Goat Scours
Written by Administrator-GL   
Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Scours in Goats What to do About it

or known also as
"Poopy Drawers" in our house

There are many causes of scours in goats.. and keep in mind while scours need addressed as a medical problem; it is not a disease.. it is a SYMPTOM of a disease.. of something else going on in your goat.

So address the scours but do not forget to find out what is causing it - Scours is the body's way of ridding itself of bad things in the gut and while it is our first reaction to stop it.. there is a reason for letting the scours go ahead and remove the bacteria from the gut and intestine.

Any form of scours can bring a goat of any age down quickly, so what ever else you are doing one of the most important things you can do while treating the goat is to make sure it is getting the necessary electrolytes the body is losing during the scouring process.

Bacterial agents are more commonly associated in newborns through 4 weeks of age. Parasite related diarrhea are usually seen in goats 4-12 weeks of age. Non-infectious diarrhea (generally nutritionally related) are generally found in goats over 12 weeks of age.This is merely a guide for ages, it is flexible.

Here is a list of the common types of scours you will find.. this is ONLY a guide.. nothing is written in stone ..
(Make sure you have already ruled out wormload)
It is only meant to help you narrow it down quickly and then research from there.

I am also giving you a quick rundown on what most of these diseases are and how they are typically treated.. what the other symptoms are .. but use your own judgment.. and if one thing does not seem right then, read more about something else.. nothing is exact or textbook..

This list will give you a quick summary of what the scours may look like and the possible problem it could represent.. It gives you a place to start. There are other things that can cause scouring, but these are the most commonly seen.

*Dark, loose Feces, not quite scours-- Sometimes bloody, usually seen in well fed kids under 12 weeks old: It could be: Clostridium perfringens type D also called Enterotoxemia

*Black and tarry, yellow to greenish watery OR Grey foul smelling Scours-- Sometimes with blood or tissue- high fever accompanies. Babies to adults: It could be: Salmonellosis

*Bright Yellow profuse Scours-- Usually watery. In babies under a week old- no fever or sub normal temp: It could be:E Coli

*Watery or foamy; pasty, dark or bloody Scours-- Foul smell, looks as though contains unclotted blood and sometimes tissue and mucus. Effecting kids between 4 weeks and 5 months old with the highest incidence being between 4 & 7 weeks of age. : It could be: Coccidiosis

*Watery and yellowish Scours - With mucus or blood at times, low grade fever, caused by oocysts. Effects 1 to 4 week old kids usually (they are susceptible until they become functional ruminants): It could be:Cryptosporidiosis

*White or light yellow Scours--Acute. Sour odor, can look curdled. Usually affects newborns to 4 weeks old, but most commonly seen in babies younger than 2 weeks old. : Foul smell, looks as though it contains unclotted blood and sometimes tissue and mucus. Milk Scoursfrom too much milk or milk replacer.

*Pasty, gas bubbles-dark Scours- - Foul smelling with gas bubbles in it. Only goats over 18 months old.. It could be: Johnes Disease (Paratuberculosis)

*Bright green Scours-- Acid smell, watery to pasty. Too rich pasture or hay. Any age that eats hay or pasture. Feed Scours

Corresponding Disease or Disorder

A bacterial disease caused by clostridium perfringens and is a common and many times fatal disease of goats. This is an extremely fast generating organism, sometimes in as little as 8 minutes of digestion. Sudden changes in feed is one of the main causative reasons for outbreaks of enterotoxemia, however this is not a prerequisite for all enterotoxemia to occur. Abrupt weather changes can also create on onset of this disease.
There are 3 forms of this disease, they are; peracute, acute and chronic.
Peracute forms are mainly in kids many times showing no outward signs of disease. Finding one or more dead animals is usually the course of this type. Typically it is the more robust well fed kids that are affected. In kids eating solids, the signs would be sudden loss of appetite, fever of 105, arching of the back and extreme pain accompanied by screaming and kicking at the belly. Profuse watery diarrhea many times with shreds of mucus and blood. Death is within hours.
Acute form is similar but with less severity. Stool may start out pasty and then turn watery and profuse. Severe dehydration and acidosis will occur if not treated and clinical course will last 3-4 days. Spontaneous recoveries have occurred but most will die if not treated.
Chronic form is intermittent and is observed over the course of a few weeks. There is weight loss with bouts of pasty or loose feces and diarrheal episodes. This form is difficult to recognize because of the time it takes for clinical signs to show and the fact that it is intermittent.
C&D anti-toxin can be administered along with active treatment of electrolytes including bicarbonate, and the use of Banamine is useful for goats in toxemic shock, it also alleviates pain. Oral sulfa drugs have been useful in reducing bacteria in the gut. All carbohydrates should be eliminated from the diet.. (grain) and the remaining herd mates should be vaccinated with CDT or boostered.

