Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Autopsy

I went out to the barn this afternoon to check on the goat kids and found one of Dilly's bucklings dead.  It must have happened within an hour because I was out there about two hours earlier and when I went to pick it up it was still warm and floppy.

Dilly kidded five days ago; three days ahead of her official date.  The first kid had back leg problems from the get-go and the second buckling, although able to stand and walk, he never really moved much more than to get up to nurse, then would lay back down.  He also seemed to have problems breathing.  At first I thought that he just had some milk in his lungs, but when that cleared up a day later, he still seemed to be pretty lethargic and would have slightly labored breathing.

So during my first morning check, and after holding the gimpy buckling up to nurse, I gave the unknown-to-me-soon-to-be-dead buckling a dose of Vitamin E and a squirt of B-Complex hoping that would perk him up a bit.

I highly doubt that I killed him with the Vitamin E & B-Complex; I suspect that he just wasn't healthy enough to make it.  But it did make me wonder about the White Muscle Disease problem that we most likely have.  White Muscle Disease (WMD) not only affects the muscles of the legs (as in the other gimpy buckling), but the muscles of the heart.  So I did what any farmgirl would do.  I asked my husband to help me with an autopsy.  Which really didn't reveal much.  I was hoping to see obvious white streaks in the heart or legs, but didn't see much.  There was white on the heart, but I'm not certain if white in that particular area is normal or not.  There aren't many actual photographs of a goat's heart with white muscle disease to compare it to.  I bagged up the heart and a back leg and stuck it in the freezer and I may bring it in to the vet tomrrow to see if she'd like to take a stab at it (although I'm definitely not paying lots of $$ for her to do so).
Outside of the heart (cut up).
The flip side (inside of the heart) didn't show any white streaks.
This somewhat recent problem with the WMD is really pissing me off.  I was wondering if it was not only the result of a mineral / vitamin deficiency (Selenium & Vitamin E), but if genetics had anything to do with it.  Pickles' buckling, Gimpy, had the back leg problems last year.  Now Dilly, Pickles' doeling from last year, gave birth to a gimpy and lethargic (and now dead) buckling.  At first I was wondering if Herman could be the culprit, if in fact, it had something to do with hereditary, because Clover had a perfect little doeling and it was sired by Studly Do'right, not Herman.

Last year we were able to save Pickles' gimpy buckling, although not doing it by the "textbook".  "They" say that newborns with WMD can be treated with BoSE, so I managed to get a prescription from the vet for the shot.  Which did nothing.  I honestly think that the daily Vitamin E and B supplements I gave him did more, although we still had to hobble him.

Anyways, back to the genetic stuff.

I'm almost positive that when we picked Pickles up (we got her three years ago as a bottle baby), that the guy selling her tried to give us her brother....who had back leg problems.  This didn't occur to me until just last night.  Then there's the fact that in all the previous twenty-four baby goats born under our supervision, not one of them has had these problems.

The problems started with Pickles' kids.  And now her daughter, Dilly, had kids with the same problem.

The verdict is still out though.  We're waiting for Lily, MamaGoat, Pyewacket, Annette and Lira to kid.  Lira is the only one left who was bred with Herman.  If Lira's kids end up with problems, then it could still be Herman's "fault".  But if Lira's kids are healthy, I'm leaning towards placing the blame not so much on an assumed Selenium and Vitamin E deficiency, but of a line of goats that are predisposed to doing poorly on such a deficiency.


  1. Carolyn,

    That's a lot of information to decipher. Hope you get it all down & will help educate us all.
    Thank you for all your documentation.

  2. Carolyn,

    I'm sorry to hear about your little goat not making it. It sounds to me as if you really have a puzzle on your hands. In time, I'm sure you'll figure it out. Especially after Lira has her little ones.