When I came home from work on Friday night, the goats on the girls-n-kids side were spread out all over the field. Crystal and her kids were up by the road, Summer was in the far back corner, Mona and Dahlia were lying by the gate, etc. Summer was lying down by herself, which I noted but didn't worry about at the time.
On Saturday morning, Summer did not come join the morning feeding frenzy. She stayed cushed up (llama term like cats "sphinxing") until I walked toward her, when she got up and walked away and lay back down. That lack of attention to food did concern me. After I had done morning chores, we chased her around and took her temperature - 102.8. I cut the boy's field in two with the fencing from last fall's sinkhole repair and moved Summer into the front half by the driveway gate. I brought her sweet feed and water and left her in the shade for a while.
Later that day I caught her lying down in the shade and took her temperature again. Again, it was 102.8. (This means that chasing her around in the morning hadn't caused an elevated temperature.) I checked her udder for any more mastitis, and thankfully she was completely dried up and her udder wasn't hot or hard at all. If I hadn't been persistent and taken some time at it, I don't think I would have been able to tell her udder from the skin around it.
She ate a bit of sweet feed that afternoon. She wasn't terribly interested in hay, though she took a few bites. She was much more interested in a branch of maple leaves that I brought her, which cheered me up. With her temperature not rising, I decided to let her be for another day.
On Sunday morning Summer was a bit perkier though not all that interested in talking to me. (I'm ok with that, so long as she eats.) I fed her the regular chow-n-alfalfa pellets and threw Alys in with her so that she would have company in her shed during the rain. Summer doesn't like Alys all that much, but Alys is too cheerful and persistent for Summer's cold shoulder to make a difference, especially since the other goats are along the same fencelines where she can talk to them and nose at them as she chooses.
This morning, Summer was eating as though nothing had ever been wrong. She and Alys shared a food bowl with a bare minimum of pushing. By the time I had finished morning chores, Summer was eating hay out of the basket on the boys' fenceline while Alys licked the bowls clean.
achaosofkittens and I discussed Summer's problem (ok, my problem with Summer's attitude) a couple of times over the course of the weekend. The first and best theory we have is that Summer is tired of the big herd scramble, tired of being beat up on by the big goats, and generally sick of dealing with everybody. She doesn't mind being queen of the little goats, but I think she has reached the end of her cope with the big goats. So when weaning time comes (soon!), I think I will make her guardian of the babies until she goes back to being queen of the non-breeding group.
Discussion on diagnosis
On Saturday morning, we talked about whether I should call the vet when Summer walked away from food. I postponed my decision until after we had taken her temperature, at which point I was willing to let her go for a little while to see if she actually ate anything. Once she ate something in a normal goaty fashion (maple leaves like a vacuum cleaner), I was content to leave her alone for the rest of the day.
As I understand it, diagnosis of a goat that is still on its feet and walking comes down to three areas:
1. Does it eat and process what it eats properly (poop, etc.)?
2. Does it have an elevated temperature or temperature problems in the extremities such as ears, nose and horns? (Remember that horns are normally warmer in the summertime.)
3. Are there obvious physical symptoms of distress such as a cough, a hunched back, a runny nose or watery eyes, or extremely poor hair?
With Summer, the answers were
1. sort of.
With the mild weather on Saturday, the risks of leaving her to either snap out of it or decline were pretty low. It was warm enough that she was panting somewhat, but it was nowhere near hot enough to prostrate her when she had plenty of shade and water available. Had it been the dead of winter and I found Summer with this kind of attitude, I would have called the vet, because if she were sick, she would have burned up her reserves far faster trying to adjust for the temperature and whatever pneumonia was waiting in the barn.
Also, the difference between an emergency vet visit on Saturday and one on Sunday was just the rain, not the price. So waiting did not hurt anything, and might have saved some other farm some grief.