I got a question from a reader recently asking what might be wrong with a goat that is crying and restless. Great timing, in fact, because I myself have a goat who is crying and restless — Signorina Pasqualina.
We’ll get back to her in the next post (stay tuned!), but first, and I can’t stress this enough, it is extremely important that you know your goat when trying to diagnose what the problem might be. That is, you need to know your goat’s normal behavior in order to tell if something is off — and not all goats act the same in normal circumstances, so it can be difficult to generalize. My overriding rule is that if you feel something is off, it probably is, so pay attention. But what are you looking for?
What Kind of Crying Is It?
First of all, as yourself: what kind of cry is it? If you know your goat, you know what s/he sounds like most of the time — and you’ll definitely know the difference between normal “Hey maaaa I’m here!” bleating and any kind of pain or distress. Quick example: when Pasqualina was just a wee kid, she got herself tangled in a cord and believe-you-me, even from a pretty good distance, I knew that bleat was not just for fun and games; she was terrified (although not injured, thank goodness).
One important question to ask at this stage is whether your goat has a buddy. It doesn’t have to be another goat necessarily, but goats are social animals, and they like company. So your goat may just be crying because it’s lonely and wants some attention. But if your goat has company and suddenly starts crying for no reason, read on.
Reasons Why a Goat Might Be Crying
Once you’re pretty sure there’s something else behind the cry other than just trying to get your attention, you should look for other symptoms or behaviors that aren’t normal for your goat so you can narrow down what might be wrong with him or her. Goat bloat is where my mind always turns when I think of goat health problems, so let’s go there first.
Symptoms of Goat Bloat
Other than crying in pain, the telltale symptom of goat bloat is a larger than usual (and larger than the other side), distended left side of the goat, where the rumen is located. Goats with bloat may also show other signs of being uncomfortable like teeth grinding, kicking at their sides, and just seeming generally depressed. You should put your ear up close to the rumen and check for gurgling sounds — there should be some if the rumen is working correctly. If the bloat is more severe, a goat may also have trouble breathing.
I’ll be writing more about goat bloat and other goat illnesses in the future for handy reference, but for now, know that if you think you goat has bloat, you should first check and make sure there are no obstructions in the mouth or throat; generally you can just run your hands down the throat and feel for anything out of place. You can then start massaging his or her sides to kind of loosen up the gas that’s in there, focusing on the upper left, kind of like you’re burping a baby — your goat will hopefully start making some burps, etc. and release some gas. If some air has escaped, you can then offer some baking soda to further help balance that pH in there.
For lots more detailed information on goat bloat, visit Fias Co Farm.
There are many other illnesses a goat could have, though, so be sure to check any and all symptoms before just deciding your goat is wanting attention. Here is a handy list of potential goat illnesses along with their symptoms at from GoatWorld.
One thing we haven’t touched on, though, as a reason your doe might be crying is that she’s in heat — which is exactly what we’re going to talk about next time using our Pasqualina as a case study.
Those of you with websites know that far too much fun can be derived from looking through the search terms people used to find your site.
The searches for Goat Berries have been extra interesting to read as they let me know what fellow goat people want to know. I’ve noticed some questions I haven’t yet answered, so I’m going to answer some here (mostly about the kidding process) and then more in Part II, forthcoming:
1. “lover of goats in Italian” - Literally, it would be “l’amante delle capre,” but in Italian you’d more likely say someone is “appassionato (or appassionata if it’s a woman) delle capre.” It’s safe to say I’m one of those.
2. “should I separate goat when kidding” - Most things I read on the Internet and in books talk about kidding stalls to separate the mom from the rest of the herd when she’s about to give birth. In fact, we did separate out one of our moms because we thought she’d be more comfortable that way.
The other two of our dams, though, gave birth in the same pen with the other present (and one even had another kid present). Everything went fine, but I imagine this is something you get a feel for regarding specific goats and their preferences.
3. “goat how long after water sac birth” – When Pasqualina gave birth, her water broke, she had about two minutes of rest (if that), and then she started pushing. We had a kid within five minutes or so, with the whole birth taking not more than 15 minutes.
