HEALTH PROBLEMS OF YOUNG KIDS
Pneumonia is the common term for a range of respiratory infections that kills goats quickly -- especially kids. There are many types of pneumonia: bacterial, mycoplasmal, viral, and inhalation pneumonia to name a few. Common symptoms include fever, labored breathing, runny nose discharging yellowish-green mucous, and sometimes a hacking cough -- along with generalized listlessness and *off feed* behavior. Pneumonia kills so quickly that the producer doesn't have the luxury of time to determine its type. Prompt treatment should be the focus. The same medications and treatment regimen are used for most forms of pneumonia.
Interstitial pneumonia appears with rapid-onset high fever, no nasal discharge, and foaming at the mouth as it quickly progresses. Diarrhea is not present. Interstitial pneumonia can easily kill in less that 12 hours; contraction of illness at night and death by morning is not uncommon. The goat's temperature can rise and fall so quickly that the producer never sees it in the fevered state. When a goat with interstitial pneumonia reaches the point that its body temperature is below 100*F, its breathing is labored, its kidneys are shutting down, its lungs are filling with fluids, it finds sitting uncomfortable due to fluid build-up inside the body so it remains standing in a depressed condition and cries out in pain -- it is going to die and the producer won't be able to save it. The producer must treat the goat with interstitial pneumonia when it is still in the fever stage to have any chance of saving it. Remember that fever is much easier to bring down than sub-normal body temperature is to bring up.
Dust pneumonia is a type of inhalation pneumonia that occurs in periods of dry windy weather when environmental irritants are inhaled. Do not move goats -- especially does with kids -- down dusty alleys or through dusty pens without first wetting the ground. Goats live close to the ground -- particularly kids -- making them subject to inhaling far greater amounts of respiratory irritants than taller species.
Warm and wet weather is usually when pneumonia occurs, though it can happen year round. The first task with any sick goat is to take its rectal temperature. If fever exists (above 103.5*F), administer Banamine or generic equivalent into the muscle (IM); a young kid would minimally need 2/10's of a cc for a medium-sized breed. If Banamine is not available, one-half of a baby aspirin may be given. Keep the kid hydrated, using ReSorb electrolytes orally and Lactated Ringers Solution SQ. The best antibiotics are both veterinary prescriptions: Excenel RTU and Nuflor. (This writer no longer uses Naxcel; Excenel RTU is the shelf-stable version of Naxcel and much easier to store.) Over-the-counter products such as penicillin, oxytetracycline 200 mg/mL (LA200), and tylosin 200 (Tylan 200) are poor second choices but must be used if prescription medications aren't available. Dosages for Nuflor, Excenel RTU, and Naxcel start at one-half (1/2) cc for newborns and should be given for five consecutive days. These medications are not labelled for goats and the species dosage on the labels are too low for them. Excenel RTU should be dosed twice in the first 24 hours, then once a day for four more days -- a total of five days. Because Nuflor is very thick, requiring dosing with an 18-gauge needle, this writer prefers to use Excenel RTU on kids. Poly Serum injectable is recommended to boost the kid's immune system against respiratory diseases. Producers should always have Poly Serum on hand; Jeffers' livestock catalog carries it on the cattle vaccines page.
In conjunction with these injections, give Expectahist oral decongestant/antihistamine/expectorant orally twice a day dosed at up to three (3) cc's. If time does not permit obtaining Expectahist, use a children's cough medication (Robitussin or generic equivalent) that treats congestion, coughing, and nasal allergies and give a child's dose. Keep the kid hydrated with ReSorb electrolytes orally, and if needed, Lactated Ringers Solution given SQ. It may be necessary to stomach tube the sick kid if it is completely off-feed. The kid is not going to eat until its body temperature has been stablized in the normal range (101.5*F to 103.5*F).
