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Udder care

Milk

1401

12/28/01

How to milk a goat

You can easily practice milking while watching TV. Point downward the index finger of your left hand. Grab it loosely with all four fingers of your right hand. Firmly squeeze together the index finger and thumb of your right hand. While keeping these squeezed, firmly squeeze the middle finger against the thumb. Now you should be able to feel the blood being pushed toward the end of the left hand finger. While keeping the first two squeezed, squeeze your ring finger against the thumb. Now you have three fingers adding pressure. While keeping force on these, squeeze with your little finger. Since you probably don’t have any more fingers, the first part is done. Wasn't that easy?

By now you can understand that if you had a hole in the end of your finger you would have squeezed the blood out of it. Relax all the fingers at once. This will allow the teat to fill with milk oryour finger to return to normal. Now repeat the process starting with just the index finger and adding the other three in turn. Do it over and over; gradually increase speed and force until it becomes a little tiring.

Switch hands and do the same thing with the other hand. You will quickly discover whether you are right handed or left. After you think you have it perfected, find a friendly goat to try out your skills on.

But first, you have to grab a bucket. Stainless steel is about the only kind that you can get really clean...and you want to make sure it is really clean to avoid bacteria and those obnoxious odors that gather with old milk. (Many of the stainless steels ones on the market are too tall for goats, so buy wisely.) Also, get two little bowls: one with two dry terry pieces about 6" square and one with about 8 oz of fairly warm or hot water.

Approach the goat with calmness and confidence. Most of them would really prefer to eat all the time that they are being milked. Some will be tolerant of your ineptitude even if they run out of food while you’re learning; others will start kicking, putting their foot in the bucket or showing you some other cute little trick they’ve been saving up for this very moment. Wash the teats and udder with one of the WARM wet rags and then wipe everything nice and dry with the other. This rubbing will cause her to "let down" her milk. Be very sure to get the teats, udder and your hands very dry before you go any further. Now, place your bucket in a position that does not make your hands uncomfortable. Place your hands on each side of the udder and slide them down and around the teats (so you don’t startle her by just grabbing). Most goats have two faucets and most people have two hands, so things work out pretty well (better than cows!).

The first thing to do is to milk about 5 squirts out of each teat into one of the little bowls. This is not only for the cat who is helping you, it also has a purpose. There are probably a few bacteria in the udder and they tend to settle into the "cistern" at the bottom. This way you will not be adding them to your family's milk supply.

Work both hands alternately, allowing one teat to fill while you are squeezing the other one. You'll soon get a little rhythm going and just when you start feeling a little proud she'll kick over the bucket, right? (For beginners, it's good to have a second bucket nearby to pour the milk into every so often so you don't lose it all when she kicks.) When you can’t get any more out, you are ready to strip the last few drops out.

Rub the udder pretty firmly, especially the back part, for about 15 seconds and then milk her empty again. Repeat this until the rubbing produces nothing. Then rub the back part with one hand while milking with the other. When this is done, put the teat between either finger and thumb or index and middle finger, press them together and just slide them quickly down the teat two or three times to get out the very last drop. (With some very heavy producing cows, they produce milk so fast that it is not possible to get the VERY last drop.)

Many folks now dip the teats in one of the "teat dip" solutions. This is a very good idea since the teat canals are open and relaxed following milking and ready receptacles for opportunistic bacteria to find their way in.

Now you will want to strain the milk by running it through a commercially available milk "filter". This gets out all the hairs and dirt and other things you don't want to drink. Then, either put it in the refrigerator right away or pasteurize it according to your favorite technique. Joy of Cooking , the old standard cookbook, gives excellent instructions on how to pasteurize. There are some pretty serious diseases that can be transmitted to humans through drinking raw milk; the choice of whether or not to do it should be seriously considered.

Some random comments and suggestions about milk:

The amount of water consumed does affect milk production. During the winter it helps to keep the water warm to encourage adequate consumption. Also make sure that salt (preferably trace mineralized) is always available.

Cool milk as soon as possible.

Ropy milk is always indicative of the presence of bacteria. Check the filter with each milking. Suspicious strands are most likely to appear in the first milk withdrawn. If questionable, use a black cloth to help them show up better.

