Goat kids with health problems

I have two little goat kids with some health issues.  Both are bucklings, same mama, same kidding.  About 3 weeks old.  They are both nursing, but aren't gaining weight like their brother.  

The vet says they have fluid in their lungs and pretty bad heart murmurs.  He says its only a matter of time.

I'm really torn.  The goat kids seem comfortable enough, even though their energy is low. Their little tails wag, and I wonder if I ought not to just make them as comfy as possible, and keep an eye on them.  Or if they really are horribly miserable, maybe it would be kinder to put them down.  They aren't crying or anything, they sleep a lot, get up to  nurse, walk around the yard a bit, seem to have normal bowel movements.  

They can't talk to me, so it's so hard to know. What would you do?  

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  • Oh that's so good to know!  Thank you.  Maybe those giant salt licks were at the root of how hard it seemed to get them to pay any attention to the minerals.  I'll hide them away and see if it improves. 

    The free-access mineral feeder was on a fence, but under a shelter.  The goat kids could climb up into it, and it seemed once it got dirty, it was all over.  Nobody would eat.  Who knew goats were so dang picky?  

    Thanks so much for all the help!  I have felt absolutely helpless and full of regret for the painful mistakes we have made.  Here's to a better kidding next spring.

  • Salt licks are not bad for goats per se, BUT nutritionists put salt in minerals to control the goat's consumption of the minerals, so if you have a salt lick, the goats will not consume as much of the minerals, and you could wind up with mineral deficiency. A lot of the goat minerals will even say that you should not have another source of salt available for the goats for that reason. So, if you remove the salt, you may find that their consumption of the minerals increases. You may need to move the location of the mineral feeder if it is problematic. Sounds like it is outside (on the fence) which is a bad idea because it'll get rained in. Our mineral feeders are inside the barn. They have access to them for 12 hours a day, which is plenty of time for them to get what they need.

    The Dumor Goat Sweet Feed has plenty of copper in it -- assuming you have no copper antagonists, but that's a long conversation for another day!

    If you have a goat vet near you, you are a very lucky person! Most people don't have a vet near them that knows anything about goats, so don't feel alone. That's why most of us have learned everything the hard way!

  • Ha, yes. I really ought to just have my husband type, I keep messing things up in the translation.  I meant 'scoop' he has a little scoop that came with a protein powder (for humans), washed up and he uses it with the minerals.  The 1/2 cup of kelp should have been 1/2 scoop.   He says sometimes it's more like a full scoop.  I ask him how much is a scoop and he shrugs, maybe 2 tablespoon.

    Arg.  No salt licks?  The vet sold us these gigantic blocks, I think they will last the lifetime of the goats.  They do lick them.  Are they bad for them?

    Should we try free choice again?  The minerals, we used to put in the small feeders that attach to the fence, low enough to eat, and they would jump up on them with their front legs. The babies could get right into them.  As soon as the minerals were soiled it seemed like they wouldn't eat them and so much would go to waste.  

    Okay, I will stick to the paste, I still can't find a vet that seems to give good advice for goats. Someone PMd me with a couple of names so I will try them, we are pretty far outside the city limits so it would be kind of a drive to get the goats to an Idaho Falls vet.  But maybe they will come to me.  I am definitely ditching the current vet.  

    I think it's Goat Sweet Feed is what we have.  I will try to find one that has more.  Thank you for all the help!!

  • Missed the grain -- 15 ppm copper on the low end. Something with 35-40 ppm is better. In my area, Purina Goat Chow and Dumor Goat Sweet Feed (Tractor Supply brand) both have that much. And note that those exact names are the ones with that much copper. Other Purina and Dumor goat feeds have a lot less.

  • Please tell me that's a typo -- a CUP of minerals? daily? The reason that you put minerals out free choice is because they should consume about half an ounce a day, so if you only have a few goats, it will go down VERY slowly. You might see them walk up and take a lick and then walk off, but you could easily miss them eating it because they don't "eat" it. They just take a lick here and there.

    And you're giving 1/2 cup kelp a day? That is too much. Again, kelp should be free choice, and they should not be eating it all up every day. They might empty the feeder initially, but once they're good on iodine, etc., they won't empty it.

    They don't need salt licks.

    Yes, your goat lady is using the term BoSe (selenium) like people use the word Kleenex (tissue). BoSe is labeled for sheep. MuSe is labeled for cattle, and they are both by prescription only, and they're injectable. They are by prescription because you could easily kill an animal if you give them the wrong one or too much, and the margin of error is small when injecting. The vets at U of I told me about a time when they had some students give MuSe to goats, and "all they could do was watch the goats die." Unless a licensed veterinarian is getting a prescription med for the farm store to sell illegally, they are selling some type of non-prescription selenium for cattle, but good idea to stick with the paste that you have.

    If you're using the pelleted dewormer, you really don't want to use that unless the goats need it because the worms can become resistant to it fairly quickly if you're using it regularly. And since it's a feed additive, it's great when it works! Read the label and dose according to the label.

  • Thanks Deborah, I should have been more specific.  The husband is doing the feeding so I had to ask.

