Goat Illnesses from Floods, Fires, and Evacuations
Is Your Goat Coughing, After Fire Danger Has Passed? Is a Big Storm Coming?
Reading Time: 6 minutes
Katherine Drovdahl, MH CR CA DipHIr CEIT QTP answers questions about evacuation, relocation, and goat illnesses resulting from disasters. Is your goat coughing? Is a big storm on the way?
Q: What goat illness would cause my goat to cough?
A: Goat coughing can be caused by several things. A goat illness and issue list causing a goat to cough would include allergies, smoke, or dust in the environment, pneumonia, getting something caught in the throat, getting liquid in the lungs, and lungworm. If you hear a goat coughing, you’ll want to determine the cause right away so you don’t risk loss or further damage to your goat.
Q: I try and raise my goats on as many healthy herbs as possible. Should I still give them CDT shots?
A: CDT injections are for Clostridium C&D types and the T is for tetanus. Vaccines always carry the risk of side effects, ranging from nothing noticeable to cancer to autoimmune diseases to death. We don’t use them on our farm, except for rabies in our dogs because it’s required by law. I keep ClostridEaze™ and HerBiotic™ herb mixes on hand and Lobelia inflata extract. I can address either issue with those herb products if needed.
Q: We were told we are in for some windstorms this spring. How can we prepare for them?
A: The biggest problem with windstorms is having blown debris, branches, or trees damage fencing, buildings, or animals. Prepare now by removing any weak trees or branches from areas that could cause damage. Be sure that any housing can keep the goats well protected from winds both from the sides and the tops. Also consider that power outages can cause problems with drawing well water for your goats. If you can use a rain barrel system to collect water as well as store extra water in barrels and containers, you’ll be ahead of the game. The average goat requires one to two gallons of water per day. For a goat that is lactating, add their milk production to that amount. So a goat milking one gallon per day will need one for milk production, plus one to two for her body. Plan on three gallons in this case. If you have a generator for your electricity, be sure to keep it maintained and to keep extra fuel on hand. Be sure to replace the fuel every few months to avoid condensation mixing in with it. Also be sure to keep gloves, chainsaws, well-stocked first aid kits, and extra feed on hand.
Q: We had floods come through here and now we have goats with round patches of scabbing that turns into hair loss. What is going on?
A. Ringworm is the most common one and causes the pattern you are describing. Some forms of ringworm can even cover a large amount of your goat. Fungal issues such as this are spread by airborne spores and can remain on the goat or in the environment, waiting for an opportune time to strike. Post-flooding, where stress reduces immunity of your animals, and an increase in fungal activity along with the additional humidity in the air, really increases the incidence of this problem. I prefer to use lavender essential oil (properly diluted for age and weight of your goat) or herbal salves such as HerBiotic™ to deal with this goat illness. Even garlic can be pressed into olive oil and steeped to help the body defeat this foe.
Q: We just moved to an area prone to flooding. What goat illnesses could we expect to be a problem in our herd?
A: A fact about floods: they nearly always create a problem with parasites. Flood waters have the ability to move parasitic larvae and eggs from infected farms onto your farm as they move through the area. The greatly increased humidity often coincides with warm to hot temperatures in much of the U.S. This combination grows parasites quickly. Your goats can easily become quickly overwhelmed by blood (red) worms, roundworms, pinworms, lungworms, liver flukes, and/or barber pole worms. Be proactive about goat care by jumping on parasite management before you get symptoms of parasite overload such as diarrhea, bottle jaw, barbed hair ends, dull eyes, weight loss, or dead goats. If possible, keep your goats off recently flooded grounds until they have had ample time to dry out and do not let them onto pastures with grass shorter than four inches. Also keep them off of pastures that have snails or slugs, which are intermediary hosts for lungworms and liver flukes. Don’t forget to be proactive with your guardian dogs as well to avoid heartworm infections from mosquito population growth after flooding.
Q: We just got goats and live in an area that can get wildfire smoke some summers. Can this be a problem for them?
A: Absolutely. I’ve had splitting headaches and congested lungs when stuck living in wildfire smoke. Certainly, those can be problems for your goats as well. Headaches can be caused by the toxic smoke, which can make your herd less patient with each other and with you. Breathed smoke also creates acidity and toxicity in the body, which lowers immunity. Lowered immunity and mechanical damage/accumulation from smoke particulate in the lungs absolutely makes a goat more susceptible to goat illnesses like pneumonia as pathogens like to breed in mucous-filled lungs. If you aren’t able to get your herd out of the smoke, please take steps to be sure that you are supporting their immunity, keeping them on cleansing herbs to help support their liver and kidneys while cleaning out toxins, and lung support herbs to give them the best shot at staying strong through a problem time.
Other problems posed by wildfires are external burns and burned lung tissue from breathing heated smoke. Burned lung tissue can create moisture in the lungs, which can create an environment that pneumonia likes.
A concern for those that evacuate goats to public shelters such as the fairgrounds is being sure that your goats are not near other animals that may have CL (Caseous lymphadenitis). If you can’t stable in a corner away from other herds, my choice would be to stable at a friend’s that also has a clean herd that is out of harm’s way.
Q: How much money should I set aside to take care of my goats in the event of a disaster?
A: Money experts such as Dave Ramsey encourage people to keep an emergency fund in place of three to six month’s worth of the money you would need to care for your stock, your family, and your monthly bills in the event of a disaster. You don’t want the natural disaster to also turn into a financial disaster from lack of preparation. Keep it in an account that is easy to get to within a few days, such as a money market. Five to seven days’ worth of funds needs to be even more accessible, such as in a safe or savings account that has access from multiple locations, in case one location becomes shut down.
Q: We were put on evacuation notice. How do I know what to do at which levels?
A: There are three evacuation levels. These levels, one (get ready), two (get set), three (go) are designed for people that have one or two house pets. They are completely not designed for those with livestock! Level one, if you have livestock, means prepare now. Load your trailers and trucks with the gear you would need on the road. Pack copies of registration or ownership papers, gear, feeders, buckets, first aid kit contents, gloves, portable pens, etc. Have an emergency preparedness plan, cash and emergency fund access for fuel, feed, wellness care, and housing for you and your goats. If you cannot haul your animals off in one load, then prearrange a list of people that are available to help haul off and locations to go. Plan what animals leave in which load. Be sure, ahead of time, that all your stock has some form of permanent identification. Level two, which means “get ready” for suburbia, actually means go for livestock. At a level two, you can still get help for hauling if needed and usually have time to move livestock to a safe location. At level three, sometimes there isn’t time to issue a “go.” Level three problems vary from roads being congested with evacuees or becoming closed, not allowing for round trips or for help to move out stock, to becoming overcome by the tragedy. For livestock, really there are only two evacuation levels if you want to reduce the risk of loss and stress.
Do you have a question about goat illnesses or other concerns? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and Kat may answer them in our next print issue.
Katherine & her beloved husband manage gardens, LaManchas, and other stock on their northwest farm. She operates Fir Meadow LLC online, which offers hope to people & their animals through natural herb products & consultations. Her lifelong passion for animals and herbs combined with her Master’s degree in herbology and other alternative training gives her unique insights when teaching. Obtain her books, The Accessible Pet, Equine and Livestock Herbal and The Accessible Livestock Aromatherapy Guide from www.firmeadowllc.com .
Originally published in Goat Journal May/June 2018 and regularly vetted for accuracy.