One of the few vaccines made specifically for goats is Colorado Serum's pasteurella vaccine. Mannheimia Haemolytica-Pasteurella Multocida Bacterin is currently available from some suppliers. A number of cattle vaccines have been effective in helping prevent pneumonia in goats. Nasalgen IP is an intranasal vaccine that is available over the counter. Super Poly-Bac is an injectable cattle vaccine that has been helpful to some producers in reducing the occurance of pneumonia in their kids
Note: The treatments described above are what has worked for this author.
Certain areas may have types of pneumonia that are resistant or non-responsive to the medications cited. Consult a veterinarian experienced with goats in your area for advice on local strains.
NOTE: NEVER use the medication Micotil on goats; it causes heart failure almost instantly.
Coccidiosis is probably the biggest killer of young kids raised in wet climates and/or in over-crowded conditions. This intestinal parasite is transmitted via oral ingestion of fecal material. Coccidiosis normally occurs after the kid begins to eat solid foods at about three weeks of age. When kids begin *mouthing* everything around them, they pick up and swallow infected goat pills. Diarrhea is usually the first symptom but is not always observed by the producer. As a rule of thumb, diarrhea that is blackish or the color of dried blood is indicative of Coccidiosis. In very young kids, this diarrhea can start out as greenish in color.
Prevention is the best way to handle Coccidiosis. Albon or its generic equivalent Sulfadimethoxine 12.5% oral solution (Dimethox) has both preventative and curative abilities at dosage levels shown on the packaging. Both products are sulfa-based antibiotics that also treat secondary infections. This writer prefers using the one-gallon jug of Dimethox and dosing five (5) cc's undiluted directly into each kid's mouth for five consecutive days to insure adequate delivery of needed medication. CoRid (amprollium) is no longer recommended because it is a thiamine (Vitamin B-1) inhibitor; low thiamine levels can lead to goat polio in kids. One-half of an over-the-counter Tagamet 200 tablet (or generic equivalent) can be given to a kid to soothe the gut. Endosorb Oral Suspension can be used to soothe the gut and bind toxins, making it a superior product. Use of oral electrolytes (ReSorb or equivalent) is essential in a kid suffering from diarrhea; diarrhea dehydrates the goat quickly. If ReSorb is not available, Pedialyte or Gatorade can be substituted until the proper ruminant electrolyte is obtained.
Coccidiosis left untreated causes permanent intestinal-wall damage that prevents absorption of nutrients from food. At best, the damage will stunt the kid's growth; at worst, Coccidiosis will kill the kid. Kids with Coccidiosis eat continually and still lose weight. Such kids should have fecals done for both worms and coccidia oocysts. Dewormers do not kill coccidia. This author's website has an in-depth article on Coccidiosis.
Neonatal Diarrhea Complex is the name applied to hard-to-identify or unidentified causes of diarrhea in newborns and very young kids. Usually thought to be E.coli or Cryptosporidiosis, these are infections commonly occuring in young kids in cold and/or wet weather but are not limited to these climatic conditions. Without laboratory analysis (culturing the organism), exact diagnosis is not possible. However, a very young kid who is inactive, whose head is drooping and whose tail is turned down, who is not eating, who is dehydrated, who is feverish, who has no respiratory distress, and who may have (generally) grayish or whitish diarrhea with a very distinctive smell. . . all of these symptoms point to E.coli or similar infection. Reduce fever to normal body temperature with Banamine injectably or baby aspirin orally. Hydrate the kid with oral electrolytes. Use PeptoBismol orally every six hours dosed at six (6) to ten (10) cc's to calm the stomach. Give over-the-counter neomycin sulfate orally (Biosol). If that is not effective, switch to prescription Sulfadimethoxazine with Trimethoprim.
E.coli can be confused with Weak Kid Syndrome because it can occur in newborns and kids that are only a few days old. The most obvious difference is that kids with E. coli or similar infections usually have fever accompanying their other symptoms, while weak kids have sub-normal body temperatures. This illustrates the importance of always taking the rectal temperature of a sick kid. Additionally, while weak kid syndrome occurs at birth or immediately thereafter, bacterial infections can occur at any time.
Caution: Use antibiotics only when fever or inflammation is present.
