Homesteading is a lot of learning as you go. You think you know what you are doing. You think you have done your homework and research.,,,then one day one of your goats is sick, it's scours and you don't know what it is or what to do about it. Your goats will keep you learning.
Our firsts batch of kids and our Momma goats have never had a real sick day They may have on occassion felt a tiny bit under the weather or needy but never sick.
Then, as you may know, recently our does kidded and we added 5 kids to the herd. Tsarina's last kids struggled for life the first day but then found her footing and has been extremely healthy since that day.
It was Bucket's two kids that suddenly took ill. They showed no real signs of being sick unless you saw them use the bathroom. They both had scours. I know, there goes that word again - scours.
What is scours? What does is mean? Is it an illness? Is it a symptom? Well in the simplist terms scours is diarrhea. It is a symptom of an illness and not the cause of illness.
Sampson, Bucket's son, showed the first signs simply because I noticed that is tail was smeared with what looked like runny black poop. But then with them kids I thought you just don't know what they could have gotten their tail into. So I resolved to keep and eye on him. By the end of that same day I noticed that yes he did have "runny poos". Then came the question what is it and why. I check the tail ends of all the other kids and they showed no signs of "runny poos" so it was just Sampson. I did the normal book research in our "Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats" and as usual didn't really like what it recommended doing.
I know most people that raise goats just vaccinate their goats like dog owners vaccinate owners. I don't care for that course of action. I prefer to treat the goats more holistically, when possible. I am not saying I would not give a sick animal antibiotics if it needed them. I am saying I would not do it as a first course.
I found several websites that talked about goats and diarrhea or what is commonly known as "scours" in the goat world.
One of my favorite websites is - FiasCo Farms . I can't say I always go with their methods but I like the natural route that they usually take.
Another website recommended that we vaccinate Sampson with CD Anti-Toxin and then vaccinate the whole rest of the heard with CDT (Which is not CD Anti-Toxin but rather CD - Tetnus). You shoud read the side effects these vaccines can have.
I had read though that it could be caused by the green pasture we have since we had sudden greenness due to long awaited rains and I thought well that could be plausible by why didn't the other kids have it?
I did immediately give Sampson and Buckets, since she is nursing him, some goat electrolytes to make sure he stayed hydrated while I tried to figure out what was going on with him. I offed him the electrolytes 3 times a day and he seemed to be doing just fine other then the scours. He was still active, playing and eating.
Another website recommended that they not eat any grains while they have this issue so I made sure and held him during feeding times so he wouldn't be able to nibble at Mom's food like he likes to do.
It was now 4 days into the scours and I knew I had to find something fast because scours can quickly kill a kids. Suddenly I noticed that Sampson's sister Delialah had scours too. Not as bad as her brother but she had it. I thought "Oh my gosh, they are all going to get it and they are all going to die!". I calmed myself down and resolved to get these kids better. I gave the same treatment to Delialah. I checked their temperatures and neither had a fever so that was a good thing. They continued to be active and loveable - also good signs.
I found some studies that showed that blackberry leave, fresh or dried are good for scours. Well heck I have several of those bushes right on the other side of the fence. I grabbed the two kids and we went to the outside of the fence and I put them infront of the blackberry bush to have a little feast. They ate a few leaves and then left it so I took it they were done. I did this twice a day and continued with the electrolytes and added a kid paste probiotics to the treatment. Two day later Delialah no longer had scours and Sampson, who had had a much worse case was doing better. I went ahead and gave all the kids the Kid Paste and dosed Sampson twice.
In another two days Sampson was scours free. The question remained what caused the scours since again it is only a symptom of an illness not the illness itself. Then I noticed that Sampson had come hopping out of the chicken coop with chicken feed still on his lips. This very well could be the culprit. Changes in feed can really affect a goat and chicken feed is not good for a goat due to all the corn in it. I will continue with the electrolytes and blackberry leaves for several days and I will also keep an eye out to make sure their scours do not return.
I think, and I am not positive on this, that the cause of their scours was the rich pasture after the rains with the added raiding of the chicken feed. As of now all look healthy again and we fixed an additional hatch to keep the little chicken food stealing kids out of the chicken coop.
We live, we learn, we homestead.