Moat Goats, 28.12.17-2.1.18

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”

My final chapter of 2017 was spent in New Moat, Wales. 200 goats, 2 dogs, and a wonderful crazy goat family with a new arrival.

You can read my detailed daily blogs of kidding here.

I returned for a week in July before seeing local large animal practice then flying to Finland.

Seeing the new year in with Fred was a dream!

Rather than intensely research the handful of ailments I saw to, like my other Moat Goat blogs, I wanted to share a few of my happiest moments during my stay and an insight into staying away for work experience.

The first time I stayed away from home was in February. I was seeing practice in the Lake District and certainly did not anticipate the challenge of breaking out of the hotel reception at 4.30am. Backpack strategically placed, I frantically jumped up using the tip of my fingers to budge the top bolt of the grand entrance door.

Due to the long hours of lambing, I stayed just over an hour away so I could be out on the quad at 6am. I vividly remember being outside in the pet lamb pen until 11pm due to the viscous colostrum and lamb-sized diameter stomach tube.

That brings me to kidding time at Moat Goats, I instantly felt at home. Hot chocolates and murder documentaries in the midst of 2am kiddings and bottle baby care. I was eager to return before heading off to Finland!

6 weeks in Finland… life changing.

Feeling oh-so-professional taking trains down to Somerset to have a good nights sleep in my luxury king sized bed, I enjoyed my first goat conference.

I believe that brings me to my most recent trip. The quote “always plan for the fact that no plan ever goes according to plan” is appropriate.

After the final stretch of my journey being majorly postponed due to a cancelled train, I sipped my Starbucks latte and bitterly wondered why I had been up since 3.30am. A switch flicked and I appreciated the warmth, my coffee, the fact that I would get there in the end and that no transport system is perfect. Everything and everyone has flaws.

It was that moment that I heard the announcement for a postponed train direct to my final destination. If I ran to the platform I would make it. I would then arrive at the farm earlier than scheduled with my original plan.

Nothing in life is free, and I forked out £65.00 on this 4 hour train. It was my third and final train, it was the best option because time with the goats is priceless.

Shout out to Costa and Starbucks.

Following my recent vet practice posts, I will start with the health aspect of working on a goat farm.

Boer goats are renowned in the goaty world for their poorly adapted hooves for the weather in the UK. We caught some of the does to trim their hooves. If only goats saw trimming as a pain-relieving manicure to solve all of their hoof troubles! One goat head-butted my head torch into my nose, sadly I cannot speak goat to explain that I am trying to assist her. Cuddles and food help.

Successfully nursing and treating two goats with Listeriosis was hugely rewarding. Listeria monocytogenes cross the blood-brain barrier and often cause encephalitis. Therefore one of the major symptoms was head pressing, which is disturbing to see along with the body spasms and foaming of the mouth. Every animal deserves a chance, and this is why I keep coming back to work on the farm. One goat’s severe neurological symptoms subsided with the antibiotic treatment. Over the course of a few days I saw her partly paralysed to trotting around like a healthy happy doe. 10pm ventures to the shed to inject a bucking goat will be memorable.

On my first day, I noticed a doeling with a clouded eye. I assumed that she had peculiarly developed partial blindness, perhaps due to a fight or accident as goats can always find trouble.

This was an unknown eye problem so we rushed her to the vets. The vet used a fluorescent diagnostic dye to identify areas of trauma to the cornea. Ulcerative keratitis is the veterinary term for a corneal ulcer. He then used an eye drop that contained a local anaesthetic before gently rubbing the eyeball to encourage neovascularisation. I held the doeling still whilst the vet skilfully injected antibiotics into the eyelid.

All of these goats are recovering well and their care was part of the daily schedule. Injection times ranged from 7am to 10pm, catching and restraining a grown doe to inject sub-cutaneously was a proud moment.

Some of the best moments were running around a field in wellies with the two hyperactive dogs. Gyppy the Border Collie slept next to me, and every morning started with a long walk. We were in Fitbit competition, that definitely helped.

The phrase “cling like a limpet” was new to me, I had never heard the word limpet before. One day we drove to the coast to go on a limpet hunt on the beach. The dogs enjoyed swimming and catching sticks. I took my first limpet shell home with me.

Once the evening jobs were done, I would snuggle up on the sofa with Gyppy and Mossy!

Goats are characters, doing the morning and evening jobs doesn’t feel like work. One of the doelings screams like a banshee for her breakfast the moment she hears a slight gate creak. William, Rug, Roger, and Bertie were eager to give me bruises to take home by jumping on my back in pure excitement. It was amazing to see how the individual kids had developed, Fred was always my favourite. The little dot has grown into a solid meat goat, who needs a gym membership in the new year when you can be lifting a chunky goat?

It won’t be long until 200 kids are due. Kidding for an extended weekend in March will be my next placement, introducing new life into the world will help with Fred’s fate. It is typical to fall in love with the wethers!

Until then, if you would like to read about my experience kidding in 2017 then I have linked the individual blog posts below.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Steph and I got our kid fix at Church Hillbilly. The 2 month old kids had the confidence to jump on our backs! Flashback to May.

