Kid Care

After a 5 month gestation, moms may give birth to one, two (most common) or three kids (very rarely 4). Large babies, many babies and the ensuing long labor can take a toll on mom (the doe). Sometimes she may be too weak to stand and will need post-partum help recovering — a whole other article. Does may select only one newborn and kick away others — you must be very vigilant that mom licks dry each baby and stands still to let them nurse. If she ostracizes one or more babies for very long, it is really tough to get her to accept them. You either have to foster them onto another doe that is more accepting, or raise a bottle baby. This may be the most critical decision you face in the first 48 hours of life.

After that, common husbandry — warmth, dry bedding, no drafts, no predators, etc. are key for does and babies to be comfortable and thrive.

In the first three days any diarrhea can be fatal if prolonged or untreated. Clostridium and E.coli are bad news day one to three. Coccidia from muddy udders can cause bloody diarrhea as early as day 5 to 7. Talk to a veterinarian or bring a stool sample in to get an accurate diagnosis to treat diarrhea before giving shots, pills or liquid meds.

Respiratory problems also surface early in life. Kids can suffer from aspiration pneumonia during the birth process if placental fluids get into their lungs. Cold or damp weather hampers healthy lungs also. Quick treatment with antibiotics is necessary if you notice snotty noses, coughs, or any labored breathing or lethargy.

budding horn before procedure – red arrow points to it

Once they pass the one week milestone — they usually are on their way to a healthy and happy life. The next issue is disbudding. A wide varying number of opinions exist, and all want to be right. In my experience, I would rather disbud a one or two week old kid when it is very easy and quick healing — than fix a wreck later on. Animals will use horns for defense AND offense: that will never change. We try to domesticate them, but their instinct and equipment still take over. To successfully disbud a 1 to 3 week old kid, I use a hot cautery iron placed over the horn bud for 8 to 10 seconds to cauterize the cornual artery and nerve. The horn then has no nerve or blood supply to grow — and is gone. Pain medication post op is provided. Tetanus antitoxin is a must due to the sensitivity of goats to Clostridium tetani. Disbudding will save many animals from getting caught in fences and strangulating, and many fences will not have to be cut and patched up. Also you are safe to walk into a pen without getting butted or gored by juvenile or adult goats.

Nutrition: moms’ milk is by far the best choice for 2 to 3 months. Second choice is another goat’s milk. Third is a quality GOAT milk replacer that has at least 4.5% fat. Whole milk from cows from the grocery store has reduced fat (down to 2%) and provides only half the fat needed.

Next goat starter pellets with vitamins and free choice GOAT mineral works well at weaning. Most kids will be grazing next to mom before weaning and ready to eat grass at three weeks old. Grass in Iowa has all the needed mineral for goats to survive and thrive.

Watch for anemia — worms are a huge problem in goat herds. The FORMANCHA test determines anemia by degree of color in membranes of the lower eyelid. Soon you can be an expert in finding an anemic animal — before they become weak, lethargic, and anorexic. All dewormers will work — rotating between the benzamidazoles, ivermectins, and moxidectins will eliminate resistance problems. Injectable or oral is a personal choice. It is recommended to have stool samples analyzed for # and type of parasite in a herd. It often amazes me how many parasites can live inside an animal without any outward evidence. Some herds are dewormed monthly, some 3 to 4 times a year, and some do not need any — no one rule fits every farm.

Exercise: Goats are nimble climbers by ancestry — and love as many climbing challenges in a pen as your imagination can build. Asphalt shingles on steep surfaces provide grip and keep hooves wore down. Without wear, goat hooves should be trimmed every three months to prevent curling over and possibly trapping wetness in the sole. Hoof rot can be a big problem in herds without proper hoof care.

Health care: Castration is recommended as soon as a week of age if a kid is healthy and nursing well. Knife castration is very quick and easy, or bands placed above both testicles with a tetanus antitoxin is effective also. Vaccination to prevent overeating (Clostridium C and D) and tetanus is recommended at 3 weeks of age with deworming if necessary. A booster 2 to 4 weeks pater ensure solid protection.

Goats thrive everywhere in Iowa. They are hardy and thrifty and provide a profitable business, as well as a lot of crazy entertainment for the owners. Good luck and have fun!

Do You Know Cattle?

May is Beef Month across the nation so Dr. Jim Pottebaum is the guest blogger this month with information about Cattle. At Winterset Veterinary Center he sees both hobby farm and beef producer’s cattle. We hope you enjoy this article and support our local beef producers by eating Beef.

