How we can protect the kids? Paul R. Earl Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas Universitdad Autónomia de Nuevo León San Nicolás, NL 66451 [email protected]
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Over 35 years ago milkgoats were massively imported into Mexico due to the weird notion that they--without energy nor rain--could save the consumer price of milk. The traditional goat, cabrito al pastor--roasted kid--is a meat type. Milk in Mexico is mostly imported powdered milk--leche en polvo importada. Most goats have a chronic toxemia and cannot make antibody to the infectious agent—Corynebacterium pseudo-tuberculosis.
The toxinThe goats do not respond well to phospholipase D, the toxin of their principal disease: caseous lymphadenitis. In many herds, all goats have this disease. The secondary threat to their lives in Mexico is winter-spring starvation due to the December reduction of the foliage of the matorral (short open woods) in northern Mexico. Starvation in the north is likely to occur when most of the goats are pregnant. By March, the matorral usually recovers new leaves, but it did not in 1984 or 1991, causing the death of very many goats and kids. However, every winter causes some starvation.
The goats with caseous lymphadenitis, sometimes evinced by abcesses in the skin, produce antitoxin to phospholipase D, but they do not usually control the disease. Then their blood contains a mixture of antitoxin and the toxin continuously produced by the coryne-bacteria. The bacterial cause of caseous lymphadenitis is grampositive penicillin-sensitive Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis.
Immune toleranceThe fetuses are exposed to the toxin, phospholipase D, and can become tolerized. Immune tolerance of the fetus is caused by the circulation of toxin in the mother’s blood. This can mean that the cabrito is born with immune tolerance. The intoxicated but not infected cabrito can become immediately infected and die. Sometimes, tiny abcesses can be felt in the neck of cabritos. These "bolcitos" are inflammed lymph glands.
Many animals including man receive antibodies from their mother’s colostrum, thus have passive immunity. The intoxicated cabrito does not have passive immunity, because it receives toxin not antitoxin from its mother. If the mother were treated to reduce bacterial toxin production, toxin would be eliminated and antitoxin (antibody) would be available in the blood and in the colostrum.
Wintertime starvationIn the winter disaster of 1984 in Los Herreras, Nuevo León, Mexico, one man lost 250/350 adult goats. His neighbor did not lose any goats, because he had saved 2 tons of corn for his herd of 150 goats. The losses were due to prolonged starvation.In the spring of 1995 in Neuva República, NL, one cooperative lost 350/350 cabritos. This loss was due to caseous lymphadenitis.
Poisonous plantsIn the spring of 2002, some goats died of toxicosis in Mina, NL. This was due to a combination of circumstances that is common to subsistence goat-raising: 1) starvation, 2) the toxin of caseous lymphadenitis, and 3) intoxications by eating coyotillo, the poisonous plant Karwinskia humboldtiana. Opacities in the corneas of the eyes are caused by “flechitas” of nopal segador, Opuntia microdassys. Goats eat poisonous plants only when they are starving.
PredatorsEnemies include coyotes, puma, jaguar, bear and others at night. Most dogs are afraid of these creatures. They will bark, yet not go near very often. Still, coyotes will not engage a brave dog. You can protect yourself with a flashlight, but in the day you must stand because if you run, they then know you are prey. Horned bucks will charge any predator or perhaps another male when the breeding season is on. They have twice the weight of a coyote. If they can toss it into the air, with a charge they can break some bones at landing. Incidentally, rattlesnakes don't seem to bother goats.
More hazards for goatsThe toxins of both coyotillo and corynebacteria attack the covering (myelin) of the nerves. Paralysis tends to be ascending first seen in the hind legs. When progressively and finally the nerves of the diaphragm are damaged, the goat will die. In 1993, 53 reclined goats from Espinaso, NL were brought to Monterrey and set down on grass that they could reach and given water by syringe as they would not drink. All of these cases of coyotillo toxicosis died in 2-4 weeks. All cases were diagnosed by myelin damage seen in microscope slides.
What about management ?What do we really have? We have folklore in a cost/benefit analysis. Up to 1994, the free trade starting year, goat milk was subsidized. Our job is to change the management. Our job is to change the subsistence attitude to a more productive one. Even though the goal is santitation and disease control, possibly with the quarentine of caseous lymphadenitis after a cleanup, the goats could remain profit free !
What is the solution to the continuing catastrophic loss of adults and cabritos? It is emergency supplementation. Every winter is a disaster.The key is penicillin G.Begin with some corn, sorghum, etc. for the adult goats in December & January, assuming also that they are browsing in the matorral however reduced it is. This can mean raising a special crop for the goats. And this is antieconomic. Mexican crops in a certain tradition are for DIRECT HUMAN CONSUMPTION.
Reduce the mortalityAdult goats, pregnant or with kids, should be given milk replacer with penicillin G at least once a week. However, a successful antibiotic-containing milk replacer may not be available in the market and may have to be specially mixed. The goats can get the penicillin G that they need in a salt mixture of salt, bonemeal with or without dry milk replacer. A more conventional option is adding the antibiotic carrier (the milk replacer) or the antibiotic to the mixture: phosphoric acid + urea + molasses, commercially available and sometimes known as Morea.
All cabritos from birth to market at 30-60 days of age should be given at least 1/10 liters of milk replacer with penicillin G every day or twice a day until 3 days before market. Then residual penicillin in the cabrito is not a consideration. The milk replacer can contain about 12 micrograms/ml de penicilina G for 6% body weight per feeding. The program that is given above will reduce economic losses of cabritos. It is true that intramuscular or oral injections of antibiotics such as for cabritos at birth and adults at partum are improvements, but somewhat more expensive. THE COST OF REDUCING MORTALITY HAS NEVER BEEN TESTED.
What is the point?The point is that each caprinacultor should realistically analyse his situation. To do this, he must keep records and not depend on memory. How much does it cost to supplement goats, and what is the financial return from the sale of cabritos? Note that the caprinocultor does not know what is killing his cabritos, and he may think it is septicemia.Again, he does not understand the toxin pathology.
Although we may know what to do technically, we cannot be optimistic about goat survival and profitability, because this program in not in the tradition of caprinacultura. Even a component as simple as bonemeal may not actually be easily available to isolated ranches. Generally, product “X” is not available, because there is no demand for it. In the end, the caprinocultor may be unwilling to invest anything to save his own business, often because he does to see the benefit. The benefit is more larger cabritos by controlling caseous lymphadenitis.
The goats get water daily or twice a day from arroyos and aljibes (streams and ponds) and live on the leaves of the matorral. In such a subsistence tradition they are not in any way supplemented and therefore it is hard to medicate them. Today’s technology is simple, but applying it to ranches without the barest conveniences such as electricity is severely difficult. Fatalism through centuries of accepting large animal losses rounds out the picture. Caprinacultores pay by losses, not by prevention.
The rural human diet of tortillas, beans and chili is ACUTELY short of microelements, vitamin B12 and fats leading to considerable stunting, and can be improved by milk from “household” goats. The federal replacement of meat goats by milk goats caused a permanent disaster. Can this be rectified ?