The week old kids sweetly skipped around their pen or curled underneath the hay rack. I squealed a few times. It was lovely to visit Debbi and Dave’s Boer goat farm and to cuddle the tiny goats. I am ready for 2018 kidding!

So my advice would be to push yourself out of your comfort zone, get on a train or even a plane. This is coming from someone too anxious to leave my house for several months in 2015. There are no restraints or boundaries to opportunities when there is a whole world to explore. I have not only gained invaluable hands-on experience and taken on a lot of responsibilities, I have made friends for life. I will always go back to Moat Goats for placements, they are my goaty family! I learn thing from the very high standard of animal welfare and wealth of knowledge that I cannot learn from a textbook. All whilst making great memories and enjoying myself.

I hope you have enjoyed a less clinical blog post and seen the memories that can be made whilst on work experience. If this inspires just one person to take an extra bus to volunteer at an unusual sanctuary, or to take a break from studying and book a week’s placement abroad!

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Large animal vets, Day 5, 7.7.17

My final day began with a yard visit to see two more horses.
The first had sarcoids, sarcoids are tumours that won’t metastasise (meaning they won’t spread to internal organs).
There are 6 different types of sarcoid.
  • Nodular
  • Verrucose
  • Fibroblastic
  • Occult
  • Mixed
  • Malevolent
Similarly, there is a wide range of treatments from cryosurgery and ligation to immunomodulation.
It was interesting to discuss immunomodulation with the vet because I study human tuberculosis in my biology A level immunology option.
The Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccination used in humans can be injected into equine sarcoids to enhance the immune response and to cause tumour regression.
The vet then did a dynamic assessment on a second horse, sadly the horse could not progress to the trotting stage due to the severe lameness.
A vet can advise owners, but it is ultimately their choice and the decision was made for the knackerman to humanely shoot the horse.
There were two euthanasia options, barbiturate overdose or shot. The lethal injection ensures that the horse is going to be incinerated or cremated, whilst shooting a horse has more disposal options. (Horse meat scandal!)
There are many advantages and disadvantages to both procedures, but unless it is an emergency case, it is personal preference of the owner who may have a 25 year relationship with their animal.
An interesting case was an impromptu calf post-mortem to check for calf diphtheria.
Fusiformis necrophorus can enter the soft tissue when the epithelial lining of the mouth is damaged, it then forms a pus-covered ulcer. Ulcers at the back of the tongue create great difficulties for swallowing, and the infection can pass into the lungs and cause fatalities.
However there were no identifiable calf diphtheria ulcers, and the cause of death was not determined. For detailed microscopic tissue analysis, the necropsy would be sent to a post-mortem service with a pathology report and in-depth carcass examination.

Large animal vets, Day 4, 6.7.17

A PD to start the day! 5 months earlier I had done a rectal palpation on a heavily pregnant cow whilst seeing practice out of the area. This is the traditional method that has been used by veterinarians for decades, it does not require any equipment. Just a long arm, long glove, and lots of lube.
Intrarectal ultrasound scans enable a veterinarian to make a pregnancy diagnosis earlier and to identify any reproductive problems due to the imaging. Ultrasound scans give a greater insight into the reproductive health of the cows, and this technology is evolving.
Continuing with the cattle theme, the next patient was a dairy cow with a left displaced abomasum. On my first day, I assisted the vet in the operation so if you would like to read about the procedure then click here
En route to the next appointment, we headed to a farm to splint a sheep with a dislocated leg. A splint was secured against the leg with vet wrap after it was padded. In order to support the ewe’s weight and to aid the natural healing process, the splint has to be long enough to immobilise the joints above and below.
 Once the sheep was supported, we continued down the road to the large commercial dairy goat farm for disbudding.
Quite a few of my blog posts cover the procedure of disbudding with the arguments for and against.
We established our ‘disbudding production line’, I selected the doelings in order of the documentation in order to track the anaesthesia timings as it was more efficient to inject them all with general anaesthetic before disbudding.
Once the vet had disbudded a kid, I placed it under the heat lamp ensuring the neck placement would not restrict the airway, and then passed the next kid due to be disbudded.
The final appointment of the day was to check what the reproductive status of the cow was.
A cow’s oestrus cycle is on average 21 days. I hear the phrase ‘bulling’ when I am seeing practice, this is the behaviour that the farmer sees when she is in oestrus.
Oestrus lasts around 8 hours and is the period of maximum sexual activity.
It is interesting to read that from day 4-5, the veterinarian can feel the corpus luteum which is the yellow body remaining once the follicle bursts to release the oocyte.
The cow had an enlarged vulva and bulling string poured was visible on vaginal examination.
Ovulation occurs about a day after ‘standing heat’. The sperm process of capacitation requires time in the cow’s reproductive tract before fertilisation can occur, hence insemination timing being a major calculated process.
It is always interesting to form parallels with my A-level biology specification, as I can apply human biology to the different species I see on my work experience.