That hamburger or steak that you’re enjoying came from a commercial cattle farm or ranch near you. But there’s more to the story. Cattle originally were three separate species: Bos Taurus (cattle), Bos Indicus (Zebu) and extinct Bos primigenius (Aurochs). Now there are nearly 200 breeds registered around the world. Cattle tend to interbreed—yaks, gaurs, bison-beefalo, are examples. The largest bull recorded weighed 3840# in 1955, a steer was 4720# in 1910. Cattle in India are revered and respected and processing them is forbidden.

Iowa ranks 7th in the US for cattle numbers—3.65 million head (Texas and Nebraska lead), and adds $6.8 billion to Iowa’s economy and provides 28,590 jobs in the industry. The most popular dairy cattle are Holstein, producing 75 to 100# of milk per day. The most popular beef breed is an Angus cross which is very well suited to pasture grazing in Iowa.

The Madison County Cattlemen is a strong group of producers here that promote beef, volunteer at many events, help provide free entrance to the County Fair, and give out many many scholarships to youth in the county.

When the entire DNA genome was mapped in 2009, the industry could focus on improving traits for best practices—more milk, more tender beef, more efficiency, etc. Very specific traits can be improved through AI (artificial insemination) and embryo transfer.

With the increases in acreage properties, the Low Line and somewhat exotic breeds have become favorable. These animals have become more of “production pets” than ever before. Australia developed this breed, and has been adopted in the US since 1997. Average commercial beef calves weigh 75 to 80# at birth, the lowline breed average 42-50#. Mature cows are 39 inches tall and weigh 800#. They have a quiet temperament, easy to raise, extremely efficient, and produce high quality meat. They average 30% larger ribeye area per hundredweight than any other breed with excellent marbelling.

The appeal to people in the country with a few acres is that they are an affordable project for kids while grazing extra acres and ties families to farming as their grandparents or parents did. Cattle production has advanced in huge amounts over the years, and the best is yet to come.

When you enjoy a tasty steak or grill burgers, thank an Iowa farmer!

Happy Holidays from Winterset Veterinary Center

To all of our valued customers, the staff at the Winterset Veterinary Center wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Blessed New Year. Customers like you are the reason that we have a business, and we strive to work hard to earn your trust, keep your trust, and provide the best medical care for your animals. From our families to yours, wishing you all the best!

History of Veterinary Medicine and the Winterset Vet Center

Often I am invited to schools to talk at Career Day about Veterinary Medicine. I enjoy the history and stories of the past before I launch into modern day medicine. I love to tell that the first veterinary school in the USA was Iowa State University, founded in 1878. It was a two year curriculum and was FREE. Now there are 29 vet schools, and a degree takes three to four years of undergrad, four years of grad school, and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I present an old leather doctor’s bag that holds glass syringes and books from the 1800’s that only contain 30 pages of all known diseases and treatments, like “sprain or cough or spavin”. The treatments or remedies (germ killer or tonics) include turpentine, belladonna, sassafras, Cayenne pepper, alcohol (liberal amounts), cocaine, and opium. How times have changed! Remember that aspirin was invented in the 1920’s, and sulfa — the first antibiotic — in 1932, and penicillin in 1943. The first four “girls” graduated as veterinarians in 1915 in Chicago. Now, female veterinarians outnumber men since 2009.

Curiously, a company called Scarless Gall Remedy Products Co. of Winterset, Iowa, produced and sold a salve that reportedly healed saddle or collar galls without any scar on horses in the first years of the 1900’s. It gained notoriety as the first class action lawsuit of false claims ever tried in Iowa courts. They never payed out any claims, instead closed down and re-opened as “Starless” Gall Salve Co.

Human research — tried on animals — has yielded breakthrough protocols for human medicine, and then have been easily adapted back into vet medicine. Now, modern veterinary medicine has a huge list of vaccines, antibiotics, and chemotherapies.

Serum chemistry to analyze blood is done in-house. Digital radiology, ultrasound, EKG, endoscopy, acupuncture, laser therapy, and chiropractic are tools that veterinarians use. Board certified specialists are nearly as common as general practitioners.

My favorite invention was the cell phone. No longer was I stuck at home to take emergency calls. I actually could have a life and sit in the bleachers at my kids’ school events, or go to a friend’s house. Now the cell phone instantly tells me directions to the farm, accesses records and all internet formulas, shares pictures of cases, etc. I also really appreciate the RFID pet microchip. Its national database reunites scores of lost pets with their owners.

Winterset Veterinary Center was started in 1983 by Dr. Ken Henrichsen, who retired in 2007. I joined him in 1988, almost 30 years ago! Dr. Lonna joined me ten years ago. Time flies!!

The future will hold even more inventions—sometimes hard to keep up with changing technology. I tell students on career day to study classes in STEM, reading comprehension, and computer ed. But the biggest asset for being a good or great veterinarian is the ability to listen and care. Can’t teach that, but it leads to a very satisfying career!