Does with mastitis or suspicious should always be milked LAST.

Dirt in the milk means that you may need to trim the udder, legs and underbelly of the doe.

Always use milk filters to keep dirt out of the milk.

Blood in the milk can be from several causes: Mastitis, injury, hardening of the udder, irritating foods such those with excess protein, congestion after freshening (VERY common; if the blood settles to the bottom of a jar, it is probably okay). For any of the above, milk her four times per day (except recently freshened doe where there is a danger of milk fever). A more thorough discussion of mastitis will follow. Cold packs and udder balm are helpful. If the stain is red and doesn't appear until several hours after milking, it is a bacterial bloom and not blood.

For the doe who shows persistent, long-term blood in the milk, you could try Vitamin K as a supplement to try to repair a platelet problem. This has been helpful in some cases.

Off-flavored milk ALWAYS indicates a problem.

FOOD: Onions, cabbage, turnips, weeds, garlic

ILL-HEALTH: Indigestion, mastitis, metritis, some other diseases.

SALTY: End of milking season, depleted in minerals

ENVIRONMENTAL ODORS: Barnyard odors, buck odor

UTENSILS: Copper and iron will dissolve in the milk

General Care

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More random notes:

Always dry hands completely before milking.

Dry up the doe at least 60 days before delivery. Do NOT gradually stop milking, just STOP, period.

Won't let down: common in young animals. Maybe from fear of pain in newly enlarged udder. Avoid stress; massage, warm compresses, have kid nearby or let kid take first squirts, establish a definite routine.

Hives: Allergic reaction. Will have them elsewhere on body. Maybe from bedding or plants.

Chapping or cracking: From frequent washings, cold winds, improper drying. Use glycerine or Udder Balm.

[The rest of the topics on this page, including mastitis, are in alphabetical order]

Atresia

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This term means that there is no opening for the milk to come out of the teat. It is obviously a very critical problem. If ignored it can lead to half of the udder becoming totally useless or, even worse, inflamed. The only solution is to make a hole for the milk to come out. If this is the doe's first year of milk production, then the problem may be due to a genetic disorder and the procedure may be more difficult, possibly a job for your vet. On the other hand, if she had no difficulties last year then there has probably been some type of injury to the end of the teat.

If you attempt this procedure yourself, be sure to read the article all the way through so you have all the equipment on hand that you will need.

Absolute and complete sterile precautions should be utilized in this procedure. Take your time and make sure that the teat and all implements are perfectly sterile. Insert a 20 ga (1 - 1½ in) hypodermic needle upward into the teat at a point where the orifice should be. Sometimes this will be visible as a tiny dark or dimpled mark. Insert the needle all the way (very carefully, of course) wiggling it around a tiny bit. You will notice that the pointed end floats rather freely in the "cistern" or widened part of the upper teat. If this is not the case, STOP and decide if you have aimed it incorrectly or if the canal is totally lacking. If you have done it correctly, a small amount of bloody milk will flow through the needle. With your other hand you should be able to establish the location of the point of the needle. If there is no flow of milk, it may be time to see the vet.

If you do get some milk, leave the needle in place for a couple of minutes and rotate it around in the hole you have made in order to try to expand the size of the hole. Be careful that you don't do any internal damage with the point of the needle. It helps to have a bowl under the teat so the milk doesn't get all over the place. (I didn't mention that the doe will be kicking violently through all this, did I?) Now the easy part is over with! You will now withdraw the needle and in its place insert a "teat dilator". This is not easy. These things are made for cows, which normally have larger teat openings than goats. To do this you have to be very forceful and yet gentle. You have to go through the VERY SAME hole which you made with the needle and it may take some doing to find it and you don't want to make a mess of things trying to do this. I have found that, for some reason, it helps to spin the dilator between your fingers as you try to get it in. You will get rather nervous while doing this; that is normal for anyone. The doe will not appreciate your help at this point. Don't give up: you can't stop now! Once you have the dilator inserted, sit back and rest a while. There is a small groove on the end of the dilator which will keep it from coming back out. Let the doe rest and eat a little.

