Although the majority of the goats were fed sheep nuts (cake), the wethers and bucks were on a nut with a higher ammonium chloride (NH4Cl) content due to previous complications of urinary calculi. Stones accumulate in the bladder and get lodged in the urethra at either the sigmoid flexure or the urethral process. Goats are predisposed to urinary calculi due to their narrow urethra, they will strain to urinate and be off their food. This is where the term ”water belly” comes from. The treatment can be an ammonium chloride drench to dissolve stones, hence the importance of NH4Cl in the diet. A constant, clean supply of water will dilute the urine and goats need the correct calcium:phosphorous ratio.
Once the feeding and other morning jobs were complete, I helped Steph to move doe/kid pairs that were ready to vacate the single pens. By holding their kids in front of them like bait, and blocking off potential escape routes (goats are incredibly clever), we enticed them into communal pens. After settling the shared space arrangement with other goats with a few head buts, they quickly settled with no issue. There was a doeling pen and a doe pen. This was particularly important as we had previously adopted Black Cat’s doeling Betys on to a doe. This made room for the heavily pregnant goats, so we could be alerted of imminent deliveries as they were in the baby monitor’s range. We had to muck these out and bed them down in preparation. A sprinkle of lime inhibited the growth of pathogenic bacteria, this was covered well with straw to prevent harm to the goats’ faces and udders.
One of my favourite jobs was to prepare the kids for the move- weighing, castrating and ear tagging. To begin with, I held the kids whilst Steph ear tagged because I was anxious about hitting the cartilage. However, once I tagged my first one, it became my new favourite job and I quickly became confident. The yellow EID tags went in the left ear and the conventional tag in the right (these were colour coded for the billy goats). We avoided placing the tags on level with the eye to prevent irritation and left enough width as the ears will grow.
Here Fred was modelling his new earrings…
Whilst the barn was quiet, Meg and I began the process of naming the doelings for registration. Like the distinguishing ear tags, each billy’s kids had a name theme. The wethers’ unofficial names were old man names such as Frank and Albert!
As I did a presentation to my college’s medics and vets group about goat TB legislation, and came across the interference of Johne’s disease vaccination with the test, I read into Johne’s disease. Goats are infected with Myobacterium paratuberculosis avium (Myobacterium avium is used as a control in the TB test). So it can result in false negative results as the goat has produced M.avium specific antibodies. Johne’s disease is a gastrointestinal disease that is fatal. Anorexia is a main sign as the goat’s small intestine thickens, causing a reduction in nutrient absorption. However, it can take a few years from infection to clinical symptoms to arise. In utero infection can occur, as well as transmission in faeces and milk or colostrum. It is arguably a public health threat as there might be a link with Crohn’s disease in human from raw milk.