Large animal vets, Day 3, 5.7.17

Equipment loaded, the vet and I headed to a yard for the first patients of the day.
The first horse had similar symptoms to the horse we saw the previous day, with lumps, so the horse was treated for an allergy.
On my work experience with equine vets, I saw how difficult it can to pinpoint an allergy like with any species due to the large range of environmental variables.
Something that is not covered by my biology specification is allergic reactions, so I decided to read up on this topic in my great big red biology bible due to my great interest in immunology.
An allergen is an antigen that triggers an allergic reaction, a heightened immune response. During the primary exposure of an allergen, B cells differentiate into plasma cells and produce IgE. Individuals, in this case horses, with allergies will produce a large amount of this immunoglobulin. This is an issue because IgE binds to mast cells and on the secondary exposure of an allergen, this antigen attaches to the IgE bound to the mast cells. As a result, the mast cell with lysis and histamine, serotonin and heparin are released.
In generalised responses, histamine released in large quantities can be fatal due to bronchioles restricting and arteriole dilation. However, in this case the allergic reaction has caused lumps in the skin.
Antihistamines can work by competitive inhibition by occupying histamine receptors.
The second treatment was a topical corticosteroid which is absorbed into the skin and reduces inflammation by constricting blood vessels and inhibiting the chemical reaction causing inflammation. Steroids are naturally occurring hormones.
The second horse patient was due a routine dental examination.
Due to the hay and feed components of a horses diet, with less grazing, the teeth are not naturally wearing down. Therefore, the vet used a hand rasp to smooth the edges of the teeth whilst the horse had a gag on. Routine visits, like with humans, prevents serious dental problems. A horse with sharp edges to their teeth can be difficult to work, due to the pain from the bit.
Once we were back at the vet practice, I started reading my goat veterinary book, until a lame goose was brought in for an examination.

A non steroidal anti inflammatory was administered in order to reduce the inflammation and pain. NSAIDs inhibit cyclooxygenase, COX, enzymes which have an important role in the process of inflammation.
It is vital to note that cyclooxygenase enzymes produce prostaglandins that activate platelets, they protect the lining of the stomach and intestine, it is not an ideal long-term drug for conditions such as arthritis.

The final case of the day was a cow with a serious case of mastitis that was unaffected by the usual course of antibiotics. Therefore, an E-coli infection was suspected which is an environmental infection that has entered through the teat end.
Vets have an major role in implementing methods to reduce antibiotic resistance at farms, and to educate owners about the risks of not completing courses of antibiotics or using them when unnecessary.

Large animal vets, Day 2, 4.7.17

Seeing veterinary practice reinforces that no case is as simple as applying a textbook study. Our first call out was a prime example.

A beef cow had a swollen hind right hock, with a dependent calf yet to be weaned, the cow was going to be culled post-weaning.
There were no obvious signs of injury, anorexia was probably secondary to a lack of mobility caused by the inflammation.
To minimise the pain, a course of metacam was prescribed as the non-steroidal anti-inflamattory will reduce the inflammation thus pain.
Despite culling being the outcome of choice by the farmer, a veterinarian’s primary consideration has to be to alleviate pain for the period of time it is alive, in the patient’s best interest.

When veterinarians adapt a more holistic approach like I have seen on my work experience, they are improving the general animal welfare whilst working with the farmer. For example, the suggestion was made that the cow and her calf are kept in a more confined indoor area due to the accessibility and eradication of competition for food.

Through work experience, I appreciate the nature of large animal work as farming is an industry. Spending a day at a local abattoir, however, demonstrated the strict rules and regulations with animal welfare at the forefront.

The second appointment of the day was a calf castration with burdizzo for management purposes. This is why we see entire bulls with nose rings. The ideal result is more docile and manageable steers with a desirable meat quality.
Like the kids and lambs I have castrated with an elastrator, rubber ringing is only legal in the first 7 days of a calf’s life.
Using a burdizzo is another bloodless technique which can be used up to 2 months of age, after administration of local anaesthetic.
The spermatic cord must be palpated to ensure the vas deferens and vessels are being clamped, which is why calves will not be castrated under a few weeks old with this method.A horse had lumps under the muzzle, which is a symptom of strangles due to swollen glands in the throat. On arrival, the clinical examination ruled out strangles due to the absence of other warning signs such as nasal discharge, depression and a cough.
Strangles is a highly contagious bacterial infection and horses can develop painful abscesses.

The prognosis was that administering anti-inflammatory and anti-histamines will reduce the symptoms as it appears to be an allergic reaction. It was interesting to hear that human anti-histamines can be used for equine allergies, in large doses calculated by a veterinarian!

 

Cronkshaw Fold Farm, Goat herd update, November 2017

November has been the month of the goats.

In 18 months, I have gone from a ‘put the bucket under the hay-net and put hurdles upside down, avid textbook reader’ to an accredited artificial inseminator with over 2,000 hours of work experience in the veterinary and associated industries.

Before I head off on my winter travels, I will share a blog post about my greatest NON ACADEMIC achievements of 2017, to bring this rollercoaster of a year to a close. A great emphasis on the non-academic because numbers should not define happiness, let’s stamp out the burn-out academic culture.

