Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

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Weak kid 3 days old--selenium deficiency-- white muscle disease

My doe had triplets 3 days ago-- ALL girls. But one baby who was born first and butt first breech was terribly weak at birth and try as we might we couldn't get her going. She just didn't seem to have the strength to breathe. The other two were fine and strong and stood right up. But on day 3, one of them suddenly had weak legs and was staggering. She would walk a few steps and then flop down. When she stood, she would stretch out her back legs behind her. I got a video of her laying down and unable to get up. She would struggle to get up and wimper. She also was not interested in nursing. In a panic I did some quick research and thought selenium deficiency (white muscle disease) sounded reasonable. I don't have BoSe here but I did have some Selenium with vitamin E gel and some B complex. I drenched her with the selenium and got some of it down her (she was not happy) and gave her a shot of B. I got ahold of my vet who agreed to meet me at the vet hospital and give me some BoSe shots for both girls. When I returned in about an hour, she was much better! She was also famished and drank from her mother for about 5 minutes! With help from a friend we gave both girls shots but I messed up and didn't get it all in, shooting it through her skin to the outside :( She did get some of it though. Also the other girl got all of hers. Both girls today are good as new and bouncing around following the herd. 

The thing is, I have selenium/E out for my does free choice. The vet did say we are in a severely deficient area. In hindsight I think the first baby born died from this deficiency too. Until this happened it didn't occur to me. 

I am getting a bottle of BoSe from the vet and going to give my does shots before kidding from now on. My vet thought 1 ml was the right dosage but he admitted he was reading different things that said different amounts. Do you know what the right dosage should be? 

I just thought this story might help someone else who experiences something similar. 

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Ugh I'm so sorry you're dealing with this :( I have the Selenium powder too but I also have been giving my pregnant does 5cc of Replamin Gel Plus every week and that has selenium in it too. I'm glad the two remaining doe kids are looking good and that you acted fast with the selenium gel!

We used to do 2 cc for an adult ND doe. The usual dose is 1 cc per 40 pounds.

However, I quit giving injections after I started using the selenium-e free choice. If this has only happened with one doe, I'd be wondering why she didn't get enough. Is it the selenium from Caprine Supply or a different one? Unfortunately, they've quit selling it, so I'm having to try different brands myself now, which I'm not happy about. Was the selenium mixed with anything else?

Yes it was from Caprine Supply and I also noticed it is not available anymore. I wonder if she just didn't eat it... This was my 12th kidding and the first with a selenium deficiency problem. 

I'm also wondering what your thoughts are on the quick treatment I gave the doeling. Was it the selenium/E gel that corrected the imbalance or did the injected B Complex help? I realize you don't have a crystal ball but I respect your opinion. I don't think I got much of the BoSe in her because I used an 18 gauge needle and it bent when I put it in and she didn't get much of it. However, after reading I think the dose the vet gave me of 1ml was probably too much for her and maybe it's a good thing she didn't get it. Either way, the outcome has been a happy bouncy baby with no more problems. I ordered a bottle of the BoSe though and the vet (who is not great with goats) suggested another dose in 2 weeks. What are your thoughts on that and the dosage?

Wow! You ARE lucky you didn't get much of the BoSe in her! The dose for a newborn ND is 0.1 or 0.2 cc, so 1 cc would be 5 to 10 times too much.

Many years ago we had twins that seemed like they just would not "wake up" after they were born, and we gave them the selenium-e gel, and within 30-60 minutes, they were up and nursing. That's the only time I ever felt like we had a problem with selenium in kids, and the gel seemed to help.  With kids that are a couple of days old, whenever they have gone downhill like that it has always been starvation and/or dehydration, so simply getting milk into them (or sub-q fluids, if they couldn't swallow) always did the trick. From what you described, it does't sound like you gave her any milk before she perked up. Is that correct?

She had been nursing fine for 2 days. On this 3rd day I witnessed them both nursing multiple times during the day. When I discovered her problem, she would walk a few steps and then plop down. Then she laid out flat on her side and wiggled around trying to get up. I would post the video for you but I'm not sure how. Then she got up but her back legs didn't seem to work right. She whimpered. I put her under her mother but she didn't want to nurse. After I gave her the B shot and the selenium gel, she perked up after about an hour which is how long it took me to get to the vet's office and back. She was standing without wobbling and drinking from her mother. 

I am so glad I didn't get the shot into her! Also, I did get most of it into the other doeling though. Thankfully she has not reacted badly! They both are fine and full of energy now. 

The first baby who died was unable to breathe. We cleared her mouth and nose but still she wouldn't breathe normally. I tried giving her a little mouth to mouth but it didn't help. We rubbed her and tried everything we could think of. If I had had the BoSe I would have given her a shot of it and maybe it would have helped. She couldn't have swallowed the gel anyway. 