4. “goat kidding – fresh blood” – This is an interesting query. I actually expected more blood with the birth of the kids, but there really wasn’t any during the actual birth. Lots of goo, yes, but not blood.
The moms *did* however pass fresh blood the following day (usually in clots) and also for the following two weeks — *not* constant streams of blood by any means, just every once in a while. In sum, if you think you’re seeing too much blood, you probably are, so call a veterinarian. Better to err on the side of caution.
5. “what if the goat doesn’t deliver the placenta” – You could have yourself a problem here. A new goat mom should pass her placenta within 24 hours or so of giving birth, but if you weren’t watching the whole time, she may have eaten it. Or a dog may have eaten it, if it had access.
Our three goats all passed the placenta completely within two or three hours of giving birth (in all cases it started to come out almost immediately). If yours hasn’t done so after a whole day, you may have a “retained placenta” on your hands, and you should consult a veterinarian. Basically the vet is going to have to give her something to start contractions to get it out.
Stay tuned for more questions and answers in Part II!
Dora is fitting in well.
By well I mean she has not yet been hurt by over enthusiastic children. She has realised that hiding is a good option for the moment and she does it so well, we bring her out for supervised play times. Letting the kids and her get use to each other. She is a fan of evenings and kids free time, we have woken the last few nights to find her snuggled up in bed with us and enjoys cuddles with me when the kids are not there.
She is a little scared of Ru
I don’t blame her, he loves her but treats her a little like a teddy. Ever opportunity he picks her up for cuddles and kisses. Today we managed to get them to sit side by side with him petting her gently, I'm hoping once the newness wears off he calms down a little.
She does both ways with Eilidh
She will sometimes come and see her but mostly runs away, Eilidh tries to be nice but is a little rough still. She will pick Dora up for hugs and squeeze a little to tight, I keep telling her not to pick her up but the minute I turn my back…
Then there is Rebecca, Dora clearly has a favorite already
When I said Dora was cuddling up in our bed can you guess just who she was snuggling up to?
Please enjoy her first ever post, then head over to the site for recent updates & lots of great goat info.
Oh, and go here to find out the definition of goat berries.
On my nightly after-dinner walk with the dogs, I stopped in at the goat pen to say hello. Margherita and Carmelina came to the gate immediately, but I couldn’t see Pasqualina.
So I went inside and there she was, kind of off in the corner, laying down. She bleated to me twice–totally normal-sounding calls. For those who have never owned goats, yes, you do know what’s normal and not normal in their cries…and you can even tell them apart. She usually gets up to greet me.
I petted her a bit, felt around her tail for the tell-tale ligament loosening that happens when a doe is preparing to give birth, and I will say, they do feel looser than normal. But it’s my first time! What do I know?
Anyway, things *do* seem to be proceeding as they should, except I can’t help being a worry wart, thinking “What if she’s laying down because she’s not feeling well…you know, other than having a kid or more inside of her wanting to get out?!”
I was the same way when Stella was having puppies a few years ago, by the way, always thinking of worst case scenarios. I like to think it helps me be prepared in case I’m called into action (animals generally can take care of this stuff on their own, right?), but I think all it really does is give me insomnia.
P.S. A *huge* thank you to the wonderful Naimhe Jeanne and Martha Ann of All Things Goat who are helping to calm my nerves!
After compiling my part of the World Nutella Day round up and finishing some work assignments early in the week, I decided to enjoy the sunshine this afternoon and spend some time with my girls (of the caprine persuasion).
I never would have imagined how calming and reassuring just being in the presence of these goats can be. It’s really hard to be worried or stressed about anything when these sweet faces are looking back at you.
Right now I’m reading Goat Song: A Seasonal Life, A Short History of Herding, and the Art of Making Cheese by Brad Kessler (recommended by a reader and native of Calabria, just down the road from me; grazie mille Anthony!).
Kessler describes the connection with nature, history, and yourself that raising goats provides, noting that throughout time, goats have been the subjects of many legends and stories, always “helping humans or leading them to unexpected places.”
“If you follow living beings assiduously in the field, or through the lens of a microscope,” writes Kessler, “they lead you to an understanding of their lives, and all life. They usher you into a kind of Eden.”