This disease effects 3 age groups: 1 week old babies, kids at 2-8 weeks old and adults. Prognosis is grave to guarded in order of age, adults having the best prognosis. Young baby kids will have a black tarry sometimes stringy and blood streaked diarrhea. Newborns may die in the first 36 hours of life with little or no signs (there may be signs of depression). Occasionally gaseous stomach or pain in the gut or diarrhea may be seen. In older kids, the onset of depression and anorexia is sudden, followed by a profuse, watery foul smelling yellow to greenish-brown diarrhea. Fever as high as 107 may be present. Affected kids quickly get severely dehydrated, weak and go recumbant. Some may die within 8 hours of onset of diarrhea , most die within 24-48 hours. Fever usually subsides after 24 hours and becomes sub-normal as the baby becomes shocky begins to fail. Adult form is more sporadic, with less chance of morbidity. Adult goats become acutely depressed, anorexic and febrile developing a very watery, foul smelling greyish, or yellow green-brown diarrhea. Rapid dehydration and weakness develop and death can occur within 24-48 hours. The chronic form of the adult disease, has similar but milder symptoms. Recovery with recurrent diarrhea can bring the goat down slowly eventually causing anemia and emaciation.
For treatment, other causes of scours need to be ruled out first. Treatment should consist of rehydrating and correcting electrolyte imbalance, paying attention to potassium .. sodium bicarbonate and potassium can be supplemented to the electrolyte solution. Supplemental glucose is also very helpful. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be used (Banamine) for treatment of shock and alleivate pain. Water soluble sulfonamides and tetracyclines are most useful. Isolate affected goats and keep warm. This disease can be transmitted to humans, use caution and gloves when treating and wash hands after treatment and contact.

E Coli
The most common reason for scours in kids. Other symptoms include; sever depression, weakness, and dehydration. Confirmation of disease can be verified by culture of the bacteria. This is another problem of unclean surroundings. Overcrowding and unkempt pens are commonly the culprit. Treatment is aggressive. Replace fluids and electrolyte loss, kill the organism with antibiotics specifically for this organism, clean enviroment. Replace milk with electrolyte formula for 24 hours. Neomycin, tetracycline and sulfa drugs are common medications for treatment.

This is the second most common reason for scours in kids. This is a Parasite. All goats have coccidia in their bodies, it is only when they multiply in huge numbers that they become a health problem. Severe infection can cause death if not diagnosed and treated. Other symptoms include; depression, abdominal pain, anorexia, weight loss, rough coat, dehydration, death. Pneumonia can be a secondary disease if the goat is under severe stress. Most common reason for major outbreak is overcrowding and unclean areas. Oral /fecal transmission is the path this takes. Suspected cases should have a simple fecal test done specifically for coccidia oocyts(eggs). Coccidia is species specific. Treatment includes removal of affected goats from herd and cleanliness in yards and barns. Treatment with a coccidiostat, there are many out there , but Corid and Albon being the most common. Different medications have specific uses and concerns. **More information in Coccidiosis article.

