Saturday morning Annette didn’t finish all of her breakfast and wasn’t acting as lively as usual. So I kept an eye on her and by time Noon rolled around, she didn't seem any perkier. I put her on the milk stand and took her temperature. Normal goat temps are from 101.5 – 103.5 and hers was at 106.5 - not good, not good at all! So I kept her on the milk stand while I ran into the house to get a needle and syringe filled with 3 mL of Oxytetracycline and administered the antibiotic sub-cutaniously (under the skin as opposed to in a vein or in the muscle). By evening her temperature had dropped to 103.6, although she still didn’t finish all of her grain. She did, however, seem to have enough energy to head-butt Chop Suey out of the way when I brought out the raisins.
Two years ago we lost a doe just a week after her first kidding. It was a rough kidding for her and she never did accept her kid. Lucky for us, Nettie was more than happy to adopt it - I didn’t really want to be raising a bottle baby. Anyways, the doe wasn’t acting real happy even after a few days of extra grain, electrolytes and probiotics. I eventually took her temperature and was aghast that it was 106! Why the heak didn’t I do this before? Of course, it was a Sunday and I couldn’t get a hold of a vet nor even get to a store that had some sort of medication that I could give her. But it was probably too late even if I had gotten an antibiotic into her system. I had just waited too long and her temperature kept rising. I tried to get fluids down her and even cool her down with wet towels, but it was just too late. Her body was shutting down and she was in pain. Paul put her out of her misery.
Sunday morning she was still just picking at her feed. I gave her another shot of antibiotic and some probiotics and checked her temperature. The thermometer read 106, 107, 108, 109…it went up to 111! So of course I totally freaked out! I checked it again; same results. I don’t know at what point a goat just up & keels over, but it seemed to me that with such a super-high fever that she should be, well, dead. I called one of my vet friends (who doesn’t treat livestock anymore, but is always more than happy to talk to me about stuff) and she asked the usual questions: when did she give birth, any cuts or abscesses, any bleeding, eating, drinking, etc.? She also said I was doing basically what she’d suggest (giving antibiotics, electrolytes, probiotics, etc.) but a fever that high definitely justified an emergency vet visit. Of course, it was Sunday. Why do bad things always happen on a day when no vets are around???? I couldn’t really give her any more antibiotics yet and I didn’t have any Banamine (and you need a vet prescription to get it) or baby aspirin to help reduce the fever so I ran into town to get the baby aspirin.
On my mad-rush to the drugstore, I had a few minutes to think. If Annette’s temperature was really that high, why wasn’t she down? Why was she still walking around and eating and chewing cud?
Light bulb goes on. What if the thermometer wasn’t working properly?
So I get back home to Annette who is still walking around with a supposed 111 degree fever, give her a baby aspirin cleverly disguised in the middle of a prune and go inside to find a different thermometer.
And guess what? 103.8 reading from the new thermometer. And the old thermometer? 108, 109, 110, 111, 112….E. As in Error.
She’s still a bit on the high side, especially since she’d been in the barn where it was much cooler, but definitely not “Oh my gawd my goat’s going to cook to death!”.
So, what lessons have I learned from this ordeal? If something seems like it just can’t be (such an insane-high temp with a still-walking-around-goat), maybe it really isn’t what you think it is.
I will be keeping two digital thermometers on hand now and will also be buying another older style mercury thermometer. We have both types for us, but we keep separate medical supplies for the animals (you know, it’s not like I’ve been sticking the thermometer under the goat’s tongue if you catch my drift).
I will keep a supply of baby aspirin on hand as well as asking my vet for a prescription of Banamine. Also going to go through my livestock medicine cabinet to see if there are any missing “essentials”. You may think that you’ll probably never need some of these meds, and that they will just sit in your cabinet (or fridge) until they expire and you have to toss them, but trust me, it’s worth the fifteen or twenty dollars a year in expired medications to have those items on hand right when you need them.
We’re not out of the woods yet. Annette still isn’t acting quite normal although her temperature was 102.7 this morning. I’ll keep up with the antibiotics for the full ten days and continue giving her some probiotics to keep her rumen going. And I’ve got some researching to do to see if I can figure out what it is that caused the fever in the first place.