The quote ‘some beautiful paths cannot be discovered without getting lost’ is fitting. Whilst mental illness will always have negative impacts on my wellbeing and life, every cloud has a silver lining. The road to my heart is paved with goat-hoof-prints, you can read more about my journey here: https://mammalsandmicroscopes.wordpress.com/2017/01/31/animals-are-my-therapy/

From the goat veterinary society meeting to the British Goat Society accredited AI course, November made me feel like the luckiest crazy-goat-lady.
Meeting pioneers of an area of veterinary medicine I am so dedicated to study is an invaluable opportunity to learn from their wealth of knowledge and expertise. Discussing the future of goat veterinary medicine with qualified veterinarians, students, farmers, pet-owners, is inspiring and fuels my drive to make a difference for this super species.

Shout out to my dad for building this brilliant milking stand for the goats, so we could appropriately restrain the goats to minimise stress during the artificial insemination course.

I am sure that if my goats were allowed in my house, they would become part of the furniture. Family!


I had no problem getting my Guernseys to jump up so let’s hope they behave during milking *fingers crossed*.

 


Although Esme and Lyra were empty, after positioning the probe correctly with the curtain of hair, it is a lesson for future goat breeding.
Despite being the most placid gentle giant, Jasper loves his food (like all goats) so became boisterous at feeding time. I believed that he had spent enough time with the girls to have done the deed, I was wrong.
It is not as though Jasper is going to complain!
They are one happy family again. Fingers crossed for the next month, but what is meant to be is meant to be.

Keeping animals is not all sunshine and rainbows. Like humans they get ill, sometimes we won’t have a definite diagnosis.

In the process of elimination, I took a faecal egg sample from one of the sick doelings. Again, another future blog post will cover the faecal egg sampling service and the main worm culprits that make goats unwell. Thanks toWest Gate Labs for their speedy, efficient service.

The rapid results showed that a relatively large strongyle egg and liver fluke burden had been identified. All of the Boers were treated immediately, to prevent any others from deteriorating.

Back to positive news! On the 13th November, Red the billy goat, was placed in the pen with the Boer does. The joys of kidding time will be a break from my A level exams in the summer, a time to switch off from studying.

Another November achievement is the confidence Lyra has gained. Okay, maybe she now needs to learn manners of not running out of the pen. But the timid ‘Esmé shadow’ is now running around the barn having the time of her life jumping on the straw stairs.

Maisie even walked up to the farm with me to meet my goats.

 

On the 25th November, I attended the grand opening of the new farm classroom. It was a great event, albeit cold.

A huge congratulations to Dot, who’s vision has come to life through a LOT of hard work!

 

This is the last goat update of 2017 due to the upcoming blogs of 2017.

So here are a few of my favourite photos from November!

Featuring the incredible goat barn signs commissioned by Sara from https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DandelionsGallery❤️

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British Goat Society accredited AI course, 4.11.17-5.11.17

Conveniently timed with my biology ‘human reproduction’ topic revision, I hosted an artificial insemination course at the farm to learn about goat reproduction, and become a BGS accredited AI technician.

The first day consisted of lectures to learn the underlying theory behind artificial insemination.

Here is the anatomy and physiology component syllabus:

If livestock breeding application questions appear in my exam, I am well equipped to discuss the pros and cons of artificial insemination.
The reasons I will use AI on my Golden Guernseys, to selectively breed certain characteristics into a herd. Although Jasper is a lovely billy, AI gives me access to superior sires without the disease risk of transporting goats to different farms.
However, it is important for AI technicians to be aware of the risks of restricted the gene pool due to the limited available semen.


The following day, I learned how to safely handle liquid nitrogen (following the C.O.S.H.H regulations), before practicing safe goat restraining and the AI technique.

The AI prime time is 20-30 hour in heat, when the mucous holds its shape.
Although Daisy’s mucous was runny, the rings of muscle in her cervix were slightly relaxed.
The aim is to insert the gun through 1/2/3 cervical muscle rings, without force. If you cannot do this, then the semen needs to be deposited at the cervix entrance.
On my first attempt, I got the tip of the gun through one ring on Daisy, then two rings on Bella.


Vets can train in laparoscopic AI, and I believe that it is important to have a great understanding as both a goat keeper and a goat vet to work with farmers to provide solutions to goat welfare problems and be able to medically advise breeding programmes.

A huge thanks to Christine Ball and Brian Perry for being fantastic teachers!

Goat Veterinary Society meeting, Somerset, 2.11.17

*DISCLAIMER: The following information is from experience and is my own opinion, seek veterinarian advice*

The Goat Veterinary Society is the leading UK professional society associated with goat health and welfare. In joining our society you can expect information and support pertaining to goat veterinary care including: access to our forum and online journal, and support from veterinarians renown for their interest and knowledge in goat related care. – http://www.goatvetsoc.co.uk

A few months into my work with goats, I discovered the Goat Veterinary Society which is open to non-veterinarians. The student pricing is very reasonable, it helps to encourage the next generation of crazy-goat-people, to continue the work in the goat veterinary sector.

I always look forward to receiving the most recent journal in the post, to keep up to date with new goat health discoveries, studies, and the advances in the work towards better goat welfare.
For example, a case study on Golden Guernsey skin was published earlier in 2017, which my younger doe is showing. However, that is another blog post in itself, a little project of mine.

