Author Topic: Goat - Anxiety Disorder?  (Read 4687 times)

Offline Ariel301

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Goat - Anxiety Disorder?
« on: June 03, 2009, 09:11:58 PM »
Hello everyone, I am new here. I just found this website today, and am excited to see what I can learn from it about dairy animals and cheesemaking.

I have a problem with one of my goats and I thought maybe someone here would have an idea. We have several dairy goats, mostly LaMancha. The problem is with our youngest milker, Ebony, who is two years old. We purchased her about two months ago. She seems to have an anxiety disorder; she screams like a wounded elephant nearly all the time--she can be heard over a mile down the street! She is being kept in a large pen with the other goats and a horse. One of the other does bullies her, but she has room to get away from her. She has twin kids (her second set of kids). She keeps the kids penned in a corner when they are in with her, and won't let them play. If they get out of her sight, she begins the screaming. If one of the other goats or our horse is taken out of her sight, she panics and screams and throws herself at the fences. (even though she still has other goats with her) If someone walks past the pen, she screams. If I tie her up or milk her, she screams and jumps around and kicks. She was being machine milked before we got her. She will stand if I hobble her back legs together--that actually seems to calm her for some reason. We joke that she has a learning disability because she just doesn't seem to learn anything when I spend time training her, while the other goats catch on quick. She won't learn how to be tied, led on a rope, get in a trailer, or stand nicely for milking. It only took a few days to teach the other goats all that. Her babies are nearly ready to wean, so we have been putting them in their own pen for a few hours at a time to gradually get them independent of mom, but Ebony goes crazy and screams and won't stop, which stresses the babies. The kids that aren't hers don't mind being in the baby pen, but hers have a hard time because of her behavior. We've been doing the separation routine at the same time every day for over two weeks and she won't settle down. She is very friendly, so it's not an issue of being untame. She's also healthy; we had a vet see her, but the vets here don't know a lot about goat behavior. She is getting plenty to eat, so she isn't hungry. Her screaming is driving us crazy and annoying the neighbors. Does anyone know what to do? We don't want to sell her because that won't really fix the problem, it will just leave someone else with a problem goat. Could her lack of ability to learn be a result of being brain damaged when she was disbudded as a kid? (It looks like they did a bad job; the whole top of her head is scarred up and she has bits of horn still left.) We don't know much about her history; we bought her from a dairy farm that was thinning out its herd. She was bred by that farm, so we are her second owners. The other goats we got with her are normal.

Thanks for any help that anyone can offer!


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Offline goat lady

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Re: Goat - Anxiety Disorder?
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2009, 06:19:15 AM »
hi there

very interesting goat.I have not had that problem but I do have a few that act like toddlers.Since you know she is healthy and eating well it might be as simple as a goat temper tantrum. Since goats all have their own personality's it sounds like this one may have found that the screaming gets her what she wants.

Offline Wayne Harris

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Re: Goat - Anxiety Disorder?
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2009, 08:02:14 AM »
I might suggest that a reasoned soft approach might be best.  One that involves calm auditory tones, getting down to its level,  perhaps some soft music and muted lighting. Set an atmosphere that is conducive to the exchange of information in a nonjudgmental format. 

Spend some time getting on it's level, try to understand its needs and just commune with your goat.

All the while munching on a goat sandwich on rye.

I think it will get the point.

:)

Wayne A. Harris - in vino veritas

Offline jillyphish

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Re: Goat - Anxiety Disorder?
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2009, 11:19:51 AM »
Wayne - you and I are thinking along the same lines...  I was chuckling about posting cabrito recipes next, but decided that might be cruel.  Since you went down the goat sandwich route, I'm following you.

In all seriousness, I know nothing about goats - and was only being a smart alec...

Good luck Ariel! 

Offline Ariel301

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Re: Goat - Anxiety Disorder?
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2009, 05:22:44 PM »
Hahaha my husband jokes that we should eat her too. She's a funny one...Hopefully she will calm down.


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Offline H.A.M.

