for people who love the littlest dairy goats
I have a 15 week old doeling who has been exhibiting a stiff gait for several weeks. I unfortunately, being new to this, did not pay it enough attention just figuring it was something strange about her. But the stiffness in the rear legs has progressively gotten worse and now she has trouble with her front legs seeming to go down on her front knees often, crawling on them while keeping her rear legs stiff. She is still alert but is getting weak and seems small for her size. We have a buckling who is a month younger and he has far surpassed her in size already.
I am not 100% sure what is going on, but I suspect from what I can read in your book and others that it might be White Muscle Disease. The solution for that is Bo-Se, but you need a vet prescription and I have been completely unable to find a vet in my area who is willing to see farm animals, besides horses. So I do not have a vet from whom to get a prescription. I did just go to Tractor Supply and buy a tube of Durvest Selenium and Vitamin E gel. I know this is not the same as Bo-Se but will it work? Is there anything else I can do for her? Am I perhaps wrong in my diagnoses of White Muscle Disease?
Any help will be deeply appreciated as I am very worried for this little doeling (our very first goat born on our farm).
It's always kind of odd when a single goat winds up with a mineral deficiency, although it can happen. What minerals do you have available for your goats?
How long have you owned her mother? Was she dam raised or bottle? At what age was she weaned? Did she have any siblings? Being small or growing slowly is not a symptom of selenium deficiency.
What color are her eyelids inside? Light or dark pink? White?
What does her poop look like? Berries, dog poop, or looser?
Believe it or not, going down on the knees and dragging the chest is a weird habit of some goats. I had a goat that was born here and spent all 13 years of her life here, and she'd do that sometimes. I always assumed she was scratching her chest.
To answer your questions:
What minerals do you have available for your goats? I have Sweet Lix Meat Maker available free choice and I have seen her eating some of it (how much I do not know)
How long have you owned her mother? I have owned her mother since last August. This is her first kid
Was she dam raised or bottle? She was dam raised (both the mother and the doeling)
At what age was she weaned? The doeling has not been weaned yet. We are separating her overnight from her mother but she has access to nurse all day.
Did she have any siblings? No sibling, it was a single birth.
What color are her eyelids inside? Light or dark pink? White? Her eye lids look pink...maybe on the lighter side
What does her poop look like? Berries, dog poop, or looser? Her poop are tiny Berries
Her back legs are definitely stiff. She has trouble walking through the straw we use for bedding and just drags her back legs through it.
Her mother seemed to have a cooper deficiency after the birth. Her black coat began to get red highlights to it. I began treating with Repelamin Gel twice a week (in addition to the free choice minerals and COWP every 6 months). Her coat is now back to a nice soild black and soft. The doeling has also showed some of the red highlights in her coat recently and I have begun giving her a smaller dosing of Repelamin Gel. We are on well water and although it is treated (and has no smell of sulfur and does not stain our porcelain I think we might have an issue with it).
Have you played around with her back legs to be sure she doesn't have some type of injury? Bend the hind legs straight out, then pushing them up against her body. Squeeze every part of the leg, starting with the hoof and slowly moving up the leg all the way to the hip joint. See if she responds like she's in pain when you squeeze any part.
To answer your question about the selenium gel, you can give it to her, but it doesn't actually have much selenium in it. Check the labels, but I think the Replamin may have more selenium in it than the selenium gel.
I'm not sure how she could be vitamin E deficient this time of year unless she isn't eating much green food, but check out the post on vitamin E deficiency just to see if anything jumps out at you. https://thriftyhomesteader.com/vitamin-e-goats/
I checked her legs and do not see any injury. I bent both of them and she did not scream and squeezed up and down the leg.
I went back and checked her eyelids again and it looked like maybe a 3 on the FAMACHA scale to me (I am by no means an expert at using that and only part way through the training).
I did go ahead and give her a dose of Safeguard to be safe in case her issue is barber pole worms (as she seems to be getting worse each day and I am quite worried). I also gave her some Nutri-drench and a shot of Vitamin B12 Complex.
I will see how she is doing in the morning and let you know. I will also probably go tomorrow to the store and get the Vitamin E supplements you mention in the above article just in case. It sounds like it won't hurt her to give it and I am willing to give it a try.
I am actually most concerned about her small size. If she was a single, she should be bigger than the other kid her age unless her mom is seriously under-producing. Singles are typically chunky monkeys because they can have all the milk they want. The stiff legs just adds another layer of mystery to the puzzle.
