Monthly Archives: February 2017

My Goat Everett #2

By now you’re probably hating me for leaving the last post in unknowing suspense.  Did he live?? I’ll ruin it.. he has.

Overview.  I got this limp, very ill baby goat last Friday, who started showing signs of illness Thursday.  He was in my house for a couple days and I was treating for goat polio and listeriosis.

On Sunday, 72 hours after he had first become ill, I moved him to the barn.  I was afraid he was too isolated in the house with me being gone at the hospital for 12 hour shifts and my husband being gone for a farm show for work. I had him tucked into the duck’s summer pool with puppy pads on the bottom (to soak up the urine) and straw with towels and blankets surrounding him to keep him propped up.  He was still unable to lay normally without assistance and I was still turning him and changing his position quite frequently.

Treatment with IM penicillin, thiamine, and banamine continued.  For the first 3 days I treated him every 6 hours with penicillin and thiamine and gave banamine twice per day.  I gave the banamine because the little guy would grit/grind his teeth so loudly.  It was awful and heartbreaking.  He quickly became a pin cushion getting almost 10 injections a day.  I rotated sites and gave some of the injections subcutaneously because I didn’t want him to get knots or tender spots.  The most concerning thing was he didn’t even flinch with the injections.  Didn’t struggle, call out, nothing.  I felt like every single morning when I’d get home from work I would find a dead goat.  I prayed and prayed that God would give me the knowledge and ability to help this poor little goat have a better life than he had had at the beginning.  I know, silly to pray for a goat, but God knows me and knows how big my heart is for animals.

Monday, 2/12, began a new day.  The goat, who I hadn’t named yet because I was afraid to get too attached right now, actually struggled when I gave him his injections.  He gave a tiny, pitiful “maaaa” when he got poked.  I attempted to assist him to stand to strengthen his legs another way that just range of motion and it was so frustrating and sad.  He was like a noodle.  He could put minimal weight on his front legs but his back legs were stiff and would give with the slightest bit of weight on them.  His neck was still rigid and he kept wanting to turn his head to his right flank making it absolutely impossible for one person to stabilize his body, hold him up, and keep his neck straight.  I would hold him on my lap and put him on his side and do range of motion to each leg on that side.  10 reps for each leg three times.  Then I’d flip him over and repeat with the other side.  Then I’d hold him in my lap and move his legs and bend them so he was sitting like a normal goat and help him hold that position.  I’d rub and scratch his ears and give him kisses. If this little guy was going to cross the rainbow bridge on me, he sure was going to know what it’s like to be loved and comforted.


This is when I moved the little guy outside to be around friends. It was cold that night and I was headed to work so I put my dog’s carhartt coat on him and snuggled him up with his stuffed toy friend. You can see in this picture how straight and stuff his back legs were. I had just straightened out his neck and massaged it so he wasn’t rigid and turned to his flank currently. 

I went to searching goat polio and listeriosis on google to see if there were other people’s accounts on rehabbing goats with these illnesses.  I could find nothing on it dealing with a goat kid, as most of the time it afflicts the adult animals.  The few stories I found were disheartening and it sounded like if he did recover, it would be a loooooong road and he may not every be right, normal, or functional again.  I went through a time where I wonder if I was doing the right thing keeping this goat alive or if I should have let him pass peacefully and not be miserable and unable to move. 

 Which is why I’m posting this story.  And I’m breaking it up into parts because I want each post to show a different milestone.  Plus, currently we’re only a week into his recovery so soon each post will be an update on what other milestones or setbacks we have ran into.

 

My Goat Everett #1

Last Thursday, 2/9/17, my husband called me saying there was a goat kid that was weak and walking around “drunkenly” but still able to get around and nurse.  Immediately my mind went straight to what is called goat polio which is essentially a thiamine deficiency. The name makes it sound more complicated, but it is dangerous and the afflicted goat can die rapidly. So, I told him to give the kid a dose of IM Thiamine and check on him again in a couple hours. We really didn’t want to take him from his mama because goats don’t like that and get lonely really easy and he was only 4-5 weeks old. It’s hard on them. 

The first dose of thiamine seemed to really boost the little guy so my husband was hopeful and decided to go over to the farm first thing in the morning and give the kid another dose of thiamine. I got another call. The kid was alive still, but down (unable to stand), had his head pulled to his flank with a rigid neck, and was having muscle twitching/uncontrolled movements of his head and couldn’t lay normally. He was lying on his side. BAD. To our house he came. 

The first time I laid eyes on the little guy he looked bad. Much worse than my husband described. He was cold, twitchy, and couldn’t sit upright or control his legs. He was basically a noodle body with a rigid neck that constantly wanted to be turned and tucked into his right flank. I immediately gave him a good dose of more IM thiamine and started him on a high dose procaine penicillin we had on hand. From what I’ve read, goat polio and listeriosis (an overgrowth of a listeria bacteria in the gut from improper feeding) present very similarly. So I immediately started treatment for both. I never had him register a fever so I’m hopeful it wasn’t listeriosis. 

I am an RN so I have quite a bit of education and understanding of medications/dosages and treatments. What I have treated my goat with and for is purely my own opinion and it is always recommended to treat under veterinary supervision and advice. The problem is, we don’t have a vet readily available all the time and with both goat polio and listeriosis, you don’t have a whole lot of time before things go sour and the goat inevitably dies. Fast and effective treatment is key. 

Since the goat kid was so floppy and weak, I brought him inside where it’s warm for the first night. Had him propped up with towels and blankets to help him lay like a normal goat and instated a turning and repositioning routine. Nurse problems. But seriously, a goat that can’t move themselves is just as much at risk for bed sores as a human is. I also knew he hadn’t eaten for a while. Thankfully, we always have whole cows milk in the fridge. I’ve always read and been told that milk replacer kills goat kids and if goats milk isn’t available, whole cows milk is fine. This kid was so weak he didn’t have a suck to drink the bottle. So I syringe fed him and thankfully he swallowed. I desperately didn’t want to have to tube him to feed him. 

And so started my routine. I work 3rd shift at the hospital, so being home during the day to care for the goat wasn’t an issue. It was just exhausting. I quickly fell into a routine. 4oz milk in the AM with probiotic powder mixed in + IM penicillin + IM thiamine + IM banamine for pain. The goat kid looked rough the first night, just miserable. I was certain he was going to pass away through the night so I started giving him banamine twice a day to help with pain because that’s what I had on hand. I tucked him and rubbed him and loved on him to keep him comfortable until the time came. But he never gave up those first 72 hours. I knew he had what it takes to survive. He would make it. He had to!


This is my dog Zeke and the goat kid laying upstairs while I cleaned on Saturday (2/11). I had to keep repositioning him to keep him sitting up. I was attempting to try and have him sit up on his own to build strength. But as you can see here, he doesn’t look very comfortable and his legs are all over the place!

I wanted to break this story up into a series for several reasons. It’s a long story. I think it’s a neat story. It’s a miracle. And I hope for it to be a good reference for anyone and everyone who may, God forbid, run into dealing with a goat polioor listeriosis case and know exactly what to do!

Until next time, friends

Ruby