Cronkshaw Fold Farm, Goat health checks, 4.2.17

When I arrived at the farm I did the usual morning jobs of feeding the goats a mix of granola and sheep nuts, changing their water, strawing down their pens and filling up the hay nets.

After piling up the straw in the isolated goat pen, I learned to not let my projected human empathy overrule the animal’s needs; it is important to think like the animal. As I could see that the goat had lost condition, it was natural to feel sorry for the poorly goat and attempt to provide it with more comfort. However, goats require hard stand to keep their hooves in tip-top condition. Accumulation of faeces and moisture in the straw is a recipe for poor hoof condition, something that needs to be particularly avoided in a weak goat. Lesson learned: think like a goat.

When I walk into the pens to pour the feed into the troughs, the goats like to jump up to try and take the bucket out of my hands. As great as goats are, they do not have manners. Also, the billy goats are beginning to fight more, they will establish a pecking order especially as there is a pregnant doe in their pen.

Although the doe (Bella) is a big softie who likes human attention, she was separated from the other females for being a bully. She threatened the other does’ pregnancies as it is important that they are not butted or stressed.  She is still a lovely goat in my eyes, unlike Gretchen and Regina who would happily drag me across the barn in an attempt to lead them into hoof treatment baths!

Holly and I then fed the guineapig and took layers pellets up to the duck shed.

Due to the recent outbreaks of bird flu on a game farm in Preston, the ‘prevention zone’ has been extended until 28th February 2017. Extra biosecurity measures are necessary in order to prevent contact with wild birds (potential carriers of avian influenza). So this morning the hens got bread rolls and vegetables as a treat, spreading these around the hen house is stimulation for them. Surprisingly, they prefer the granola-filled feeder to the layers pellets.

Today’s main job was to begin to make individual profiles for the goats whilst doing thorough health checks. This was the perfect opportunity to give the awesome goats some awesome names and the not-so-nice goats a matching evil name.

Starting in the main pen, we caught the goats one by one- which is harder than it sounds, especially when half are pregnant and stubborn. Never underestimate goat power.

Here is an example of the general health check before I go into details of the interesting findings and a funny misdiagnosis.

Health check

As my camera roll of 2,000 animal pictures takes up my phone memory, Holly was responsible for taking all of the photos and they are brilliant! Each goat had side profiles, a head-shot and a teeth photo. This is so we can I.D the goats, it is important to know your livestock so we agreed that naming the animals would help.

Firstly, we wrote about their colouring and markings, whether they are disbudded and any distinguishing features (e.g. beard or wattles).

Teeth

I held the goat’s mouth open whilst Holly  took a picture. We used the number and type of teeth to age the goat, so health checking all 15 goats gave us considerable practice.

In the first year of a kid’s life, the 8 teeth that grow are small and sharp. Just like humans, these fall out to be replaced by ‘adult’ teeth. A yearling loses its two front teeth and the permanent teeth grow. At two years old, the second pair of permanent teeth will grow (adjacent to the two middle teeth). This pattern continues until the goat reaches four years old, when there are 8 permanent teeth.

Exceeding 4 years old is when ageing a goat gets more difficult, because an estimation is made on the wear on the teeth. The gum will recede and the teeth appear longer, hence the phrase “long in the tooth”. 
Eyes

Continuing with the facial features, we checked the goats eyes.

A few things to look out for:

•Blindness: a goat will seem disorientated and lack blink reflexes

•Irritation: this may be caused by an external irritant such as dust, but in the case of infectious irritants a goat should be isolated as the infections are extremely contagious

•Ulcers

•Discharge

•Redenned scelera (area around the cornea): pink eye


Nose and ears

A goat’s nose is an indicator of some upper respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia and nasal tumours which can cause sinus infections.

A few of the goats had slightly crusty areas on their nose but none had significant discharge that would indicate a problem.

However, some more research is required to find out what the small brown patches on the inner ear skin are. I suspect it is lice droppings after discovering the lice. Vaseline will help to moisturise the dry skin and after the case of the scaly legged hens we have plenty of Vaseline in the medical cupboard!


Hooves

We examined the hooves for foot scald and foot rot by looking at the interdigital space.

I have never seen it so white before, in the past the skin has been pink and infected. Therefore, the zinc sulphate baths have been highly successful.

The hoof outer wall has started to grow under the sole but the overall shape of the hooves were good. It was a pleasant change to not stink of rotten hooves.
Coat

As a whole, the coat condition of the goats was okay- all bar one had no bald patches or thinning and no cuts or red skin.  

On close inspection, we could diagnose pediculosis (lice infection). Although Holly and I knew that there was an ectoparasite infection, we compared photos to examples online to confirm that these are in fact lice rather than mites. I will write a more detailed blog posts about lice and the treatment plan on a later date.


Bum

When the goats’ diet was changed to granola from sheep nuts, a few of the kids had dietary scour (diarrhoea triggered by this change). This can cause dehydration but infectious scour damages the gut villi. By holding the goat’s tail upwards, we looked for signs of scour.

Apart from a few scabby bumholes, the goats were clear!

We then looked around the pens at the faeces to see the colour and consistency. As soon as we caught a few of the goats, they pooed on command which was helpful.

Finally we assessed their behaviour.

These photos definitely highlight the different personalities of the goats. Now we have named the goats, I plan to write a ‘meet the goats’ blog post!

Chestnut is very friendly and enjoys human contact, compared to other timid young goats.

Carlos is crazy and crazily in love with Holly. However, he is overly confident and boystrous. I do love how he wags his tail and acts like a dog… That’s why I named him after my crazy border terrier.

This is Regina. Yes, like Regina George she likes her own way! She falls to the ground when anyone tries to move her. 

Findings

On close inspection, I could see little parasites crawling across the goats. Every goat in each pen had a lice infestation.  

 

I administered 5ml of spot on to treat the lice. I will then use powder as a preventative. 


Unfortunately, Scabius has taken a turn for the worse and has lost condition. Although her facial scabs have healed, her coat is thinning and her skin has deteriorated.   

Floss the sheep dog also bit her up the bum after a goat v dog altercation! So she has a bright blue backside…

Regina the evil goat’s side profile looked abnormal when we were taking the side shot so I felt the lump to discover that it moves. It felt like fluid.

This could be the start of bottle jaw which is a symptom of anemia. In goats, the most common cause of anemia is Barberpole worms. The FAMACHA is an indicator of the severity of anaemia based on the colour of the eye mucus membranes.

Therefore, the goats will be wormed!

When I assessed the pen for the second time, I saw that the cause of the fluid build up will have been from the goat hitting her jaw on the divider between the two goats.
As they have not been outdoors, there is no way that she could have been infected by Barberpole worms.
However, I still wormed some of the goats in poor condition.

 

 


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