Mastitis… and Sick Kids…. and Mastitis again…

by Rose

Twenty four hours after Thelma had given birth, I went to milk her. I noticed her udder felt a little warm. She gave me no milk whatsoever. Now this was the first time I had tried to milk her and she has a low set udder, but I was sure that neither of those things were the problem, something was wrong.

I called the couple who had sold us our goats. They asked me if I had taken her temperature (and that I needed to do that first.)

  • The rule is whenever a goat is ill or not acting right, you should check its temperature.
  • Every farmer should have a baseline reading of their goats normal temperature, so they will know for certain if their goats temp is elevated. I was told a goats normal temperature is 102.3 but most internet sources stated it can range from 102.0-104.0 depending on the individual goat.

The couple questioned if she had warm and/or hard udders/teats and/or any blood/lumps/clumps in her milk-some of the signs of mastitis (an inflammation of the mammary gland). They also asked if she had any white or yellow discharge from her vaginal area or a foul odor-some of the signs of a partially retained placenta.

I went out to re-evaluate Thelma. I used an old-fashioned mercury thermometer complete with a string on one end and a bit of petroleum jelly, to check her temperature.( And yes, farm animals can “swallow” a thermometer-better to be safe than sorry!).

Everything you need to check a goats rectal temperature!

Her temperature was 102.6, she had no milk production, warm hard udder and no discharge or odor from her vaginal area. Mastitis was suspect, (though from my research it might have been a congested udder-but decided to err on the side of caution, as our veterinary was out-of-town.)

I did not have Clavamox on hand, so the couple generously offered to give me enough to get me through the next day when the feed stores would be open. So I drove out to their farm and picked up the Clavamox.

  • Clavamox is given for mastitis twice a day for three days. You apply teat dip to the teat, then take a hold of the goats teat and administer the medication directly into the teat. (Ouch! And trust me Thelma thought ouch too!) You then pinch off the end of the teat and move the medication upwards, when you are finished, apply teat dip again.
  • It is also important to apply warm wet compresses to the entire udder and then massage the udder and teats. I also applied an anti-inflammatory cream twice a day to the udder and teats, after the compresses.
  • Excenel, an injectable antibiotic, is also given once a day for three days.

**Please note: These were the prior instructions given to us per own veterinary, in a suspected case of mastitis. Always follow the advice of your personal veterinarian for your animals care and well-being.**

As if this day could not get any worse, Thelma’s kids who seemed so vigorous and well yesterday, seem listless and unwell. I tried to give them milk from the other Mama goat, but they would not take a bottle. I then had to resort to syringe feeding them, 10 mL at a time, every couple of hours (and they both fussed at that!). I was stressed out.

I kept the goat babies in a large dog kennel filled with straw, in the house that night, so I could keep an eye on them and feed them through the night. By morning, they were both accepting a bottle of 2 oz of milk at a time and were standing on their feet, wagging their little tails with enthusiasm. (Big HalleluYah! And a phew-ew!)

However, when I went out to check on Marilynn the other Mama goat, her udder was hot and her teats were hugely swollen. She had a temperature of 105.3. I was able to milk her but she had  low milk production. I felt sick… It looked like another case of mastitis. So I started her on the medications as well.

In researching about mastitis, I found that it can be hard to cure, because the goat has such dense mammary tissue and the antibiotic cannot reach all the bacteria because of this. The article stated goats often times are culled due to recurring chronic mastitis. (I thought, oh no, did we just buy a bunch of goats with a history of mastitis…?) There had never been mastitis on this farm before with the other two goats. I talked to the couple again and they told me neither of the Mama’s had mastitis in the past (So all I can do is hope this is true)…. They thought perhaps it was stress due to the recent change of environment. That made me feel much better. I just prayed if we were truly dealing with two case of mastitis, they would be healed completely and quickly.

I also learned about a test called the California Mastitis Test, in which I can test the goats myself for mastitis. I am hoping to I can find this at the local feed store, but this maybe difficult, as this is Panama and not everything is as easy accessible to a person, like in the states.

So let us pray I can find the test!

It has been a couple of  stressful and busy days here on the farm. The rest of the week does not prove to be anymore restful, as there are two days I need to drive my Father to his therapy appointments and complete various errands, as well as milk the goats, take care of the sick Mama’s and bottle feed all of the baby kids.

Pray for my strength!

With much love my dear friends and family, Rose

P.S. Here is some information on mastitis in goats from Fias Co Farm’s website:

From my research on goat mastitis, prevention is the best medicine, as the old saying goes. Practicing good washing of the milker, cleaning of the udder and using proper teat dip and clean dry living conditions go a long way at keeping this disease away from your milking girls.