Thursday, May 5, 2016

In the Herd: Choking Issues in Goats

This week starts a weekly series I am going to call 'In the Herd'; here we can dig down deep into herd life and lessons.
First things first- what is my herd?
My herd consists of boar/Nubian cross goats which were originally a dairy based herd. Not needing to produce milk for my family anymore, I am phasing out the dairy goats and expanding back into boar/meat instead. There is a herd mama: Zaida; her daughters: Daisy and Fawna; their sons: Bit and Nip- the buck on board is named Mattie.

This week's topic of discussion is choking, which may seem strange yet is apparently more common than I realized. Our herd experienced this for the first time last night- and I have raised goats for many many years! Quick thinking and good resources kicked in- needless to say, our herd is fine.

The symptoms:
1. Thrashing or shaking the head or rubbing the 'cud' area on railings.
2. Coughing or gaging motions/sounds.
3. Foam or slimy mucus mixed with cud/feed.

The response:
1. Wait and watch. Often they handle this on their own.
2. Massage the neck/cud area rubbing toward the mouth. This will also help determine if there is a large object causing the issue.
3. Mineral oil in a syringe(20cc will do it) to lubricate the throat and help the goat push it out.

The last resort:
1. Lavage with warm water- this is risky so I have never done it!
2. Emergency vet service- expensive, so consider your investment. There are times when this is called for.

I am a 'less is best' interventionist- so I watch and wait (as long as they are still able to breathe and not in shock I wait) giving them the opportunity to handle it.

Causes of choking:
1. Eating too fast. Herds can be competitive, especially with food, leading them to eat too fast compacting dry feed in the cud area without enough moisture. Consider adding more feeding area or space and evaluating if enough feed is being given.
2. Not ready for the feed given. Sometimes the pellets are too large for young kids or an older goat to handle. Crush, crumble or stir in mineral oil to help if this is reoccurring.

  This morning the herd seems fine and morning feeding went off without a hitch. Hopefully our little speed eater has learned to slow down and savor the meal instead of rushing through!

Anyone else have an experience or issue with choking? Let's open the floor and discuss.

Resources: Natural Animal Husbandry, TAMU EDU, The Goat Handbook, Dairy Goat info

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