The arrival of goat kids is usually a joyful time on your farm or homestead, unless your new baby goats develop diarrhea or scours. Characterized by the presence of watery white, pale brown or yellow stool, scours can cause rapid dehydration and means death for your baby goats unless you provide prompt treatment in the form of electrolyte fluids.
When your baby goat has diarrhea, fluids, energy and essential minerals leave its body rapidly in large amounts. Thus, a quality home remedy for diarrhea or scours in a baby goat must minimally include fluids, energy and electrolytes, which are substances in your goat’s body that allow it to function correctly. According to Gail Damerow, author of "Your Goats," a basic a scours home remedy includes water, light corn syrup, salt and baking soda.
The water provides the essential fluids that your little goat is losing so rapidly, and the light corn syrup is a vital source of energy. Although included in smaller amounts, salt and baking soda are essential because they provide two important electrolytes: sodium and bicarbonate. According to Susan Schoenian, sheep and goat specialist at the University of Maryland Extension Services, death in young goat kids typically results from dehydration coupled with excessive body acid, or acidosis. Sodium bicarbonate, which is baking soda, helps your kid maintain normal levels of acid in its body.
Cleanliness is essential when mixing your homemade electrolyte drink. Poor hygiene and dirty milk bottles frequently cause scours and diarrhea in baby goats, so thoroughly wash with hot water and soap any bowls, bottles and nipples you’ll use for mixing and treatment. Boil the water before you mix the other ingredients, as this allows the other ingredients to mix more readily with the fluid. Feeding lesser amounts frequently throughout the day ensures that your goat kid is getting small but frequent boosts of fluids, energy and electrolytes, which promotes a quicker recovery. Since you typically don’t know the cause of the scours, be sure to stop feeding all milk during this time, since it may be contributing to your goat’s illness.
Your baby goat should start to show improvement within 24 to 48 hours of beginning treatment, and the stool should begin to thicken, eventually changing to pellets. Watch for signs of excessive dehydration--sunken eyes, extreme listlessness, skin that remain tented when you pinch it, or dry gums--during this time. If your goat kid shows these signs, take him to a veterinarian immediately, since your oral fluids are not providing hydration and electrolytes quickly enough and death is likely if he doesn’t receive subcutaneous or intravenous fluids promptly.
An often-forgotten step in providing home treatment for diarrhea or scours in baby goats is finding and getting rid of the initial cause of the scours itself. Examine your goat’s environment carefully. Although something as simple as being chilled, not being fed on a regular basis, or over-eating could have caused your goat’s loose stool, worms or coccidiosis, which are parasitic diseases that usually requirement veterinary diagnosis and treatment, may be the culprit.
- “Your Goats;” Gail Damerow; 1993.
Regan Hennessy has been writing professionally for 11 years. A copywriter and certified teacher, Hennessy specializes in the areas of parenting, health, education, agriculture and personal finance. She has produced content for various websites and graduated from Lycoming College with a Bachelor of Arts in English.