This is a zoonotic disease, in other words, transmittable between species including humans. Baby kids typically are infected within the first week of life and are fairly resistant by 4 weeks of age. Other symptoms include, dehydration, anorexia, high morbidity (because of dehydration). Scouring can last up to 2 weeks and can be continual or intermittant. Other symptoms may include, depression, rough hair coat, inappetance, electrolyte imbalance, acidosis and death may occur. Spontaneous recovery may also occur. NO specific treatment exists, anti-coccidial drugs and antibiotics are not successful as a treatment. Improve hygiene, remove infected kids from others, clean pens daily with high water or steam pressure and allow to dry thoroughly before allowing goats to re-enter area. Fluid therapy is a must and because the scouring may last up to 2 weeks, milk withdrawal is not possible. Instead more frequent feedings, alternating milk with other fluids, (electrolytes and water) may help the gut avoid undigested lactose. This causes little or mild disease in adults and possible severe disease in children or immuno-supressed adults. Transmitted through fecal oral contact.

Milk Scours
Sometimes a newborn kid will scour from too much milk or from milk replacer..Depending on what the baby is eating is how I personally would look at this. If the baby is nursing from mama, I would watch the baby for a few hours to see if the scouring subsides. I would note to see if the sibling (if the baby has one) is also affected. It could just mean that one baby is a bogart for the food. Watch them nurse a few times. See if both babies are eating the same times and same amounts. Check mama for possible mastitis. Simple milk scours will go away within a day. If the baby is on replacer.. Please take the baby off completely.. I am not a big fan of kid replacers.. none of them. I feel strongly that they cause more problems than not. In either case you need to take the baby off milk for at least 12 hours and give it water with nutri-drench in it for vitamins and energy. The baby should adjust itself by this amount of time.. if not wait another 12 hours before giving it milk. (You will need to milk mama out during this time to keep her udder from becoming mastitic. Unless there is a sibling, in this case put the sibling on each teat for feedings to help mama keep her udder even and prevent any problems.)
Babies can and will grow well on whole milk if you cannot get goats milk. If you like, you can add cream to the milk for extra butterfat. (please be careful how much you add..1 TBSP per 8 oz milk is plenty for a dairy/pygmy kid. I would be very careful trying to add cream to an angora baby bottle. I would also add 2 tsps of Nutri-drench to each bottle. A baby is a monogastric animal.. working on a single stomach, so there is no use or need to try to add bacteria for the rumen by adding buttermilk.

Johnes Disease (Paratuberculosis)
This is an infectious, contagious disease that affects mostly the digestive tract. The bacteria that causes this disease (Mycobacterium paratuberculosis), localizes in the intestinal wall, which in turn disrupts the digestion and absorption of nutrients because of thicken intestinal walls. This leads to chronic progressive weight loss with eventual debilitation and death of the goat. There has not been a reported case of this disease affecting a goat under the age of 14 months.. It is a very slow developing disease. This disease is usually thought to be commonly detected between the ages of 3 and 5 years old, even though the goat would have been exposed as a young kid. Unfortunately, by the time you see symptoms, there has been many months even years for the disease to have been present in your herd and spread to other goats. The bacteria lives in the soil for years. Goats that are perpetually thin and have been wormed and fecals are clear, have no coccidiosis, are on good diets, and yet lose weight should be possibly tested for Johnes. There is no known cure. There are however goats who are carriers, and show no signs of the disease. This disease is transmitted through fecal - oral contact. Raised feeders and clean goat areas will help not transfer the disease, should it be in your herd. There are 2 tests available for detecting Johnes, although neither is 100% accurate. The AGID test if performed during the shedding process, can give fairly accurate results. Diarrhea is usually only present in the final stages of the disease.

Feed Scours
Caused by too much rich hay or pasture and is usually green to bright green.. if you have just started putting the goats out to pasture in the Spring.. if the pasture is extra rich from a good rain, or if the hay is especially rich; all of these things can scour a goat. Keep a close eye on the goats, I would give them thiamine or in the very least vitamin B complex. If you have not vaccinated for CDT, now would be a good time to make sure you have the C&D ANTI toxin on hand , offer baking soda free choice to make sure they do not bloat and watch for enterotoxemia. Keep in mind also that it may be a poisonous plant in your pasture.

