wooden tongue in Goats: Economical importance

Pashu Sandesh, 22 June 2024

Jagmohan Rajput1, Vivek Kumar Maurya1, Madhu Shivhare2 and Akanksha Pandey3

1. MVSc scholar, Department of Veterinary Medicine, CVSc and AH, Mhow

2. Assistant Professor, Dept of Veterinary Obs and Gynaecology, CVSc and AH, Mhow

3. MVSc Dept of Veterinary Obs and Gynaecology, CVSc and AH, Mhow

Wooden tongue in goats, also known as Actinobacillosis or Actinobacillus lignieresii infection, is caused by a bacterium called Actinobacillus lignieresii. It primarily affects the soft tissues of the mouth and throat of goats, causing inflammation and the formation of firm, fibrous nodules or abscesses.

Actinobacillus lignieresii bacteria are typically found in the environment and can enter the goat's mouth through cuts or abrasions in the oral tissues.

The name "wooden tongue" comes from the appearance of the tongue when affected: it becomes swollen, and firm, and may develop a woody texture due to the fibrous nature of the lesions. Goats with wooden tongues may show signs such as difficulty eating, excessive salivation, tongue and surrounding tissues swelling, reluctance to eat or drink, and possibly weight loss if the condition progresses.

 Veterinarians diagnose wooden tongues based on clinical signs, and history, and sometimes by taking samples from the affected tissues for bacterial culture and sensitivity testing.

Treatment usually involves antibiotics effective against Actinobacillus lignieresii, such as penicillin or oxytetracycline. In severe cases, surgical drainage of abscesses may be necessary.

Good management practices, including providing clean water and feed, maintaining good oral hygiene, and promptly treating any injuries to the mouth, can help prevent wooden tongue in goats.

 With early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, the prognosis for goats with wooden tongues is generally good. However, untreated cases can lead to severe discomfort, difficulty eating, and potentially life-threatening complications.

Economic losses for farmers due to several factors:

  1. Reduced Productivity: Affected goats may experience reduced feed intake due to pain and discomfort, leading to decreased growth rates and lower milk production in dairy goats. This results in longer times to reach market weight or reduced milk yields, impacting overall profitability.
  2. Treatment Costs: Treating wooden tongues involves veterinary consultations, diagnostic tests, and prolonged courses of antibiotics. These expenses can add up, especially if multiple goats in a herd are affected or if the infection becomes widespread.
  3. Labour Costs: Managing and caring for goats with wooden tongues requires additional labour. This includes administering medications, providing supportive care such as soft diets or specialized feeding, and monitoring affected animals for deterioration or improvement.
  4. Loss of Value: Severely affected goats may need to be culled or sold at a lower price due to decreased productivity or inability to recover fully from the infection. This can result in financial losses, particularly if the affected goat was intended for breeding or show purposes.
  5. Impact on Herd Health: Wooden tongue can potentially spread within a herd if not properly managed, leading to more animals becoming infected. This increases the risk of ongoing losses and may necessitate broader control measures and quarantine protocols.
  6. Indirect Costs: Beyond direct financial impacts, there are indirect costs such as the time and effort required to implement biosecurity measures, improve hygiene practices, and potentially upgrade facilities to prevent future outbreaks.

In summary, wooden tongue in goats affects not only inpidual animal health but also poses economic challenges for farmers through reduced productivity, treatment expenses, decreased animal value, and additional labour and management costs.

If you suspect a wooden tongue or any other health issue in your goats, consulting with a veterinarian is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment planning.