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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey, I've noticed in the last couple of weeks that Cuzco does not seem to be quite the eating machine that he normally is. For example, it usually takes him about 3 minutes to blaze through a full bowl of slightly burnt popcorn. Last night I left the bowl with him for over 5 minutes and when I went to retrieve it, it was only half gone. I've noticed he's been eating other things slower too lately and I'm wondering if goats, like horses, can get uneven tooth wear as they get older. Does anyone float teeth on a goat? I had been attributing Cuzco's recent weight drop to the stress of moving. He's gained some since that first traumatic week when he really sloughed the pounds, but he still looks thin to me. And now I'm wondering if he's having a hard time chewing his food properly.

Cuzco is nine years old now, so I imagine he's going to start having a few geriatric problems over the next few years, and I want to stay on top of them. Besides teeth, is there anything else I need to start watching out for? Luckily so far we've never seen even a hint of the dreaded urinary tract problems that seem to haunt so many wethers (knock on wood). Cuzco drinks like a horse, and peeing is one of his favorite pastimes.

Cuzco doesn't appear to have any problems with arthritis, but he does run slower nowadays. He can't scoot away so fast when a horse goes after him, and I have to go slower when he chases my truck or bike to the end of the drive. Cuzco used to be a super fast runner, but I'm guessing a slow-down is pretty normal at his age. Am I right? Are there any supplements I should start giving? I've never fed him grain since he was a baby, but a few weeks ago I started feeding him some of the horses' oats every day to help get his weight back up. He doesn't seem to have any trouble eating oats, but those don't require chewing until later. ;)
 

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Dental issues can crop up in even goats as young as 4. He is past due for dental are if he is showing problems. THis is very often why those old goats are so thin. THeir teeth don't work anymore and need leveling and removal of hooksthat are cutting the insides of their mouths.
 

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Hello Carolyn,

how would you recommend to check for problematic teeth as a preliminary check before calling a vet (without losing ones fingers ;) )?
 

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If you can grab the tongue you can pull it to one side and check each side visually. If you can't get the mouth open you can run your fingers along the teeth from the outside and look for flinching or discomfort. Sometimes you can even feel unevenness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
"If you can grab the tongue..."

The key operative here being, "If." This is how I look into horses' mouths, so I decided to try it on Cuzco. He convinced me it wasn't a good idea. I wish I had a stanchion so I could lock his head in place. I don't like putting my head down near his when he's protesting since I don't want to get too near that horn when it's waving around. For everything but teeth I've always been able to snub him up short with a halter and rope, but the noseband is too loose to hold his head in place if it's loose enough for me to get his mouth wide open. I've rubbed along the cheeks from the outside and haven't found a sore spot (in fact, he seems to like it when I rub his cheeks).

Anyway, I called the vet and made an appointment for the 26th. It seems no vets around here have ever done much with goat teeth, so I'm not sure how it's going to go. All the vets who work on goats only have experience with goats who are too young to start having uneven tooth wear. The one I talked to today seemed think that nine years old is ancient.
 

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Nanno said:
(in fact, he seems to like it when I rub his cheeks).
Could also point toward tooth problem. I f.e. have a tooth that aches from time to time and it's very soothing to apply pressure from the outside.
 

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When I started out with packgoats 9 was ancient. As we got better at caring for wethers their life expectancy has increased. Amazing what attention to diet and worming can do.

When I started in horses 16 was ancient. Now it's middle aged.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, the verdict is in and it turns out Cuzco has no teeth to float. Well, not exactly, but there's not much left of the bottom molars except nubs. I'm guessing that's why he's seemed sensitive lately. I think some of the top teeth are grinding down into the gums on the bottom since there's not much tooth left to hit. Luckily he's been gaining weight pretty quickly since the soft spring grass is coming in.

So now I'm looking for help in feeding a toothless goat come winter. The vet suggested a Blue Seal feed called "Meat Goat 17." He says it contains ammonium chloride to help combat urinary stones while still being able to feed grain for keeping on weight. Does anyone have any experience with this kind of goat feed?

I usually buy very good soft grass hay so he may be ok with that. But if at some point he can no longer chew it effectively, I was thinking hay cubes soaked in water. I know a few people who do that for toothless horses, along with mashes instead of dry grain. Am I on the right track here? Cuzco is extremely perky and active, and except for his worn teeth he hasn't seemed to age much at all. I want to make sure he stays healthy as long as possible, so any help would be appreciated!
 

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We put our geriatric goats on a mash of alfalfa pellets, beet pulp and grain. You can also get grass hay pellets, but we've never had a problem with their food being somewhat richer than the average goat as their bodies are pretty ineffecient at using their nutrition once they get that old.

We put one cup beet pulp, two cups hay, and 1/2 cup grain to soak for 12 hours and feed it at the next feeding. So there is always stuff soaking. Watch this if you do it in a warm climate as it can ferment. You might want to refrigerate it when it's hot. You can increase the hay as much as you want. If they are not eating regular hay they may eat 4 cups of the hay, in which case, I would put the hay separate from the other concentrates to make sure they get all the goodies.

THis seems like a lot of food but I've never had any problems with UC. As with any diet change start gradually till they get used to processing it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you for the recommendations! I'll definitely be looking into feeding Cuzco some soft food this winter, even if he's still munching the hay. I want to make sure he's getting enough to keep weight and not be overly hard on those worn-out teeth. I know that horses with bad teeth will still eat hay, but their inability to chew it properly makes it harder to digest so they'll lose weight even if they clean it up. I doubt that's as much of a problem with ruminants, but I still don't want to make those teeth work too hard if it means we can keep this guy a few years longer! He's a very special fella. ;)
 
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