Leave the dilator in place for about and hour or so and do NOT let the kids have access to the udder while the dilator is installed. They can (and will) remove and ingest it if they try to nurse. There are devices which are available for cattle which can be put into the canal while you milk, but I have never tried these. Go ahead and milk a her a little. If the milk is not terrible bloody, let one of the kids do this for you. You have to play the rest of the program by ear; each situation is a little different. If you do not plan to raise the kids on her, you can simply reinsert the clean dilator and remove it for each milking. The tissues in the lower canal and opening will have to heal before you can do away with the dilator. The length of time for this to happen varies in each case. Of course, there will be some bleeding when you milk, but this will eventually clear up. If you are raising the kids on her, check daily to make sure that the hole has not plugged up and that the bloodiness disappears completely (about 2 - 3 days). If the hole plugs up the kids will nurse from only the other teat and the affected side will fill with milk and become inflamed. Once again, do not let the kids have access to her with the dilator in place.

Drying

Always thoroughly dry your hands and the udder BEFORE you start milking. Sometimes it is tempting to get sloppy and go ahead and milk after washing the udder without taking this precaution. Some sources say that this is the cause of most cases of mastitis. Inadequate drying can also cause cracking and chapping of the skin.

Drying Up

Allow 60 days between the last milking and the expected delivery day. In the past we've recommended abrupt cessation of milking. But now my thinking on this has changed. You can drop down to once a day for a little while. Or if she's nursing kids, pull all but one of the kids. If you suspect that you have a case of untreated mastitis, now is the time for an infusion of "Dry Cow" mastitis preparation, such as "Tomorrow"®. One tube should do both halves of the udder. Do the most questionable one last and use completely sterile precautions as instructed. [The product "Tomorrow"® is for use with the LAST milking; "Today"® is a similar product intended for ongoing mastitis treatment when you plan to keep on milking her.

Leaky teats

There really is no cure for this. It may be hereditary. Don’t use rubber bands, tape or plugs. One source says you can soak cotton with styptic pencil (silver nitrate) and cover with paper tape. I have no experience with this. The best plan is to raise kids on the leaking doe or to milk her three or four times per day.

Mastitis, CMT testing

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The California Mastitis Test®

EVERYONE who raises goats should have this testing kit in their medicine cabinet. It is available from all major suppliers. Mastitis is a very serious ailment and in dealing with problems of the udder the results of the CMT are essential in determining the proper treatment program. Furthermore, the test is very accurate and good at early detection of infection.

Excellent instructions come with the test and they should be followed rigorously. With a little practice anyone can easily perform the test. It hardly takes any time at all. You will be looking for the mixture of milk and test liquid to form a gel. This really does happen. It is not unlike watching for your favorite gelatin dessert to set up. Just be sure to mix EQUAL parts milk and liquid. The only thing they fail to mention in the instructions is that they ask you to tip the paddle to pour out any excess which you have milked into the test cups. You should have an extra pan or bucket available for this so that you do not have to throw potentially germ-laden milk on the ground or the floor. Also, you are asked to milk about 2 ml into the test cups; you may want to practise ahead of time to learn how much this is. Tipping the paddle at 45° will give you about the right amount.

General considerations:

The most common time for udder problems is the second or third day after delivery. This will usually show up as rather severe hardening anywhere in either or both sides of the udder. It can be a single, relatively small area resembling a flattened golf ball or it can be so large as to include the whole udder. It can even be noticed before delivery. It is not unusual for a doe to quickly develop some hardened areas (perhaps more common in first-time mothers) soon after delivery as the udder starts to fill with milk and grow in size. Fortunately, most of these are NOT "mastitis." The term for this condition when it is not accompanied by or caused by an infectious organism is congestion. This can be a rather harmless situation which may go away as the kids begin to nurse or the owner begins milking. On the other hand, it can advance to a more serious, painful and aggravating health hazard with symptoms such as the cessation of milk production, loss (sometimes complete) of appetite, digestive disturbances and a host of other things.

