Pinkeye

Our first five goats included 3 three-month old unregistered percentage Boers (brush goats), 1 adult ½ Boer and 1 adult Nubian. The two adults had just kidded when we purchased them, so we asked the seller to keep them until they were bred back. When we picked them up on 5 Jul 99, we anxiously started our 5-month long wait for kids.

When December rolled around and no kids, we determined maybe the does weren't bred after all. By this time we had purchased a few additional does, so we went to a friend and asked to rent a buck.

Thus the arrival of Topper. Now, no one had bothered to tell us, at this point, about quarantining newly arrived animals (among other things we weren't told when we first got into the goat business). So Topper arrived on the scene, jumped off the truck, and immediately went to work – breeding two does within minutes of his arrival and the rest within the next two days. We kept Topper about 45 days – just to be sure everyone was bred.

About the time Topper was leaving us, we determined that Dora, our then-11-month old just-bred doeling, was blind. We came to the conclusion she was blind when she started walking into the walls of the barn. Bertie and Paul Hillhouse arrived to announce, "pinkeye." Their suggested "cure": throw salt in the eye.

Now, salt sounded rather painful – not to mention cruel. We called the vet. He confirmed the diagnosis of pinkeye. Dr. Galbraith said she probably caught pinkeye from Topper; Topper was a carrier even though he had no evidence of the problem himself.

Pinkeye, also known as conjunctivitis, is extremely contagious, spreading from goat to goat. Our first recommendation is to isolate any goat with pinkeye immediately! Pinkeye is caused by several organisms and can be transmitted by flies or dust. A goat with pinkeye will have a cloudy area in the center of the eye or will appear to have an ulcer on the cornea.

Instead of salt, Dr. Galbraith gave us an ointment, Neosporin, to put in the eye twice a day; he also told us to keep her in a dark place with easy access to food and water.

I probably forgot to mention that Dora was the most wild of all our goats, and she didn't care for Dr. Galbraith's treatment. She probably wouldn't have minded if we had a way to put the cream in the eye without getting near her. We were persistent, though, and treated Dora twice a day – when we could catch her – for 10 days. It took months before she totally regained her vision….if, in fact, she ever totally regained her vision. She kidded 4 months later – twins born in a briar thicket.

Two years passed before our second case of pinkeye. Since we hadn't brought in any new animals for quite some time, our vet determined this time the cause was bacteria spread by flies. He recommended we squirt Oxytetracycline (Oxy-Tet 200, Biomycin 200, Liquamycin LA 200, Geomycin 200, Agrimycin 200, or Maxim 200) into the eye. This seemed to clear up the problem in about two weeks.

This past December Liza had twins on Christmas Day. It was a week before Lucky was able to walk, so Liza was kept in a rather confined area. When the babies were about three weeks old, we noticed a foggy film over both of her eyes. Liza's pinkeye was caused by the fine alfalfa falling from the hay rack into her eyes – something we actually witnessed.

By now we were able to recognize pinkeye, and we have a close enough working relationship with our vet that he accepted our diagnosis and told us to stop by to pick up some medicine. The treatment consisted of a mixture of equal parts Dexamethasone, Gentomycin, and sterile water. This mixture could be dripped into the eye or sprayed and was by far the best, least expensive, most effective treatment to date. The eyes cleared up totally in 10 days. We also recommend washing the area around the eye with Listerine to cut down on the chance of flies transmitting the disease to other animals.

NOTE: Gentomycin cannot be injected into meat animals, but since this treatment is topical it is permitted.


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Ken and Pat Motes
Clear Creek Farms
33 South Clear Creek Road
Fall River, Tennessee 38468
Phone: (931) 852-2167
Fax: (931) 852-2168


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