Stone in the Teat – Calcium Deposit in Goat Udder

Dani, one of my four milkers, got what is called a stone or pea in the teat. Apparently it is a calcium deposit and they are sometimes still connected by a “string” up into the udder.

I could feel something in her teat, a small lump. A very small lump, but Miss Dani just happens to also have very small teats connected to her very capacious udder.

She has had calcium deposits before, but they always popped out easily without any concern. This time however, the stone was blocking the teat to the extent that I could not get her milk out! The stone was in her teat on Sunday, and since her udder can hold a lot of milk easily, I wasn’t too concerned about not milking her out for one day (we milk once every 24 hours). I figured the stone would come out the next day, Monday. When it didn’t, I started to get a bit alarmed, and went to my favorite online goat resource list, Holistic-Goats to share what was happening.  I got back some advice from my favorite goat mentor, Irene Ramsay.

Hi Starlene,
A ‘pea-in-the-teat’ is the pits. It’s a calcium stone that has a tail on it attaching it to the wall of the teat canal. Vets have a nasty thing like a corkscrew they use on cow teats for this, but it’s not safe for soft goat teats – our vet told me to take a jump when I asked, he didn’t like using it on cows!

What does work on goats is a very fine metal crochet hook – the kind that’s fine enough to hook up a run on a silk stocking. Sterilise it and introduce through the teat orifice, feeding gently up the teat canal, rotating slightly as you ease it up, then just as slowly rotate it out again. Your aim is not to hook the ‘pea’ but to break its thread, so that next time you milk, it will come out. Or it will retreat loose into the milk reservoir so you can get the milk out. Sometimes you have to repeat this manoeuvre if it doesn’t work the first time.

I haven’t had to do it myself – my doe’s ‘pea’ lost its tail when she dried off, and flew out so fast when I milked her at freshening that I couldn’t find it in the bedding straw (very annoying, I’d have liked to see it). But the method was described as above by several on the WSU list some years back. If you do it right, there’s no infection, swelling or blood, so no need for medication. The goats seem to be fairly co-operative, I guess it beats having the pea running up and down tugging on the inside of the teat canal, which must hurt.

I could feel what seemed to be a “string” and I did have a tiny metal crochet hook on hand.

The next morning I boiled it for ten minutes, then went out there to see what I could do.  I was surprised how easily the crochet hook went inside the teat. There is truly a “canal”.  I was unable to hook the string or tail, however.

I was very upset because I didn’t want Dani to dry up on that side, but if I couldn’t get the stone to stop blocking I wasn’t sure what else we could do.  I did manage to milk out about a cup or so while holding the crochet hook inside the teat with one hand, and milk with the other.

Actually I was milking with my fingers, as that is what it takes to milk Dani since her teats are so tiny. I will have to post some pictures sometime of the difference in size of my girls’ teats.

The crochet hook kept the stone from blocking the orifice, so I could milk her but it was too strenuous to keep up. I milked her out on the one side and went to bed feeling bad about the other side which was still full.

Goat owners let their does’ udders fill with milk all the time when they force dry them. But I don’t like to do that. Like Irene is fond of saying, Goats are dairy animals, they are designed to milk, why dry them off?

So now she’s not been milked out on that side for 48 hours.

By the way, Dani was being very wonderful throughout all this.  She didn’t really kick, except she would sometimes lift one back foot and try to scrape my hands away.  Otherwise the probing with the metal hook didn’t seem to bother her much at all.

Finally on the morning of the 30th, Wednesday, I managed to get the tail of the stone to break.

I think I’d been trying to get the hook around the tail and break it, but what ended up working was to press the teat as if I were milking to engage the stone down into the orifice as tightly as it could go.  Then move my fingers down to the orifice to hold the stone there, then insert the crochet hook past the stone and twist the hook around the stone as if trying to grab hold of the stone and remove it.

The metal hook against the stone was like scraping glass.  With that last manuveur I think I pressed the stone against the inside of the teat canal which caused some minor cuts as some blood came out with the milk.

But it also seemed to break the tail from the stone.

I didn’t think I’d done anything, and decided to just milk her out.  I was very upset, shaky and crying and praying.

I milked the one side, and decided to just go ahead and milk the other side and at least try.  I figured I’d give up now and just let that side dry up.

And then POW, into the bucket the little stone flew!

What a relief!  I was able to milk her out completely.  In the next few days her production was a little lower than normal but then rose again.

Click here for all the Wisdom of Irene Ramsay articles

Irene asked that I include her email address for anyone that has queries. Her email address is shown below in an image, you may also use this contact form.

I am acquainted with Irene Ramsay through the Holistic Goats list on Yahoo Groups. I read all of her posts as they are always full of wisdom and natural remedies for healing. I am honored that Irene Ramsay has agreed to allow me to publish some of her articles on my website. I hope they will be as helpful to you as they have been to me. Thanks, Irene! Please note that Irene lives in New Zealand and sometimes the items she recommends won’t be available in the US under the same name. Copyright 1974-2020 Irene Ramsay. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy without express permission of the author. Thank you. Please note that Irene lives in New Zealand and sometimes the items she recommends won’t be available in the US under the same name.