6 months into my GVS membership, I saw a week of practice with the secretary, Benjamin Dustan, in the Lake District. A week of revision in the tranquil countryside, with early morning TB tests, routine fertility visits, and goat disbudding. This was the first time I stayed away for work experience, and the first time I saw Golden Guernseys.
Who knew that 5 months later I would be putting a deposit down for my first breeding trio of GGs?


Therefore I was eager to attend the Autumn meeting, to be in a room full of professionals who inspire me to pursue my aim of becoming a caprine specialist. With the increasing number of pet goats, and the expanding goat meat and dairy industries, over time it will become a more feasible aspiration.

“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” – J.K. Rowling

So that brings me to 1st November, 2017.

Sporting my crazy goat lady hoodie and Golden Guernsey Goat Society tote, I travelled to Manchester Piccadilly station straight after college.

2 trains, 4 hours, an abundance of revision, and an extortionate amount of money on costa later, I arrived at Taunton station and headed to my hotel.
“I could get used to this”, I thought, as I looked around my luxurious room with an ideal study desk and complimentary coffee.


The hotel was being taken over by GVS, shoutout to the receptionist for making my day who said, and I quote, “You look like one of the goat herd. No offence.”

No offence taken.

2nd November, 2017

After a productive early morning study session, I headed down to catch up with Meg and Damo from Moat Goats. Hearing that Fred, if you have read my kidding blogs you will know who he is, was now thriving made me very excited for my trip to Wales over the Christmas period for a reunion!
Lambing and kidding are both incredibly fulfilling experiences, saving lives, but hearing about the progress these young stock have made is indescribable.


Lameness 

The first presentation of the day was by Laura Deeming, a pHD student from New Zealand studying hoof health in dairy goats.

Gaining an insight into the management of dairy goats in New Zealand was interesting, there is a significantly different system in comparison to the UK.
72 farms with a total of 50,000 goats- a co-op.
I learnt that the majority of the goats are found in the Waikato region, that is now on my bucket list for my gap year.
Two significant differences between the UK and NZ are the bedding and feeding choices.
Whilst straw is the typical bedding in the United Kingdom, shavings are used in New Zealand.
Due to the co-op regulations, it is compulsory that 75% of the diet is fresh forage/silage.
New Zealand has a Welfare Code for Goats, as well as a DGC Farm Code of Practice.
http://www.dgc.co.nz/innovation.cfm

Therefore it is intriguing to compare lameness in the UK and NZ, and to utilise the global pioneering knowledge to improve caprine lameness.
Lameness is not a case of simply health implications, there are behavioural and economic impacts.
For example, the lying behaviour is a serious welfare issue as the lack of mobility prevents the goat from feeding, thus affects its nutritional intake.
In addition to this, there are marked effects on the social interactions within a herd, and prevent goats from expressing natural behaviour.

Statistics showed that lame does have a lower milk yield, consequently this has a knock-on economic effect on commercial herds.

Laura emphasised the importance of identifying goat lameness in the early stages. We all know the saying that prevention is better than cure. This will decrease the number of chronic lameness cases whilst highlighting to goat owners that using a lameness scoring technique will show that we underestimate the prevalence of lameness within a herd. It was shocking to hear that commercial dairy goat farmers, in her pHD studies, underestimated the lameness in their herd by x2.5.
This raised a simple question- why?

There are a wide range of reasons that a goat breeder will form such a skewed perception of herd health. From the financial and labour constraints to identify the goats with a slightly abnormal gait, to the perception of how lameness presents due to picture we can have in our mind of what lameness is.
Another reason was simply GOATS RUNNING.
We often see our livestock during feeding or milking- the animals have a goal in sight to run to. Their gait may appear ‘normal’ and lameness can be masked.

To reinforce these ideas, Laura showed us a range of videos from a goat with an abnormal gait due to laminitis, to an obvious hind leg limp that is easily identified.
It was therefore interesting to learn about the statistical significance of adding an ‘uneven gait’ category to lameness scoring.

50% of the goats in the study were originally in the ‘normal’ score until their uneven gait was acknowledged in the 5 point categorical test. 50% if the herd’s onset of lameness may have been left unidentified until it progressed, this acute lameness (e.g. in the case of acute laminitis) can become chronic.

There is a wide range of causes of lameness, from bacterial to nutritional. Lameness susceptibility also varies between breeds e.g. the Boers are not adapted to the clay-rich soils of rainy Lancashire, hence the high incidence of foot scald and necessity for routine zinc sulphate baths in the herd I work with. Similarly, due to factors including disease control, there are limitations to providing a natural environment so goats are not naturally wearing their hooves down.
The different factors combined may enable bacterial issues to manifest in the hoof and consequently cause lameness. As previously highlighted, there are significant welfare implications to this. As goat breeders, we are literally working against the elements.
Therefore, in order to successfully treat and control lameness within our herds, it is important to be aware of the multitude of causes to come to an accurate diagnosis. Hoof trimming and terramycin spray is not going to resolve underlying metabolic problems.

Disease of the Goat outlines the preliminary stages of lameness diagnosis during a clinical examination.

