Yesterday was the Johnston County Goat Festival in eastern NC. It is a free event, hosted annually, and consists of classes on goats, goat care, and demonstrations on milking, cheese-making, etc. I know a fair bit about goats by now, but I still learned a lot!
We got there a bit late, so our first class was doing fecal parasite counts. This helps you evaluate your herds health by determining the parasite load, and helps you adjust your care accordingly. We all donned gloves and sat down at tables loaded with microscopes after the talk. My 7-yr. old was with me and got to join in. You should have seen his face when I asked if he wanted to mash the poop in the solution! We prepared the slides and did our parasite counts with the help of two veterinarians. What an amazing experience! Below are cocci and worm eggs. We found and counted worm eggs, but not nearly this many!
After the parasite counting, we got a lesson on urinary calculi, it’s causes and how to prevent and treat it. We also learned about all the veterinary treatment options available. Some of the things to note are that the primary causes of urinary calculi buildup in goats is the overfeeding of pellet feeds and legume hay, such as clover and alfalfa. Adequate water consumption, adding ammonium chloride to the animals diet, and delaying neutering until at least 6 months of age will help prevent this condition. The vets said it is much harder to help over-weight goats that get urinary calculi stones, so be sure to keep your goats weight correct.
Immediately following the urinary calculi class, we learned about mastitis. The main points in prevention of this problem is to always thoroughly clean and dry the udder before milking, and always dip the teats afterward. Mastitis can usually be detected easily through the California Mastitis Test for cows, and even by examining the udder for non-uniformity. The udder is actually completely separate on each side, each having its own glands and blood supply. Because of this, the mastitis will usually be present on only one side, causing it to be hotter, fuller, or irregular in shape, feel, or discharge from the opposite side. Treatment involves the use of antibiotics and possibly surgical procedures, so prevention is key.
After learning about mastitis, we were treated to a lunch of barbecued goat, goat sausage, roasted veggies, chili, and hush puppies. It was a very good meal, and everyone went back for seconds! Following lunch was a demonstration in cheese-making in which we also got to taste the cheese with different seasonings after it was made. I loved the one with masala seasoning, and my son thought the one mixed with strawberry jam was delightful!
At the end there was a raffle for a ton of alfalfa hay and a number of small items. We won a bag of Cheffhaye, for which we were very thankful! There were papers on everything you could imagine, free for the taking. I picked up supply magazines, barn record sheets, weight charts, breeding information, feeding recommendations, and much, much more! We were given a folder containing parasite information, including a full-color paper of all the common parasites and their names. There were different breeds of goats to see, and a milking and hoof trimming demonstration that we missed. Many local businesses had tables set up with giveaways and items for sale, and everyone was super friendly. If you are anywhere near this part of NC next year I would recommend you attend if you are interested in keeping goats or even have goats already and wish to network or ask vets questions.