Recently we went out of town for a few days, leaving a house-sitter to care for the critters. He’s done it before, with good results. On our last day – in fact, as we were packing up the car to drive home – I received a text that he had found our goat doe dead. The last time he saw her, she had appeared healthy, and she had no injuries so he was baffled as to what killed her and distraught that it happened on his watch.
On arrival home, I examined the goat but found a distressing lack of evidence regarding cause of death. She had a piece of hay sticking out of her cheek as though she was standing there eating and just…..dropped dead. Very strange. I decided to perform an amateur necropsy. Amateur because I am no vet and have never necropsied a goat before. However, in butchering birds frequently, I have become accustomed to what the internal organs should look like and hoped I might find some clue as to why this doe died.
This is where you’re gonna shoot me…..I forgot to take pictures.
By the time I was able to necropsy she had been dead approximately 24 hours and the gases building were evident. I started with a small slit in her side to relieve the pressure. I then cut her open from the rib cage down in order to expose the organs. Nothing looked out of the ordinary. I did note that her stomach was HUGE. It was full of hay, grasses and a little grain, and at first I was concerned it was too large and that possibly an obstruction was what killed her. However I then realized that as a grazing animal, they do need to eat a lot of hay and grass in order to get the nutrients they need. Watching them all day, they spend the entire day with their heads down, eating, and all of that grass has to go somewhere in order to be processed out as tiny goat nuggets. So – probably – the large stomach full of fibrous material was completely normal. I would like to know this for sure though.
The organs all looked the right color and size and I found no sign of parasites – something about which I had been concerned.
So – possibly? – a brain aneurism? Or a heart attack? I dunno.