Katherine’s Corner May/June 2019: Do Goats Shed?
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Katherine Drovdahl MH CA CR DipHIr CEIT QTP answers your questions about enterotoxemia, shedding, and why you should keep sources of vitamin B12.
Q. Do goats shed?
A. While goats may not shed as noticeably as horses, they do shed. Incrementally dropping the hair coat late winter and through the spring months is your goat’s way of replacing old, overworked winter hair with younger hair to be ready for the coming year. That hair coat keeps your goat warm and protects skin from dirt, rain, and bugs, and may also alert you to increases or decreases in health. I like my goat and livestock hair to be naturally glossy, robust in color, and soft to signal that they are doing well nutritionally.
Q. How should I raise goats?
A. Here are a few tips: We like kids to receive real CAE-negative goat milk for at least eight weeks but ideally up to 16 weeks before weaning, for an optimum start. We like them to have access to clean fresh water, loose minerals and/or kelp, a sea salt source, their herbs, and to be started very slowly on rolled grains as they approach weaning age. Having free-choice quality hay, pasture, and browse access will give their rumens a great start to enable your kids to turn into productive adults. Housing that keeps your goats out of rain, wind, snow, and hot sun are also very important, ideally with pen access to outside. We also like excellent fencing such as non-climb or cattle panel types to keep them safely where you intend them to live and to reduce the possibility of a predator attack. The principals are the same for your adolescent and adult goats too, but in differing types and amounts, which can take a few articles to write.
Q. I had a new kid who was born with a very red mouth and vulva and is crying a lot. Do you have any suggestions? The other twin is fine.
A. Oh how scary for sure! If I saw that in one of my kids I would be grabbing for my cayenne (which all my newborns get orally anyways). Then I would add hawthorn berry, leaf, or flower herb powder and BetterDaze™ or other nutritional herbs including that life-giving small pinch of cayenne to her diet, three times per day. I’m sorry you had to go through that.
Q. I recently had a Nigerian Dwarf goat pass away from overeating disease. What is this and how can a goat owner prevent it?
A. I’m so sorry to hear you went through that. Enterotoxemia or overeating disease is one of the tragedies nearly every goat owner will face if they raise them long enough. Simply put, it is poisoning of the entero (intestinal) tract. That poisoning is caused by a rapid die-off of the intestinal flora that resides on villi in the intestines. Their duty it to uptake nutrients and send them to the bloodstream where they can then nourish your goat. One familiar flora is Candida albicans, which uptakes sugars and alcohol. Quick flora die-offs can occur for several reasons. Ingesting something very toxic or overdosing on oral medication can cause this. Feed problems such as overeating a familiar food like grain, overeating a much higher-quality bale of hay then the previous hay, or eating too much of a new feed whether that be a grain or brush or edible weeds. Sometimes a well-meaning person will let goats out into a new woodlot or field full of edible plants the goats aren’t used to consuming and they overdo it. To avoid this problem, feed changes should be made over at least a 10-day period and new feeds should be introduced slowly. Before the enterotoxemia stage, one will see signs of acidosis which often presents as diarrhea. As it progresses the goat becomes very ill, may bloat, can have severe diarrhea, may vomit, will not want to move around, may start crying out in pain, and can sustain mild to severe life-taking kidney damage. This is one of those conditions that is best to avoid.
Q. What is vitamin B12 and why is it important for my goat? What are some sources for supplementing this vitamin?
A. Individual vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, and micronutrients all take turn on who’s next on the popularity radar and news. Goats need all the nutrients, in proper balance, at all times. The popularity merely gives us an opportunity to focus on and learn about a nutrient. Vitamin B12 or cobalmin/cobalamin is favored for the support of healthy nerves, blood cells, and DNA. Because it is a water-soluble nutrient, it needs to be provided daily for optimum health, as the body will not store it. Most supplements contain a synthetic version of vitamin B12, so while it may mimic the key of plant-provided vitamin B12 so will be recognized and taken up by intestinal flora, it simply is not going to be fully assimilated and as fully bioavailable to the body as a whole-herb nutrient that contains the carbon atom attached to it from photosynthesis. Synthetics also increase body and bloodstream acidity. Great sources from creation include some of my very favorite things to feed goats and have in my herbal goat products, including alfalfa, dandelion, cayenne, comfrey (not for use with a damaged liver), kelp, red clover, and ginger. I personally don’t find a need to supplement outside of my goats’ and livestock’s daily diet, and if I do have an ill animal, I’m already going to have them on kelp, cayenne, and ginger anyhow. Base covered!
Originally published in the May/June 2019 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.
Katherine Drovdahl and husband Jerry keep LaManchas, horses, alpacas, and gardens on a small piece of Washington State paradise. Her internationally recognized certifications and degrees including Master of Herbology, Certified Aromatherapist, and Quantum Touch energy medicine help her guide others through human or creature wellness problems. Her herbal wellness products, consultation, and signed copies of The Accessible Pet, Equine and Livestock Herbal are available at www.firmeadowllc.com. You can also follow her on www.facebook.com/FirMeadowLLC .