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Sola's Health, What was wrong?

One month ago Sola and Sage, two Sable goats, arrived at our farm. Both were from the same closed disease free herd. They are beautiful and a key part to my future goals involving the dairy goat herd.

All was well and they were growing fast. Sables are a standard size. They are a colored Saanen goat with excellent milk production. Sola and Sage were flourishing until ... Sola wasn't.

Last Thursday, Sola was curled up under the hay feeder and did not join the other goat kids to go play in the pasture. She was coaxed out and she managed about ten minutes of play before coming back to the barn to curl up again. Something was very wrong.

Sola, a Sable doeling, is not feeling well and curled up under a hay feeder
Sola, sick and curled up under the hay feeder.

The very first thing a goat owner should do if a goat is suspected to be ill is to take their temperature, rectally. A kid's normal temperature will range between 102 - 103.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Sola's temperature was a whopping 107.6! Yikes! After waiting several minutes, we took her temperature again...107.5. Sola was acting lethargic, had a weird cough/sneeze, some nasal discharge, and was not acting her usual self. Something was definitely wrong.

Knowing this temperature is extremely dangerous, I called Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, open 24/7. (A mere ten miles away, thankfully.) When I explained the situation, the first question immediately asked was, "How soon can you get here?" We rushed on our way..

Sola was diagnosed with pneumonia, which is a top killer of goats, especially kids.

The veterinarians at WSU acted quickly to reduce Sola's body temperature by administering medication and ice baths. Prolonged high fever can damage beneficial gut bacteria, cause dehydration, increase the risk of organ failure, permanent brain damage, and death. Sola was in critical condition.

The veterinarians used ultrasound to scan her lungs which revealed significant signs of pneumonia.

Symptoms of pneumonia in goats:

  1. High fever (104°-106°F)

  2. Low temperature (falls below 100°F)

  3. Not eating

  4. Standing off by itself

  5. Tail and head down

  6. Lay down, moan, and get up because of pain (fluid filling lungs)

  7. Down and unable to get up (fluid-filled lungs)

  8. Nasal Discharge

  9. Difficulty breathing

  10. Moist, painful cough

  11. Depression

Sola had the classic signs and the ultrasound confirmed it. Her lungs were inflamed and infected. But how did she get it?

No one is 100% sure. However, two possibilities have been suggested. Pneumonia can develop after big weather changes, particularly temperature swings. Recently, we've had several crazy weather patterns go through with high, gusty winds, low temps, and then warm sunny days. The swings can be hard for the goats to regulate their body temperatures, even while protected in a barn.

The bigger suspect is lung aspiration after drinking one of her milk bottles. Sola and her half-sister, Sage, are bottle fed with our own goat milk. Sola has always been the goat kid to take the longest in drinking her bottle. This is my first goat in over a dozen years to aspirate milk into their lungs and end up with pneumonia so it isn't common, at least not for my herd!

The veterinary team at WSU provided exceptional care for Sola. I received updates twice a day over the phone and they allowed Sola to continue having our fresh goat milk, which she is used to, instead of goat formula. They also recommended bringing Sage to keep Sola company last Saturday, as goats are social creatures. Despite the small risk of infection, we agreed that having Sage nearby would help encourage Sola's recovery. Sage, along with two other young goats in the same farm pen, displayed no symptoms and had already been exposed to any potential infection before Sola was brought to the veterinarian.

At first, Sage was a bit perplexed by the mirror placed in Sola's enclosure at WSU for companionship. Sage made it clear to the goat in the mirror who was in charge! She then greeted Sola nose to nose and Sola seemed to enjoy having her sister back by her side.

Sola received Draxxin, a great antibiotic for her current condition. It has good lung penetration to help fight any bacterial infection. The viral part of her pneumonia must run its course while she receives supportive care, such as nebulizer treatments. If a goat falls ill with pneumonia early in their life it can be a significant source of stress, leading to inhibited growth and productivity.

To help Sola heal completely, I received some helpful advice from @goatlifegoodlife on Instagram. I hope to nourish Sola's body back to good health to reach her best potential. This includes getting her on some natural antibacterial and antiviral support to help her lungs heal.

@goatlifegoodlife said, "Often the synergy of the two treatments (veterinary and natural support) is what makes the biggest difference - especially when the aspiration is involved as the lung tissues take a hit and need more nourishment than the medicine provides."

Lung support herbal formula:

4 parts Hyssop (expectorant)

4 parts Thyme Leaf (Thyme, mullein, & peppermint together help to fight off bacteria and viruses)

2 parts Mullein (Thyme, mullein, & peppermint together help to fight off bacteria and viruses)

2 parts Marshmallow Root (aids in healing and soothing)

1 part Slippery Elm Bark powder (expectorant & soothes the respiratory tract

1 part Peppermint (Thyme, mullein, & peppermint together help to fight off bacteria and viruses)

I ordered all the ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs. For specific dosage for your specific situation, please reach out to @goatlifegoodlife or their blog:

Once this blend is ground into a powder, scoop out the proper dosage for the weight of your own goat and pour on boiling water just to cover the powdered herbs. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Add raw honey or apple cider vinegar, crushed garlic and some crushed chewable vitamin C.

You can carefully syringe feed or make it into a dosage ball using some molasses or peanut butter with just the herbal ground powder. Sola will be receiving this dose three times a day for a week after she returns home to the farm. I was also advised to give Sola a dose of probiotics each day.

I am so grateful for @goatlifegoodlife for offering their "sage" advice for my little doeling.

Time will tell what the future holds for little Sola. But we are giving her the best shot to recover and reach her full potential.

I am hoping she can safely return home soon! Stay tuned.

In the meantime, we are running a special on all website orders! 10% discount with the code: SOLA


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