Not Goat Polio

You think you have seen it all. The worms, the lice, the mites, the soremouth, the listeriosis, the goat polio, the dystocia, the abortion storm, the broken legs, the cocci, the immaculate conceptions, the ringworm, the infinitesimal preemies, the heart failure, the stick in the eye, the prolapse, the bottlejaw, the doorstop embedded in the cheek, the calculi, the heat stroke, the dog attack, the milk fever, the toxemia, the floppy kid, the failure to dilate, the foot rot, the baby born without a tail, the doeling who had a shed fall on her, the umbilical hernia, the hermaphrodite, the cryptorchid, the spider bite on the udder, the enterotoxemia, the rhododendron poisoning, the scotch broom poisoning, the cancer, the cloudburst pregnancy, the mastitis, ….etc etc etc. I could go on. Anyway sometimes you think you have seen it all.

You haven’t.

Yesterday morning I come out to feed and everyone stampedes to the feeder. Except Marti’s nitwit daughter Everly, who LOVES to eat. Where’s Everly? I look around for a few minutes and I see her, standing off by herself next to a fence post down in the lower pasture. She is standing stiffly, with her head held unnaturally high and at an angle. I call her name and she moves slightly, but doesn’t turn her head to look at me. I call again. Again she moves, but doesn’t turn her head to look at me. She can obviously hear me, but doesn’t see me. Must be blind.

Ok, I think, I have had that one on my Goat 911 Bingo card before: polio.

I don’t even go down to check on her, that’s how much I know everything. I just go back in the house and draw up some thiamine and a little bit of dex in case needed and I go get a stall ready in the barn and then I mosey down to the fence post where she is still standing, basically motionless, head cocked up and back.

Is it goat polio? Of course not.


Everly somehow through her incredible nitwittedness has found a fence post with a stub of barbed wire, above goat level because it was originally put there to keep the horses from leaning on the field fence. But years ago all the barbed wire was removed from the tops of the fence posts because, you know, safety. But the staple wouldn’t come out of this one so it was just cut off the post. Leaving a stub that I was always going to remove later.

Somehow, it must have taken hours, she got her beard caught and tangled in the one barb on the end of that stub, and then probably by walking around the fence post like a maypole all night long, managed to twist her beard around that little stub so tightly that it is holding her like an inch-thick rope. I mean you could tie up a tugboat with this twisted beard.

And now she can’t move her head at all and she is looking up at the sky. Oh hello, her expression says, when I pop into her line of sight with my supply of expert medical equipment. What took you so long?

Goats. You think you’ve seen it all.

What if it is goat polio?

Go here for info on Effie’s case of goat polio (pretty typical) and links to treatment and preventive management

Val Taleggio north of Milan


It’s late November. The milk is tired. And that means it’s taleggio season.

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Not Goat Polio

Not Goat Polio You think you have seen it all. The worms, the lice, the mites, the soremouth, the listeriosis, the goat polio, the dystocia,

Read More »