According to mainstream sources, e-coli is most prevalent in dirty conditions. If you’re here because you suspect a case, it’s a good idea to evaluate your setup, but understand that things just happen sometimes and if you’re making any effort at all at hygiene in your herd, it’s likely a fluke. In other words, don’t beat yourself up over it.
E-coli is the most common cause of diarrhea in newborn kids up to about 10 days old. Diarrhea can come on quickly. Conventional treatment is fluid replacement and antibiotics. One of the things I love most about herbal remedies is that they can apply fairly equally well even if you haven’t identified the specific cause. There is zero to low risk of side effects when using most herbs and because they work to build up the body, you gain even if the treatment needs to be adjusted as you go.
- Diarrhea, especially if watery or bloody
- Onset in the first week of life
- Pain: hunching, tucked tail, teeth grinding
The two main symptoms that more accurately point to e-coli are watery/bloody diarrhea and the age of the goat at onset, usually under 10 days old. E-coli can be fast acting so your treatment should be too, especially if the two main symptoms are present.
My approach for a newborn kid, keeping in mind to double everything for standard sized goats: .5 drop oregano essential oil in 1ml olive oil into which I also add slippery elm, nettle, mullein and cinnamon, dosed orally 4x the first day, so at 8a, 12p, 4p, 8p. At 10a, 2p, 6p, I’d dose the herbs in apple cider vinegar without the oregano essential oil. To get a .5 drop dose, put one drop in 2ml olive oil, stir well and draw back out 1ml using a syringe
Symptoms should improve on day 1. If they do not, double the amount of oregano in each dose and repeat the dosing schedule on day 2. Always, always trust your instinct and don’t hesitate to seek a vet if you feel unsure or treatment does not appear to be helping. This is especially true with something fast acting like e-coli where time is of the essence.
General dosage reduction instructions: if symptoms are improving, reduce one dose of the essential oil mixture and one dose of the herb mixture the following day. Do this every day until you’ve reduced to zero doses. Any time symptoms don’t improve, continue that day’s dosing schedule–or go back up–and maintain until symptoms are reducing. Symptoms should never worsen and if they do, another approach may be necessary.
Once treatment is complete, follow up with 2-3 days of probiotics in the form of plain kefir (preferred), plain yogurt, or a commercial probiotic supplement such as Probios.
Other Suggestions and Research
In Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable, Levy recommends the following treatment for scours:
[Fast for 24 hours]. Through the fast they should be given balls of thick honey, the size of a walnut (six balls daily). [My note: halve the size of the honey balls for miniature goats.] A teaspoon each of finely minced sage and dill–or dill seed–can be added with advantage to every three honey balls.
She also recommends slippery elm, which should be a mainstay in the goat keeper’s pantry.
Pat Coleby recommends vitamin C. I prefer whole food vitamin C based on research that indicates ascorbic acid and other synthetic C forms can inhibit mineral absorption.
Kat of Fir Meadow says in her book to use these options for general diarrhea:
- GI Soother
- slippery elm bark
- blackberry leaf or root
- raspberry leaf
- strawberry leaf
Continue the discussion in the Health forum.