Overuse of antibiotics in both livestock and humans has resulted in the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Penicillin is a good example of abuse of an antibiotic; its overuse/improper use has rendered pencillin ineffective against some bacterial infections.
Floppy Kid Syndrome has only recently been recognized by meat-goat producers in the United States. The introduction of intensive management of goats with the importation of Boers into the USA in the early 1990's brought FKS to producers' attention. Producers understandably tend to confine expensive goats in small areas, creating conditions under which kids can demand and receive more milk from their dams than their mothers would normally feed them. Unconfined dams allow their kids to nurse for frequent but short periods of time. When a doe cannot control and limit the amount of milk that her kids receive at each feeding, Floppy Kid Syndrome can occur.
FKS usually doesn't occur until the kid is seven to ten days old. (An exception to this time frame -- bottle babies -- is cited later in this article.) The kid literally overeats on milk on a repeated basis and is unable to fully digest the milk before it refills its stomach by nursing again, creating a toxic condition like Enterotoxemia (Overeating Disease). Untreated, a painful and rapid death occurs. Treatment must be swift to save the kid.
The solution is startlingly simple -- and usually the precise opposite of what producers probably think should be done. Take the kid off milk completely for at least 36 hours. Substitute ReSorb or equivalent electrolytes in place of milk and add baking soda to neutralize the conditions in the kid's stomach. Administer C&D anti-toxin (*not* the toxoid) immediately. Use Milk of Magnesia to push the partially-digested milk through the kid's system and out of the kid's body. Prescription Banamine, given injectably, will calm the gut; dosage is 2/10th's of a cc given IM for a young kid of a medium-sized breed. Because most FKS kids are wobbly-legged and stagger like they are drunk, tube feeding may be necessary.
Dissolve one teaspoon of ordinary baking soda in eight (8) ounces of warmed ReSorb electrolytes and mix thoroughly. If the kid will not suck a bottle, stomach tube two ounces (60 cc's) of this solution into the kid's stomach. Wait about an hour and tube feed another two ounces. Don't bloat the kid's stomach; use common sense about how much it can hold. Administer a SQ injection of six (6) to eight (8) cc's of C&D anti-toxin wherever loose skin can be found. SQ injection over the ribs is a good location. C&D anti-toxin helps counteract the toxic effect of the undigested milk in the kid's stomach and can be used every twelve (12) hours. If the kid is old enough to have already had its two-injection series of CD/T vaccinations, the producer will have to wait at least five days and start the CD/T series over again. However, a very young kid should not have received its first and second CD/T injections before one month and two months of age respectively. The dam's immunities passed to the kid via mother's milk are supposed to protect the kid during its first month of life, at which time the kid's own immune system starts developing.
Because Floppy Kid Syndrome is accompanied by a bacterial infection in the kid's gut, antibiotic therapy is advisable. Obtain a vet prescription for Primor or Sulfadimethoxazine with Trimethoprim and orally medicate for five consecutive days. Dose the kid with Milk of Magnesia orally (five cc's per 20 pounds bodyweight) to speed the elimination of the undigested milk from its body. Mineral oil can be effective but must be stomach-tubed into the goat. Because mineral oil has no taste, the goat may not identify it as a substance to be swallowed and it can be aspirated into the lungs instead. A warm soapy enema can be given to remove hard-packed feces from the lower intestinal tract via the anus; however, an enema will not move undigested milk from the stomach.
Diarrhea sometimes occurs with FKS. This is good; the kid's body is trying to eliminate toxic substances. Do not use diarrhea medication unless the scouring is a liquid of watery consistency, threatening dehydration, and be very careful how much anti-diarrheal is given under such conditions. Diarrhea is a symptom of an illness -- not the illness itself. See this writer's article on Diarrhea on the Articles page. Never give Immodium AD to a goat. Immodium AD slows and sometimes stops the peristaltic action of the gut, immobilizing the undigested milk in the kid's stomach, making the situation worse. The producer's goal is to get the offending milk out of the kid's system quickly. If diarrhea becomes watery, orally dose the kid with up to six (6) to ten (10) cc's of PeptoBismol up to three times a day and use injectable Banamine to quiet the gut.
