Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Death of a Goat

Losing one of your livestock by surprise can be a shock. But it can also be worrisome. I lost Harley yesterday. Found him dead in the morning during my routine morning head count. He appeared fine the previous evening. There was no signs or symptoms to give me a clue why he died. Usually there is always some clue, but not this time. 

Harley was a captured feral goat. Background unknown although he had been significantly starved for several months prior to us getting him. But he was recovering nicely and looking better. Routinely dewormed since I got him, but not prior to that. Not fed grain except for a tablespoonful a day, literally just a tablespoonful, no more. Had access to good mixed browsing 24 hours a day. He was not in with another ram or billy, so I don't think he died due to fighting. But he did have access to two horned female goats, so there a remote possibility of a horning injury that cascaded into a fatal crisis. He was missing two lower incisors, indicating that he was no spring chicken. I checked the entire area that he browsed and couldn't find anything suspicious that he could have gotten into. Harley did have one symptom of a possible health issue....his excessively long, thick coat. It could have been the result of his starvation episode, or it could have been an undiagnosed medical problem.....or it could simply be normal for feral billies. 

I didn't have a chance to do a necropsy on Harley. I had an obligation to be at a feline spay/neuter clinic, so couldn't spare the time. I planned to conduct the necropsy as soon as I got home that night, but my poor neighbor couldn't deal with that. Leaving Harley unburied was rending his soul. So poor Harley was respectfully buried, interred in a lava tube, by the time I returned. Out of consideration for my neighbor, I let poor Harley be. No necropsy. 

So now the worrisome aspect. What did the goat die from so suddenly? Are the two does now in danger? I searched the pasture once again looking for any danger signs. Nothing. I think the two does are safe. So the death of a goat will remain a mystery for now, possibly forever. This fact never sits well with a farmer. One always worries that the rest of the flock is in jeopardy. 

1 comment:

  1. Very sorry to hear about your goat. It is, indeed, difficult. The first year we were here we had a cow give birth prematurely in the pasture and we didn't come upon the beautiful little guy until it was too late. Sigh. I hope you figure it out and that your other goats escape that fate. All the best, Renee