Proverbs 27:27 And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Goat Polio

Diagnosis’s are never text book are they? 

Farm life can be hard.  That is just the reality of it all.  We have mostly happy days when everything goes well and right.  We see baby chicks hatch and baby goats born.  We raise them and see many generations from so many of them as we further our breeding program.  It is all very rewarding.  We also see the reality that often animals are born with problems and don’t make it.  Or cherished ones we have had a long time grow old and pass away.  It is the ebb and flow of farm life.  It is a good life with a lot of hard work and some really hard days sprinkled in there.

I rarely have a sick goat around here, Praise God.  We have raised goats for so long that God has helped us to learn a good management system for us and most treatments for the types of things that pop up occasionally around here.  God is so good.

About two weeks ago our flashy little buckling Pacer started acting puny.  He is the one laying down.
When goats feel healthy and well there tails are up and sometimes curled over their backs.  Their ears are up and perked all the time and they rush to their feed pans at meal time.  His tail was down a lot.  He laid around more than usual and his ears were down like in the picture above.  I looked him over and he looked fine.  But was not acting fine at all.  When one has a sick goat they need to act fast.  Usually, by the time you notice they are sick, they are not well at all because they hide being sick very well.  By the time most people notice, it is hard to turn the situation around, so it is best to treat for all possibilities.  As once they are down it is really hard to pull them thru. 

I did all the things I knew to do for a kid goat of his age. (he is about four months old) I checked his eye lids to see if he needed worming.  If he was anemic but they were nice and pink.   I dewormed him four weeks ago but I gave him some de-wormer just in case.  He did not have diarrhea but I gave him some di-methox for coccidia just in case.    His breath smelled a little sour so I dosed him with some baking soda in water just in case his tummy was off.  I also gave him an enema in case it was constipation.  Pour baby got it all, from all angles and he was already feeling poorly. 

The next day he was much worse.  He was so sick and weak he could hardly stand.  But wanted to drink and eat.  I have never had that happen before.  Usually, when a goat is sick they go off feed.  They drink very little and will hardly eat.  He was standing weakly with his mouth in the water bucket trying so hard to drink but it was like his throat was paralyzed.  He would try to eat hay and I would go out and pull ropes of hay and straw out of his mouth from down his throat where he was wanting to eat but again.  It was like his throat was paralyzed and he could not get it down. So his mouth and throat were just packed with it all.

I was stumped.  He looked very bad.   The first scary thing that pops into my head was Listeriosos.  Then Goat Polio or Rabies.  Anyone who raises goats does not want a diagnosis of Listeriosis as it can be spread to humans and is very dangerous.  The goat usually dies.  It is rarely seen in a goat so young but just in case I was not going to waste any time and dosed him with an antibiotic and went to bed.  The next day he was down.  Carolyn and I worked on him all day keeping him hydrated with a syringe being very careful not to get it into his lungs.  We don’t want pneumonia.  I also started him on B-complex shots to give him some energy. 

I spent a long time at the computer researching every aspect of Listeriosis, Goat Polio and Rabies.  I ruled out rabies.  And added to the list possible snake or spider bite. 

The thing is, he had very few symptoms of any of the three.   Very few symptoms of the neurological things described in Listeriosis or Goat Polio.  Really it was just weakness, his protective white eyelid was drooping over his eyes a bit but that can be from weakness and he could not swallow.  But was wanting to. 

When we went to bed that night I prayed harder than normal for him as I just didn’t see how he could make it in the state he was in. I had braced myself for what I would find in the morning but hoping beyond hope he would somehow make it.   To all of our great surprise, the next morning, he was up on his feet.  Praise God!  He was still very weak and not able to swallow.  He had tried so hard to eat in the night and I had to pull just ropes and gobs of chewed hay out of his throat.  I was stumped.  But gave him a B-12 shot again for energy. 

This intense care went on for almost two weeks.  Him not getting any better.  I had ruled out Listeriosis.  He would have been dead by now.  I ruled out spider bite and snake bite as he would have been dead or improving by now and I could not find an entry site.   For two weeks  he spent his days either laying down trying to nibble at hay only to have it congest his throat or him standing with his jaw in the water bucket trying to drink.  :(  it was very sad.   Carolyn and I went out to the barn several times a day to try keep him hydrated..  I bought him hay pellets which he did much better with.  We actually put him back on goats milk as it not only hydrated him but gave him some calories and nutrition. I also gave him probiotics daily to help his rumen. 

There was one more thing it could be from all my research and that was Esophageal Choke.  When a goat or animal tries to eat something and it gets stuck in their throat. So I took a tube and ran it down the poor things throat hoping it was that.  But it was not.  The tube went right down.  Sigh.

