Bottle Jaw in Goats & Sheep -BEST TREATMENT, CAUSES & SYMPTOMS

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Bottle jaw in goats (often called “bottlejaw”) is characterized by a hardened swelling under the jaw area and is mostly caused by liver flukes or worms.

A goat with a weak immune system or one that is sick is easily susceptible to bottlejaw symptoms. Most of the time, worming will cure this condition but one should also consider other herd health management practices.

A typical treatment plan included the use of vitamin B12 injections and/or the administration of a product called Red Cell as well as worming the goat.

Note: Bottle jaw is not a condition, but a symptom of an underlying problem.

Symptoms of bottle jaw in goats

The symptoms of bottle jaw in goats are pretty straightforward.

  • The formation of cold, pitting swelling underneath the jaw area.
  • The affected goat will develop diarrhea due to the presence of internal parasites
  • Bottle jaw might occur in other parts of the body. But, the jaw is its favorite because that area causes fluid to accumulate in the loose tissue while the head of the goat is down while grazing/feeding.
  • White mucous membranes as a result of excessive loss of blood
  • Dry feces, blockage of the salivary duct, and intolerance of exercise.
  • Loss of weight and failure to thrive.
  • Death within seven days of a severe infection.

Before treating the goats, it is essential to diagnose the exact cause of the bottle jaw in goats as the treatment depends on the causative agent of bottle jaw.

What Causes Bottle Jaw in Goats?

Bottle jaw is not a disease but a clear sign of the underlying issue in the goats. The underlying matter is usually anemia and caused by quite a few things.

So, carry out a FAMACHA test to determine the level of anemia. Goats with bottle jaw typically score higher on the FAMACHA test.

This shows that the protein and blood cell levels in the goats blood is low. Other causes of bottle-jaw include: stomach worm or barber pole worm:

  • S​tomach Worm

The stomach worm is one of the common causes of bottle jaw in goats. The barber pole worm has sharp teeth, and they feed on the blood released in the blood vessel.

Your goats don’t get enough blood thereby causing them to develop anemia. The anemia causes fluid under the chin to accumulate, and this is known as bottle jaw.

  • Lower Protein Level in Blood

The small amount of protein level in your herd blood might trigger bottle jaw. When your goats’ protein levels in the blood is too low, for too long, fluid remains in the interstitial spaces (space around the tissue cells) and this results in signs of jaw bottle in goats.

  • Trauma

Trauma is yet another reason why your goats experience bottle jaw. The injury can be a result of an attack by predators or hit by any object that results in too much blood loss and the goat ends up being anaemic.

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This blood loss from the goat may end in bottle jaw.

  • Infectious Disease

One major infectious cause of goat’s bottle jaw is “Coccidia”.

Coccidia typically causes various symptoms such as:

  • Anaemia
  • Diarrhoea
  • Excessive blood loss
  • Damage to the GI tract and plenty more.

Live flukes are another major cause of bottle jaw, especially in the Gulf Coast region. Liver fluke is a parasite that causes anemia, poor body condition, and even death in goats.

Another disease is “Johne’s disease”. This one leads to anemia in goats and develops bottle jaw in goats too.

Diarrhea is not the main symptom of this disease, but the goat can get anemia and suffer weight loss and diarrhea.

  • Copper Deficiency

Copper imbalance is another cause of anemia and bottle jaw in goats.

Goats can suffer deficiency or toxicity (too much) of copper. Sheep and goats will experience these two when there is not enough or too much copper in their system.

Copper deficiency typically occurs when there is a lack of copper in the soil or lack of proper mineral mix or an abundance of other minerals like molybdenum.

If your goat consumes too much molybdenum, they become unable to absorb enough copper. In other words, the molybdenum blocks off the path for copper absorption.

Copper deficient sheep and goats often appear as unthrifty animals. Watch out for these signs if your goat is copper-deficient:

  • Slow growth
  • Dull coat or faded hair color
  • Poor fleece
  • Poor appetite
  • Musculoskeletal problems

Copper toxicity has clearer signs associated with it and they include:

  • Sudden depression and severe weakness
  • Quick and painful death
  • Anemia

Copper poisoning in sheep is more common than goats. It happens when feeds or mineral mixes are prepared incorrectly.

