Really sad news: Smiley, our sweetest milk goat, died this morning.
Everything seemed fine when I went out early this morning to open the gate and let the girls graze for a while before I milked. But when I went back outside about 20 minutes later, I found Smiley standing in her pen, something obviously terribly wrong.
She stood still, staring straight ahead and making a fast grunting/panting sound. Her belly was very swollen and felt tight when I pressed on it. And every minute or so she would let out a horrible cry, nothing like her usual bleating.
After watching her for a moment, and looking her over well, it was evident that she was in some major pain. I put down my milking stuff and ran inside to tell Jerry that something was really wrong with Smiley.
I quickly jumped on the phone and called a friend of mine who is a goat expert. Unfortunately, I got her answering machine. I figured she was probably out working the farm already. I left her a desperate message anyways, hoping maybe she’d call me back soon.
Next, I hopped online and looked up Fias Co Farm, searching through symptoms of illnesses. I wondered if maybe she’d eaten something poisonous. What in the world was wrong with her?
The only thing I could think of was bloat. It was usual for Smiley’s belly to look very fat after grazing, but she hadn’t been out that long. I decided I’d just treat her for bloat. It was better than doing nothing.
I grabbed a bottle of vegetable oil and poured 1/3 c. into a container. I planned on using a dropper to squirt it down her throat. Then I hurried out the door, whispering a prayer that this would work.
But it was too late.
When I got to her she was already dead.
Ugh. How horribly sad.
It had only taken about 15 minutes and she was gone. I stood over her lifeless body for a moment, hoping to see her take another breath. But there was none. I crouched down and rubbed her still warm body, and apologized to her for not getting there fast enough.
Later on this evening, my friend returned my call. She was really sorry to hear that my goat didn’t make it. I explained what had happened, and asked her what she thought it could have been.
“Has she had runny poop?” she asked.
“No. We’ve been worming her regularly.”
“Has she been in the feed bag?” she asked next.
“Wait, yes. Yesterday I noticed the lid had been knocked off the trash can with their feed in it. It didn’t look like much was eaten, so I didn’t think anything of it.”
“Was her belly really tight, like a balloon about to pop?”
“Yeah. Really swollen and tight.”
“Uh-huh. That’s what did it. She had bloat.” Ms. Faith replied.
“So, it could take that long to take effect?” I asked. I guess I figured if she overate it would be noticeable right away.
“Oh yeah. I had a goat do that not too long ago. He got into a bag of feed, and the next day he was dead.”
I felt so bad. I hadn’t thought anything of it when I’d replaced the lid on that can. It really didn’t look like anything had been eaten from the bags of feed.
She went on to explain that the next time I suspect they may have overeaten, to go ahead and give them vegetable oil, and to watch their poop. If they don’t poop, give them more oil until they do poop. She said it’s better if you give them too much oil and they have a little diarrhea than die from bloat.
So, now I’m concerned about our little doeling. I saw her in the trash can yesterday too, for a moment. She seems fine, and it doesn’t seem like she ate that much… but I’d thought the same about Smiley.
It’s good to know what to do though, if she does start showing symptoms of bloat. And you can be sure I’m gonna keep an eye on her for the next couple of days.
Ms. Faith also warned that Coccidiosis is something I need to be watching for at this time of year. Then she reassured me that goats are just hard to keep sometimes. They aren’t very hardy animals, and often die from one thing or another very quickly.
Big. Fat. Bummer.
Poor Smiley. May she rest in peace.
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.