When you stack things on top of each other in a precarious way, it’s only a matter of time before they all come crashing down on you. That’s what’s happened to me this year.
It all started with the great kid management plan that I came up with. I changed a bunch of things from the way I normally do them to try to enhance my goat kid rearing. The first thing I did was to put all the kids this year on cow colostrum and then pasteurized milk to prevent CAE. My adult goats have CAE and I knew that I wanted to raise some kids for breeding this year so I didn’t want them to get CAE. The next thing I did was to put all the kids on Noble Goat medicated goat feed to try to prevent coccidiosis. I have a lot of coccidia on the place and most of my kids go through some bouts of diarrhea at 3 – 4 weeks old. I wanted to avoid that by feeding medicated goat feed to the kids. This plan sounded like a good one and other people have had luck with using pasteurized milk and medicated goat feed.
The problem with pasteurized milk is that it does not contain any naturally occurring good bacteria or antibodies. All the good bacteria and the good antibodies that come from the mother goat are killed in the pasteurization process. This is great if you are trying to kill the CAE virus but it is not good if you want your kids to have healthy immune systems that are fortified by good bacteria and antibodies. Kids on pasteurized milk are slightly less protected against some diseases.
Even though I was using the medicated goat feed, the younger kids weren’t eating it in large enough quantities to help stop coccidiosis. All the kids got diarrhea from coccidiosis when they turned 3 weeks old. Three weeks is the life cycle of the parasite. It infects at birth but takes three weeks to cause enough damage to give the kids diarrhea. I started to treat all the kids with Sulmet 12.5% drinking water solution given orally. This is a harsh general antibiotic that kills the coccidiosis parasite and kills any other bacteria in the goat’s system (good or bad).
Then I overfed some of my kids. I had three different age groups in the same pen, feeding on the same bucket feeder. I wanted to give my bigger kids more milk and my littler kids less milk but when you dump all the milk in a big bucket and have all the kids nurse at once, there is no way to regulate that. Some of the kids got too much milk and wound up sick. Baby goats get upset stomachs when they have too much milk. It’s not good for them.
So now the kids’ stomachs are upset from too much milk and all the good bacteria in their systems is dead. Their bodies are having a hard time digesting food and some of them are getting run down. Pile on top of this access to the medicated grain. Grain is acidic and if eaten in large quantities can cause the rumen to become too acidic for the good bacteria to reproduce. Unfortunately bad bacteria, like Clostridium perfingens Type D, proliferate in an acidic rumen.
The result of all this is two kids died suddenly of enterotoxemia and a third is still at risk. Enterotoxemia occurs when the good bacteria in a goat’s rumen die and don’t get reestablished, and the rumen pH remains acidic for a long period of time. Enterotoxemia is caused by the naturally occurring Clostridium perfingens bacteria. They love an acidic rumen with no other bacteria in it and can proliferate quickly. They kill a goat by producing a toxic sludge as a byproduct of their reproduction that poisons the goat. Usually there are not enough bad bacteria in a healthy goat to produce a high amount of toxins. But if a goat gets indigestion and their rumen gets thrown out of whack, the bad bacteria will go nuts and kill the goat very quickly. The only signs that my goat kids where very sick was that they got very weak and cried like their stomachs hurt. At this point, there was nothing I could do to stop the damage.
I could have prevented this by giving the goat kids Probios probiotic paste frequently and continuously during their treatment with Sulmet. Probios contains good rumen bacteria and helps to establish new colonies in the goat. I should have pulled all grain from the kids or given them very, very little grain. I was giving them a lot because they were eating it and I wanted them to eat enough to prevent coccidiosis. I also should have not increased their milk quantities and only fed just the amount of milk to suit the youngest kids.
I am very sad that two of my kids died. One was a buck that I had no special attachment to. I was going to sell him when he got older. Anytime a kid dies, it is sad. The other one that died was my Crystal. She was a Saanan/Alpine doeling out of one of my favorite Alpine does. She was a total surprise because I thought her mom had been bred by an Oberhasli and her mom always has bucks. I was not expecting a pure white doeling when she popped out! She was beautiful and gentle and oh so sweet. I am devastated that she died and I wish I didn’t have to learn these lessons in a very hard and painful way. Luckily now I know what I need to in order to keep my kids alive. I will spread this to other people so they don’t have to learn the hard way either.