Alchemy Acres
Tip of the Month

Welcome PageDescription of Dairy HerdWhat's New at the Site?Crafts and Nifty StuffAlchemy's MenagerieTip of the MonthPrevious Tips of the MonthOther Resources of Interest

I had been planning this month to do another tip on the financial aspects of "goating", but an unhappy experience of another keeper has prompted me to write about the importance of vaccinating your kids. It is also important to be able to recognize the symptoms of illness and to treat the kid immediately. In particular, I'm going to discuss the problem of enterotoxemia.

The best way to protect your babies is to vaccinate your does 4-8 weeks prior to kidding. We vaccinate for both enterotoxemia and tetanus. Thus, when the doe kids, her colostrum contains the antibodies for protecting the kid against tetanus and enterotoxemia, as well as other germs that may be present on the farm. This protection lasts until the kid is about 4-5 weeks old. After that age, the kid must receive its own vaccinations for both tetanus and enterotoxemia. These vaccinations are administered at 4 weeks of age, and then again at 8 weeks. After that, the animal receives yearly boosters. We give our does their boosters before kidding. Generally, the bucks get their boosters at the same time simply because I'm thinking about it then. If you haven't done this before, ask your veterinarian about dosages and the method of administration (sub-cue or interveinous). If you purchase an animal, ask the breeder if he/she has vaccinated the doe prior to kidding. If not, you should give the vaccinations to the kid immediately, as well as at the ages of 4 and 8 weeks. If the breeder has vaccinated the doe prior to kidding, then you need not vaccinate the kid until 4 weeks of age, although it will not hurt if you vaccinate before 4 weeks.

Even if you vaccinate for enterotoxemia, however, your kid might possibly get the disease, so you must recognize the symptoms and know how to treat it. Hence - the following discussion.

Enterotoxemia is a worldwide problem of cattle and many other species, including goats. The enterotoxemia spores are everywhere and need an anaerobic and acidic environment to reproduce. These spores are resistant to antiseptics and are auto cloning. The B, C, and D strains are the most common, with the type C being the hemorrhagic type. Usually, it is the large, well-formed, and most vigorous kid that is affected - generally around the age of 2 weeks, but possibly at a later time. The rate of development can approach 10% in some herds. With mild infections, the untreated animal may recover, but remain unthrifty. Conditions for predisposition of development of the disease are a high milk intake, a change in feed (say a change-over to grain), and inclement weather. The most frequent sign of enterotoxemia is a dead animal. This need not be the case, however. The vigilent keeper will notice listlessness, an off-apetite or acute colic with possible bloat, the grinding of teeth, and the kid will spike a fever - maybe 104-106. Another sign is that intestinal function ceases. You can hold your ear to the kids belly, and you will not hear the normal gurgling of a functioning intestine. The critical period is the development of bloody diahrea. If you act promptly prior to the onset of this last-mentioned condition, you can save your kid. Not only that, but if you save the kid, it will develop normally and be none the less for wear (You might age a bit, however). So what the heck do you do? Well - if you have a good vet who is available, you dash the kid there. Your vet will administer banamine to relax the smooth muscles and to stop cramping , which relieves the pain. He/she will also administer a super antibiotic such as Naxel and will probably treat her with iv fluids to prevent dehydration and to make unnecessary the feeding of the kid at this time. If your vet isn't available, you should administer a shot of banamine and treat the kid with bloat-gard and Pepto Bismol. Massage that little tummy - work it to relieve the bloat and to get the intestines going again. And you, too, should administer the Naxel. Both the banamine and the Naxel are prescription drugs, so you'll have to have your vet prescribe them - preferably prior to any emergency. And any time an antibiotic is administered, it should be followed with Probios. In short a belly ache can be life-threatening. Check the temperature immediately, and administer Pepto immediately. Hopefully, your kid won't progress to enterotoxemia from a belly ache, but maybe you'll know what to do if she does. Just remember - enterotoxemia is not necessarily a death sentence. You merely have to be observant and act quickly. I hope this discussion helps you prevent in your herd the heartache that befell my fellow goat keeper earlier this year. Remember - the best protection is vaccination. Pay attention to the little details, and your animals will reward you with long, healthy, productive lives.

Write us with your comments and suggestions.

Welcome PageDescription of Dairy HerdWhat's New at the Site?Crafts and Nifty StuffAlchemy's MenagerieTip of the MonthPrevious Tips of the MonthOther Resources of Interest