Goat Kid Update

April 26, 2013 · 3 comments

nubian goat kid // Wayward Spark

Okay, where did we leave off? One stillborn goat baby, one kid with white muscle disease, and ongoing issues with rejection by mama. Well, things are better by now, but still kinda complicated.

Bow’s legs have completely straightened out, and he’s walking (running, jumping, frolicking) just fine now. It took about two days for the Bo-Se to kick in all the way and unfurl his legs. That seemed slow at the time, but 24 hours is what it says on the package, so I guess I was just being impatient. Supposedly you can give a second selenium booster shot three weeks after the first if necessary, but I don’t think he needs it. As I suspected, the whole white muscle disease ordeal was unpleasant and looked awful, but it was easy to treat and doesn’t seem to have any lasting effects. Next year, I’ll probably give the booster to my pregnant doe as a preventative measure.

nubian goat kid // Wayward Sparknubian goat kid nursing // Wayward Spark

The thing that hasn’t improved in three weeks, however, is Mama Minnie’s rejection of Bow. For the first week or so, I kept hoping that Minnie would take him back or that he was secretly nursing while I wasn’t watching. I love our little goat barn for a million different reasons, but the one thing it’s not good for is observing goat behavior without interrupting. The act of being in the barn has been know to alter their natural habits, so I could never be sure who was or wasn’t nursing while I wasn’t out there. Because I didn’t have any firm evidence that he was eating on his own, I continued to pull Minnie out three times a day and let Bow nurse while her legs were restrained. After a while, it finally became clear that Minnie was preventing him from nursing while they were on their own by kicking him off every time he tried. Eventually he stopped trying and just began to wait until I put her on lockdown and let him eat freely.

And that’s been our system up till now.

nubian goat kid nursing // Wayward Spark

Normally by this time, the kids would be pretty much on their own, and I’d only have to feed mom twice a day. The extra effort of the lockdown feedings and the extra inconvenience of the midday feeding is making my life more complicated, but there is one big perk to the job: the fact that Bow loves me. I have never had a goat kid this friendly before. Every time I crouch down near him, he runs into my arms, and every time I leave him in the barn, he cries (just a little bit). He still cuddles with his sister Teela (who’s doing just fine), and Minnie is nice to him, but at this point, I’m functionally his mama. He’s even started following me on little walks, which has always been a ridiculous (unrealized) goat fantasy of mine.

nubian goat kid // Wayward Spark

Another thing that needs to happen in the early life of goat kids is disbudding, the act of burning the nubbins that would eventually produce horns on both male and female goats. In years past, Henry has disbudded our kids at home, but the procedure is extremely unpleasant for both goats and people. This year, I decided that it would make the most sense to take the kids in to the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital to have the job done by a professional.

The only other time I’ve taken an animal into the vets at OSU, it was an emergency situation, so this time, it was kind of nice to walk in with two cute kids without any traumatic health issues. We saw Dr. Vanegas, the same vet who performed Bella’s successful C-section. When I explained that we were in to disbud three-week old goat kids, Dr. Vanegas shook his head. He explained to me that disbudding wasn’t an option at that point, which brings us to…

**Lesson Four (for those of you following along): Disbudding should be done in the first week of life. Any later and the success rate of the procedure declines significantly, leading to scurs or whole horn growth. I knew we were pushing the limit at three weeks old because I could feel the little horn bumps protruding, but I didn’t realize we were already too late.

nubian goat kid // Wayward Spark

With disbudding off the table, Dr. Vanegas informed me that the best plan of action would be dehorning. I’ve heard about how gruesome dehorning can be when performed on goats will fully formed horns, but Dr. Vanegas reassured me that it wouldn’t be too bad, so I agreed. This is how it went down…

Dr. Vanegas, assisted by two fourth-year veterinary students, sedated the kid and shaved the area around the budding horns. He made a semi-circular incision around half of the bud area and then inserted a wire saw into the cut and pulled it back and forth until a quarter-sized flap of skin with a bit of bone popped off. After that, a hot cauterizing tool similar to a disbudding iron was applied to the area to seal the wound and kill any lingering horn growth cells. The students performed the same steps on the second bud, and then the kid was given an injection to wake her up again.

nubian goat kids // Wayward Spark nubian goat kids // Wayward Spark

Honestly, I think the dehorning procedure was almost easier on everyone involved than disbudding because the kids were sedated and not awake, screaming bloody murder. The wound areas look similar to disbudding wounds, and even though they were a little weepy in the first few hours, they’re all dried up now and starting to heal over.

I spent over an hour at the OSU vet hospital, and in that time, I got several really good tidbits of information about general goat health. Dr. Vanegas also noticed that the kids had lice, so he gave me enough medication to treat the whole herd. The visit cost me a grand total of $60. So worth it. I love that place.

nubian goat kids // Wayward Spark nubian goat kid // Wayward Spark

I’m leaving tonight for almost a week in New York. Henry is going to take on morning and evening goat chores, and my mom signed up to come in the middle of the day to make sure Bow gets lunch. It’s kind of a lot for me to ask of them, but I sure do appreciate their efforts.

When I get back, I’m planning on starting to milk Minnie once a day, but I’m not entirely sure how it’s going to work with Bow’s feedings. Do I let him nurse before I milk or let him clean up when I’m almost done? Should I train him to bottle feed? What would be better for him or more convenient for me? This is new territory for me, so I’ve still got some things to work out.

This is the last you’ll hear from me for at least a week cuz I’m not bringing my laptop to NYC. You can always keep track of me on Instagram, though. I hope you are getting some of this glorious weather that we’ve been having here in Oregon. Take care!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

kari April 30, 2013 at 5:26 am

Thanks for the update! Glad to hear that everyone is doing well and that Bow has come around! We had our kids running free yesterday, and a handful followed me up the path toward the house for about five minutes—totally melted my heart. Last year we had a delay with the disbudding of our herd; all but three were disbudded successfully, but those three had to undergo a gruesome field dehorning (we’re quite rural) a few months after the fact. They were sedated, but the recovery period was tough and they were definitely wary of us and much less themselves for weeks afterward. We’re more on top of our game this year, thankfully. If it’s at all helpful to know, our kids take to the bottle almost immediately, or they at least figure it out within a day. We’ve graduated a few bigger ones to a bucket that has holes drilled and nipples attached, so we can just fill the bucket and carry on with chores while they chow down. Maybe you could set something up hands-free so you can milk while Bow eats? Good luck!


Meg April 30, 2013 at 6:11 pm

The weather in New York since Friday has been glorious…a little chilly, but nothing a fleece won’t save. Enjoy your trip here….I would kill to be out in rural Oregon. (If you want to bring one of the goat kids to NYC, I’ll babysit!)


Madison May 2, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I’m a new reader of your blog, courtesy of your guest post on Food in Jars…those picked beets looked delicious. I felt compelled to comment because this post made me so homesick for my job last summer as a goat milker/ranch hand in rural eastern Oregon. My (humble) advice would be to milk Minnie and bottle feed Doe. That way, you know for sure how much milk Doe is getting. Just my two cents!


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