Sunday, February 22, 2015

Goat UTI, Urinary Calculi, or nothing...

It is never boring. Never.

From the cat who steals potatoes from our basket to eat to the one who has learned to open the cupboard doors to steal sweets hidden inside, we get it all. Seriously, I couldn't make this stuff up! Tas-cat has decided that potatoes are not only fun to steal and hide in our bed, but also make a delicious snack. Meg's kitten, Acadia has learned how to open the cupboard doors. We used to keep any sweets that I did not want to refrigerate in the cupboard- safe from insects or pests. They are no longer safe from the felines. Ridiculous animals!

These annoyances are manageable for the most part. And, it helps that I am counting down the days until the cats can return to living in the barn full time. This, too, shall pass.

What has me on the concerned side is Abigail. She began behaving strangely last night. We have been spending a lot of time in the barn. First of all there are cute kids to draw us. Secondly, the weather has not warmed up to the point that I can stop worrying about everyone. We are on track for this February to go on record as the coldest one since 1995's 11 degree average month. As of right now, we've averaged 4 degrees for the month of February. That is COLD, by anyone's standard. The kind of cold that can be lethal and cause all kinds of trouble within a herd, flock, or chattering.  It is necessary to check on everyone not only through the day, but also through the night.

Anyway, during the evening feeding time, I spent an extra hour watching the kids and Abigail and caught something out of the norm. Abigail squatted as normal to urinate and did, releasing a healthy stream of liquid waste. But, then over the next few minutes, she squatted several more times as if to urinate, but nothing happened. It might be absolutely nothing. And by nothing, I mean, something that will remedy itself with time, such as the stretched and shifted internal organs returning to their proper place after carrying twins. Pregnancy puts pressure on many organs and any pregnant woman can understand what it does to the bladder and kidneys! Abigail may be feeling pressure as things settle back to normal. Or, it could be a urinary tract infection (UTI), which is understandable, having just kidded in a barn- a somewhat less than perfectly sterile environment. If this is the case, we can support Abigail's urinary tract system naturally with cranberries and if necessary, with an antibiotic. SMZ-TMP is the standard drug of choice for this kind of infection. [The goat dose of SMZ-TMP is generally given orally at a dose of 665mg/50 pounds twice daily or one 960 mg tablet per 75 pound goat twice daily. Some people have questioned using the class of Trimethoprims orally with goats because of potential issues with degrading their rumen. I have never had to use them before (and may not now) so I can't recommend one way or another. This is where having a good relationship with your vet is invaluable.] UTIs can usually be resolved, but sometimes, they develop into a bladder or kidney infection, which are more dangerous and can be lethal if left untreated. The other possibility, though the least likely is Urinary Calculi (UC). Some of the signs of this would be straining to urinate with little or no stream and is usually seen in goat wethers. Does can be affected with it, but it is not as common. UC is caused by too much phosphorus in relation to calcium in the feed. This causes crystals to form and block the urethra. If you have ever had a kidney stone, you can understand the level of pain this can cause in your goat. This is a serious condition that can be fatal very quickly if left untreated. So which is it?

We don't yet know. To find out, we spent 2 1/2 hours straight sitting in her barn stall watching for Abigail to urinate. I can report that in that time, she ate her hay with a vigorous appetite and drank normally. She passed "goat berries" no less than five times- all completely normal in color, size, and consistency.  (Who says farming isn't full of glamour???) Naomi urinated twice. Keren urinated once. Sarah and Levi both urinated multiple times. But, Abigail was disinclined to cooperate. She is not acting like she is in any pain. I ran my hands thoroughly from shoulder to hind end, over her ribs, across her stomach and down to her udder. I pressed firmly into her sides near and around where her stomachs, bladder, kidneys, and intestines live. Nothing felt wrong. She stood still and allowed the attention without any sign of distress or that she had noticed me at all. I even went so far as to milk 8 oz of colostrum from her to freeze for a rainy day when some other kid(s) might need it. She was perfectly fine with all of this. She has no temperature. She is acting normally. My gut says she is perfectly fine.

