LONG PRAIRIE, Minn. – Dr. Maggie Wehseler spoke to a crowded room Nov. 15 about her perspective on goat health as a veterinarian. The presentation was part of the Todd County Area Goat workshop, hosted by the University of Minnesota for producers interested in learning about goat nutrition, production and reproduction.
    She first established the understanding of a VCPR, which she recommends for every farm.
    “A veterinarian-client-patient-relationship is essential for proper care for your animals, and is basically just a relationship with your vet,” Wehseler said. “In a nutshell, your vet needs to know your animals and facility in order for you to use and purchase prescription drugs.”
    The five most common reasons Wehseler visits goat farms are parasites, reproduction and pregnancy diagnosis, common ailments and dystocia.
    One of the most common parasites she sees is Haemonchus contortus, also known as the barber pole worm because of its spiral shape. It causes anemia and death in goats. While some may think scheduled deworming is the way to go, Wehseler warns against the practice.
    “Scheduled deworming is outdated and leads to parasite resistance and dewormer lack of efficacy,” she said.
    Instead, she opts for FAMACHA, an anemia scoring system used to determine the need to deworm.
    “If your goats are on pasture, this is going to be one of the biggest issues you will deal with,” Wehseler said. “Utilize your veterinarian.”
    Concerning reproduction, she said there are synchronization protocols available to cycle goats out of season.
    “Reproduction drugs are prescription drugs, and you must have a VCPR in place to purchase,” Wehseler said.
    For pregnancy diagnosis, ultrasound scanning is her preferred method for cost effectiveness and valuable results.
    “First of all, it tells you she’s pregnant as long as it’s 30 days past breeding,” she said. “We get an idea of how many kids are in there so we can tailor our nutrition program as needed to prevent pregnancy toxemia. This will also tell you when the kids are due.”
    Common ailments in goats, both kids and adults, are diarrhea and pneumonia. While diarrhea is common in milk fed and recently weaned kids, pneumonia is often due to stress, weather, stocking density and poor ventilation.
    “E. coli and crypto are most common causes of diarrhea in milk-fed kids, so colostrum is extremely important in the first five days,” Wehseler said. “Coccidia is more common in recently weaned kids that are commingled with different ages. Even a month can make a big difference when they’re that young.”
    When it comes to pneumonia, they typically try to manage their way out of it.
    “Sometimes over the counter drugs work if the disease is caught early,” she said. “But if it doesn’t work or it comes back I recommend Naxcel for milking goats.”
    Dystocia, or difficult kidding, is another issue for goats.
    “Goats should not be in labor for days,” she said. “Sometimes you don’t know if she’s in labor or not, but watch for the signs. I recommend calling the vet and being gentle when untangling kids.”
    Overall, she urges farmers to engage veterinarians in the discussion and not to try to do it all alone.
    “Have a conversation with your veterinarians,” Wehseler said. “That’s what we’re here for – to help you. We do this because we love it.”