Friday, March 3, 2017

Too Much of a Good Thing

The other night, Brett mentioned to me that Cowboy seemed a bit under the weather.  He wasn't running around with the other goats but was, instead, spending his time resting in one of the igloos.
That's Cowboy standing in the back.  Don't ask me how I tell them apart; I can't explain it other than to say that Cowboy and Whiskey have different energy; a different way of standing and a different way of looking at me.  
The next morning, I got up extra early so I could take a look at him before leaving for work.  I found Cowboy in his igloo and, when I opened the gate to the pasture, he came out of the igloo but didn't follow the others in their mad dash to the pasture.  Instead, he stood on shaking legs and looked at me.  He wouldn't let me near to him, but I could see that he was definitely bloated and uncomfortable.

I did some research online and easily identified his condition as bloat.  This happens when a goat gorges on lush grass or grain, and his gut can't keep up with gas that is created, as all of that ferments in the rumen.  I checked some goat sites and then asked my most trusted source-- Michaele who raised goats, sold goat milk soap and other products, and used to blog about it.  She suggested treating him with a paste probiotic and gave me the name of one she had used and felt worked well.

When I walked into the feed store, on my way home from the office, the girl behind the desk looked at me dubiously.  In my corporate attire, I did not look a typical feed store customer.  I'm usually wearing jeans, boots and a dusty ranch jacket when I go in there and she clearly did not recognize me.  I asked if they had anything to treat goat bloat.  One of the guys from the back, where the hay is stored, was walking by and he laughed, "too much green grass, right?"  We have lots of lush, green grass this winter.  The goats are on pasture everyday, so I'm not sure why Cowboy suddenly decided to binge on it.  He wasn't going to tell me.  He didn't want anything to do with me.

We have four goats.  Three of the goats like nothing more than to be handled.  They mob us for attention and scream at us when we leave.  Cowboy has always been different.  He's an independent goat and would much prefer to not be touched.  Once in a great while, he will shock me by coming over for a back scratch.  But, in general, he keeps to himself.  I thought, how on earth am I going to catch this goat and stick a tube of goop down his throat.   

After chasing him around for a bit, Brett and I got him to go into the goat shelter.  He looked around and then headed into his igloo.

I got down on my hands and knees and crawled in after him.  He looked at me in mild alarm but there was nowhere for him to go.  My body completely filled the exit.  My legs and butt were outside and my head and shoulders were in.  He didn't fight me when I gave him the medicine.  In fact, he seemed to enjoy the taste; licking his lips and chewing.  I massaged his belly for awhile and then backed out.

We opened the gate so the other goats could come back in from the pasture.  They were not at all happy about being separated from Cowboy.  Bear jumped up on their platform and then stretched his nose down to talk to Cowboy.

When he was done talking to his herd mates, Cowboy walked around for a bit.  I encouraged him to move and I listened for him to burp; a sign that gas was being released.  It didn't take long.
Cowboy even felt good enough to pick up stick and wave it at us.  
This morning, Cowboy seemed better.  He's still moving slowly and was the last one out of the gate this morning but he did go to into the pasture so that is improvement.  We are heading into the weekend so I'll be able to keep a closer eye on him.  He's not 100%, but I'm hoping he's on his way there.


  1. I hope he gets back to normal quickly!

    1. Me too. He's still spending most of his time in the igloo but doesn't seem to be in pain. Poor little guy.

  2. I've picked up feed wearing a skirt and heels before! I'm glad that he's feeling better

    1. So you know how awkward it feels to be wearing non-ranchy clothes in a feed store. Its just wrong, somehow.

  3. Many, many years (like, 20+) ago I can remember the only treatment for bloat was a ride in the bed of the truck down the bumpiest road we could find. The goat was fine, but I'm glad to hear there are better, and easier, treatments now. Hope Cowboy continues to improve!

    1. That doesn't sound pleasant for the people or the goat!

  4. An American in TokyoMarch 5, 2017 at 5:33 PM

    Poor Cowboy, I hope he feels better soon!


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