The first thing to do is to determine whether we are dealing with mastitis or congestion. We can do this with a pretty fair degree of certainty: [1] The California Mastitis Test can identify mastitis in the "pre-clinical" stage. This means that it will tell you if you have a case of mastitis even before there are any visible symptoms. Got a suspicious udder? Do the CMT. If it’s clear, then you probably have congestion. If it’s positive, then start treating for mastitis. Fairly cut and dried! [2] Congestion and mastitis can usually (that means there are some exceptions) be distinguished on the basis of other symptoms. Does she do it every year right after delivery? Does it go away rather quickly after a couple of days of the kids nursing on it? Then it is probably congestion. Do funny flaky things show up on dark cloth when you milk through it? Does the milk tend to be off color? Or watery? Is the teat or udder hot or cold? Then you may have a case of mastitis. Do the CMT and then we’ll know.

Blood in the milk for the first two or three days, if it turns the milk pink and settles to the bottom of a clear glass if left overnight is usually something you can ignore. It is more common in cattle than goats. Although the milk may appear rather unappetizing to you, the kids will not complain. If the blood persists for several days, does not settle out and appears more like clots or strings, then be sure to do the CMT.

If after all of this, you still are not certain, always err in the direction of treating mastitis. Not treating mastitis is much more harmful than over-treating any of the more minor ailments.

Brief guidelines for identification of mastitis by the nature of the milk:

--Slight wateriness with a few flakes –subacute staphylococcus aureus

--Watery with large yellow clots –streptococcal and staphylococcal

--Watery brown with fine mealy flakes –E. coli

Prevention

Always keep bedding clean, especially if any of the does are leaking milk. Keep a careful watch on any signs of congestion in newly freshened does and at least begin massaging right away. Always dry your hands and the teats and udder before and after milking. Immediately treat any injury to the teats or udder, even if it appears very slight. Never let the milking doe lie on a cold surface such as concrete, metal, rocks or damp ground. Use the CMT mastitis test at the first questionable sign of a problem. Always, after the first five days after delivery, milk the doe COMPLETELY out with each milking, being careful to massage and strip the teats when done. Proper use of commercial teat dips is highly recommended. Create a relaxed environment for the milking doe so that the udder will empty out completely. For does which are nursing kids check the udders at least once a day for heat, swellings, injuries and residual milk that needs to be removed (if the doe is producing more milk than the kids can consume, the excess can lead to congestion and mastitis). Be alert to any unexplained drop in milk production (during heats, the milk may drop off a little).

The following is a brief description of some treatment measures for dealing with mastitis. It does not take into consideration the various organisms that can be responsible for the disease or the slight differences in symptoms that each of these may present. Scrolling further down the page will take you to more detailed descriptions of some of these, with treatment protocols.

First of all, do everything you can to maintain the doe’s appetite and general good spirits. Loss of appetite is a common complication of mastitis along with the stress of a recent delivery and all that. If she should stop eating the prognosis turns downhill real fast.

Start penicillin shots right away (Penicillin G Procaine). Do this twice a day for five days, more if the problem takes longer to solve.

If it has not been five days since delivery, there is a complexity because of the danger of causing milk fever from intensive milking, which is part of the cure for mastitis. Mastitis right after delivery frequently results from not enough milk being taken out by the kids. In this difficult time you have to milk cautiously as much as you can. If the doe is not a heavy milker the danger of taking too much is reduced. But if she has a large udder and puts out a lot of milk, you have to be careful. In short, there is no easily defined answer as to how much milk to remove if it has been five or less days since delivery. My basic rule is: one-fifth per day. For example, if it has been two days since delivery milk her two-fifths of the way out.

If is has been 5 days or more, you can (and should) milk and rub and milk and rub and milk and rub until you feel like you’re going to drop.

After you are done milking and with the needle off a syringe, preferably with a "canula" on the syringe, gently shoot about 5 ml penicillin up into each teat. Massage it up into the udder a little. If using a canula or a TODAY or TOMORROW mastitis treatment, you don't need to insert  it very far into the teat in order to dispense the solution. Just a very short way will work just as well and also cause the doe a lot less anxiety. Leave the solution there until you milk her the next time. 

If the udder is hot, you can apply ice packs. If the kids are nursing, they will help soften the udder as well. (But you don’t want them drinking milk with penicillin in it.)