Margherita and Carmelina usually don’t care *too* much if I’m in there with them–they often come to say hello and then just go back to eating, unless they’re not hungry, in which case they’ll stay for petties for a few minutes.
But my Pasqualina, who you might remember, I bottlefed, rarely leaves my side when I’m in the pen, even when I’m clearly disturbing her nap time.
There’s just nothing like goat zen in the goat pen.
So what does a maturedo with her day? I prowl the house for invaders: usually of the daddy-longlegs (cellar spiders) and crane fly variety. I also keep an eye out for my younger and goofier cats who like to sit on my back patio without my permission! They are cute but they need to learn a thing or two about respect and manners.
While the young humans are at school I like to enjoy long naps. In the morning, Mama will open the front door for me so I can lie by the screen door and sleep in the sunshine. In the afternoon I will move to the dining room to get my zzzs when the sun has come around the house.
Night time and weekends I try to stay out the way of the children. The oldest, Sean, and I have a long standing understanding. He doesn't bother me and I don't go into his room. His sister though is as nuts about cats as Mama. Fortunately for me, Mama is teaching her how to treat me nicely... how to pet me, how to brush me and so forth.
After the kids go to bed, I like to snuggle up with Mama while she does her blogging. I sit right next to her right arm and sometimes even on that arm. That's why she sometimes uses the signature: "All typos are the responsibility of my cat." If she doesn't want me snuggling on her arm, I'll move down to her feet. She usually doesn't mind if I sit there.
That's it – my typical day.
Mom has had a lot of emails and comments asking how she keeps me so white, so today I thought I would let mom answer. But I typed it out.
If you go to any pet store you will see rows of whitening shampoos for dogs. There are probably a million different brands of shampoo out there and I'm sure most of them are top notch. I don't use any of them. Instead I use a product from Aveda. It's called Blue Malva Shampoo and when you pour it into your hand you will see it's purple in color.
That's right, I use my human shampoo on Mushu. Or I should say I used to use this shampoo on my own hair when I was letting it go grey. I have since started dying my hair again and this shampoo does not work well on color treated hair. What the Blue Malva Shampoo does is take grey or 'naturally' blonde hair and it takes out all the yellowy brassiness that light colored hair usually has in it. If you use the shampoo on color treated hair, it will make a very dark brown color go a very light brown color after only about two washes. And as much as us women pay to get our hair done, we don't want that color fading in just two washes.
So that is one of the things I use on Mushu to get his coat so white. I can only use certain products on my own skin otherwise I break into one huge rash all over my body, so trust me when I say I have tried a gazillion different products in my lifetime and have found THE best products to use on very sensitive skin. This means I use Aveda on Mushu and he has never had a problem with it irritating his skin. I do still watch so I don't get any of it in his eyes when I'm bathing him though. I also make sure and rinse him very very well to get all the shampoo out. So far so good and I'm telling you, his coat is whiter then most groomers can get him.
Now. I do have other little tricks I use too. Such as lemon water sprayed on his beard can make that rusty color go away. If not go away, then certainly make it lighter.
Every once in awhile I will also use hydrogen peroxide on his rusty beard. You take some HP and dab it on the stain on his beard, let it do what it does which is foam, and then wipe it off with a damp cloth making sure you thoroughly dry it. I don't ever let the HP touch Mushu's skin, but if you do happen to get it on their skin, make sure you get it off right away......and never let it sit there. It can dry their skin out and it can even burn their skin. We sure don't want that. I've never had a problem though and I just dab short sections at a time and make sure not to get it on his skin. It works though!
Another tip? If you want to hurry the drying process along....which I normally do.....I dust some cornstarch on the fur in the area I want dried and it helps to dry any of the remaining moisture. Extra bonus with cornstarch? It also helps to whiten the hair more.
Back to me...Mushu:
So you can see there are a few tricks mom uses to keep me nice and white. It is also becoming clear to me today why she screams "MUSHU STOP THAT!" after she finishes giving me a bath....and then she sees me rolling around outside in deer poop. So from now on I will really really from here on out promise with all my heart not to roll in any more deer poop. Really.
how far will i go...
...to get a little sun? oh, you have no idea! i'm certainly not going to let a little thing like drapery get in my way...no sir!
mom, what do you want?
wake me when it's spring!