The ReSorb/baking soda solution will both rehydrate the kid and soothe its gut. A kid can survive on the Resorb/baking soda solution for several days if that time is needed to get its system cleaned out. Do not start feeding milk again until the kid's feces have returned to normal pill form, it can stand and nurse, and the kid has been re-hydrated. Then ease the kid back onto milk by feeding equal parts milk and electrolytes.
Bottle babies require special comments. During the first two weeks of life, bottle babies should be fed with individual bottles to control the amount of milk that they receive. Producers should mimic the dam, who feeds small amounts of milk very frequently to her kids to avoid stomach upset. Folks new to bottle babies can cause Floppy Kid Syndrome by overfeeding milk. A kid will drink as much as you will let it drink; the sucking response makes it feel safe. Multiple bottle babies can be fed on a Lambar available from goat-supply companies like Jeffers. This is a three-and-one-half gallon bucket with lid and holes around it into which nipples attached to feeding tubes are placed. Training kids to use a Lambar is easy and your workload can be lightened IF you can keep kids from drinking too much, overturning the bucket, and knocking the lid off. Build a frame and secure it to the floor, then place the bucket inside it. In all cases (Lambar or individual bottles), proper cleaning of equipment both before and after use is essential.
Joint Ill (aka Navel Ill) occurs when bacteria travels up a newborn kid's wet navel cord and migrates to its (usually) leg joints. Over a period of days or weeks, the kid begins to limp as joints swell. Antibiotic treatment is required, is usually long term (weeks rather than days), and the kid may have life-long residual effects from the infection. Arthritis may develop as the kid gets older. Avoid Joint Ill by dipping the kid's wet navel cord immediately after birth in 7% iodine solution -- all the way up to its body. Baytril 100 injectable is an excellent antibiotic with which to treat Joint Ill. This antibiotic kills organisms that other antibiotics don't affect. Baytril 100 usage is restricted in food animals in some locales. However, your vet can prescribe it.
Selenium Deficiency (aka White Muscle Disease) can cause weak rear legs in newborn and young kids and can keep the kid from swallowing. Walking on one's pasterns can also be a sign of selenium deficiency. Your county extension service agent or feed company nutritionist should be able to tell you if you are in a selenium-deficient area. Prescription BoSe should be injected into newborns and young kids in selenium-deficient areas at a dosage rate of 1/2 cc given IM. Dosage for adult dams is 2-1/2 cc's, also given IM. Do not use MuSe; it is too strong for goats. BoSe has selenium and vitamin E in it.
Mineral and Vitamin Deficiencies can affect newborns and young kids in ways similar to selenium deficiency. Copper is essential to the goat's body. Loss of hair color and inability to breed or ability to carry fetuses to term are indicators of copper deficiency. Vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness, poor hair coat, loss of appetite, and can predispose the kid to diarrhea, parasites, and respiratory diseases. Vitamin D is essential to the body's calcium and phosphorus absorption processes. Vitamin E deficiency contributes to White Muscle Disease (selenium deficiency) aka nutritional muscular distrophy, which affects the kid's ability to stand and use its muscles properly. All of the B vitamins are important to proper rumen function. Vitamin B-1 (thiamine) deficiency can result in goat polio. Cobalt deficiency prevents synthesis of Vitamin B-12. Some minerals work together well and some minerals prevent absorption of other minerals. The form in which the mineral is used (oxide, sulfide, sulfate, etc) makes a difference in how the goat's body can utilize it. Nutrition, including vitamins and minerals, is the most complex part of raising goats. Check with your goat vet or livestock feed nutritionist for known vitamin and mineral deficiencies in your area.
Good management practices go a long way towards preventing illnesses. Sufficient space to avoid over-crowding, clean and dry pens, fresh water, quality hay, and sanitary conditions are minimum requirements. Filth and crowding breed sickness. If you can learn to think like a goat, you can reduce the frequency of illnesses, injuries, and deaths.