Every case is a little different. Some types go away better than others. Some udders show problems throughout the milking season and you have to use a "dry cow" infusion at the end of the milking season when you dry her up to make sure it doesn't come back next year.

TREATMENT FOR CONGESTION

Leave kids with her to work on the udder. If no danger of milk fever, strip her dry every hour and massage with hot rags. Diuretics are highly recommended by some.

DETAILED TREATMENT OF MASTITIS-CAUSING ORGANISMS:

Staphylococcus aureus:

The most common type of mastitis in sheep. Common in cattle. Not as common in goats as Streptococcus agalactiae. This is one of the most dangerous types of mastitis, also known as gangrenous mastitis. This organism is widespread throughout the environment, with various strains causing life-threatening illnesses in people. (These are not caught from goats that we know of.) The skin of the teat becomes cold, blue and sloughs (hence the old name of "blue bag"). The whole infected quarter may slough. There is a good chance that the doe may go off feed completely. She may stand with her back legs quite far apart. There will be watery, blood-stained, smelly milk which later changes to thick, yellow ropy stuff. Death can be quite sudden. You should isolate the doe right away. The kids should probably be pulled and bottle fed or grafted onto other does. If she is close to drying off, this should be done following the appropriate treatment with benzathine cloxacillin. These organisms are penicillin resistant, so use erythromycin or chlortetracycline systemically. If you think that she cannot be dried up at this point, it may be best to seek help from your veterinarian in deciding on an ongoing treatment program.

Streptococcus agalactiae

Probably the most common source of mastitis in goats. The organism enters through the teat opening, so it is easy to see the importance of prevention. Fortunately, this is not usually a real dangerous disease in goats. And, equally fortunate, you don’t have to wait until dry up to treat. The milk will be watery and possibly have some yellowish clots. There is probably a reduction in milk supply. The udder will feel warm and the doe may or may run a fever. She will probably show a reduced appetite. The disease may range from mild to serious and is rather hard to differential from congestion as above without using the CMT. An infusion of penicillin (into the udder) will usually take care of the problem. Commercially prepared tubes of penicillin which come with a longer and narrower point for insertion into the teat are available from most suppliers. Also available are products: "Today"® and "Tomorrow"® for currently milking and dry drying up. These are easier and safer to use than regular syringes. (Be sure to use extreme sanitation!) You can also give penicillin shots if you’d like. If you find that Penicillin is not effective after 3 or 4 days, switch to LA200® and if that doesn't work, try Tylan200®.

E. coli

This is usually a fairly serious illness. There is frequently a temperature ranging from 103° - 108°. It produces dangerous toxins as part of the inflammatory process. E. coli infections frequently occur right after freshening as the udder starts to fill. Milk production ceases. Anorexia (loss of appetite) is fairly complete. Other symptoms include depression, dehydration, weight loss. Secretion from the udder is brownish and watery. This type of mastitis is can be accompanied by diarrhea. Treatment is penicillin infusions and injections. Although this is a serious illness, upon recovery the udder usually returns to normal. But even if the affected quarters dry up, the udder will be normal at the next lactation.

Corynebacterium pyogenes

This organism is responsible for a multitude of diseases in farm animals. It is constantly lurking around waiting for an opportunity to strike. Thus, it is known as a secondary invader when it comes to mastitis and this type is fairly common in goats. There is a foul-smelling pus-like discharge that can occur even in does that are not in milk. There may be actual abscesses visible. It is felt that dirty bedding and the presence of flies contributes to its spread. In this type the udder may not return to production after infection. Treatment is penicillin and not very optimistic.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa

A persistent disease that shows intermittent episodes of visible signs of mastitis. If often follows infusions that are not done antiseptically. It may lead to toxemia and death. It is very hard to treat and may persist through the drying off period. Is occurs mostly in cattle and rarely in goats. Either check with your vet of get rid of the animal.

Nocardia asteroides

This is a very dangerous disease. The is a sudden, acute onset with high fever, complete loss of appetite, rapid wasting away of the doe, marked swelling of the udder. There will be tissue fibers in the milk and nodules that can be felt. This type may also follow unsanitary infusions. Although you can try penicillin or a consultation with your vet, most sources recommend slaughter.

