Trying to Understand a Sudden Death

Discussion in 'Dairy Goat Info' started by Tricia, Jun 5, 2008.

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  1. Tricia

    Tricia New Member

    Last week, my 5yo doe Kay died and in great pain.

    Prior to two weeks ago, Kay has had no known health problems -- just annual CD/T and rabies vaccines, annual BoSE, negative fecals, and a great zest for life, milking, and raising kids.

    Two weeks ago, she seemed to have a mild case of milk fever. She was dam-raising two bucklings (now 8 wo) and had been producing a fair excess of milk. I had been taking 3#-5# of milk each day. Kay's signs were muscle tremor, particularly noticeable in rear legs, cold ears, off-feed, mild bloat. I treated with Sue Reith's kitchen recipe oral CMPK at two hour intervals, massaged the rumen vigorously to relieve bloat and get her belching, and ceased milking. Her symptoms abated within 36 hours and I continued with twice-a-day oral CMPK. I began milking again after 72 hours, just evening the udder basically. Behaviorally, she seemed backed to good health just not with the excess of milk she had early in her lactation. I assumed the growing kids were taking more milk, hence the diminishment of my share.

    Then last week, the Wednesday before this last, I noticed that she was laying around the barn while I was cleaning before milking. Not too unusual behavior, sometimes a goat will wander back into the barn while I'm working. At 7:30 PM, she wasn't waiting at the milk room door when it was her turn, and I had to go out in the loafing area to ask her to come in. She got up on the stand and I immediately knew she wasn't well. Slight rumen-side bloating, no interest in food, little milk in the udder. No muscle tremors. The bloat wasn't relieved by massage, so I drenched her with 30 cc of peanut oil. Also gave her a dose of oral CMPK. She reacted violently to both drenchings -- normally something that we easily do. I walked her for 15 minutes with massage breaks and got some belching going. When she came back to the barn and layed down, she began moaning. I dosed her again with 30 cc of oil and gave her 1.5 cc of Banamine SQ. The bloating subsided, she relaxed for about 20 minutes and then began moaning again. More comfortable when standing. Some drooling started. Called the vet. She moaned continually while I finished milking the herd. No temperature (didn't take it though until after I'd given her the Banamine). By 10:30 her respiration was rapid and heaving, muscle tremors, drooling, and I never did feel a rumen contraction. She would restlessly get up and then flop back down. At midnight, I put an emergency call into our vet's office. Coming back from the house, 300 ft from the barn, I could hear her screaming.

    My vet's partner Mike came by 1 AM (and he would have been my choice, ex Army-reserve medic -- finally got out after two tours in Afghanistan -- obviously good in an emergency). By now, Kay's color is bad, her heart beat is fast and irregular, respiration fast. Temperature is 102. He gave her a narcotic, Butorphenol, which masked her pain until about 3 AM, and thiamine. At that point, we decided to see if she would last until dawn. Mike would call this down to Tufts large animal hospital as an emergency at that time and we'd take her down before rush hour got going.

    She died shortly before dawn, a bad death. In retrospect, I probably should have asked Mike to put her down before he left at 3:30. We took her body to Tufts for necropsy but haven't heard back anything. I've been beside myself trying to figure this out. A return of milk fever with a vengenance? Should we have done SQ CMPK assuming that a down milker should always be treated for potential milk fever? Poisoning (by what? we've had high winds, did some cherry blow in? We've got no chemicals lying around, no new feedstuffs).

    And, of course, this lovely black doe was my favorite. Miss her dreadfully. What should I have done differently? Ideas?
  2. Halo-M Nubians

    Halo-M Nubians New Member

    I'm so sorry! It sounds to me like you did all you could..take care!

  3. Sorry to hear about your doe Trish.

    TO me it sound like milk fever and a Left DA(displaced Abomasen(sp)). A DA is where the rumen slips over the Abom. That will cause bloat on the left side, and they will only burp when pressure is applied to the area. Where was having fecal movements? Most of the time the signs movement in the rumen, off feed and slight fever. Then it will go into milk fever in a few hours if not watched.

    The way to correct the problem can roll them over to the left(counter clockwise) then you can hear a toliet flushing sound. Or have the vet to a simple surgery on her. They are common in some lines of dairy cattle.

    Ken in MO
  4. whimmididdle

    whimmididdle Guest

    :down sorry to hear about your doe passing.

    Ken...if you are right about what may have happened here. How often can this problem be solved by just doing the rolling thing on the doe......
    ....also, do we have anything in 101 on this problem that Ken has mentioned ?

