick start" the rumen again.]

     Upon returning to the farm, several interns and I headed over to the goat pen to feed Becca warm milk mixed with yogurt and about 5 grams of Probios. Next, several interns tried to hold onto Becca while I applied the antibiotics to her eyes. We ended up with almost as much antibiotic on us as in her eyes, but we rested satisfied in the knowledge that we'd done all we could for her.

     We continued to fed Becca using the feeding tube, and washed Becca's eyes and applied the antibiotics twice a day for two more days. We were delighted to see that by the third day her eyes were clear, and she had regained her interest in nursing on Jewel again.

     Now, a week later, Becca and Alison are both feeding heartily and looking healthy, expanding their diet to include hay and a handful of mixed grains in the mornings.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 68