But, until I see her urinate and know for sure, I cannot rest and therefore, neither will Sean. It is 10:30 pm as I write this. Sean is going to check on her again at midnight. We are hoping that he can catch her sleeping and rouse her to stand. We have noticed that all the goats tend to urinate after laying for any period of time. If Abigail urinates normally without attempting to do so repeatedly, we can chalk it up to her recent kidding. If Abigail continues to squat after urinating normally, she may have an UTI. If she is urinating with a slow flow or just dribbles, then we'll suspect UC. See? It's never boring or predictable. I mean, really, what else would you rather be doing on a Saturday night than sitting in the cold in a barn watching a goat, waiting for it to pee?

I only have this one new picture of the kids to share. I was so distracted with Momma's tail end that I did not capture any today. I did sneak some kid snuggles while in the barn. Sarah and Levi are doing great. I'll try to capture and post some more images of them for you soon. [Update: I have video and pictures of those kids at the bottom of this post. :) ]

Thanks for sharing the adventure today. It's nice to have the company.
~Sean & Sonja ♥

More information about:
*medications and their doses can be found at the Fias Co Farm webpage HERE.

*Urinary Calculi on the Onion Creek Ranch webpage HERE.


I didn't want to write an entirely new post with an update for you and make you all wait another day to find out the ending, so here it is...

Abigail is completely fine.

Sean went out to the barn at 2:30 am with the heat stone for the kids and to check and rouse Abigail. Just as we hoped, within about 10 minutes of getting up, Abigail needed to urinate. She had a perfectly normal stream. Sean waited another 10 minutes to make sure, but there was no more squatting without urination. Just as we suspected, Abigail was suffering from normal pressure after kidding. But, the only way to know for certain was to see her urinate again- even though that meant waiting in the barn for several hours keeping tail watch and setting alarms to get up in the middle of the night to catch her. Crazy, huh?

This is a perfect example of what we deal with on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. An animal will act out of their "normal" and it is alert time. Is there something wrong? Or, are they just being silly? Did we miss something? While we do not want to inject our animals with needless medication, we don't want to leave a potential problem untreated. Sometimes trouble comes in the "wait-and-see" variety; sometimes, it is a clear "Call in the Vet!" event. Especially in the wake of losing Ethan to pneumonia, I am living on the edge of Paranoia. My head knows this, but my heart isn't listening. I hope that someday soon I can venture into the barn without my heart racing in near panic until I know everyone is hail and healthy. Though, I hope that day comes soon, I know we cannot become complacent in our care. The more animals to care for, the more potential for things to go awry. I understand the limitations of being an imperfect mortal. That does not prevent me from taking it very personally when something terrible happens- whether or not I could have done anything to prevent the outcome. I know that you understand what I mean.

This time, there was nothing to worry about, thankfully. And, now that I know that is the case, I was able to relax and enjoy some time with those sweet kids...

Levi was curious about his first sighting of snow. Keren had little interest in playing in it, but she watched from the doorway before returning to hay eating. 

The rest of the herd is anxious to meet and greet the new additions. Rachel tried to catch a glimpse from two stalls away. 

It was a great day to open the door and allow the does some time in the yard- not that they ventured far. Abigail got as far as the bale of snow-covered hay intended for spreading in the goose and duck yard. Levi and Sarah nibbled on anything anew, which encompassed EVERYTHING they saw. Then, all at once the springs in their feet would ignite and in a hop-skip-jump, they launched into the air in a flurry of energy.

If watching that doesn't make you crack a smile, I give up!
They call this "snow". It looks questionable... 
I love that sweet, smiling face. ♥
The kids had a ball prancing around in the snow and bounding into the stall. The hardest part of taking pictures or video is that they are NEVER still!

An arm full of snuggles and softly snoring goat kids makes a visit complete and the cold worth it.

Thank you for joining us today for a visit. We love the company.

~Sean & Sonja ♥


  1. Such good news! I am happy Abigail and her babies are A O.K. and so stinkin' cute!

  2. Sweet pictures! They all made me smile. Nothing cuter than a baby goat :-)

    Oh, the hours I spend wondering if my animals are just being divas or actually ill! I did lose a goat to UC last year. A sweet little wether named Pumpkin. The vet said it was genetic, not dietary. Didn't make it any easier.