How to Bottle Feed Baby Goats

How to Get the Kid on the Bottle

If you do decide to stick with bottle feeding you might have to work with him to get him to suck on the bottle. What I do is sit down on a chair. Rest the baby’s stomach over my left leg — baby’s front legs draped over my right leg and baby’s back legs hanging down on the left side of my left leg. Put my left arm around the back of the baby and cup my hand under the muzzle, holding the baby’s head still and firm. Then I hold the bottle with my right hand and gently squeeze the bottle so milk comes out. He’s not going to like the bottle nipple compared to his dam’s teat so you have to be patient and persistent.

How we bottle feed and wean our bottle-fed kids (2003/2004)

With our kids, from 2 weeks to 6 weeks of age we have them on 16 ounces morning and evening, and they have free access to water and hay. We want them a little on the hungry side so they will begin to eat hay. I have observed 2.5 week old kids eating hay, and already starting to chew their little cuds.

On the 6th week, we begin decreasing the morning and evening feeding down to 1.5 cups morning and 1.5 cups evening. Usually I’ll do this very gradually. Like 2 cups in the morning, then 1 3/4 cups at night, then 1 3/4 cups the next morning, then 1 1/2 cups at night, then 1 1/2 cups for the next week or so.

Then about halfway through week seven, we start decreasing again. 1 1/2 cups in the morning, 1 1/4 cups at night. 1 1/4 cups the next morning, 1 cup that night. 1 cup the next morning, 3/4 cup that night. 3/4 cup next morning, 1/2 cup at night. 1/2 cup next morning, 1/4 that night. Then maybe 1/4 cup each feeding the next day, then we just stop the bottles altogether so weaning occurs at about 8 – 9 weeks of age.

I don’t know how old your kids are, but if they are 8 weeks old I would probably start right away by giving them only 2 cups morning and evening so they will get hungrier and start eating hay to get their rumen going (if it isn’t already). I’d probably stick to 2 cups morning/night for a week or so, making sure they are eating hay and drinking water, then the next week I’d start decreasing and wean them off the bottle within another week.

This is how we have weaned our kids when we pulled the kids and bottle fed.

Now (2005) we have had our does tested for CAE, and allow the dams to raise their kids. This is still in the experimental stage. The dam raised doelings (Moselle and Zoë) are a bit skittish, but we are working with them. We are thinking about giving the next set of kids one bottle a day, and letting them stay on their dams the rest of the day.

How we bottle feed and wean our bottle-fed kids (2006)

We did not bottle feed any kids in 2005. In 2006, Brooklyn passed away 20 hours after kidding from hypocalcemia. She gave us triplet doelings. We were able to place one doeling the day after she was born, as one of my neighbors has wanted one of our “spotty” doelings since she found out how spotted Dallas and Bambi were. The remaining doelings are named Little Brooke and Mocha.

We have changed our ideas about bottle feeding. If the kid is a buckling, and will be reserved for the freezer, we will wean him at about 8-9 weeks of age. This is the destiny of most of our male kids, as we do not have many purebred animals in our herd. However, if the kid is a doeling, we will keep her on the bottle until she is six months of age to give her a good head start in life as a milker. We start the kids out slowly at birth, with four feedings, at 6am, 10am, 2pm and 6pm. 1/2 to one cup at each feeding the first few days. At about a week we go to 3x day feedings, giving them about 1 cups at each feeding for a total of 3 cups daily. At two weeks we move to 2 cups morning, 1 cup noon and 2 cups evening. We continue this amount until they are three months old. We then go to 2x day feedings, 2 cups at each feeding. We continue 1 quart each day until they are six months old.

We have two other doelings from this year’s batch. Starburst, Dallas’ singleton doeling and Cocoa, Moselle’s doeling kid. Cocoa has been interested in and friendly toward me since birth. Starburst is less friendly, but she loves scratches. I am spending time with the four doelings the days I am able to, scratching and talking to them.

2008 Kids

Starburst kidded on February 19th, 2008. She was due to kid on Friday the 22nd. My son went out to milk and there were two dried off newborn baby bucklings, walking around and nursing. Another uneventful birth!

Dani and Lightning were bred to the same buck, but did not settle.

We were expecting one of The Brooklings, Mocha, to kid on March 12th. She delivered on March 18th.

Lightning was rebred to our buck, end of December. If she settled this time, we expect kids from her end of May. She did not settle.

2007 Kids

September 24, 2007. We had not planned to breed this year, but changed our mind when we got our new buck “Elvis” on May 12th.  Zoë was bred to him sometime between the end of May and beginning of June. I actually wrote it down, but lost the barn records for those two weeks. UPDATE: Zoë kidded on October 19th, 2007. Her kidding was uneventful and she had one buckling and one doeling.

Rehabbing Bunnies Day 168

If you’re here to read about our rehabilitation of a pair of cottontail bunnies you’ve landed at the end of the story. Please click here to start at the beginning. There are 22 days worth of reports, we had such a fun time raising these bunnies! We owe much of the credit to our raw goat’s milk!

September 25, 2004

173 days old

Amazingly, at almost six months of age Bunny Bunny still came for treats when we call. I didn’t get any more pictures of him after this one, but we would still throw treats to him across the fence and he would always run to get them while the other bunnies skittered away. I guess we probably saw him a few more times, but then it started getting cold and he probably found a wife and had some kids and set up housekeeping in a nice warm burrow under the ground.