I want to take a few moments today to remember a beautiful doe, and share some information with you so that you might learn a little bit from our experiences.
Jasper Pine URF Lady Tator Tot was an original herd member, and one of the first three goats we acquired. We brought her home when she was a mere three months old. Right away, she grew to inhabit a special place in our hearts. She was our baby. Not only was she sweet and mellow, but she was absolutely beautiful and regal in the show ring. I will never forget the time she won Grand Champion Junior at the 2012 Summit City Classic. I had absolutely nothing to do with her win that day. She stepped in the ring, and held her head high, led ME around with her sure and careful steps, and strutted her stuff for all to see. The judge that day placed her first out of thirteen and commented how regal she was, how smoothly blended she was, how flat her topline was. She owned that ring. It was a very proud moment for me as it was the first ever win for our farm. Even though I had nothing to do with her breeding, (Jasper Pine did) she made me so proud to be her owner. I had such high hopes for her career in the showring.
In late October, after Brandon and I returned from our honeymoon, we noticed that Tator was looking scruffy and losing weight. A fecal confirmed that she had contracted coccidia. A round of treatment eradicated the cocci, but a follow up fecal found giardia. Another round of treatment, and she was free of it, but she still did not gain weight. Over the course of four months, we worked with our vet and tried to determine the cause of her drastic weight loss and anemia. We ran CAE test, Johnnes test, Q fever test, fecals, blood tests, urine tests. We just could not find out what was wrong with her. She was put on daily doses of Red Cell to boost her red cells and combat the anemia. She was treated for every parasite possible. Even though her fecals continued to be normal, the anemia continued.
Last Saturday, we thought we had finally found the cause. I was cleaning out her pen, when I noticed that the bedding did not smell normal. The ammonia smell that is usually present in goat urine, was replaced by a very sweet smell that I thought smelled like peaches. My son, Cameron, thought it smelled like orange juice. A quick consultation among us, and we were elated to finally have a diagnosis that made sense....diabetes. A urine sample rushed to the vet confirmed that she had high levels of glucose and ketones in her urine. It looked as though we finally figured it out, and we were happy because we knew there would be a treatment for her. Even though we knew that she would most likely never breed, we could start her on insulin therapy and get her back to good health and find her a good pet home so she could have a good life.
The vet wanted to run another CBC on her to be sure, so we drew blood and had it rushed. Unfortunately, the CBC did not confirm diabetes. Her blood glucose was normal, and her red cells were nearly non-existant. The vet commented that he could not believe that she was still walking around. After the diagnosis of diabetes was not confirmed, we were once again at a loss. We knew we were losing her, and we had exhausted every simple and not so simple diagnosis we could find for her. We made the painful but necessary decision to euthanize her. In the end, we just could not see her suffer any longer. Even though most days she seemed happy and alert, eating and drinking normally, we could not see her continue while we experimented with treatments. We still do not know for sure what she had going on, but the vet offered that perhaps it had something to do with her bone-marrow, a cancer or other serious disease.
I am so heavy-hearted. You may say that "it's just a goat" but goat owners know how I feel. I do not weep for a life cut short, because I know that we did what was ultimately the best for her. I weep for the babies I never got from her. I weep because she will never again own a show ring like she did that spring day. I weep because she will never be a finished Champion, and make her mark on the breed. I weep because she was an amazing animal with so much potential, and now she is dead.
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Twin Willows Herd
How to Get Started Raising Goats
by Erica Hopkins
Paperback or Kindle
Reg Price $14.99