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Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Living HOMEGROWN: Goat Adventures -- Bottle Jaw?


 Rachel Dog Island Farm

My friends in college used to call me a Renaissance woman. I was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. I still am. My focus these days, instead of arts and crafts, has been farming as much of my urban quarter acre as humanly possible. With my husband, we run Dog Island Farm in the SF Bay Area. We raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. We’re always keeping busy. If I’m not out in the yard I’m in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!


 Bottle Jaw 

This is a goat with bottle jaw. It's caused by anemic edema caused by a heavy parasite load - particularly Barberpole worms. Usually the swelling is less in the morning, increasing during the day but it doesn't go away until the animal has been successfully treated. Without treatment the goat will eventually succumb to the infestation and die. Proper treatment includes using an appropriate dewormer and long term B12 injections and iron supplements. Of course run a fecal test before starting any treatment so you know what you're up against.

Imagine my surprise last Friday morning when we walked into the barn to do our daily milking to find Daisy's head completely swollen - especially right under her chin. I knew I was going to have to call the vet. Every time I call they want the goat's temp so we took it. 105.3. A goat's normal temperature is 102.5-104 depending on their surroundings. She was running a fever.

After milking I started researching the issue and everything seemed to point to bottle jaw except one thing - her fever. Bottle jaw doesn't cause a fever. That was a bit of a relief. So I decided to wait on deworming her until I could get her into the vet. Jeanette and I loaded both Bella and Daisy into my SUV and I headed off to work. I work in the same town my goat vet is and I didn't want to have to make multiple trips back and forth. Fridays I only work half days and Tom could bring them home early if need be. I called the vet and was there within the hour. By the time we got to the vet a lot of the swelling had actually subsided and her temperature was back to normal.

The vet took a blood and fecal sample. Daisy's proteins were slightly depressed but not enough to cause bottlejaw and she was not anemic. Her fecal looked clear but to be on the safe side it was sent to a lab. The lab results were also clean.

The vet's conclusion was an insect sting or spider bite because she recovered quickly on her own. I'm betting on a spider bite.

Not only was it an expensive bite in terms of money for the vet visit but also because she now has to be on antibiotics which has a 28 day withholding on milk. We can't use her milk for a month after her last shot. It makes me sad to dump her milk (we are still milking her so her production stays up).

We have a lot of spiders. And a lot of different species of spiders. While they creep me out just as much as the next person, I've been pretty tolerant of them as long as they stay off of me. They help with pests and flies so I leave them alone.

Well, not any more. At least in the barn. They must go.