It might look at times as if I am over-prepared – what with the little goat coats in two different sizes, the bottles of ewe boost, tubs of glucose and boxes of various animal-ailment-associated accoutrements. And you probably are right. Somethings I use a lot, somethings just sit there not being used squealing ‘waste of money’ at me.
But then one of your goats gets really, really bad scours on the day that you are snowed and there is no way off the peninsula where you live, no way for you to get to the vets. Sage was really poorly, proper poorly. I phoned the vet who gave me some good advice. I really, really like the large-animal vets at the practice we go to – they are extremely supportive and empowering people. They are always happy to give advice on the phone and if they do come out, they try and make sure that you know how to do it yourself next time wherever possible. For example, I phoned the on-call vet the night that Elsie was in labour, and he was very reassuring which gave me the courage to wait and not intervene. He also said I could text him through the night with updates and he would be there in case anything bad happened.
Anyway, this blog is partly an almanac and resource for me to jot down what I’ve learnt with regards to matters small-holding related. This is what I leant about a goat with scours. Worm your goat right away. I usually worm the goats with a herbal wormer once a month. But I have a back up, emergency, less-natural wormer on standby. It is hard to find any drugs licensed for goats in this country so vets use the cascade method and you can use drugs for sheep on goats. Many sheep wormers state that you should not use in an animal whose milk you will consume at some time over their lifetime! This is not ideal in a dairy-herd. Through the wonders of instagram and the knowledge of goat herders there I got a list of wormers that can be used in goats with a safe milk withdrawal period (that isn’t life). I therefore had bought some Cycectin a couple of weeks ago to add to my emergency box and I gave Sage some of this – 1.5 x the sheep-weight dose (on veterinary advice). I then gave her a shot of antibiotics, a dose of dog metacam (an anti-inflammatory) and a drink of ewe boost. I also put glucose powder in her water. I isolated her in her own stall and we cleaned out the other areas and added fresh straw.
I didn’t worm the other goats as I am really loathe to over-use medicines. The next day Sage was fine – her poos were back to normal and she was eating and drinking well. But little Emelia (one of the kids) had scours. This was not good. I wormed all the goats (after checking it would be OK to worm Elsie who is still nursing). I made sure Emelia stayed hydrated by syringing glucose dissolved in water into her and I made sure she nursed from her mum and gave her a bit of lamb revit. Today she seems much better.
I also got some good advice from people on instagram (which seriously for smallholders is a great way to learn about lambing, goat herding, bee-keeping, pig moving etc etc). They said it is really important to keep the goat hydrated – if they are not drinking you can syringe or stomach tube water (ideally with electrolytes or I guess glucose at a pinch) in to them. They also recommended having some kaolin pectin, pepto bismol or anti-diarrhoea meds to hand. This, I think, is good advice – it is easy to assume that animals will naturally drink enough water, but when they are really ill they may not and this can be critical.
Of course the slightly larger goat coats have proved to be invaluable over the past few days. I might never use them again, but I am really glad I had them in the shed as it has been pretty cold here.
I am off to buy some electrolytes and some pepto bismol now! Oh this is how I found Zed one morning this week. The goats often all sleep together, it looks like one couldn’t be bothered to get up to go to the toilet and then Zed couldn’t be bothered to get up and shake off the poo! They have not been happy goats – fingers crossed for some warmer weather soon.