Goats are naturally more able to tolerate more copper than sheep, so never give sheep feed or minerals intended for goats.

You should have a local extension agent or soil expert tell you about the soil in your region.  Ask specifically about copper and other minerals in the soil and how well suited they are for goats.

I would feed Kale (and other Brassica family) plants sparingly. They too can cause anemia in goats.

  • Anaplasmosis

Anaplasmosis is a progressive disease caused by the blood parasite Anaplasma ovis. The disease is characterized by progressive destruction of red blood cells.

It is usually transmitted by people during routine care such as castrating, vaccinating, dehorning and ear-tagging.

There are many other pathogens and parasites that can lead to bottle jaw and anemia in goats, but they are really rare and mostly accompanied by a fever.

ALSO SEE: How Soon After Kidding Can A Goat Be Bred?

bottle jaw in goats

What is the Treatment of Bottle Jaw in Goats?

To effectively treat the affected goats, you will need to know the exact cause of the bottle jaw in goats.

  • Deworming

Deworming is a really effective way to make sure that the worm load in your herd is reduced. I recommend using broad-spectrum de-wormers to fight off the internal parasites like liver flukes, or other worms.

  • Clean Pasture

Move the goats to a cleaner pasture (one that does not have other animals on it for six or more months) after the initial treatment.

  • Vitamins and Antibiotics

The goat may get the injections of B-12, Nutri-Drench and Red Cell therapy for goats. These injections and red cell therapy and nutria-drench will help the goats to restore from the anaemia.

  • Feed Quality Feed

By providing alfalfa hay, high protein pellet goat feed and leaves, your goats are able to rebuild their blood cells.

  • Iron Supplements

Dextran and Ferrodex 100 are two great injectable forms of iron that can be given to anemic goats.

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You should ONLY GIVE IF YOUR GOATS ARE TESTED and the result is positive. If not, it is possible to overdose (and harm) your goat with iron.

An anemic goat typically won’t overdose on iron injections though. An exception to this is kids.  Ask your vet if you’re dealing with anemia in a young goat before giving iron injections.

Both the Ferrodex 100 and Dextran can be purchased over the counter at feed and livestock supply stores.

Ferrodex 100 can be given at a rate of 2 cc per 50 pounds of body weight or 4 cc per 100 pounds.

  • Red Cell for Anemic Goats

Red Cell supplement is an alternative to using needle and syringe to give goats iron. It is given to goats as an oral supplement.

Originally created for horses, The dosage for Red cells in goats is 3 cc per 50 pounds of body weight or 6 cc per 100 pounds.

  • Weaning

A doe infected with anemia should be separated from her kids.

The kids need to be weaned so their mother doesn’t lose her life.

Anemia brings about stress to the body. Nursing kids also cause stress on the body.

A doe that is anemic needs time to recover and she likely can’t recover from anemia and nurse her babies.

If the kids are old enough to eat grass and grain on their own, then this is an easy decision.  Simply pull the kids and get the doe better.

If the kids aren’t old enough to eat grass and grain, then you may want to consider bottle feeding them if their mother is severely anemic.

  • Blood Transfusions

In a life-threatening situation, goats that are severely infected might need a life-saving blood transfusion to survive.

This is an expensive treatment and many veterinarians do not have the equipment to make this happen.

If you have an expensive goat that is worth it, then consider calling around to see which veterinarians close to you can perform a blood transfusion.

This may mean driving the goat to an emergency clinic or the closest vet school.

Does Ivermectin work for Bottle Jaw?

Yes, it does. Ivermectin is a wormer that is used to treat barber pole worms. It is an over-the-counter wormer that is used to treat goats and then re-treat them 10 days later.

The second dose will catch any eggs that have hatched since the first treatment (ivermectin doesn’t kill the unhatched eggs).

Sadly, there have been reports of mutant barber pole worms that have become resistant to ivermectin because of people giving the wormer as a ‘preventative’ instead of just as needed.

If ivermectin fails you, it will be a good idea to try Cydectin or Prohibit (levamisole) to treat barber pole worms as needed.

pictures of bottle jaw in goats

What is Anemia In Goats?