Goat Scours-

What to do About it to Avoid Dehydration

When you first discover scouring you will need to determine the cause and this may take some doing.. unless you take each case to the vet for a series of testing.. you should know the symptoms and assessment value of each clinical sign:
Here is a simple outline of how to determine the cause (or at least rule out others):
Is this one goat or many in your herd?
* What age is the goat?
* If a kid- is it weaned or not?
* Is this acute or chronic? (acute comes on sudden; chronic is ongoing)
Look at the feed:
* What is the basic diet?
* Have there been changes in ANY of the feed (including new shipments to the same source)?
* Is there a change in concentration of feed?
* Are there mineral deficiencies?
Unweaned Kids
* Bottle baby or nursing?
* Milk or replacer?
* Feeding schedule or free choice?
* Concentration of milk/replacer and temperature of formula.
* How many people are feeding the same baby?
* Group (open)housing or individual stall?
* Floor clean, slatted for litter drop out or deep in litter?
* All young goats or mixed ages?
*Dry lot fed? (all hand fed in goatyards-no pasture available
* Pastured free choice?
* Pasture and hay/grain fed?
Toxic plant access?
Medications given for prevention
Clinical Exam
*Is the goat thin, have bottle jaw, anemia, mastits?
*How is the appetite?
*What does the feces/urine look like?
*Is there any signs of pain? Where?
*Is the goat dehydrated?
Lab Testing
*Of course taking the animal to be seen by the vet is the best choice.
If that is not possible..
*Fecal sample-fresh
*Urine sample-midstream-fresh
*Blood sample -if you are able to take it, if yu have the correct sample tube.
*Be complete with your treatment, keep a log of when and what you do.
*Restrict food intake, especially concentrated feeds (ie:grains)
*Unweaned kids can be taken off milk for 24 hours, beyond that milk needs
to be gradually added back into the diet, alternating with water and electrolytes.
*Take unweaned kids off replacers and use milk instead, following above directions.
*Complete all medications until finished , even if symptoms decrease.
*Once anti-biotic treatment in complete, re-establish microbes in the gut using probiotics.

A simplified way to tell how dehydrated the kid is, based on body weight:

Dehydration Percentage Chart

The correct amount of fluid replacement is the amount of fluid loss due to dehydration plus 10% of the body weight: Example: a 10 pound kid at a 10% fluid loss would require 500 mls of fluid to replace the fluids lost, Plus an additional 10% of it's weight in fluids required as a normal daily amount. This example kid would require a liter of fluids for the day.

If you cannot get to a feed store and get electrolytes .. Here are 3 formulas you can use in the meantime..

*NOTE: Boil water for 10 minutes before use in formulas.

Homemade Electrolyte Formula #1
1 package canning pectin
2 tsp low sodium salt (half potassium/half sodium) NOTE:"NO-Salt" is potassium, so if you have that use 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp NoSalt
2 tsp baking soda
1 beef bouillon cube dissolved in 200mls (approx 6.5oz)water
Add water until you have 2.5 liters of solution. Give this formula according to goat's weight and percentage of fluid loss. Give only this the first 24 hours, following day , give (total fluids) half formula and half milk during the day, (not necessarily mixed in bottle), next day (total fluids) give 1/4 formula and 3/4 milk for the day and the following day, if no symptoms of scours persist, give full milk for the day.

Homemade Electrolyte Formula #2
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4oz white corn syrup
Add water to make 4.5 liters
Use same usage formula above..starting with full formula and ending with milk on 4th day.

Homemade Electrolyte Formula #3
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1TBSP molasses
1/2oz strong coffee
Add 2.5 liters water to this and give once again in the feeding formula above ending with milk on day 4.

*NOTE:If you have 50% dextrose solution on hand I would also add 30-60ccs per total amount of solution.
*NOTE:If you have Nutri-drench on hand I would add 30ccs to total amount of solution made.
*NOTE:If you live in an area that grows coconuts, the water from a green coconut can be used as sterile fluid for replacement purpose.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 30 March 2009 )