Health problems with our Boer goats seem to change year to year. Now that we have
moved to a new farm, its seems different environments can cause health issues to
be more intense or less intense. This article can only be from our perspective on
the two farms we have lived on while breeding Boers.
Farm 1 - Around Austin, Texas. We had access to around 10 acres but little opportunity
to divide for rotating. Some Bermuda grass for grazing. No opportunity for planting
other forage. We had times of drought and times of extended wet weather. Had around
50 breeding animals.
Farm 2. - Northeast Texas. We have around 15 acres fenced for barn and 5 sub-pastures
for rotation. We have around 35 breeding does. Some Bermuda grass, burr clover, arrowhead
clover and other native forage. We have done winter seeding of turnips, winter rye,
hairy vetch and Austrian Winter Peas. We have 18 other acres just for raising our
own hay which is "hay grazer".
Now let me discuss the health issues that have caused us the most problems over
the years and that we are now placing a heavy focus on the minimizing or eliminating
the "high maintenance" results.
Worms- Now that may not be a big surprise to most breeders but until this spring
we have had few problems compared to what occurred this spring at our new farm. This
spring, our herd was hit especially hard by stomach worms. The medication we had
been using seem to have no affect on the worms this time but the worms had a very
bad affect on the herd. It was not just our herd that was affected. We were hearing
from many breeders that they were having problems and animals were dying. This worm
storm came after a spring of above average rainfall. Extensive time was spent reviewing
animals for signs, individually doctoring the the ones hit the hardest, gathering
wood for burning dead bodies, treating the whole herd over and over again trying
to get ahead of the problem.
Bloating - We had rarely had any problems with bloating until 2007 spring and then
we lost four adult does quickly that we believe was from bloating. Our neighbor lost
animals that we believe had bloat. We heard from many breeders that seem to have
animals getting bloat. Animals dying from bloat is a high maintenance hit because
of the value of the animal lost and any future production that could have been achieved.
It hits hard in high maintenance labor if the animal that died was nursing kids
that now have to be bottle fed.
Enterotoxaemia - We are just guessing some of the problems we had were a result of
enterotoxaemia. We lost around eight young kids this spring that just all of a sudden
were found dead. The year before we moved to the new farm, we had a terrible year
of losing kids after birthing that we will assume was from enterotoxaemia. We get
many emails and calls from breeders that have had kids healthy on one day and dead
the next. This disease is a cost issue and not a labor issue.
Birthing Problems- This is both a labor and cost issue according to how the birthing
turns out. We have labeled our 2005 kidding season as the Kidding Season from Hell.
We lost about 1/3 of our kids that season. Not all of the dead kids resulted from
the time of kidding, but we did have a significant number of does have significant
problems kidding and we lost a few. We have made a decision that we can not run to
the vet for a c-section every time a doe has a difficult time delivering her kids.
The problems that may result from birthing problems are
kids that need bottle feeding
extra weak kids
does that need attention to get them back healthy
Heavy labor on the breeder's side in trying to assist in delivering the kids.
Pregnancy Toxemia - This year, we only had one doe come down with this but last year
we had at least 4-5 does that had to be taken care of for Pregnancy Toxemia. We have
had one doe that resulted in 6 weeks of extreme support where the doe literally could
not stand on her own. This can result in heavy manual labor to keep these does alive
and have a successful kidding. It is also easy to have this result in a cost issue
if you lose the doe or the kids.
Mastitis - This can be a heavy cost issue and a labor issue. We have lost several
does to Mastitis. This has always occurred soon after kidding and generally results
in a requirement for bottle feeding the kids. If the doe is not lost to the Mastitis,
it is likely she has at least one side of her udder that is no longer usable in the
future. There is also the time required to doctor the doe several times a day treating
Hoof trimming - Although this is not a problem normally where you lose an animal,
it can be extremely time consuming if it is done and more frustrating, if it is not
done, every time you walk through your herd seeing the poor shape their feet are
in or the difficulty some are having walking.
We understand that breeders can call a vet every time they have a sick animal or
send off the dead bodies to be evaluated but there comes a time where a breeder can
not justify the cost of having every death or illness analyzed by a vet or university.
We have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars carrying animals off to vets. We
have learned a lot from those visits to the vets but a time must come where the breeder
no longer spends their time trying to learn how to doctor a problem but starts to
focus on how to raise animals that have fewer of these problems and how to minimize
the cost and labor required to raise them healthy. The next article will take these
problems and discuss how we are attacking each of them to minimize or eliminate the