Finally, after trying everything I knew to do and reading all I could about any possible things it could be, I got a prescription from our vet for Thiamine.  Thiamine is the treatment for Goat Polio. It is one of the B vitamins and what is lacking and depleted in the gut of a goat causing the goat to get polio.   I started him on the regime for Goat Polio.  Shots of Thiamine around the clock.  I also kept up the probiotics and guess what...  He is starting to improve. 

I guess the reason why he was just hanging in there and not totally getting better was because I was giving him a B-complex shot daily to keep his energy and strength up and in that B-complex shot was a bit of Thiamine.  But not enough to get him over the Goat Polio.  I feel badly he has been so sick for so long.  He just didn’t present with any of the normal symptoms for the disease. 

I am still just in bewilderment that we had a goat to get Goat Polio.  As we do not over crowd pens or over feed grain.  I don’t feed moldy hay.  I don’t use co-rid or the few wormers on the market that can cause Goat Polio.  I just never really thought deep down it really could be that or Listeriosis.  I sincerely wish I had started treatment much sooner.  He would be much stronger as he is still not out of the woods yet but so much improved.  I am always learning and gaining knowledge.  This whole case was just so puzzling.  God is so good.  I pray the little guy makes it now and recovers his strength, muscle and normal functioning of everything involved.  Bless his little heart.

I pray that telling what we went thru the last few weeks can be of some help to anyone going thru a similar situation and possibly save your goat.

Blessings and happy farming,


  1. I had a set of twins 2 weeks ago, a doe and a buck. They were born with the symptoms of goat polio. unable to stand, control their heads, apparently blind, laying on their sides kicking, crying out like in pain.. I milked their mother and fed them their first milk. Both sucked well. I fed them regularly for three days and the doe started to stand, weak but standing. That day I started giving them B1 tablets crushed in their milk. The doe now seams to see some but is still shaky, The male is still blind cannot stand still lays on his side kicking and still screams in pain once in a while. I am wondering if I should give him more B1 in his milk or just put him down.

    1. Sorry about the trouble you are experiencing with your kids. Although the symptoms that you described do fit the polio symptoms, I have never heard of ones being born with it. As goat polio is cause by an imbalance in their rumen, which newborns have not developed yet. Not that it is not possible. I have seen some strange things since farming. I am not a vet so all I can offer is "what I would do" advice. It sounds like weak kid syndrome. (not floppy kid syndrome) If they were mine I would get a shot of the correct dose of BoSe from your vet. It should be very inexpensive and also the proper dose per weight of manganese. Copper deficiency in the doe can also produce weak kids. A shot of B complex sure would help him as well. I would try all of these things before putting the little guy down. Also with continued supportive care he may recover if they were born a bit early. Hope this is of some help and I pray everything works out well for you and them. Blessings!

  2. Hi we are dealing with this horrid disease with one of our young dwellings. I am just wondering how your little guy made out did he ever start eating normally. Our little girl does the same thing and we pull out hay everyday. Doing the penicillin and thiamine treatment as per our Vets instructions. Thanks for any info Dianne

    1. So sorry to hear you are going through this as well. It is a terrible thing to see a goat suffer with. Our little buck did recover after a very long time of consistent, nurturing treatment. Going through this compromised his immune system and he was never very thrifty or strong again. That winter he succumbed to pneumonia. It was very sad. I pray your little one makes it and fully recovers. Blessings.

    2. Our little girl is getting some better just having a hard time with the eating part grazes with her brother and Mom but can't seem to be able to chew her cud yet hoping that improves , trys to suck her Mom but not sure if she is getting any so we are bottle feeding her. So sorry to hear you lost your little guy. We lost a does and little one before we could get the vet out they were just to far gone. Hope this one will improve. Been very stressful. Thank you for getting back to me

    3. Your welcome! I pray your little one makes it and is perfectly healthy the rest of her life! Blessings!

  3. Hello; I am wondering if my little girl has polio. Last night she was fine then this morning we went outside and found her sick. The vet started her on antibiotics and b complex. She is looking really good and drinking and eating pelleted food but acts as if she cant see. Any suggestions would be great.

    1. It does sound like it could be polio. I am not a vet and can only speak from experiance and from seeing things happen at my friends farms. Blindness is only one symptom of goat polio and there are several other diseases that have blindness with it. My little goat did eat and drink though out his whole episode. He just seemed to have trouble swallowing. The b vitiamins are a great idea but one might just switch to straight thimine as a b complex might not be enough to kick it. I hope your little one recovers. The antibiotic is also a good idea as enterotoxemia (sp?) and tetnus is a possibility. Go easy on the pelleted feed it it is polio as over eating grain is one cause of polio. Blessings!