  • Weight bearing
  • Stance
  • Stiff, painful, or abnormal gait
  • Obvious wounds/swelling
  • ConformationThen
  • Clean/trim feet where necessary
  • Palpation
  • Manipulation

Radiography and ultrasonography are used in further assessments.

Interdigital dermatitis (foot scald), and foot rot are the two infectious causes of lameness that I have treated- particularly in Boers.
Removing the excess hoof can become a problem rather than a solution as I first anticipated. The reasons for this are that overzealous trimming can unbalance the weight distribution. Additionally, a disinfectant should be used between goats otherwise the hoof trimmers will be spreading the bacteria.

I am less familiar with non-infectious diseases of the goat hoof. However, large animal veterinary work experience was an eye opener to the equine cases of white line disease and laminitis.

Weak pasterns, trauma, luxations, nerve damage, osteoarthritis, caprine arthritis encephalitis… the list goes on.

This highly informative presentation really caught my interest due to the research being done in New Zealand on when to first trim a kid’s hooves. The studies are using growth of hoof, heel integrity, fetlock integrity, and shape, to grade hoof condition.

I look forward to reading about the results in the future.

Urolithiasis 

There are marked differences between castration legislation and practices between the UK and the USA.
Although banding without anaesthesia for a goat breeder is illegal after 7 days, it is associated with increased urinary calculi risk due to the inhibited development of the urethra, the diameter is smaller so urethral blockage (particularly in the sigmoid lecture or urethral process) is a danger.
However, the prevalence of urolithiasis will also depend on the goat herd management practices. Whether (get it?) that is due to the culling of dairy billy kids or meat kids being sent to slaughter once they reach 40kg- that is my own speculation. Thanks to all of the kind offers from US goat farmer groups, I will be working on goat farmers over there so can experience the differences we talked about.

Although the symptoms of collicing and straining are the same for the different types of stones, they require different treatments.
Every goat owner knows that the 2:1 calcium to phosphorous ratio is particularly important for their male goats. But not every goat owner knows that ammonium chloride is not the always the solution for uroliths.

Ammonium chloride can treat struvite stones, which are a type of phosphatic calculi. They are magnesium ammonium phosphate stones, caused by grain-based diets.
Other types of stones are calcium carbonate (caused by a high calcium diet), calcium phosphate, and calcium oxalate (caused by ingestion of plants such as rhubarb and spinach).

I learnt a lot about diagnosing urolithiasis in goats, in such a short amount of time. I am going to summarise and revise this information.

Clinical signs

  • Failure to urinate
  • Dry prepuce
  • ‘Out-stretched’ posturing
  • Bloating (note to goat owners, that this is not always a gastro-intestinal problem)
  • Anorexia
  • Goats will become vocal and restless as opposed to becoming depressed

Diagnosis
As I have seen veterinarians use xylazine (muscle relaxant/sedative) in a mixture for disbudding anaesthesia, it was intriguing to hear that it is in fact a diuretic so should be avoided during the diagnostic process of in suspected urolithiasis cases.

Diazepam can be used safely for radiographs and ultrasounds. Ultrasound scans enable a vet to see if the bladder is leaking, in which case the goat will be PTS and surgery is not an option.

Treatment
Conservative approach
Non-invasive approach to treating urolithiasis using antispasmodic (Buscopan) and Diazepam for short-term relief.

Surgery
The options include:
Tube Cystotomy, perineal urethrostomy, and marsipulisation.
However, the latter will cause urine scald and bladder infections, they are not ideal for pet goats only for salvaging livestock for slaughter.

Poison in goats

The next speaker was from VPIS, which stands for the Veterinary Poisons Information Service, who was providing the statistics behind goat poisoning from the service.

Over the years, 58% of logged goat poisoning cases in the VPIS have been due to poison.

I have been reading a booklet on poisonous plants that I purchased from one of the goat society websites, so it was a great opportunity to expand on my basic knowledge.

There are few antidotes for goats, so the two strand treatment of gut decontamination and supportive care are crucial.

Soon after ingestion, activated charcoal can be used to decontaminate the gut. Otherwise, another option is rumenotomy which is a surgical technique of making an incision into the rumen to retrieve ingested foreign bodies.
Supportive care includes rehydration, pain relief, and management of complications, which is a general overview for many different cases of disease, not just poison.

“Pet goats”

I am sure that everyone knows that I currently have 3 goats.
So it is no surprise that I was intrigued by the “How to treat the goat that is really the family dog” presentation title.

Veterinarians need to adapt different approaches when treating pet animals, and commercial livestock. Although pet/commercial goats do not differ by law as food producing animals and have the same medication restrictions, they have different economic and emotional values.

The initial clinical examination should be the same.
However, pet goat owners are more likely to explore the different additional diagnostic procedures. These include:

Faeces (digestion/endoparasites)
Bloods (Intoxications)
Skin scrapes (Dermatitis/ectoparasites)
Ultrasound + X-ray
Histology

and should be discussed with owners.

Another marked difference between communication with goat farmers v pet goat owners, may the level of knowledge.
Adorable viral videos of Pygmy kids jumping across a barn… they’re just like a puppy… right?

Wrong.

