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Sick Goats


Goats were among the first species of animal to be domesticated some 10,000 years ago and in many areas of the world are the dominant and vastly most abundant "farm" animal still today.  They are smart, live well on scrub and bushes to eat and can be used for milk, cheese, yogurt, soap, meat, skins and fiber.   Goat's milk doesn't need to be homogenized because it contains fat globules that are tiny compared to cow's milk and it takes a very long time to separate out.  It is arguably better for human consumption than is cow's milk.  Milk replacer is available for many common animal species but when you can can't find the exact replacer, goat's milk works great.  It's available in canned or powder form and can be given to human babies as well as llamas, alpacas, pigs, calves, etc.  Bottom line is - Goats are pretty terrific.

Unfortunately, goats are not common here in this country.  Our agri-business is based on cattle and much of our agricultural research involves cattle.  There is little or no research into goats at all much less wormers for goats.  Goats are ruminants like cattle so most goat wormers come from the cattle industry.  Cattle parasites don't seem to respond in quite the same way goat parasites do.  The goat parasites become resistant to our available wormers with astounding ease so keeping our goats parasite free is only an unachievable goal.  It becomes a matter of managing the parasite levels, not eradicating the parasites which would be the perfect answer.

I have three goats in the barn right now.  Paxton was loosing his hair in clumps.  It looked like he was going through chemo-therapy.  Fly and Orion have bottle jaw.  I've talked about bottle jaw before but for those that don't remember - its the pooling of fluid in the face and jaw.  It is a result of blood loss through parasites which reduces the protein level in the blood.  The blood then looses it's ability to hold the fluid and the fluid moves out of the bloodstream and into the tissue.  In the case of bottle jaw, the fluid accumulates in the face and jaw areas because that's the part of the goat's body that's held the lowest while it grazes.  Gravity takes the fluid to the lowest point.

I'm not worried about Orion.  His fecal counts are up but he is responding well to the wormers, is eating well and spends most of his time demanding to be put out with the herd.  Paxton worries me more.  He is somewhat brighter and more active today but has been very sick.  The shearer was here last weekend and sheared all the goats so Paxton doesn't look so odd now.  He's been sheared and looks just as sleek as all the rest of the goats.  I let all the sick goats run around the barn this morning while I added more hay to their stalls.  Pax came when I shook the feed pan and is back to eating.  His fecal counts are still high but I think he'll be fine also.

I am very worried about Fly.  He was wormed with Cydecten before he came to me but when I checked him, his fecal counts were still very high.  So Cydecten isn't working for him.  When he first showed up with bottle jaw, the vet wormed him with Panacur.  When we tested him a week later there was no difference in his fecal counts.  So Panacur isn't working for him.  I wormed him with Valbazen earlier this week and his fecal counts were down yesterday.  Not down to a safe level but showing some improvement.  So Valbazen still has some efficacy for Fly.  Yesterday I wormed him with Prohibit.  I'm holding my breath that this can get his parasite load down to a safer level.  He still is lethargic and needs a dose of vitamin B complex to improve his appetite.   I'm hoping to see a significant improvement by tomorrow.

If my magic wand was in full working order I would get some talented researchers working on goat wormers.  Now.