Skinny Goat Diet?
I recently acquired (was given) a 3.5 year old Saanen wether. I thought he might make a light-duty packgoat, but the problem is he is VERY skinny!

Shortly after I got the goat I took him to the vet hospital at WSU for a thorough check-up. Unfortunately, he tested positive for CAE and the vet said he shows some mild swelling due to arthritis in his front knees, for which the vet prescribed anti-inflammatory medication. However, other than that, and a mild parasite infestation (which was also treated) he seemed healthy and the vet attributed his skinniness to simple poor nutrition.

How skinny? Well, he's 35" tall and weighs 115 lbs. - a full 100 lbs less than another Saanen wether I have that is the same height.

My primary concern at this point what kind of diet I can put him on to help him put on weight as quickly as possible, as I don't know if he will be able to survive a cold winter with virtually no body fat. I'm not really worried about a diet that might increase his odds of bladder stone formation; at this point I think that's a secondary concern.

What do you guys recommend?
Dairy quality alfalfa. 20-24% protein. Add ammonium chloride to his loose mineral mix and if you feel the need can give him 1 1/2 table spoons over a small amount of grain every couple of weeks. This is how Legion gets so big.

A note about CAE. The knees are not inflamed. They are growing abnormal bone growth. The same way arthritis effects peoples knuckles. An inflammatory will work less and less. Also you can never use him as a packer. It would be the same asking someone with arthritis to use a keyboard all day or to do some kind of gripping. Once CAE starts to show it will get progressively worse. A few months of limping will turn into limping and holding the most severely effected front leg off the ground. Within a year to two the knee joint often fuses together. This will give the animal releaf from the pain of a moving joint, but making it much more difficult to lay down and stand. Also, if your other goat isnt CAE positive, you runs a risk of it becoming so if they are penned together. Especially if they like to butt heads. If a wound is opened up or a scur broken, transmission is highly likely.
Pack Goat Prospects For Sale.

S.E. Washington (Benton City)
So sorry your guy has clinical CAE. Maybe that's partly why he's so thin--he's not able to go down on his knees to eat and he's not comfortable lying down. Since there is no cure for CAE do you think it would be kinder to put him down?

Just to be clear, did the vet run a blood test for CAE, or did he just look at the knees and make a judgement on observation? I've had a couple of people tell me that because Cuzco was dam-raised and has arthritis in his toes that he must be CAE+. Well Cuzco is most certainly not CAE+, he's just old! I had a similar experience with a vet that declared Cuzco CL+ when he got a lump on his jaw last year. Turns out it was just a normal abscess from a bump, but the vet's first response was, "It's CL because all goats have CL".

Make sure you get a blood diagnosis and not one made by observation. There are other reasons for lameness. A friend of mine had a goat go severely lame last year because of copper deficiency. Unfortunately she did not catch it in time and had to put him down. Her goat suffered from the opposite problem yours does--he was severely obese, so getting up and down and walking around on those sore legs was out of the question.

As for putting on weight, I'm in the same boat you are right now with two Alpine does I just bought (although mine are not nearly as thin as your guy!). I've heard Calf Manna is good for putting on weight although I have not tried it myself. I've been feeding the girls alfalfa, starting with only one flake/day for the two of them to share and working up. I want to make sure they don't get diarrhea from too much green to fast. I've increased the ration every couple of days working up to two flakes/day apiece. They also get free choice grass hay, free choice minerals, and I've been cutting fresh oak branches for them every day (which they LOVE!). I'm going to add some pine branches as soon as I have time.

Good luck with your guy! I sincerely hope the vet was mistaken about the CAE+ diagnosis.
keep on top of parasitic infections. Did you also treat for tape worm? You might also want to check teeth.

BOSS is a good energy feed.

Winter: buy or make a coat. When I have underweight goats (does with triplets, etc.) when winter starts, I let them carry a coat do keep weight loss/shivering, etc. to a minimum.
Sabine from Germany
[Image: zoVgi.gif]

Thanks for the good advice everyone. To clarify a couple of questions that I was asked:

1. Yes, he was blood-tested positive for CAE. I am lucky to live just a few miles from the Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, which is where I took him to for treatment. They drew blood and took it to the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (WADDL) which is located in the next building over.

2. I was told by the vet that since he was an adult the chance of him spreading CAE to my other goats was almost nil, and it would be safe to pen them together.

3. I have been giving him alfalfa pellets since I live in an area where it's hard to get high-quality alfalfa in bales. There also seems to be less waste when feediing pellets.

4. I have provided him (and my other goats) with a mineral block as, again, there seems to be less waste than with loose minerals.

5. A goat coat to help keep him warm thru the winter is a good suggestion, but I'm afraid that Nano might be right about just putting him down rather than have him continue to suffer. If he's not going to get better - or even stay the same - it would be cruel to put him thru the hardships of a long, cold winter.

Thanks everyone,
Aw, that's too bad that he has clinical CAE. From what I understand, most goats who have it never show symptoms--they're just carriers. I'm so sorry that yours is one of the ones who is affected. I'm sure you'll make the best decision for him. I've heard that once a goat shows symptoms, the disease usually progresses fairly quickly and there's not much you can do to slow it down or maintain status quo. Poor fella. I'm sure you'll do the best you can by him, whether it's letting him live as long as he's able or ending his life before it takes a bad turn. I'm sorry you have to make that decision.
Nice that you live so close to WSU. Saves a bit on the fed ex bill Smile And to address your comments.

Your vet told you wrong. There is absolutely not difference of a goats chance to spread CAE depending upon its age. Either your vet has no real understanding of the disease OR just doesnt think goats are important enough to worry about. CAE is a retro virus and is in the same class as the AIDS virus in humans. There is never a time or age when it is any less dangerous. Its is mainly passed through blood and milk.

Alfalfa pellets, although better then most grass hays in terms of protein, still only has 16% and is a processed food. But goats need more then just a processed food, they need fresh greens for the vitamin E. Also how much are you feeding? Its hard to judge how much a goat needs of just pellets. Yes its less wasteful but your question wasnt about waste, it was about weight and how to put in on your goat. I did a little looking and you are surrounded by alfalfa. Might have to drive for an hour or so to get into better areas but a quick craigslist check brought up a large number of alfalfa sellers.

Mineral blocks, although better then nothing are not good for goats. They cant get enough outta the block fast enough to suit their higher metabolisms. They will often times grind down their teeth to the gums trying to get out the minerals in a block. Now you made mention its less wasteful. I dont understand this. There should be no waste what so ever. We put it in a lip pan in a dry place at about chest level so they can easily get at the loose mineral and never waste a grain of it.
Pack Goat Prospects For Sale.

S.E. Washington (Benton City)
Dave, thanks again for the feedback.

My vet didn't necessarily tell me wrong information. She said - as did you - that CAE is transferred through either milk or blood, and in her opinion the chances of adult goats having blood-to-blood contact were pretty small and didn't warrant keeping the goat quarantined from other goats.

We do, of course, have alfalfa here in the eastern part of WA were I live, but I haven't had good luck buying "quality" alfalfa from the sellers I've found so far. Most of it seems to have an unacceptable mix of grass and/or weeds. But your point is well taken and I'll keep looking for better stuff.

Mineral blocks: Another good point. In fact I'll be removing the blocks and putting them on loose minerals immediately.

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)