    The three 1.5 - 2.5 year old does, not being milked, but nursing receive:

    About a cup of the grain.  This is the only way I could get them to take her minerals.  We wet it down, and then put in another cup of minerals.  The minerals is by Sweetlix, they are loose.   I do about a half cup of kelp from Hoeggers, I think, and then a healthy sprinkling of iodized salt.  Blast, I'm not sure what the grain is called, we have it in buckets.  I think it was a black and red bag with a higher protein content.  I know it had a 'do not feed to sheep' warning, and I want to say the copper was around 15.

    They get plenty of hay in a keyhole feeder each day, and graze on grass too. 

    The dewormer is by Manna Pro, they are pellet thingies.  The flipping vet said to give them like a 1/4 scoop once a month with their feed (they wouldn't take it, so he suggested mixing it in wetted down with the other stuff).  I don't think we ever even *had* a worm problem, it was just what he recommended.  The good news is my husband felt it was overkill and hasn't been giving it to them at all since the birthings and we started experiencing all the problems.

    The three babies born in the spring are eating hay, like the baking soda when I set it out, and are getting about a 3rd of the grain, half the minerals, and half the kelp.  

    They all have salt licks out in the field.  

    The goat lady that did our disbuddings said the ranch store carried BoSe but that it was labeled for cattle.  Said she used it all the time, and got it there without a prescription.  I haven't dared mess up another thing, so I've stuck to the Selenium paste.  I'm not sure how often to give it, I gave a dose about a month before birthings, after birthings, and to the newborn kids.  

    Okay, that's more detail, what do you think? Let me know if you need more information.  I'd love to get these ladies in prime health before we try breeding again next year.  

  • I assume that a "scoop" of grain is not the same size as a "scoop" of minerals? Exactly how much are you talking about? And we need to know what age the goats are that are receiving this, as well as whether they are dry does, kids, bucks, wethers, or milkers. The needs of each are different. And every goat grain has different amounts of nutrients in it. For example, copper varies from 10 to 80 ppm depending on the brand, so we really can't say whether you're doing something good or not because we don't have enough information.

    BoSe is prescription only, so your farm store will not have it. Some people use that term generically to mean all forms of selenium, but again, they are all created differently, so it is important to get the name brand right when you're talking about it.

    Monthly deworming is a really bad idea. If you truly in a situation where your goats would die without monthly deworming, you need to drastically change your management because there are only three types of dewormers on the market, and the worms will become resistant. Imagine what would happen if we only had three antibiotics? Same idea. Also, if you have milkers, you would never be able to drink their milk if you were deworming monthly, so it is not a sustainable practice from many angles. There are a lot of posts on here about dewormers and problems with resistance and how management can largely replace the need for chemicals or other types of dewormers.

  • Oh, I should add, since we added the kelp and iodized salt, their coats have thickened up and look shiner.  They never looked bad, which I think really threw the vet.  He thought if we were having birth defects, the mamas ought to look terrible, but they really didn't.  However, I think they look much better now.  I never noticed their eyes or eye membranes before, so I can't comment on that. 

  • Thanks so much everyone - sorry I haven't been back (though I read the messages in my inbox).

    First of all, we are brand new at this.  These were our very first kiddings.  I had who I thought was a really great goat mentor, who had been raising goats for some time, but we clearly got some bad advice from the get go.  Partly from her, partly from our vet, who we've discovered treats goats just like cattle :(

    Anyway, so yes, we were told the underbites in newborns were totally normal, and the vet didn't even know the lumps on the babies necks were goiters.  Ugh.  Anyway, we've learned a ton.  The two babies I talked about in the OP here, have both died.  Peacefully, and with many tears in our arms.  From our first kidding, we've ended up with three healthy kids out of what should have been 7!  

    Needless to say, we've revamped what they're getting.  Tell me if you think we're on the right track now:

    - They get a few flakes of sweet alfalfa each day in a hay feeder.

    - They get a few hours to free range in our grassy pasture most mornings.

    - They eat all the weeds they want in their pen :o)

    - They each get a scoop of grain we found at C-A-L ranch.  It has a variety, it's specially made for goats and has a bit of molassas mixed in.  I can't remember the name, I'll have to go out to the barn and look.

    - With their grain they get a scoop of sweetlix minerals (they weren't touching it free-range), iodine salt, and a scoop of sea kelp I ordered online.  They love this stuff.  

    - Every so often I give them some baking soda free range, if I leave it out, it gets soiled.  I need to raise it up somehow.  

    - Every month they get their dewormer.

    I have continued to have trouble finding someone to work with me on selenium, but talked with another goat farmer and they told me our C-A-L ranch stores has BoSE.  I've asked there before, but got told no, so I'll have to go back and look.

     The kids (two doelings, one buckling) are doing fantastic.  Really healthy, happy, and friendly.  We were hoping to kid again this year, but we've decided to wait and make sure our does are in prime health before trying again next spring.  

    Please let me know if I should do anything differently or add anything else!  Thanks so much for all the help and support.

  • Regarding the hydration issue, would warm water with a bit of molasses be helpful to offer?  Or would it interfere with how much milk they would ingest?

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