Inexperience can lead to life-threatening problems.
Incorrect nutrition (e.g. overfeeding or inappropriate diet) can lead to arthritis, urolithiasis, intoxication… just to state a few.
Small, permanent pastures give rise to endoparasite issues, exacerbated by other species grazing together.

In the vet’s clinical experience, the ‘common’ pet goat problems were…
1) Urolithiasis
2) Fractures
3) Skin problems (ectoparasites/idiopathic)
4) Intoxications (Rhododendron/acorns)

We were presented with different veterinary cases and had to come to our own conclusions in the next step of diagnosis or treatment.
For example, a goat was wasting away but otherwise there were no other issues on initial clinical examination.
Elderly goats, like any animals, will develop teeth problems. Missing molars are particularly problematic because hooks will form on the opposite molar as they are not being worn down. Food will get stuck in the disasternas, which may lead to infection.
A few hundred pounds for molar removal, definitely a pet goat case.

Where is the line drawn?
For example with arthritis. Will the pet goat owner want the goat on high doses of medication (that the organs can cope with) to increase comfort. Or is this inhumane, to extend the suffering?

As I have seen veterinary practice on large commercial herds as well as at homes for pet goats, it was interesting to listen to veterinarians discuss their experiences of cases and sharing their opinions on these problems.

Johne’s disease

A veterinary group shared their research into whether Johne’s disease vaccinations and the problems following, such as culling falsely positive goats.

Optimising the milking system

Optimising the milking system means to milk quickly, completely, safely, whilst minimising adverse effects on the teats.
This is implemented by having the correct: routine, ergonomics, and operating equipment.

The many purposes of a milking routine include:
-Teat cleanliness
-Milk quality
-To detect and control mastitis
-Teat stimulation and milk let down

Thanks to goats’ cleanliness as a result of having a more solid slurry consistency and having straw bedding, means that cleaning soiled teats is an easier job.
However, it is easy to overlook that the goat’s udders should be clipped, to avoid milk contamination resulting in a higher milk quality.

Benefits of cleaning teats and teat stimulation means that they are milked more quickly, reducing the low milk flow period so therefore the time the clusters are attached. Thus improving teat end conditions.
Now to throw a scientific spanner in the works.
Alveoli require oxytocin to allow milk let down, and 70% of a cow’s milk is alveolar. This differs, however, between species.
Nearly 80% of a goat’s milk is cisternal so the instant the cluster is placed, milk will flow.
Goats only require stimulation for 20% of their milk let down.
As a result, it is more difficult to encourage teat preparation.
The purpose is for teat cleanliness!

All vital information for me to know when I milk my does next year.

Antibiotics: the Dutch method

The Dutch Antibiotic Resistance Policy is part of the One Health approach.

‘Aim of One Health:

To improve health and well-being through the prevention of risks and the mitigation of effects of crises that originate at the interface between humans, animals and their various environments.’ – http://www.onehealthglobal.net/what-is-one-health/

The vet described that in 2008 there was a low human use of antibiotics, contrasting with the high vet use. Political and social pressures meant that the reliability of veterinarians was at stake.
Fearing that politicians would impose rules and regulations, veterinarians took the step forward to take control of their fate.

The 2009 goals were to reduce antibiotic  use in veal, cattle, pigs, and poultry, 20% by 2011, and 50% by 2013.

The strategies were:
1) No preventative
2) No whole flock/herd/barn administrations
3) No standard dry cow antibiotic therapy
4) Specific antibiotics banned or restricted

The KNMvD produced antibiotic guidelines e.g. if mastitis caused by A -> treat with B.
They also enforced a 1-1 farmer-vet contract approach. This significantly reduced the ability to ‘shop around’ for antibiotics.
In order to receive antibiotics, farmers need a completed annual farm treatment plan and farm health plan.

All drug sales go to a central database, then to a benchmark authority, where DDR (daily dose rate) is calculated.

Antibiotics are grouped into 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice. Vets will only carry 1st choice antibiotics on call, these will be antibiotics on the treatment plan. For example, oxytetracycline and penicillin.

2nd choice antibiotics have a “no, unless..” principle.
These will be for a specific animal/group.
Once the course is done, any excess antibiotics have to be discarded.
They will only be on the farm treatment plan with decent veterinary registration of the issue.

3rd choice antibiotics will never be on the farm treatment plan and will only be dispensed with an antibiogram. The example given was resistant E-Coli mastitis.

So, what does this mean in practice?

Paperwork, a lot of paperwork.
Education, the nurses need to be just as aware as the vets and the farmers.
Biannual audits for farmers, vets, and vet practices.
Spot checks!
Vets have to have proof, they are no longer able to prescribe medication as ‘hours worked’, their career will be placed in jeopardy.
Vets will be penalised if they do not deliver farm health plans to standard or if they are constantly over the ‘action level’ of prescribing i.e. the red line on the benchmark graphs.

Some large dairy co-ops or organic farmers, will have regulations that demand even higher commitment to reducing antibiotic usage.

Although there was a 50% reduction in antibiotics by 2012, with the use of 3rd choice antibiotics reducing by 90%, there has also been an increased use of vaccination and emphasis on obtaining the optimum immunity through nutrition and breeding. As a result, farmers have made management changes, this has aided the national schemes to eradicate Johne’s, salmonella, BVD and IBR.

