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sudden death of goats

A friend had 2 pet goats and they have just died within two weeks of each other . They were neutered billies . Age unknown ... adult and very tame when dumped outside the house 3 yeas ago . Teathered on reasonable quality grass , moved often , given a good varied supplementary diet . Looked just fine to me . Then ... no apparent sign of illness in the evening but dead in the morning .
Everything looked normal on the post mortem I performed on the first one but I am no expert at this ... I only know the general principles / main organs to inspect . Should I look for anything in particular ? Any other thoughts ?

Nb: they had been given sheep nuts as a supplementary feed for a few days before death . Could that have any bearing on it ? I can't think why it should .

Re: sudden death of goats

Strange alright. If it was something like gastro-intestinal worms he would have seen them go down over time.

blowin wrote:
Nb: they had been given sheep nuts as a supplementary feed for a few days before death . Could that have any bearing on it ? I can't think why it should .

What quantity?


I'm no expert but indeed how much pellets ?

because goats have fussy stomachs (4 if I remember well), and the food diet should be changed progressively ..

it was very quick to go downhill when our nanie got some poisonning or over indulging of something, big bloat on the left handside and frothy mouth ...

so where they bloated kind off ? had they escape the day before ? and the two of them were dead in the morning ?


If you cup two hands together to make a scoop , that is roughly the daily amount of pellets ( or it could have been that lamb crunch which looks like muesli ) .
I don't think there would have been a gradual introduction to this particular food but they always had a good mixed diet which included a lot of the same ingredients ( but no added minerals ) .
No obvious sign of bloating or anything else untoward .
Both dead in the morning , but 2 weeks apart , not on the same day . Nights had been cold but not exceptionally so .
Very distressing when animals die without explanation , isn't it ? My friend is really beating himself up over it .

Sad news indeed  .Goats are quite good at not poisoning them selves but it happens. A friend of mine has lost Goats to poisoning. For years they had left a particular shrub well alone and then for no apparent reason made a meal of it and died. I agree with Camile about new food being introduced slowly especially with ruminants. If the sheep feed contained a large amount of barley it can easily lead to barley poisoning. This is where the animal has problems digesting the unfamiliar feed and the barley ferments in the rumin. No point in beating oneself up though. It happens.  

Thanks for that    .
As you know ,  I don't have much experience in this but I don't think barley explains it either .

There was some fermentation in the large stomach , which was full of something like coarse green soup ( which I imagine is normal ?? ) . It did not smell particularly pleasant but neither did it have that distinctive odor of old damp barley .
One thing which did surprise me was that altho the stomach was full , there was hardly anything other than a bit of liquid in the entire length of the intestines . Unfortunately I did not think to check for twisted gut at the time but I can't imagine 2 of them dying from that anyway .
As before , all of the major organs and other obvious bits looked in good health . There were some quite solid "pads" of fat in the lower abdomen but not around the heart or kidneys so that also seemed ok to me .

They hadn't got into an area with any poisonous plants and they hadn't just trashed the neighbour's garden so no reason to suspect poisoning from that , either .

They have now both returned to nature so I guess it will remain a mystery .

Goats can go down VERY quickly when they get bloat, especially when they get concentrates (e.g. barley) when they are not used to it.

One of our ladies almost died after no more than a double handful of barley, when she wasn't used to it.

Ruminal acidosis kills all the probiotic bacteria that are essential in a lose the characteristic (and healthy) stomach gurgle in an animal with this condition...and the animal may not look particularly bloated. Gut motion stops. Never opened the stomach post mortem, so can't comment on what is normal.

We treated by drenching with veg oil to stimulate gut movement, and giving propietary probiotics from the vet, drenching with a home made electrolyte solution for fluids, warm blankets and TLC, but it was touch and go for 2 nights, and old Gertie was in a nice warm shed. I'm sure if I hadn't noticed the problem the first night, she'd have been a goner (I saw the old bitch get her head into the chicken food, so I was watching her like a hawk). Bit of bloat and a cold wet night would kill a goat, I think.

My experience is that goats can get used to concentrates, but you have to be really careful and introduce them gradually. Some goats are more susceptible than others to bloat. Since the above incident, we don't give concentrates at all, and accept the reduction in yield.

I agree with blowin, ***t happens...we've all been there...

Anyway, I'm no vet, but i hope these comments help...


Just a foot note. It sounds like the Rumin was congested . Poisoned by what ever
Caprine Scene

Good idea to keep Baking/bread soda on hand - and offer to them daily if needed.    Outside it would be impossible to leave, but - if you can leave some in their shed - it can help in a lot of instances.

Liver/rumen fluke? If you examined these organs fluke look
Like pink maggoty things little bigger than a grain of rice

I looked for the larger liver fluke such as you can find in sheep . Found no trace but I wasn't aware of and might not have noticed any as small as those you mention .

If fluke were present there would be thousands of the things

For some reason this topic, which has been dormant in the archives, has become the most commonly read thread over the past few days. 8 of the 9 viewers in the last couple of hours are based in different parts of the USA and the other one is in Canada.
This trend started before I suggested that members review old topics so it can't be explained by that.
Is something going on over there and if so might we want to know about it ?

I presume it has nothing to do with the new President altho' I understand that goat meat features in a number of foreign ethnic dishes.  

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