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Re: Goat - Anxiety Disorder?
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2009, 10:10:54 PM »
Do you have any dairy goat forums to ask questions in? Here are two...
dairygoatinfo .com
dairygoatforum .com
I have seen goats with brain damage and some of them are nervous wrecks along with other twitches and shakes, but this gal sounds like she takes the prize.  I'm so sorry. Sounds like you have given her time and done what is possible to work this out of her.
Though you never know what might happen as I have seen some annoying goats turn into sweethearts in a new herd.
 For us we would probably be making space in the freezer. We take the responsibility here of both protecting them from natural consequences and then doing the dirty work of culling out the herd. I treat them with dignity,and a good life, and in return they have to be respectable, hard working goats.

Offline Ariel301

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Re: Goat - Anxiety Disorder?
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2009, 11:05:03 PM »
Thanks, I will check out those forums. It's hard to find anyone around here who knows a thing about goats. We had to drive 14 hours across three states just to get ours!

The more I watch Ebony, the more I think she has been brain damaged. It's very sad, because she has a lot of potential as a dairy and show goat. We have chosen to not disbud any of our kids because of the risk of damage and death. We have a friend who has dairy sheep and some Nubian goats, and last year she lost all her babies when an experienced person disbudded them for her. We don't have any issues with our young horned goats, and that includes two bucks. They are very careful around people and other animals; we can even let our young nieces and nephews handle them.

I hate to turn a beautiful, affectionate, registered goat into goat steaks, but if she doesn't straighten up, it may have to be that way. We don't have a problem with eating them in general, but it seems like a waste of such a good animal. But, I'm afraid the neighbors will get so fed up that the county will make us get rid of the animals, and we're not getting much sleep with all the noise. I'll do some more research and give her more opportunity first though.

I did realize that her behavior got worse after she kidded, so maybe once we get the kids away from her she might settle down some. I can tell that her kids are more nervous, more dependent on their mom, and cry more than the other kids, and I am sure it's because of the way their mother behaves. So if we do keep her, we may have to take all her kids and bottle raise them so they don't learn her habits or aggravate her nervous issues.

Offline Captain Caprine

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Re: Goat - Anxiety Disorder?
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2009, 11:05:25 AM »
Hi Ariel,

A couple of questions for you...
How long ago did she kid?
Did she kid at your place or at the dairy?
How long have you had her?
Are all your goats from the same dairy?
If she kidded at you place how much different was her behavior before she dropped?
You have to remember that she is a big bag of hormones right now and you have taken her away from her home.  As for buying goats from a dairy that is "thinning it's herd"  you have to remember a dairy is a business and they are not looking to sell animals that are their highest producers and easiest to handle.  My first goat was a Tog named Tryptophan who had two 6 wk old does at her side when I bought her.  She was being "thinned".  We found out when we got her home that she is the biggest pain in the butt/aggressive goat I have ever seen.  She has beat up on every new goat I bring in but has been an excellent mother and herd boss.  She always accepts new kids born here but will bully any new goat brought in from the outside.  We have a new Nubian that is crying constantly and being ostracized by the entire herd but after 3 wks things are starting to quiet down and in another month all will be normal.  Keep the faith and things will most likely settle down in time.
CC

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Offline Ariel301

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Re: Goat - Anxiety Disorder?
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2009, 01:55:20 PM »
Captain Caprine,
Ebony kidded about two months ago, just a few days after we brought her home. All the goats we have right now came from the same farm, and I assume they all knew each other beforehand. She screamed before she kidded too, but it has gotten worse since. In the beginning, we attributed it to her being pregnant and uncomfortable.

She is very overprotective of her kids. They have a dog-house style shelter to go in, and she pushes them in there and stands in front of the door so they can't go anywhere. She hardly nurses them now, but she won't let them get independent at all. If they try to play and get more than a couple of feet from her, she begins screaming. The longer they stay away, the more frantic she gets. It's not such a big deal about the buck kid, because we're planning to butcher him this fall anyway, but the doe kid is becoming very nervous and hard to work with because of the way her mother goes crazy. It is difficult to catch or handle little Bonnie because her mother screams the whole time and makes her think something is wrong. When we put the kids in another pen for a while, the others happily munch on hay or play, but Ebony's babies stand at the gate crying and shivering because their mother is acting like something bad is happening. None of our goats were allowed to raise their babies before we got them. The others took to it naturally, but Ebony is a mess.