Goats are not currently covered by the policy, but dairy goat farms have started a similar voluntary system. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice policy and requirement to be ‘under a vet’, however, are the same.

I cannot wait for next year, to attend the 2018 GVS meeting, whilst on my gap year!

 

 

Cronkshaw Fold Farm, Goat herd update, October 2017

Long time no blogging.

Balancing A-levels, mental-health awareness work, work experience, practicing flute diploma repertoire whilst starting up my Golden Guernsey herd leaves little time for blogging. We can all make time for the things we love, however- I have plenty of blogs in the works.
After having great feedback on my ‘Animals are my therapy’ blog post, I am working towards compiling a part 2, with other people sharing their stories to reach a wider audience. Busy busy busy! But it is important that whilst we invest our energy into making a change to society’s perception and understanding of mental health, that we look after our own mental health. One word- goats.

Whilst I will always be a perfectionist, finding other outlets for success helps me to continue plodding along despite my world crashing down over losing 3 marks in an exam. I try to ignore the people who support the whole burn-out culture of work, because I should not feel guilty for living my life and balancing my studies, no one should. Discovering my practical abilities, and utilising my sensitivity and empathy as strengths to care for animals has given me a new purpose, one that cannot be defined by a number. I am also not going to draft blogs multiple times, I will simply type what I would like to share and press PUBLISH.

^ A little off-subject, but a reminder to myself that I am breeding goats to learn, not to have perfect award-winning goats that do backflips. Like Boers are susceptible to foot rot, Golden Guernseys can have skin problems. If animals were in perfect health, vets would be out of their job. So over October, I have been researching goat nutrition and changed their diet to a more coarse goat-mix rather than beef nuts. I was advised to purchase an equine mineral supplement due to the higher copper content.
Over the next month, I will continue to learn and try different treatments to improve Lyra’s skin, dietary changes will be seen through gradual progression.
Goats are browsing animals, but they do love to run through the farm yard to the fields to graze on lush grass. I have been brainstorming enrichment ideas, to have a bracket in their barn to insert branches so natural browsing behaviour is encouraged.
They will love their goat playground, when I get around to building it with my dad!
The goats have certainly become part of the Wilson family, but it is important to keep their spreadsheets of finances, health records, weights etc. etc. up to date especially as the herd expands, because they are not pets and having a small dairy herd should be economically viable. Another management learning opportunity!

Jasper has now been separated from the does, so he may go on a holiday to meet some new girlfriends (sorry Esme and Lyra).
I have collected faecal egg samples, but worming will be a separate blog post once I have received the results.

Apart from the great improvement in lead training, and that I am pleasantly surprised the goats enjoy their himalayan salt lick, there is not much more to say… but not to worry, November is a hectic month.

Cronkshaw Fold Farm, Goat herd update, September 2017

As studying is my main priority at the moment with my A level exams in the summer, I have decided to do monthly updates about my work at the farm instead.

September has been a great month, I came back with an abundance of new skills from Finland, bought three lovely pedigree goats and I completed a 24 hour hike with the charity Mind.

Once Esmé and Lyra were settled in (this is where my last blog ended) https://mammalsandmicroscopes.wordpress.com/2017/09/03/crazy-goat-lady/ , I planned to pick up the billy.

I definitely made my chemistry and maths classes aware that I was eagerly anticipating purchasing my first billy goat that morning after lessons.

Fortunately, Pete and I did not get delayed in hours of traffic this time! With handlebars as horns, it was a simple task to get Jasper into the livestock trailer.


To integrate Jasper into the Golden Guernsey pen, I moved Esmé and Lyra into an adjacent stable, enabling the 3 of them to make contact and to share their first romantic meal (of straw because the hay bale had not arrived yet). Roughage to continue to aid rumination.

Jasper was bottle-reared so he is certainly not shy. Whilst he is incredibly sweet, his musky odour is certainly not.

The science behind a billy goat’s scent, however, is fascinating.

http://www.nature.com/news/male-scent-stimulates-female-goats-fertility-1.14788

There is a hormonal chain reaction, that triggers a doe to ovulate. 4-ethyloctanal is a compound is a primer pheromone, which is explained in the article to be a chemical that causes an aspect of the recipient’s physiology to alter in response.

The chemical reaction between 4-ethloctanol and air, produces 4-ethylocyanoic acid- this is the smell that does are attracted to. So this is an adaptation of a billy goat with two significant benefits for survival, not only does it physiologically encourage a doe to cycle, but the behavioural aspect of urinating on themselves increases their attraction to does.


Since the young billy goats needed to be weaned, it was time for a deep barn cleanse  with virkon to ensure that Dichelobacter nodosus, the foot-rot causing bacteria, will not infect the Golden Guernseys.

On the topic of foot rot, before I moved the young billy goats, I ensured that I had trimmed their hooves along with the rest of the herd. So any infected debris would be disposed of whilst mucking the pens out.


Although they are content with their new home together, Esmé loves the freedom of roaming free in the barn.

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There should be kids on their way at the start of March, just in time for my birthday!