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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 15717
Experience:  As a veterinarian, I have been educated to treat all animals, big and small.
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We are a year into our Boer Goat experience and I have a question.

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We are a year into our Boer Goat experience and I have a question. We are of course checking other sources as well for a rapid response, but...about 7 days ago we noticed that one of our Does who was due to kid around 12/15 was lethargic and had matted eyes. We removed her from the herd and placed her into the kidding pen, I cleaned her eyes and used the eye ointment which seemed to help, but she got over in the corner of the pen, facing the wall, and for two days didn't get up. I don't know about the urine output, but she did not have diarrhea, she began refusing food two days ago and just didn't seem interested in anything. This morning we went out to give her hay and she was dead. We have no clue what killed her and want to make sure she didn't have anything that would infect the rest of our herd. She was a 3 year old Muley Doe. What would be your recommendation to ascertain what the cause of death was?
I am sorry to hear about Muley's abrupt death.

It is good you have isolated her from the rest of the flock and you do want to take steps to thoroughly clean the areas she has been in to remove any lingering infectious agents if an infectious process was the underlying cause for her deterioration.

As I am sure you can appreciate lethargy, anorexia, and being down are vague clinical signs and can arise in a wide range of illnesses. Even if we could rule out toxins, trauma, nutritional issues, and disease of the individual (organ troubles, heart disease, etc); this still leaves insidious bacterial infections (ie Clostridia family, Mannheimia hemolytica, Caseous lymphadenitis, Leptospirosis, Listeriosis etc), viral disease and severe parasitic burdens (any PGE but especially Haemonchus contortus and Fasiciola hepatica).

As this is a single affected animal, hopefully we are looking at a non-infectious condition. That said, we do have to consider something infectious as a potential cause. If this goat has died today, while it isn’t nice to think about, it would be worth considering submitting her for post mortem.

If you speak to the vet, they may be able to perform the autopsy in the practice. Alternatively, if you live near a vet school, agricultural college or veterinary lab, they will also be able to provide this service. If they cannot find an obvious gross cause of her death, they can collect samples to submit to the lab for the pathologists to evaluate.

The pathologists will be able to examine the tissues under the microscope and determine the causative agent that lead to her death. As well, if bacterial or viral causes are suspected, these can be cultured to determine what is present and what treatments will effectively clear them. And if necessary, they can also evaluate her parasite burden, check her gut for toxic plant/ heavy metal ingestion and check tissue mineral levels (to check for OD or deficiency). This will both give you closure on her loss, but also help you know if this is something that threatens the whole herd. And once you know the causative agent, you will be able to protect them effectively.

Therefore, in this situation, there are a lot of differentials to consider. And because we have to consider the rest of the herd here, an autopsy would be the most straightforward way to approach this situation and get some answers in identifying the culprit.

I hope this information is helpful.
Please do let me know if you have any further questions.
If you have no further questions, feedback is greatly appreciated.

All the best,

Dr. B.


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