The farm was 'thinning' because the owner's husband ran off and left her, so she was selling off the LaManchas, which were his breed. She didn't like them (the ears, I think) and wanted to go to Alpines only. She did surprise us by giving us a young Alpine buck for free when we picked up the others. She and I have been acquaintances for a while; I used to live near her. The goats we got are definitely not culls; even though some of them are older, they are all well conformed, nicely behaved, and good producers. Two of them have been shown very successfully. The only problem we have is with Ebony.

Offline H.A.M.

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Re: Goat - Anxiety Disorder?
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2009, 02:42:24 PM »
I forgot to say earlier that the brain damage- if that is the problem- may not be from disbudding. Especially if she is growing out scurs it indicates the heat didn't even make it all the way to the horn root and isn't likely to have gone deep enough to affect the brain.
It can happen at disbudding, but more often it happens at birth, with a labor that is not managed well...slow labor from nutritional deficiences or malpositioned kids that end up depriving one or more of the kids of oxygen for too long...


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Offline Captain Caprine

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Re: Goat - Anxiety Disorder?
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2009, 12:38:00 PM »
Hi Ariel,
Have you asked the previous owner what she was like at her old ranch?  She may be able to give you some history.  I would suggest trying two things.  First I would try removing the other doe that bullies her for a day or so to see if that is stressing her.  Even if she has room to escape in the pen this can be very stressful.  How big is the pen you have the goats in and how many do you have in it?  Secondly if you can try separating her with all of your kids and away from the others it might help.  Putting her in an environment where a hierarchy has yet to be established may remove some stress.  If none of this works you have to think about the your herd and what genetics you want to propagate.  I would not breed her again and I would give serious thought before I breed her doe.
Good luck and let us know how it is going
CC
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Offline Ariel301

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Re: Goat - Anxiety Disorder?
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2009, 10:14:49 PM »
Well, not much improvement so far, but we're at least learning to manage. If nothing else, I have a great alarm clock in the morning, as she starts at about sunrise....

My husband came up with a great idea for reconstructing our pens to make four interconnecting pens where they can all be together or we can separate them into compartments as we choose. I think it may work, with Ebony and the horse in one pen (They adore each other), the other does in one, the kids in one, and the buck in his own pen when he gets old enough to be moved from the kid pen. That way they're all together but we can get the little ones weaned and minimize bullying or isolation. So we will see how it works, when we get time to set it up.

The owner of the dairy we got Ebony from doesn't know if she was like that before. She had so many goats (she was milking 90 does when I last checked!) she didn't spend a lot of one on one time with any of them; and it was so noisy she wouldn't know if one particular goat was abnormally noisy. That's the problem with a huge farm, I guess.

Other than her personality issue she seems to have great genetics--a very nice udder, lots of milk, and beautiful conformation, and her kids seem to be very good so far, except for their mom making them skittish with her crying. So if we try breeding her again, we may take the kids to be bottle-babies and minimize stress on Ebony that way. (She's a way overprotective mom)

We have tried putting her in the kid pen, but then she starts crying again, because she prefers to be in with the bully goat and the horse. (I thought about putting the horse in the kid pen too, but it has a roof over most of it, with not enough head clearance for a horse to be comfortable)

Offline goatherdess

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Re: Goat - Anxiety Disorder?
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2009, 10:21:10 PM »
Hi Ariel,

These symptoms sound very familiar! We had a big Nubian doe that got thiamine deficiency (goat polio) and was in seizures before the vet could arrive. She recovered, but was almost blind and slightly hard of hearing for the rest of her life because of the brain swelling during her illness and giving her neurological problems.  She could only see about 15 feet, directly in front and nothing AT ALL at night. We had to leave the barn light on at night for weeks. The vet said there was nothing wrong with her eyes that he could see - but we learned from watching her over the years that we owned her how truly blind she was. It wasn't obvious at first, because she could still walk around. She jumped at things that moved just out of her sight. She PANICKED if her babies got more than 15 feet away from her - as far as she was concerned they just 'disappeared' into the mist. And she fought the milking thing until we just gave up and let her raise her own babies. Hobbles didn't work for us.  The leading thing came eventually - she needed a hand on the withers and to lean on the person leading her though.

