Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Okay, folks, I have a buckling that was to be wethered Thursday when other goat work was done.  However, his testicles are undescended.  My goat person said he could be sold to be with wethers or bucks but should not be with does. She said he will likely be infertile but it should not be counted on as so.  To wether him will require surgery.

However, though that is an issue, that is not the problem. I understand this may be a genetic defect. His mother (Dancer) is a full sister (different years but same parents) to two other does that a friend now owns and is going to breed for milk.  They are a year younger than this boy's mom (Dancer). Though the fathers of these does will be different, I am concerned this may have come down through the maternal line though no indication of any other boys with this issue.  However, his dad (Charlie) is not registered. The current owner has papers to register him but has not.  I am wondering if this is why Charlie was not sold already registered.

I would have recommended the same buck (Charlie) for her girls since the other buck at that farm is their dad but right now that does not look like a good idea.  We are considering using my other buckling from this year for breeding when he is old enough.  They are related in that her girl's grandmother is my boy's grandmother but that is the only common relative.  The only reason it is a consideration is because of the terrific milk lines involved on both sides.  (And his mom as a FF is doing very well)

At this time, I don't know if she plans to sell babies or send them to the freezer.  I guess if they go to freezer camp, none of this really matters, especially since I don't know, if it is genetic, that it is on the maternal side (possibly through the father [Charlie] of this boy's mom and her does).

Is it possible this is just a fluke or it is most likely genetic? Obviously, he should not breed even if he could, but what about his aunts (her does, full sister to his mom) - should they be bred and plan to possibly send babies to freezer camp if it happens again?  The aunts are pets and are wanted for milk, not for the foundation of a herd.  For what it is worth, her does have two full brothers (litter sister to my girl, his mom) who were just fine and wethered at two+ months.  My gut feeling is that if it is genetic, it's through his father rather than his mother.  Either way, I have already decided to not register his litter sister and discourage her buyer from breeding and disclose her brother's condition.  I don't eat goat meat so my freezer is not a possibility for her.

Should I assume that if genetic that it is through dad's line?  That would mean that my friend's does are not carriers (nor this boy's mom).

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I think this was discussed on here before, and someone linked to something that said it was genetic, but these things occur so seldom that I really have a hard time believing that it is genetic. I've had two here out of about 500 kids in 14 years, and both came from different parents. The parents never threw another cryptorchid before or after. I really don't see how this could be genetic. It's just a hiccup in the development process. The testicles originally start higher up in the body, and as the fetus develops, they move -- or at least they're supposed to move into place. (In some species they don't actually come down into the scrotum until after birth, but that's not the case with goats.) But sometimes things don't develop like they're supposed to. I've had a kid born that was missing the back of its skull, and I had another one born with its intestines on the outside of its body. When talking to the vet professors about things like this, their response was simply that things don't develop perfectly 100% of the time. When you think of all the thousands of tiny things that have to happen perfectly for a kid to be formed, it really is miraculous that it does happen perfectly as often as it does.

When you say that the current owner has papers to register Charlie but has not, I can tell you that that is frustratingly common. The vast majority of my kids are never registered, even though I sell them with the applications. Most people just don't take the time to send in the papers. I've seen other breeders complain about this on Facebook. It's annoying to do all the paperwork and for people to not take the 5 minutes and few dollars to send in the paperwork. Unless someone is planning to show, the kids rarely get registered.

And most breeders don't register kids before selling because it's an added expense. I tried doing it last year and passing the cost along to buyers, but with ADGA's online system not working properly, it got too frustrating to deal with, so I just went back to selling kids with applications. It has nothing to do with the kids' quality. If I had a kid that had some type of DQ, I would not sell them with papers or an application, and they would be sold for $150 each.

Glenna (and Deborah, and others),
Year before last we had two buck kids born. Both were bi-lateral cryptorchids like your buck kid. 
At this point, though I am prepared to admit that the condition might not always be the consequence of genetics, our experience showed that in our situation, it almost certainly was of genetic origin.
The two buck kids were the result of implanting of fertilised embryos into surrogate does, a single embryo per doe. What that meant was that there was no possibility that the condition was not a consequence of something happening in the womb. Furthermore, the two buck kids were full brothers even though they ended up in separate surrogate does for gestation; the embryos were developed from the same dam and same sire. That means that they were genetically very close. We started to wonder about the genetics and learned that the dam (AGS registered) had had 10 doelings registered with AGS over several years, but no buck kids had ever been registered. I know that there are all sorts of possible explanations for that, but we have come to think it was because the doe was a carrier for the condition and all her sons had it. (We have destroyed all other embryos from that breeding and that was very painful.) We checked on the male offspring of the sire and all are normal.
There is not much information available about the condition, especially in goats, probably because there is not much money available for the research and because there is not much reason to do the research; until something else is shown to be associated with the condition, I suppose breeders just wether and then 'move on.' Our vet advised to have the undescended testicles removed because the boys would act like bucks but be infertile, so we would have bucks in rut which were useless for breeding.
I did manage to find a very good paper about a research project carried out in Texas in the 1920's at College Station, and it is very much worth reading. The conclusion of the paper is that there is a genetic cause for cryptorchids, but that it is possible that some cryptorchids are not necessarily caused by inheritance. The authors note that there is a background rate of cryptorchidism in goats which results in random cryptorchids. The experiment started as an effort to breed a herd of only single cryptorchid males, but the results are applicable to the condition generally. The authors concluded that there are at least two genes controlling the condition. The paper is a classic paper from long before the knowledge of DNA and modern genetics, but the conclusions are still as valid now as they were then, because the experiments and the logic were so well performed.
Note that rather than cryptorchids, the authors use a traditional term, "ridgling" for bucks with the condition. Also, instead of genes, the authors use "Mendelian factor pairs" to mean the same thing. (Recall that no one knew what a gene actually was at the time of the experiments.)