Anemia is a life-threatening condition in goats that begins when there is a reduction of the number of red blood cells present in your goats’ system.

A FAMACHA test can determine the level of severity of anemia in sheep and goats. You should commence treatment as soon as you notice anemia in your goats.

What Causes Anemia in Goats?

Causes of goat anemia include:

  • Barber pole worm
  • Parasites
  • Bacteria
  • Traumatic injury and
  • Nutritional problems

How to Diagnose Anemia in Sheep and Goats

You can carry out a simple FAMACHA test to check the level of anemia in your goats.

Use a FAMACHA score card to compare the inner eyelid color to the card.

The card gives four colors, each representing a level of anemia.

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The reddest color, #1, is seen in goats with no anemia.

As anemia progresses, the eyelid becomes whiter in color.  Anemia with scores of 3 and 4 needs treatment quickly to prevent serious injury or death.

What is the Treatment of Anaemia in Goats?

To effectively treat the affected goats, you will need to know the exact cause of the bottle jaw in goats.

  • Deworming

Deworming is a really effective way to make sure that the worm load in your herd is reduced. I recommend using broad-spectrum de-wormers to fight off internal parasites like liver flukes, or other worms.

  • Clean Pasture

Move the goats to a cleaner pasture (one that does not have other animals on it for six or more months) after the initial treatment.

  • Vitamins and Antibiotics

The goat may get the injections of B-12, Nutri-Drench, and Red Cell therapy for goats. These injections and red cell therapy and nutria-drench will help the goats to restore from the anemia.

  • Feed Quality Feed

By providing alfalfa hay, high protein pellet goat feed, and leaves, your goats are able to rebuild their blood cells.

  • Iron Supplements

Dextran and Ferrodex 100 are two great injectable forms of iron that can be given to anemic goats.

You should ONLY GIVE IF YOUR GOATS ARE TESTED and the result is positive. If not, it is possible to overdose (and harm) your goat with iron.

An anemic goat typically won’t overdose on iron injections though. An exception to this is kids.  Ask your vet if you’re dealing with anemia in a young goat before giving iron injections.

Both the Ferrodex 100 and Dextran can be purchased over the counter at feed and livestock supply stores.

Ferrodex 100 can be given at a rate of 2 cc per 50 pounds of body weight or 4 cc per 100 pounds.

  • Red Cell for Anemic Goats

Red Cell supplement is an alternative to using needles and syringes to give goats iron. It is given to goats as an oral supplement.

Originally created for horses, The dosage for Red Cell in goats is 3 cc per 50 pounds of body weight or 6 cc per 100 pounds.

  • Weaning

A doe infected with anemia should be separated from her kids.

The kids need to be weaned so their mother doesn’t lose her life.

Anemia brings about stress to the body. Nursing kids also cause stress on the body.

A doe that is anemic needs time to recover and she likely can’t recover from anemia and nurse her babies.

If the kids are old enough to eat grass and grain on their own, then this is an easy decision.  Simply pull the kids and get the doe better.

If the kids aren’t old enough to eat grass and grain, then you may want to consider bottle feeding them if their mother is severely anemic.

  • Blood Transfusions

In a life-threatening situation, goats that are severely infected might need a life-saving blood transfusion to survive.

This is an expensive treatment and many veterinarians do not have the equipment to make this happen.

If you have an expensive goat that is worth it, then consider calling around to see which veterinarians close to you can perform a blood transfusion.

This may mean driving the goat to an emergency clinic or the closest vet school.

Is Bottle Jaw Contagious?

No, bottle jaw is not contagious but the causes of bottle jaw have proven to be contagious.

How Long Does It Take For Bottle Jaw To Go Away?

With effective treatment, bottle jaw should go away anywhere from a few hours to weeks.

Author: Howard S. Baldwin

My name is Howard S. Baldwin. I am a work-at-home dad to three lovely girls, Jane + Hannah + Beauty. I have been blogging for the last 3 years. I worked for other Home and Lifetsyle blogs, did hundreds of product reviews and buyers’ guides. Prior to that, I was a staff accountant at a big accounting firm. Needless to say, researching and numbers are my passion. My goal is to be an informative source for any topic that relates to DIY life and homemaking.

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