Katherine’s Caprine Corner July/August 2019
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Katherine Drovdahl MH CA CR CEIT DipHIr QTP answers your questions about Mayapple wildflower, liver cleanses, dehorning goats, and runny noses in summertime.
Q. Mayapple wildflower grows rampant in Tennessee including my pasture. Is it a deadly plant for goats?
A. While it’s not deadly if goats take a random bite, I would not recommend Podophyllum pelatatun as a good plant for any livestock and especially pregnant ones. The seeds and immature green fruits are considered toxic. Toxins are also extracted from their roots (rhizomes) and the juices can be used to help remove warts. It has a higher known alkaloid content, and alkaloids have a negative impact on the nervous system and mental ability, either slowing or increasing nervous system activity as well as causing the nerves and other cells to lose minerals. Mayapple can also cause moderate to severe GI pain (which could possibly excite a uterus and could cause loss of kids). If it’s in your pasture I recommend restricting pregnant goats’ access to that field and to always feed hay about an hour before turning out other goats to lessen the chances that the hungry goaties grab the wrong plants.
Q. Should I do a “cleanse” on my goat?
A. That depends, but usually yes! Very simply stated: the liver is responsible for breaking down fat soluble nutrients and toxins. Medications, grooming products, parasite products, etc. that have an “extended” life tend to be fat soluble in makeup. The kidneys break down water soluble nutrients and toxins. All chemicals have to be broken down by one or the other. Chemical exposure varies on a herd-by-herd basis but even in our farm’s near-pristine environment, airplanes still fly over on their way to Seattle and cars leave exhaust. Well waters generally have something in them and city water contains a plethora of chemicals. Grooming products, feeds, fly sprays, external and internal parasite controls, vaccinations, and other medications are not fully broken down by the cleansing organs, leaving a residue behind. In general, until liver or kidneys are compromised by about 65%, there won’t be noticeable symptoms. That’s good in that an animal can function with even a considerable amount of accumulation and damage, but until there is a lot of damage you may not notice a problem coming on. We find that most skin issues in goats have a root cause of toxic buildup in the liver and or kidneys. I personally like to run all of my herds through a cleanse once a year after they have their babies to help their bodies clean and tune up their liver and kidneys. We find that each generation becomes hardier and requires less feed to maintain condition and the kids are stronger with each passing generation. I avoid cleaning unless there is an emergency during first trimester, to avoid releasing toxins into the bloodstream, and then move at a slower pace the rest of pregnancy in case of a poisoning or a serious chronic health issue.
Q. My yearling buck has scurs. Should I have those removed by my vet?
A. WARNING GRAPHIC: Probably not. Scurs are horn growth that may occur when a dehorning/disbudding wasn’t 100% successful. This is more common in bucks when owners fail to disbud them young enough or fail to disbud bucklings with a figure-eight pattern to accommodate their oval horn buds/growth. Once the horn fuses to the skull it requires surgery to remove. This involves a strong anesthesia which can put the goat’s life at risk. Also, your vet will need to use a power tool with a very strong rotating blade to cut into the skull, exposing the sinus cavity, to try to get all of the horn base out of the skull. There is zero guarantee that they will get all of the horn base. This means the scurs can regrow. It is a lot of stress on the goat and owner. A lot of care goes into the healing process to avoid infections or fly issues with the exposed sinus cavities, as well as isolating them so they don’t get head butted by another goat while healing. So, while it can be done, I don’t recommend it.
Q. It’s summer. Why does my goat have a runny nose?
A. There could be many reasons. Viral and bacterial activity doesn’t stop just because it’s summer. While humid environments see a larger amount of this activity than drier ones, this can be a concern anywhere. Stress on your goat from a move or exhibition, or just having kidded recently, may cause this, in addition to temperature swings from day to day. Goats breathing excess dust in feed, barns, or their environment may be shedding gunk. Breathing wildfire or burn pile smoke may stress the respiratory system. Vaccinations can cause runny noses as the body tries to throw out the gunk put into it. The main thing I pay attention to is that they have a normal body temperature and that the runny nose is clear. If we have those, I just watch them or may add a teensy smear of Eucalyptus globulus essential oil (not a drop just a smear) to the hair under their nostrils to help their bodies go after any potential early invaders in the lungs. Often that’s all I have to do. If they have stressors in their environment then I change those if I can and also support their immune system. If I see any green, whitish, or yellowish coloration, I suspect a viral or bacterial issue coming on. For brownish and blackish types of discharge, I suspect breathing in too much dust or smoke particulate, just as happens to us if we breathe in a bunch of dust and then blow our nose to find our tissue filled with brown mucus.
Katherine and her beloved hubby keep busy with their LaManchas, livestock, and gardens beneath the shadow of the Olympic Mountains. Her Master of Herbology degree as well as other alternative degrees and her lifelong love of livestock combine in her over-500-page book, The Accessible Pet, Equine and Livestock Herbal. Her popular herbal products and signed copies of her book can be purchased at www.firmeadowllc.com. You can follow her at www.facebook.com/FirMeadowLLC.
Originally published in the July/August 2019 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.