The solution: the doe learned every nook and cranny of our farm and eventually learned how to navigate the whole place on her own. Our oldest doe also took her in hand and stayed literally by her side for the rest of her life.  This older doe let her know that everything was alright by being calm herself. After the 2nd set of babies born after she was blind, she learned that the other doe would alert her to anything amiss with the babies too and became a calmer mother - although she still sometimes 'misplaced' them when they were only 20 feet from her in broad daylight. She also needed a lot more verbal encouragement than other does around the barnyard - it helped her know where we were and that way we didn't startle her by suddenly appearing from nowhere.

If your Ebony has a neurological visual problem then a 'shadow' walking by the fence is scary. The babies get 'lost' all the time. The other doe comes out of nowhere to suddenly bash her before she can see it coming and defend herself. And herd members  who are too far away are lost too. The new place is unfamiliar and hard to learn if she can't see the surroundings. And you will have to be 'trustworthy enough' to her not to lead her off a 'scary cliff' before she will let you lead her.

Try this - take her and the babies to a quiet place and pick up the kids right in front of her. If that's OK, then try slowly walking backwards away from her. If you get a few feet away and get 'lost' - she will panic and noticeably start looking all around. If it’s a visual problem, that's what will happen. Also check her at night and see if she can locate some grain placed near her, or if she's rooted to the ground. If so consider putting a bell on the bully goat so she can hear her coming, and try to find her a sympathetic  set of four legged eyes.



Offline lambofgoth

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Re: Goat - Anxiety Disorder?
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2009, 06:54:56 AM »
Sounds like we all know the reason she was "thinned" (culled).  I have a couple of thoughts but unfortunately they aren't terribly helpful at this point.

I suppose it's possible to lose kids to bad disbuddings but more likely through infection.  You should not be able to get anywhere near the brain when you disbud - plain and simple.  I'm more inclined to say that she's badly disbudded because her crazy behavior has been with her since day one (or maybe day 3-4 when they disbudded her).

More importantly, from my own experience, I would never let her raise her own kids.  She could very easily pass that crazy behavior on to her kids.  If you decide to keep her and put up with her shenanigans, pull those babies the moment they hit the ground so they don't learn her craziness.  Bottle feed them (or use a feeder) for two reasons - one for much tamer kids (that will ultimately be a snap to milk) and two for CAE prevention. 

If she were my goat and her behavior endangers herself and the other animals in her paddock, I would cull her.  If after two months she doesn't calm down somewhat, I don't think the prospects are great.  Looks like the previous dairy tried for two years and gave up.

I'm not sure why the need to drive across three states to get her.  Were you set on LaManchas or this particular doe?  I am certain you can find something closer... We raise Oberhasli, which are hard to find, and we don't need to go that far...

Offline Ariel301

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Re: Goat - Anxiety Disorder?
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2009, 09:58:52 PM »
Lamb,
She was being sold by the dairy, along with all the LaManchas it owned, because the owners were divorcing and the wife got the herd and didn't like LaManchas. They were her husband's breed and she wanted only Alpines. The owner was an acqaintance of mine, I used to live near her farm. We had to drive so far because there are no good goats available where we live (we know one other person with a goat, and it's not a very good dairy goat, though they do milk it, it just doesn't make much. All the goats we found for sale in the state were either way out of our budget or not dairy goats. I found out this lady I knew was selling off part of her her; she offered me a great deal on them; so we combined it into a trip to see my parents and get the goats as they were in the same town. I didn't actually care for LaManchas before we got them, but now I'm attached. We didn't even choose our does until we arrived at the farm to pick them up, so there was no attachment to a particular animal. Just a good deal and available at the time we needed them.

We have never disbudded our own kids, but I know disbudding done improperly will cause brain damage and death. I was an animal science major in college, so it was an issue we had to learn. If the iron is left on too long, it overheats the cranial cavity, so it more or less cooks the brain. Most die within a couple of weeks if this happens. Infection of the burned site is also a concern; but this obviously would not cause brain damage unless severe and left untreated so that it made its way into the skull.

We leave the kids with their mothers because we believe it is inhumane to separate them. We know of others who do the same. The kids are 'imprint' trained at birth (a practice I learned from raising and training horses); and handled daily by the whole family and guests from day one. We currently have a bottle raised orphan kid, and the mother raised kids are just as friendly. We feel that our animals should live in a way as close as we can get to what is natural for them.