FYI ... NutriDrench is little more than a massive sugar bomb. I rarely use it ever since I had an experience about 10 years ago. I had a buck that wasn't eating, so I gave him a dose of it before heading to the university. While there they checked his blood sugar, and it was over 200! The vet was initially freaking out because that's like serious diabetes. Then he found out that I had given him the NutriDrench. Anyway, it's really bad for their blood sugar. Their bodies are not accustomed to consuming pure sugar like we are. If you do give it, you probably don't need to give anywhere near as much as the dose on the bottle.
It would be really interesting if you'd been keeping track of her weight since she was born. I'm curious if she's always been slow gaining or if it slowed down at some point. What does she weigh now?
I did not know that about NutriDrench...sigh. Thank you for letting me know.
She weighs about 23 pounds using the hanging scale I had for weighing the newborns. Not sure if that was completely accurate. I will try to get a better weight tomorrow using our bathroom scale. I unfortunately did not keep track of her weight all along. She has always been chunky and still is...but much smaller than the buckling (also a single to a different mother) who is 3-4 weeks younger.
A single could weigh that much by 2 months, but 23 pounds for 3 months is not bad, so that's not as bad as I initially thought. However, it's weird that she hasn't gained more since she's a single.
So this morning our little doeling, Lily, is still about the same. Alert and willing to eat (I gave her a small bowl of Alfalfa pellets and she very eagerly ate those down). She is still having trouble walking. Stiff back legs, takes a few steps and then folds her front legs up and either kneels or just lies down. When we were done milking her mother this morning though Lily very quickly scurried over to nurse so she is able to move if needed...but then immediately after she was back to being stiff legged and taking a few steps and just lying down.
She is defiantly not acting like a young goat. No bouncing around. Not much moving around unless necessary. She seems to prefer to find a spot and just curl up there. The other goat, the buckling, born this season is definitely bouncy and everything a young goat should be. All the older does (4 of them) all appear healthy (besides some copper deficiency that we are working to correct. Coats are slowly improving and getting better color on all of them.)
I will take her temperature (something I should have probably done earlier) after I eat some breakfast...not sure it will show us anything but who knows.
Deborah, could I try giving the doeling at about 23 lbs a 2g capsule of Copasure Goat Copper Wire Particles? The box says for over 25lbs but as I mentioned earlier Lily is showing signs in her coat of copper deficiency - reddish highlights on a solid black coat).
The dosage I had always heard was 1 gram for 22 pounds, but I know that they sell the kid dose in a 2 gram capsule, and I've never heard of anyone having a problem. I make my own capsules and normally give my ND kids a 1 gram at that size, but I did accidentally give a 2 gram to someone once, and he was fine.
Checking fever is always a good idea. I'm surprised I didn't think of that!
Meningeal worm can cause neurological issues like this, but usually the onset is very sudden, and this sounds gradual. With m-worm, the damage occurs suddenly when the worm gets into the spinal column and starts affecting the nerves in the legs and possibly head, depending upon exactly where it is. Here is more on that -- https://thriftyhomesteader.com/m-worm-nightmare-for-goat-sheep-and/
So her temp is 102.2.
Her back legs are now appearing to be completely stiff when she walks. She is simply shuffling them along at the hips with no bending of them at the hock.
Yes this was definitely a gradual on set. We had noticed several weeks ago that she had a gait that was different than everyone else, a bit stiffer, but we just thought it was the way she walked as it was so slight. But since then it has steadily gotten worse to the point where she is now.
I went ahead and just now gave her the 2g capsule of COWP. I also gave her a dosage of probiotic paste since she got the dewormer last night.
So, it's probably not an infection.
Have you increased the Replamin or Selenium gel?
It really sounds like you need to get her to a vet for a diagnosis. Are you within driving distance of a university with a vet school? That's a two hour drive for me, but I think it's totally worth it as they know so much more than any of my local vets, and the diagnostics are right there. You can get an answer so much quicker than with a local vet who would send blood to the university for testing, so that adds a day or two to everything.
So I called the Clemson University Vet Diagnostic Facility that is located here in Columbia, SC. The Head Vet there was out of the office but I got her on her cell phone and she recommended a vet that would see goats just under an hour from me. So I took Lily to that vet this afternoon. He felt like it appeared to be White Muscle Disease and went ahead and gave her a Bo-Se shot (he also sent me home with two more to give her over the next two days). He also gave her a shot of MultiMin and Dexamethasone.
In addition to the Bo-Se he wants me to go ahead and deworm her with Safeguard at 2.5 cc's at 22 pounds (as measured in the vet's office) for 5 days.
The vet office will then follow-up with me on Friday to see how she is doing.