I got on Facebook and found your video. Honestly, from simply watching the video, there are all sorts of things that could have been wrong with her, which is why you had so many people saying so many different things. The person who said pinched nerve might have been pretty close. Her problem did not appear to be weakness. It looked more like uncontrollable muscle spasms. I've seen baby bucks act like that after being castrated with a bander, which obviously was not the case here, but I'm saying that pain can cause a goat to act like that. Crossing the hinds legs happens when an animal can't feel their back end. That's what happened with one of our llamas that had meningeal worm. I wonder if an adult slammed her into the wall?

I'm not surprised that so many different people said that the kid acted just like their kid that had X, and that Y helped. However, unless they had testing that proved the kid had X, they don't really know if Y helped, or if it something else helped or if it just worked itself out. I'm not totally convinced that those two kids we had many years ago were selenium deficient at birth because it was so long ago, and I didn't know that much back then about all the little things that can make a difference. Plus the selenium gel has a very small amount of selenium in it, and it doesn't even have an expiration date on the tube, which makes me doubt its effectiveness. It's one of the few things that I would say probably "doesn't hurt," but I quit buying it years ago.

I wouldn't say that the kid died at birth because of selenium deficiency. What you described sounded like a kid that was oxygen deprived. Those umbilical cords are so fragile. About 99% of them break at some point during the birth process, typically once the kid is totally out and able to start breathing. However, that is the thing that makes a breech kid a little scary. Once the hind legs are out, the rest of the body needs to get out ASAP, or you'll have problems. We had one this spring that was breech, and I was letting an intern "catch," and when Mom took a breather after getting out the hind legs, the intern didn't pull the kid out the rest of the way until I told her to. It was on video, and it only a second or two, but that was apparently just enough time for the kid to be kind of sluggish. She was limp and not making any noise, and her breathing was very gurgly. I was swinging her while someone was looking for the bulb syringe, and we finally got her to come around after a lot of suctioning and vigorously rubbing her chest.

If a kid is too far gone, however, I've learned that ultimately it's probably better than you don't "save" them. Years ago my daughter looked out into the pasture to see a kid hanging out of a doe with his head still inside her. My daughter ran over there and got the kid out. Long story short, he wound up being blind, which was probably caused by the oxygen deprivation. 

When we had a c-section five or six years ago, one of the kids was not in good shape when it was born, and the vet asked if I wanted the to save it. I said yes, wondering why they even asked. They kept him going for about five minutes before he died, and then the vet told me it was really better than he didn't make it because even if he had lived, he'd probably have been deaf and/or blind and/or have other neurological problems because he was oxygen deprived and so close to death.

I know we want to have every single kid thrive, but that's just not possible, even if we had a crystal ball and could do everything perfectly. I wouldn't change my management practices after something happens one time. I know that BoSe is a very popular answer with a lot of people on Facebook, and it gets recommended far more than it should. Diseases of the Goat says the symptoms of the skeletal muscle form of white muscle disease are stiffness, reluctance to move, lying down frequently, standing up with difficulty, crying if forced to move, skeletal muscles firm and painful on palpation, appetite remains good even if the kid is unable to stand. This doesn't sound like what your doeling experienced, and is in fact, a pretty boring list of symptoms that one might not notice immediately. Laying there not wanting to move is the opposite of what your doeling was doing.

I'm sure this experience was super scary for you, as you're the one who's there seeing that little cutie flailing around. Of course, you need to do what you think is best, but I also know people who've had goats die from selenium and copper toxicity when using injectable forms of those minerals, which is one reason I want to stay away from them. It is apparently a really horrible way to see an animal die. And those were lab-confirmed cases of toxicity, unlike all of the people who say they had a deficient goat that got better with injectable supplements (most of which the goat pees out within 24 hours, which is why an overdose will cause liver and kidney failure). You've got time to think about this now, so re-read the selenium section in my book and look at your overall herd health, as there are other symptoms of selenium deficiency that you would be seeing in your adults, if it's really a problem.

Thank you Deborah, for your thoughtful response. You make very good points. I guess I'll never know what was going on with her. I will read your chapter on selenium deficiency and look for other signs in my goats. They all seem very healthy. I agree giving injectables is so risky! 

The babies are doing great except the one I overdosed on the BoSe has strange poo for a couple of days. It's kind of mucusy and greenish yellow. She's way too young for coccidia so I'm sure it has something to do with the overdose. Is there anything I can do to help her? She is full of energy and acting perfectly normal so I'm not terribly concerned but I don't like seeing poo like that. She pees normally so I (hope) her kidneys were not damaged. 

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