Nora was the first goat we purchased for our farm in 2013 and she has been the matriarch of our herd since. Nora went off her feed about a month ago and slowly declined from there. We called the vet and she recommended trying an injection of Vitamin B to boost her appetite, an injection of Banamine as an anti-inflammatory/fever reducer, and a probiotic to promote gut health. This treatment did not work so we tried sulfa tablets like we treated Fauna earlier this year. These treatments did not help. Her health went from bad to worse and the day after we returned from a short mini vacation she couldn’t stand on her own. She was able to get up with help and walk about a 100 yards to the barn alright. The next day was a Monday and the vet come out to do a more thorough examination of her. She gave her a few different injections and wormers to try to see if one would help. She also took a fecal sample to do a fecal egg count even though she didn’t think it was a parasite problem because I had just wormed all the goats a few weeks before. She thought she might have some sort of internal bleeding and we could only wait to see if one of the treatments would help. In the meantime I was giving her electrolytes to keep her hydrated and trying to feed her the best hay and grain to get her to eat.
While we waited for results she lost the ability to stand on her own for more than a few brief moments. Using girth straps that I use for saddling the horses we were able to rig up a system so she could “stand” and keep blood flow to her legs. During this time Trenton hurt his back so one of our neighbors and their son came out a few times a day to help me get her up and walking with assistance. On Wednesday we received the test results and the count was 4000 Strongyle per gram! That is astronomically high but knowing the parasite type allowed the vet to treat her in a more targeted manner. She prescribed two different wormers Valbazen and Prohibit (levamisole hydrochloride) Soluble Drench powder and to treat the whole herd with them. We did so right away and over the next few days her appetite increased and she was able to stand for longer on her own and to walk easier with a little less support.
I think a combination of high temperatures and not enough rain has made for a high parasite year. Pasture goats have a tendency towards higher parasite levels and as I learned after our third year of having goats the parasites will also become resistant to the wormer we use. Generally rotating wormers will prevent parasite problems. I rotate Safeguard which has 10% Fenbendazole, Ivermectin, and pumpkin pulp and seeds as a natural wormer. Our system has worked well for the last several years and we have had no problem with parasites. Apparently not this year!
The increase of parasites this year did not seem to have any effect on the other goats. It could be a combination of age, higher susceptibility, or a different underlying health issue but Nora was hit hard. After treating her we were hopeful that she would get better because she was eating, drinking, trying to get up on her own, and walking under her own power, mostly. The vet recommended giving her a solid week to build her strength and see if she would be able to get up on her own. She was improving all week but after about a week and a half she suddenly took a turn for the worse and her appetite went back down. Overnight she took on a gaunt look and the next day we decided it was time to put her down.
It was an incredibly sad day. She was our lead goat and the other goats are a little lost without her. We had a lot of good memories with her and I’m glad for the time she was here.
Here’s a little poem for Nora. We’re going to miss our leading lady on our little farm.
The Boss Lady
Lover of chicken feed, apples, and bread.
Mother to all kids, goats or human kind.
Enjoyer of a good head scratch.
Hater of cats.
The Boss Lady
Will be missed.