If you read the paper, and have questions or find it unintelligible, please ask questions, because I believe I have pretty well understood most of it. If you don't want to bother with deciphering the logic and the experiments, you can skip straight to the conclusions at the end, which is a list of suggestions about what to do if you find you have a cryptorchid.

The link to the paper: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=txa.tarb003886;view=1up;seq=23

Hope it helps,
Michael

I made a mistake in writing....
What I wrote above, "What that meant was that there was no possibility that the condition was not a consequence of something happening in the womb." What I intended, and what I should have written, is, "What I meant was that there was no possibility that the condition was a consequence of something happening in the womb."

(That is because the two buck kids, though full brothers genetically, were gestated in different does.)

Was the doe on any antibiotics while pregnant? I have a breeder friend who shows and her does got sick and were given LA200 while pregnant. She ended up with THREE unrelated bucks in one season with undescended testicles. The vet said that it was safe for pregnant does based on the information available but my friend truly believes that is what caused the issue. She hasn't had this happen before or since the season she gave it to the pregnant does. 

First in answer to Emily's question:  No medication of any type while pregnant.  My goats have been, except for one pneumonia years ago, been very healthy.

Now to the sad ending of all of this.  I tried to sell my boys as a pair, Moonlight as a high-quality sire and Buddy as a companion for him.  However, no one wanted two bucks, one not breedable.  This meant Buddy would need to have abdominal surgery or be sold for meat.  Selling him for meat when I had no control over the process was not an option; I would have euthanized first.  I had a forever home for Buddy with a friend and her wethers so surgery would give him a happy lifetime even better than here with more friends and huge pastures.  It was a good plan.

Buddy had his surgery on the university vet school on Friday, February 16th.  The surgery was more extensive than was anticipated and took more than an hour and a half.  Among other things, his testicles were extremely large and imbedded into the abdomen.  He was, of course, in tremendous pain. I brought him home the next morning.  I put him in the kidding pen so he would not be bothered (or bumped) by the other goats.  When the does were outside during the day, I let him  have their entire barn though he stayed mostly in the kidding pen, very quiet though occasionally calling to his friend (Moonlight) who was just outside the little barn door.  They quietly called back and forth to each other frequently.

On Tuesday morning when I looked outside and saw the does standing out in the downcoming snow, my heart sank; something was terribly wrong.  Even after Buddy's body was removed to take for a necropsy, the does would not return to the barn.  I had a long drive to and from the hospital and thought the does would go back inside when he was not longer there.  They would not.  Fortunately, I thought of my two young hens who I have separated at night and put them in the kidding pen.  The natural curiosity of the goats coaxed them back in (I left the hens there several days) and the does have been fine since.

All vets involved throughout this nearly two years have said this is genetic and not a fluke.  Buddy's full sister was sold a year ago last fall with the condition she never be bred and is stated on the bill of sale.  The buyer bought her with Dancer, their mother, and understands this since she has been raising goats for years.   The buyer asked that Dancer to exposed to Moonlight and Dancer delivered triplet doelings the following spring so was well rewarded with these high quality girls. 

I am still awaiting cause of death.  The necropsy showed no definitive cause though there was a slight bit of post-operative pneumonia but not advanced enough to cause death.  The toxology report should be back in another week or two.  All of his pre-operative bloodwork was excellent and he was in good health.  The vet said he was obviously very well cared for.  She is quite puzzled as to why he died.

It is going to take me a long time to get past the feeling that I murdered my sweet little buck.  The vet and many others have reassured me I did the responsible thing; however, it does not feel responsible.  I will never bred my does, ever, to an unregistered buck again regardless of what is said.  There is no guarantee this would happen again but it will reduce the odds!  I truly believe the original owner knew the buck carried the defect and didn't register so it would not later be traced to his farm, perhaps not a kind thing to say but I really do believe it.  I also decided if I should ever have the misfortune to again have a cryptorchid that I will have him euthanized early rather than have him go through what Buddy did.  His 22 months of good life was not worth the four days of agony and stress at the end of his life.  It was a terrible end for a sweet loving animal.

I'm so sorry, Glenna. You know I'm going to tell you not to beat yourself up about this. You did what you thought was best, and that's the best that any of us can do. I would have done the same thing -- tried to do the same thing. At least ten years ago I tried to give away a cryptorchid. The woman called her vet, and he said that the cost of the surgery would start at $100 and go up from there depending upon how long it took because it can take awhile to find an undescended testicle, so she decided not to do it. The kid died a month or two later, so that's how that story ended. Since it was so long ago, it could have been parasites or copper deficiency, as I still didn't know anything about such things back then.

I've always heard that goats do not do well with anesthesia. I've never had one sedated for that long. I'd always assumed that anesthesia-related issues would be obvious immediately, as in the goat would not wake up, but I wonder if that was at least part of the problem with Buddy. I don't know if that would show up on a necropsy. Let us know when you have the results.

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