When we think of founder, we think of horses. Horses who overeat are susceptible to founder. We now know goats are equally susceptible. This can be a herd-wide problem or just a problem for one goat.

Laminitis (founder) is an inflammation of the laminae, sensitive tissue which lies under the cover of the hoof. The first symptom of founder is feet warm or hot to the touch. The owner will notice a sudden lameness due to the extreme pain. The goat may grind his teeth in pain. Or he may balk at walking or standing. Many goats will walk on their knees or stand with a foot tucked up underneath them in an attempt to take pressure off the foot. In chronic founder the hoof may be malformed or overgrown with the toes turned upwards. There may be pink areas around the white line of the hoof. There could be abnormal growth so the hoof becomes malformed because the wall of the hoof thickens.

There are thought to be several causes of laminitis. One cause is an intake of feed low in magnesium or high in protein. This is most common when the goat breaks into the feed room and eats all it wants. Excessive levels of highly fermentable feed (i.e., corn) may cause acidosis that manifests itself in the extremely sore feet. When the entire herd is affected, assume a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fiber causing a decrease in rumen pH.

At other times the laminitis is a result of a bacterial infection. Some have associated laminitis as a complication of diseases associated with kidding, i.e., retained placenta, mastitis, or uterine infection. It may also be a complication of enterotoxemia or pneumonia.

When the cause is a change in diet (or overindulging), simply give the goat one to two tablespoons of Epsom Salts and add dolomite to the feed. Once the mineral ration has been stabilized with a proper balance, founder should not be a problem.

Check your feed for magnesium content and calcium:magnesium ratio. Excess calcium in relation to magnesium is very common, leading to a relative magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is also important for maintaining normal insulin sensitivity. Ration should be supplemented with magnesium to bring the calcium:magnesium ratio down to 2:1.

Iodine deficiency is also common and may contribute to hormonal abnormalities. Feed a mineral supplement formulated for goats (there are several good ones out there) or, better yet in many cases, especially if the animal is on a "diet", a protein and mineral supplement., in their book Small Ruminant Production Medicine and Managent for Sheep and Goats recommends a treatment of phenylbutazone (bute).

Furney Register and other suppliers have boots for goats. We would suggest putting a layer of cotton soaked in iodine in the bottom of the boots, and keep the boots on the feet until the feet recover (changing the cotton twice a day for cleanliness purposes). Be sure to have a high quality protein in the diet to rebuild the hoof.

Ken and Pat Motes
Clear Creek Farms
33 South Clear Creek Road
Fall River, Tennessee 38468
Phone: (931) 852-2167
Fax: (931) 852-2168

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