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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I wish I knew when I started this thread what I know now.

Our biggest kid, Fringe, has developed "bent legs." According to the vet this condition was most likely brought about by a diet too rich in protein, resulting in a growth rate too fast for his bones to keep up with, and also creating an imbalance in his calcium/phosphorus ratio. We thought we were doing the right thing bottle feeding them up to 4 months and supplementing with grain and alfalfa pellets -- all of which are very high in calcium. I guess we just gave him too much of a good thing....

Apparently this condition is common in animals with high growth rates, such as large-breed dogs and thoroughbred horses. It also happens frequently in goats, although most people don't bother treating it since it doesn't affect their function as milk or meat animals. Obviously it's a major problem for packgoats!

Luckily we have access to top quality vet care (the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital) and they are optimistic that his legs can be corrected with surgery and he'll grow up to be a fine packgoat. But it won't be cheap! It would have been a lot better to not have caused the problem in the first place.

Lesson learned...the hard way! (isn't it always like that?)
 

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Re: Growth Rate?

Bwana Ken said:
I wish I knew when I started this thread what I know now.

Our biggest kid, Fringe, has developed "bent legs." According to the vet this condition was most likely brought about by a diet too rich in protein, resulting in a growth rate too fast for his bones to keep up with, and also creating an imbalance in his calcium/phosphorus ratio. We thought we were doing the right thing bottle feeding them up to 4 months and supplementing with grain and alfalfa pellets -- all of which are very high in calcium. I guess we just gave him too much of a good thing....

Apparently this condition is common in animals with high growth rates, such as large-breed dogs and thoroughbred horses. It also happens frequently in goats, although most people don't bother treating it since it doesn't affect their function as milk or meat animals. Obviously it's a major problem for packgoats!

Luckily we have access to top quality vet care (the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital) and they are optimistic that his legs can be corrected with surgery and he'll grow up to be a fine packgoat. But it won't be cheap! It would have been a lot better to not have caused the problem in the first place.

Lesson learned...the hard way! (isn't it always like that?)
Surgery? Yikes! I have seen this a few times in young kids who were growing like gangbusters. Usually it was with a Saanen or Saanen cross. Correcting the imbalance will go a long way toward correcting the condition. At least with our goats the legs straightened back out as they grew. They may not go back to 100% but it was never enough to hinder the goats ability to pack. We saw this less and less as our feeding program and vitamin routine was better defined. I actually think that much of it was caused by a Vitamin D deficency. Also high Iron content in your water can cause a calcium imbalance as increased iron hinders the goats ability to process the Vitamine D properly. Look at everything. It may be another factor causing the imbalance and not the feed itself. We fed out kids as much milk as they wanted till about 3 months with free choice alfalfa and grain. After three months they were weaned and the grain was meausred out but they are still allowed free choice alfalfa till they are almost three.

I'd definately start with a Vitamin D injection and then figure out whether you need Calcium or Phosphorous supplements.
 

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Re: Growth Rate?

It's not so much the quantity as the ratio. And too much protein. What is helpful is to dial back the nutritional level and give them free choice minerals. Then slowly start back the goodies, alfalfa and grain. Any time you have fast growing kids you have the potential for this to happen. I watch them like a hawk and tend to dial back both quantity ond quality if they are growing to fast and I see any leg deformities.

This is very common in mammals who are growing fast. They have done a lot of research in horses so can treat this fairly successfully.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks to both of you for your well informed thoughts. You gave me information that even the vet didn't discuss.

Rex, you hit the nail on the head. My goats are purebred Saanen's and the affected goat has grown very fast indeed; he weighed 79 pounds at only 4 months old -- and wasn't fat!

Your comment about low vitamin D levels caused by iron in the water was very interesting. We do have very high iron levels in our water here in the Palouse area and the vet did say the goat's vitamin D levels were low and gave him a booster shot. (by coincidence I was diagnosed was very low vitamin D during my last physical checkup. The Dr said I needed to get more sun and take supplements, but never mentioned that high iron content in the water could be a contributing factor. Very interesting!)

I'm very relived to hear that Fringe's bent legs may self-correct as he matures. The vet admitted as much too, but said that there was no guarantee that they would even with a modified diet. The only sure way to correct his legs would be with surgery. Fringe is still young so maybe we'll give him a little more time before making the decision.

As a side note: My wife and I took all the goats out on a 4 day, 22 mile backpack trip this past weekend. Fringe's legs didn't seem to bother him and he kept up fine, although he was noticeably less "athletic" (less jumping, running and climbing) than his 3 buddies. The one thing that really affected all of the kids was the heat (80 - 90 deg every day): We had to take frequent breaks in the shade when we noticed them starting to pant. We were glad we kept their horns, as that probably helped them cool down quicker.

Thanks! Ken
 
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