  5. Whim,

    The best and sure fire way to fix the problem is the surgery. That way you know that you have the rumen tacted back into the right place. Once they have went with surgery it will most likely never happen again...but there are the ones that will change to the right side.

    The roll method was used for years. The big thing that people dont do afterwards is feed the snot of of the animal to keep the rumen full. Also with it you can tact the rumen back into place. That is something if you have not done it might be a little scary.

    They are finding with DA's that its a mineral imbalance. The minerals not a clue on yet. For years they just thought that the animal has laid in the wrong position and everything got knocked off balance. The best thing is make sure that they are eating well after freshening.

    Ken in MO
  6. Sondra

    Sondra New Member

  7. Truly

    Truly New Member

    Tricia, I am sorry for your lost. I lost my Roxy very similarly on 5/22.

    It sounds to me like you did all you could. Sometimes, all we can do is still not enough. It just happens.
  8. Patty13637

    Patty13637 New Member

    Tricia I am so sorry . She was a beatiful doe . After seeing your animals and setup anyone could tell they had the best of care.

  9. Belle

    Belle New Member

    I am so sorry for your loss, I hope you can get your answers soon.
  10. Terry

    Terry Member

    Sorry for your loss.
  11. New Member

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    Hind site is 50/50 so take it for what it is worth.

    Oral preperations for milk fever are a stop gap measure until you get the correct drugs in. I have never had them work orally with a doe 100% back to normal. Once intially over the crisis you can then use oral preperations, which to me are too much trouble, I would opt for subq. If all you could do was use the made up recipe, that was the point in which you should have called the vet having one as a personal friend. Once a doe starts down the path of metobolic disease there is no looking back until you interveen agressively. My favorite doe would have been IV'ed and then I would have gone subq, then if you choose oral. Which means a week to 10 days after you fix the problem.

    We also can't rule out entero with the stress to her system.

    I do agree with Ken, I bet the post mortem comes back with a rumen or abomassum problem, one that likely caused the milk fever in the first place. Although we think we know everything:) most vets who treat cattle are very adept with their hands and stethascopes to hear problems we don't see or hear, I know this is the invaluable part of my vet.

    When you do choose to tube for bloat you have to fill the rumen, a good size doe may take a quart. An antiacid given with it will also help smother the frothy bloat. Again like Ken the rumen wasn't your problem, and was where the oil went into.

    Also use this death to learn about your copper and also in the intestine, adult worms. Vicki
  12. Tricia

    Tricia New Member

    Re: Trying to Understand a Sudden Death -- What I've Learned

    Although Kay's body was submitted to Tufts on the day of her death, May 29th, the autopsy report was only forwarded to my vet on July 9th.

    The report isn't particularly revealing. It basically concludes that Kay died of respiratory failure (which we observed) and conjectures that this was secondary to bloat (which was resolved before her death) which was likely precipitated by hypocalcemia or "indigestion". Pulmonary changes were "mild" with "no evidence of aspiration, pneumonia, or ARDS. No evidence of cardiac disease. No changes to suggest endotoxemia. Noted good nutritional status. No significant findings from any of the stomachs.

    In John Matthew's "Diseases of the Goats" he recommends treating any recumbent, lactating goat as hypocalcemic unless there's some obvious presenting factor pointing to something else. My only wish is that I had treated for hypocalcemia more aggressively.

    When I mentioned Kay's death to my dairy inspector Alex and our use of Tufts, he had some very interesting information for me. The state doesn't like dealing with Tufts, thinks they're too horse-focused. Any goat I want posted should go to Univ. of CT at Storrs: if the state's transport vehicle is available, they will pick up the body. State pays for the necropsy. Special state fund pays for this. I don't know of anyone (other than the regulators) who has known about this program -- a pretty well kept information! Alex said that he'd recommended this program to another goat dairy who'd experienced a string of kid losses.
  13. New Member

    I hate it when there is nothing to learn from the necropsy but what we know. At least I was hoping for acidosis with problems in the rumen from the acids. A very painful death with respiratory distress as the acids eats through the rumen...with the findings with the stomachs it's anyones guess. Sorry....Vicki
  14. MRFBarbara

    MRFBarbara Guest

    So very sorry that you lost your doe...
  15. pokyone42

    pokyone42 New Member

    Very sorry you lost your doe, and that you know nothing more about why, even after the necropsy.. :(
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