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Posted by GoatWorld on June 30, 2002 at 07:16:45:
A few weeks ago I was contacted by the editor/publisher of Ruminations magazine to write an article for inclusion. Ruminations is a periodical centered around the Nigerian Dwarf community. I was only happy to oblige and I thought I would share this article here with GoatWorld members.
Very Important, Simple Household Item
by Gary Pfalzbot, GoatWorld.com - Goat911.com
I love all four seasons, but when it comes to spring, summer and fall, I get a bit wary because I know that there is a greater chance of goats getting sick from a weather induced illness such as pneumonia than at any other time of the year. And when a goat does become ill, every goat owner owes it to their goats to have on hand a simple rectal thermometer. Taking a goatsí temperature is the first step in properly diagnosing and implementing a treatment plan for an effective and speedy recovery.
Quite often, new goat owners will scoff at the thought of taking a goats temperature simply because they think it to be meaningless. After all, how is taking a temperature going to cure their ill goat? This article is written to show the importance of taking a goats temperature and what the reading will be indicative of, and how that reading may be used to map out a course of treatment.
The normal temperature range of a goat is approximately 101 to 104. Youíll hear variations of this range, but anything radically above or below this range is considered abnormal and is cause for concern. It should be noted however that climate will affect the body temperature and should be taken into account. On very hot summer days, do not be surprised at a reading a full degree higher or more, especially if the goat is, or has been, directly in the sunlight. On cold days, do not be surprised at readings a full degree lower. It is also interesting to know that certain foods such as corn will also affect the temperature of the goat - some foods produce small amounts of heat during the digestive processes.
The method which I prefer and recommend for taking a goats temperature is called "temperature averaging" where not one, but several readings are taken and averaged over a small period of time. Twenty minutes is usually an adequate amount of time to get a fairly accurate indication of temperature, especially when the weather is extreme. From my personal experience, the temperature that appears to be normal for the majority of my goats is 102.7 - this is based on temperature averaging over many months.
When to take a temperature and why.
At the first sign of illness. A classic example is the goat that separates itself from the herd, shows little or no interest in food, and/or, stands on solid ground with feet close together, back somewhat arched. And even though it can be an unpleasant task, when a goat is showing diarrhea as a symptom. Whenever you suspect that your goats behavior is somehow different - take the temperature. The sooner you catch an illness, the greater the chance of curing the illness.
While there are certainly a number of illnesses and conditions that can swiftly kill an otherwise healthy goat, there are a number of conditions that can also be caused by the goat owner simply making wrong choices of treatment at first sign of illness. And this is where knowing the temperature of the goat becomes very important. Take the temperature before providing treatment.
All too often a goat will appear ill and the first thing that the owner will try to do is feed the goat or provide some type of goat potion. In some cases this is okay, but in the case of a goat with a very low temperature, feeding the goat will often do more harm than good. When the temperature is far below normal, chances are the rumen of the goat has begun to shut down. Anything ingested or tube-fed into the goat will sit in the rumen and spoil, creating bacteria that is as harmful, if not more harmful than the illness affecting it. Personally, Iíve seen more goats die as a result of being fed or given liquid when they cannot process it than actually seeing a goat expire from the initial illness.
On the other hand, a goat with a high fever should be given fluids either orally or via intravenous injection to ensure that they do not dehydrate. For a goat with a high fever that is showing no interest in food or water, I prefer to use a solution called Lactated Ringers Solution as an IV injection. For a goat that does show interest in food or water, I prefer to use citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit. These contain liquids that will help hydrate the goat, provide a fresh source of vitamin C, and provide some essential nutrition to the sick caprine patient. But caution should be taken to not gorge the ill goat with too much food at once.
Even in the cases where conditions do not indicate an illness of the infectious type (ex. A broken leg, ear mites, torn hoof, etc.), take the goats temperature. Pain can often lead to a slight fever and should be treated accordingly.
A commonly misused treatment for a low temperature is that where the goat owner places the goat on a heating pad or under a heat lamp (or both), in the hope of raising the critical body temperature. While this can work if done properly, much attention must be given to the goat, frequently moving him or her around so that any one area does not get too hot. This will of course, induce a fever and lead to immediate dehydration. It is also recommended that the goat be kept in an upright position rather than laying on its side. Items such as "goat coats", old socks, shirts, etc., make excellent garments for wrapping or clothing a chilled goat.
Another method used for warming a chilled goat is by use of a hand-held hairdryer. In some critical cases, Iíve used a method where I draw a bath water at approximately 110 F and slowly immerse the goat into the water. While this is intended to be a "last resort" method, it can be effective - especially for younger goats. Afterwards, the goat is briskly dried with a soft towel, bundled into a large dry towel or two, and given the hairdryer treatment to THOROUGHLY dry the goat.
If you decide that providing your own treatment for your goats is something you want to do, then please take the first step a doctor would take by getting a thermometer. That simple reading gives you a good reference for diagnosing your goat quickly.
Note: once this article has appeared in the upcoming edition of Ruminations, it will be available in the GoatWorld Articles section.
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