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When you have dairy goats, maintaining good udder health is the key to maintaining production and a healthy, happy doe. In order to be sure your doe’s udder is healthy and productive, there are a few key things to watch out for.
Mastitis is the number one threat to udder health, causing dairy producers more economic loss than any other factor. It can be caused by a number of things, but essentially it’s an infection within the udder. The infection can present clinical (obvious swelling, heat, lumpy or bloody milk, etc.) or sub-clinical (no obvious symptoms – may only appear as a drop in production).
If mastitis is suspected, it’s good to run a California Mastitis Test, which you should always keep on hand if you have dairy does. It’s a simple test that will easily let you know if there is an infection present. If you’re on DHIR milk test, your testing results will include s somatic cell count that is incredibly useful in detecting mastitis, especially when it’s not presenting with any symptoms. Be sure to keep the affected doe’s immune system well supported with natural immune boosters.
Mastitis is most effectively treated with an udder infusion like Today, in conjunction with frequent milk outs, stripping out the udder completely, and udder massage with warm compresses and a peppermint based salve. Depending on the severity of the mastitis, injectable antibiotics may be recommended.
Staph usually presents as a few white heads, or “pimples”, on the udder, but will rapidly grow and spread. It usually appears on the underside of the body that has contact with the ground. It is also very contagious and can transmitted to other goats, and humans. The wet, humid environment that generally produces staph will usually affect more than one goat.
There are several strains of staph, and you may have to try a few different methods of treatment before you can get it cleared up. The first step is to clip down the affected area. Then give the area a good scrub, wearing gloves, and remove any scabs and opening any pustules to drain. Chlorhexidine is the best thing to use to clean a staph infection. You can purchase this at almost any drug store under the name Hibiclens. Make sure all housing is clean and dry and stripped frequently. Clean the affected areas with Chlorhexidine twice a day. If that’s not effective, you may have to consider injectable antibiotics as well. Once again, be sure you’re supporting you’re doe’s immune system well during treatment.
Aggressive Nursing Injuries
Dam raised kids can cause damage to a doe’s udder, generally to the teats. If she is raising triplets or more, the doe can experience chaffing, splitting and general soreness. Some folks will actually file down the points of the rear teeth of aggressive nursers, but I’ve never done that myself. If a doe’s teats are getting damaged from too much nursing, we’ll often try to supplement the kids with a bottle, while giving the dam a break from her kids for a bit. When the dam is away from her kids, we’ll apply a homemade salve to the sore or split areas. You can use Bag Balm if you don’t have access to a good all natural salve.
General Health = Udder Health
Keeping your dairy goat in good health is the key to a healthy udder. Keeping living areas clean and dry, and udders clipped helps prevent harmful bacteria from infecting the udder. During cold weather when udders get hairy and you may not be milking, it can be easy to miss issues such as staph. Be sure that even in the off season when you may not be milking that you’re checking udders for any abnormalities. Making sure to support your doe’s immune system is always important when they’re in milk, as it’s very taxing on their entire body.