Sunday, March 29, 2009

CAEV Test with Milk Sample

A study published in the February 2009 issue of Small Ruminant Research compared the ELISA method of diagnosing caprine arthritis encephalitis virus (CAEV) using samples of milk whey and the usual blood samples. Samples of each were taken from 66 lactating dairy goats whose infection status for CAEV was already known. All of the goats whose blood samples tested positive for CAEV also had positive tests using the milk samples; the same was true for those with negative tests.

The researchers concluded that using ELISA on milk whey samples is an appropriate method for diagnosing CAEV, and it may be even better because the test is non-invasive (no need to draw blood) and may be less expensive.

Any goat keeper can learn to draw blood from his or her goats (you can find detailed instructions in Goat Health Care), but for those who are milking their goats, wouldn't it be nice to just save a sample and send it in to the lab for annual testing?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Urban Goats

It may be the economy, but something is driving more and more cities to change their codes to allow chickens and (small, female) goats in people's backyards. Seattle has done so, and now some people in Forest Grove (outside of Portland) are trying to get a similar change.

According to the Oregonian, Stephanie Vasquez has presented the mayor with a city policy that would allow people to get permits to raise chickens, domesticated fowl (like ducks) and small goats if they live on lots that meet minimum size and meet other requirements. She points out numerous benefits including eggs and milk, lawn mowing and fertilizer production, among others.

Hooray for urban farming! The only other benefit she forgot to mention, of course, is that kids love kids!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Baby Goat Dies

We lost the kid in the prior picture this morning. I found her with her mother about 7:00 this morning standing all hunched up, with a low temperature and thick, clear mucus coming out of her mouth. I brought her in the house, warmed her and treated her for floppy kid syndrome, pneumonia and pain, but she died but 8:00. I buried her out in the goat cemetery behind the property.

She died of aspiration pneumonia caused by her breech birth. Because she didn't have trouble getting started breathing, I didn't realize that anything was wrong. Irene Ramsay of New Zealand tells me that all breech kids should be swung after birth to get any excess amniotic fluid out of their lungs, just in case they aspirate. This is particularly important when there is a problem with the birth, as there was in this case.

Others on the WSU goat list shared that they had also experienced this problem, and usually lost the kids. Pat Stewart, the current publisher of Ruminations magazine tells me that they call this condition in dogs "water pups." It is usually fatal in a short time; in this case the baby died after 44 hours.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New Kids at Mystic Acres

When I got home late last night from the neighborhood get-together, I checked my goat, Celtic Kid, to make sure she wasn’t ready to kid. (Her due date was March 23rd and she was as big as a house.) Her ligaments were softened – a sure sign of kidding in the next 24 hours, so I put her in the kidding pen that we had prepared with fresh straw. I turned on the baby monitor and went to bed.

Celtie is a noisy goat in labor and prefers me there, if possible. That means that I didn’t sleep, but instead tossed and turned as I listened to her on the monitor. At 6:00 am I finally gave up the pretense of sleep and set up the surveillance camera and television. That began about 6 hours of walking back and forth to the barn, doing chores, spending time with Celtie, and getting all the preparations (iodine, towels, lubricant, etc.).

Around 10:00 am I started thinking that something wasn’t right. Celtie seemed to be in hard labor, but she kept getting up and moving around. Nothing was coming. By 11:00 I took it seriously and by 11:30 she was willing to let me examine her. This was not an easy task. A kid was still in her uterus, coming tail first and stuck. I had to pull down and straighten the kid’s legs for delivery, which was painful to Celtie. But she was relieved when the baby (a doe) finally came out.

Not long after she started trying to push out another kid, only to have one large leg hanging out and not moving any farther. When I checked on the kid, I found the other leg in the correct position, but a GIANT head stuck. I knew I couldn’t just pull him out without damage to one or the other of them. Then I remembered reading about posterior human babies and how they rotate when they come out, so I gently rotated the legs a little bit and pulled a bit while she pushed. The monster finally came out – a beautiful, red and black buck – Mystic Acres new herdsire! He is just what I had hoped for.

The third kid (I had expected four or five) was another small girl who came out under Celtie’s power, wrapped like a little package in the amniotic sac.

Babies all got their colostrum and Celtie is doing well with one kid (other two being hand-raised on goat milk). Because of the intervention, I gave her a uterine infusion of 5 ml LA-200 and 15 ml sterile water, as recommended in the medication section of Goat Health Care.

And now it’s time for me to take a nap!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Don't Make Dairy Goats Wear Eartags (or Stop NAIS)

If you are not aware of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), it’s time to learn about it so you can join the chorus to save small farms (and dairy goats.) A hearing on it today makes it appear more likely that it will become a mandatory program, harming farmers, spending unnecessary US dollars and enriching the coffers of Digital Angel, a maker of RFID tags. The large dairy organizations, as well as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), are in support of the program. And why not? They can afford a system for animal tracking that will have a disproportionate financial impact on small farmers.

I am wondering whether we small farmer opponents may strategically have missed the boat, however. (That’s assuming that we had any chance against the big boys.) Rather than focusing our comments on and objections to the program as a whole, perhaps we should instead have made a concerted effort to get our legislators to write in an exemption for small farms (we can haggle over how that is defined).

This one-size-fits-all program that is being pushed through may end up having the opposite effect of what its proponents claim it will have: When those with only a few animals go underground, feeling that their rights are being violated and fearing that the government may kill the stock of their animals and their neighbors’, we will have even less of a tracking system than we do now.

One thing is for sure: The attorneys are guaranteed to stay in business if this passes. More than one lawsuit will be spawned as a result of its overreaching impact and violation of rights.

For a discussion of today’s testimony and links to the complete testimony, see La Vida Locavore.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Goat Stanchion - An Essential Piece of Equipment

Whether you have two goats or 20, a stanchion is one of the best pieces of equipment you can buy. A stanchion is a device that locks the head of a goat in place so that you can milk it or perform routine care such as hoof trimming, injections or clipping. Ideally it is attached to a stand so that the goat is elevated, making such work easier, and have an attached container for feeding grain or other food to distract the goat.

Often called a milk stand, this stand with stanchion can be made from wood, PVC or metal. Milk stands can be purchased from a goat supply company or used (on rare occasion), or they can be homemade. Free-standing stanchions can also be purchased and used to make a milk stand. If you are handy, making one is the best way to go and directions are available on the Internet.

Goat keepers have made milk stands in a variety of ways. They can be made to break down and be light enough to make travel to a goat show or fair easy. They can incorporate storage, they can be different heights or even adjustable for the various sizes of goats.

Goats soon learn to eagerly jump onto the stand—not because they like being there, but because they want the food that is being offered. Even recalcitrant goats can be trained to get on the stand if taken to it and allowed to eat quietly a few times.

To see an example of a nice stanchion, made with pallets and scrap wood, click here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Goat Health Care Book

This blog will be an adjunct to Goat Health Care, my new book on keeping goats healthy. I have raised miniature dairy goats in the coast range of Oregon for more than 10 years, and I learn something new about goats and goat care at least every week. My book is the one that I wished I had had when I first got into goats.

I plan to use this venue to share health care news related to goats, as well as some of my personal goat care experience, with the intent of educating and entertaining the reader.