Yeast Infections

Any infection that survives or occurs after treatment with penicillin can be the result of the development of opportunistic yeast invasion. The doe will have a high temperature. There may be a spontaneous recovery or it may end up as a chronic destructive process. Treatment of this problem is very complicated and for the novice as about s dangerous as the disease. It should serve as a reminder that the over zealous use of penicillin can lead to yeast infections.

MYCOPLASMA mastitis

There are a large number of species of mycoplasma organisms which can cause mastitis in goats. Both quarters will be seriously affected and will be hot and swollen. There will be a dramatic loss of milk production followed by serous or purulent (pus) discharge. In goats, the disease is highly transmissible. In one of the more common types painful, arthritic joints will be readily observable. There will usually be fever and loss of appetite. The milk will be thick and yellow and separate on standing, oftentimes with flaky sediments. In another type, the milk may be greenish and there will be symptoms of the central nervous system and pneumonia. In another type, the milk will have a putrid odor.

Mycoplasmal mastitis can be spread to the young through the milk. The kids may show pneumonia and/or arthritis and may even die. Other symptoms can include limping, hunched back, blindness, obvious pain or discomfort, anorexia, death. If you suspect this type of mastitis, the kids should be pulled and either fed off other does or given pasteurized milk. There is some chance that tetracyclines or Tylan® can cure, but the outcome is not optimistic. Careful consideration should be given to elimination from the breeding herd.

Obstruction

Treated like atresia above. Must either remove the obstruction. Best to try to determine the cause. If a foreign object, pull it out, don’t push it in. Usually, it is some type of tissue from an injury or infection that narrows the canal. Sometimes you have to use a cannula to milk. Teat dilators go a long way toward helping to expand the orifice.

Pox [Goat pox]

True pox is usually confined to the teats and udder, but can be found anywhere on the body. It starts as just a rough feeling, then progresses to small red spots which later blister with clear fluid. Then it dries to form a scab. The milk should be discarded. Isolate the animal and milk her last. Dab iodine on the pustules. Cut back on the grain a little. Milking will be painful. Reportedly not a disease in goats in North America. There is a reaction to overfeeding of grain which resembles the above description. The first thing to do is cut back on grain to see if this takes care of the problem. Please realize that this brief description of udder problems cannot do full justice to pox and pox-like diseases. There may be other symptoms, such as swollen eyelids, that appear on other parts of the body. Remember that pox diseases are caused by a virus and do not respond to antibiotics. You can only treat the localized symptoms. [Also discessed in Skin section]

Precocious lactation

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It is not uncommon for a goat which has not been bred to develop an udder which does contain a varying amount of milk. Sometimes a small udder will develop in a little doe who is only a few weeks old. Unless you find good reason to do otherwise, no nothing.

Self-sucker

If this behavior should occur make a collar with sharp studs that will poke her if she bends her neck back. Get after the problem right away before it becomes a habit. This seems to be more likely if the udder is in an over-full condition.

Stings

We have had good luck with generic over-the-counter people antihistamine tablets (no decongestants included) given at twice the normal human dose. Goats seem to tolerate antihistamines very well and they seems to have a slight calming effect.

Stripping

This means getting all the milk out of the udder, technically by repeatedly sliding two extended parallel fingers down the length of the teat until nothing comes out. Every milking session should end with this technique. It is also recommended by some that you give the udder a slight nudge resembling the action of nursing kids just before the end of the stripping process. Stripping is very important as a mastitis prevention tool in that milk left in the udder tends to encourage the growth of micro-organisms which cause infection.

Supernumerary teats and double teats

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It is common and hereditary in goats to have a kid born with extra teats or teats with multiple ends. EVERY female kid should be examined for this abnormality at birth, without exception. The important thing is to decide if there is a functional milk gland behind the spare teat. We strongly recommend the removal of double teats and, where there is not a gland, extra teats.

