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Posted By: Bibby - Farm Vet

Bibby loves goats!

For those of you that don’t know me, I have a bit of reputation for being a crazy goat lady.  I think they are wonderful! Goats are happy, intelligent creatures that really enjoy human company.

I have been lucky enough this week to have had lots of goat calls. We have had several very cute goat kids in for disbudding. Disbudding is a procedure performed only by a veterinary surgeon, typically when kids are between 2 and 7 days old, as the horn buds are much smaller. Disbudding is where a hot iron is applied to the horn bud to kill the cells that grown the horn. Owners often request the horns are removed to prevent goats from damaging people, other goats and buildings.

The reason that it is only vets that are allowed to disbud goats is that goats have two nerves supplying the horns; we could apply a local anaesthetic to these nerves so the goats can’t feel anything. Unfortunately, goats are very sensitive to local anaesthetics. To give a goat enough local anaesthetic, so it doesn’t feel any pain associated with disbudding, would be very close to what is toxic in goats.

 Instead when the goats come into the practice, they are given a general anaesthetic, so they sleep all the way through the procedure. A combination of medicines are given to make them go to sleep and provide pain relief to the Kids. Whilst the goats are coming round they are kept warm and monitored, once they start to wake up they are put back with mum and taken home.

I meet a very lovely Toggenburg Goat called Rosie, her owner was worried about her because she had become very slender after she had had her baby. Rosie’s owner had noticed that when she ate her hay she would drop lots of semi chewed hay on the floor and her checks were often packed with food. Because of the history Rosie’s owner had described to me, I was very suspicious of Rosie’s back teeth causing her pain. Goats don’t open their mouths very wide and they also have very sharp back teeth! After discussion with Rosie’s owner, we decided to bring her back to the practice to sedate her, look in her mouth and correct any dental issues. With the help of a local equine practice “The Stables”, who kindly allowed us to use some of their equine dental equipment. We were able to remove the sharp points on her teeth. Rosie now finds it more comfortable to eat and is back to being a happy goat.

Pickle is a very friendly Pygmy Goat weather; he had been bought with a friend to live with a lovely family in the area. Pickles new owners were new to keeping goats, so had booked an appointment with me to learn how to trim their feet. Both goats were very well behaved.

Whilst in the practice both Goats had a quick MOT to check they were settling in to their new home. Both goats were Weathers; this means that they should be castrated. Entire male goats can be aggressive and have a very pungent smell! It is common practice to weather goats at a young age, especially when breeders know that they are going to pet homes. There are several techniques used for castrating goats. Probably the most common is the use of elastrator band, the same used for lambs. A strong rubber ring is placed around both testicles when the Kid is less that a week old, to cut off the blood supply, resulting in the testicles dropping off. This technique had been very successful in Pickles friend. However, Pickle still had one testicle left. Because baby Pygmy Goats are so small it is a fairly common risk of elastrator band castration, that one of the testicles slips back inside.

After discussion with Pickles Owners it was decided that we would scan the suspect testicle to confirm our diagnosis, then, under general anaesthetic, remove the troublesome testical. The surgery went well and Pickle went home a couple of hours later, where he continues his training for some local Agricultural shows.

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