Pax is one of the weanling Angora goats I bought earlier this year from Lisa Shell at Kai Mohair . He’s 6 months old now but was just three months old when I got him. I have never gotten livestock this young before. All my other goats came to me when they were at least a year old. The alpacas and llamas were all nearly a year old or older when I got them. This last weekend I got a lesson in how different kids are from half grown and full grown goats.
I went out to feed the animals last Sunday morning and Pax was flat on the ground. He looked dead. I went running up to him and he lifted his head and bleated at me. Whew! He was alive but clearly in distress. I called the vet to let him know I was coming, scooped Pax up in a towel, jumped in the truck and we headed for the vet’s. Thank goodness my vet had not taken the long weekend to be off on vacation! Pax’s gums were almost white indicating a serious blood loss. In this case it wasn’t from outside his body but from within. He had so many blood sucking worms he was seriously anemic. The worms had come on him quickly since he hadn’t even developed diarrhea. We could have treated him for the worms and hoped that his body could make enough blood to replace what had been lost. This is where the difference between kids and adults comes in. An adult probably could have managed it but not a 6 month old kid. The only thing to do was a blood transfusion. We left Pax at the vet’s and headed home to grab our two largest and most easy going goats to bring back to the vet’s office. Chaucer and Shakespeare were the obvious choices. They are large adult goats and being twins, they get along really well. I explained to them that they were giving of themselves to save a small goat they had not yet met. The new little goats have been on one side of the property while the old goats have been on the other side.
Chaucer and Shakespeare were wonderful! They stood calmly while the vet inserted a catheter that filled a plastic bag with their blood. I would have given them orange juice and a cookie if I could have. Actually, they both got apple treats when they were finished so it really was almost like a person giving blood.
Over the rest of that day Pax received the blood at a slow drip. His gums got pinker and he stood up. By the next morning he was eating and drinking and peeing and pooping, just like a goat is supposed to do. He was still very weak though and the vet decided to keep him another day. By the time I brought him home on Tues afternoon he was up and grazing. Still weak but up and moving around. When we got home I sheared Pax's back half to clean up from the dirrhea he had developed. I had a short panic attack on Wed morning when he seemed very lethargic so I took him back to the vet. Turns out I didn’t get full instructions when I picked him up. I expected Pax to be getting up by himself while the vet had been picking him up and standing him on his feet every couple of hours. OK. I can do that. By Thursday he was nearly romping around. He was up and down all on his own, eating and drinking well, getting himself out of his stall and out into the barn pens where he could graze and talk to the other goats beyond the fence.
The reason we had this problem is related to our horrible drought. Usually in drought conditions the goat “berries” fall to the ground and dry out. The parasite larvae within them can’t get out so are not passed on to another goat. If I only had the goats I wouldn’t be watering my pastures, but I have llamas and alpacas too and they need a cool moist spot in the shade to rest during the heat of the day. We installed sprinklers under our largest trees out in the pastures that water four times a day. There is always a cool spot in the shade for the llamas and alpacas. One of those sprinklers is in the goat’s pen. By watering in the goat pen I unintentionally caused the goat berries to get wet and all the parasite larvae to be activated. They crawl up the blades of grass and wait to be eaten by another goat. Paxton was the one. He has always spent more time in the goat pen than the other small goats. They go off to explore the upper pastures but Pax stays in the goat pens by himself.
I have not turned off the sprinklers since the llamas and alpacas would be in distress without them, but I am checking everyone for parasites more frequently. We just need enough rain that I don't have to run the sprinklers and also enough to wash all the parasite larvae off the grass.