The actual removal is startingly simple. Make sure the tiny udder area and teat are extremely sterile. We press an ice cube against the teat to be cut for a couple of minutes; this reduces bleeding and may reduce pain. Then paint the area with iodine and dry. With a steady hand and a small pair very sharp scissors, cut off the extra teat at the base. The cut may need to be made at a slight angle to the remaining teat so that the mature udder will develop properly. Believe it or not, there is rarely any bleeding. Immediately dab the wound with some iodine on a cotton swab. Then use NTZ® powder (pinkeye remedy) to seal off the area. Keep the kid in a clean environment (the house?) for a couple of hours and check for bleeding. Check daily to make sure there is no further injury or any infection. In almost every case, the little doe will grow into a perfectly normal member of the milking herd. Since this is a hereditary problem, whether or not to keep her offspring for breeding is something that you will need to consider.

Suppression of Milk

Reasons for: Indigestion, mastitis, bad feed, insect bites, recent removal of kid, fear, rabies, several diseases. This usually occurs shortly after delivery. Put her in a comfortable area and gently massage the udder. Bring the kid to her just before milking. Do everything you can to help her nerves. Just the pain from a newly filled udder can cause the doe to become very upset. Warm compresses may comfort her. You can get medication from a vet to help in milk let down.

Trauma

Wounds: adhesive tape, sprays. If near teat opening, clean it, put on dressing and wrap it twice a day. Deep wounds should be sutured. Stitches Give udder infusion and antibiotic shots. Tetanus antitoxin should be given for any deep or serious injury. Hopefully, all the does will be protected with tetanus toxoid vaccine. Any injury to the teat and udder area should be kept immaculately clean.

Chapped teats: iodine and glycerin (can get at drug store).

Contusions: Apply icy water, not ice or ice packs at first. Then warm packs later. Do not lance or drain.

Occasionally, a severe injury to the udder (from being butted, kicked or stepped on, for example) can result in a group of symptoms which closely resemble mastitis. There may be blood, clots, or thick white clumps in the milk. These injuries can rapidly lead to full-blown mastitis; therefore, we prefer to begin a course of antibiotics (such as penicillin shots) and test for mastitis (California Mastitis Test, discussed elsewhere). Ice packs can provide some relief of pain or swelling. Gentle massaging is required just like with mastitis. Any cuts on the surface of the udder or teats should always be treated aggressively. It is best not to dry up the doe until you can be sure that there is no chance of infection.

Tumors, Cysts, Growths

Leave them alone.

Udder abscess

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This is a more serious condition than acne (below). Abscesses may indicate a serious infection of the udder due to soiled bedding or generally unclean environmental factors. They may be secondary to a serious case of mastitis which has gone unnoticed. Or, there may be bruises or injury to the udder or teats which have not been properly treated.

Most sources recommend that abscesses on the udder be lanced and drained. If you do that, make sure that no discharges can get into the milking pail. Possibly some diluted iodine can be rubbed into the cavity with a cotton swab. Everything possible should be done to keep the open area dry and clean. If there are several abscesses, one should consider antibiotic injections as well. Most respond fairly rapidly to treatment once started

Udder acne

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Acne refers to pustules on the skin of the udder and the teats, frequently near the base. Standard treatment treatment is to wash the udder before and after milking, then apply an antibiotic ointment. Most of the commercial teat washes will prevent its spread. Be sure to milk with dry hands and that the udder surface is completely dry after milking.This condition is sometimes helped by reducing the amount of grain in the ration.

Udder edema

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Swellings or strange fillings in the udder of the doe beforedelivery are best left alone. Milking the doe before she delivers, although it may look a little tempting, can lead to milk fever and/ or mastitis.

Urticaria (Hives)

An allergic swelling of the skin. If this is the cause, there will probably be swelling on other parts of the body. May be from bedding or from allergic reaction to plants. You can give people-type over-the-counter antihistamines for this. If the condition persists for more than a day or day, contact your vet for further diagnosis and treatment.

Warts

Can tie them off with a string or thread. Compound W® will help, but tedious. Will sometimes drop off on their own. Not very common in goats.

WWW Resources

Maryland Small Ruminant, Mastitis [A]

Univ of Minnesota   [Mastitis]

CONSULTANT ©   Cornell's Diagnostic program



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