Maggie and Marti: Animal Medical Care
I didn't set out to learn how to take care of sick or wounded animals. But I've learned. Here's a couple stories from 2012. If you are looking for links and information to learn about healing these kinds of animals, see section at the bottom of this page. Thanks for reading!
Amalthea gave birth to Maggie, her second kid and second doe in 2012. All was well, until about 3 days after her birth, when somehow Maggie got isolated and chilled.
I, Rikke, found her about 3am. She was chilled to around 60F (normal goat temp is 101-103F or so). She looked as though she'd been flattened by a steam roller. I was sure she was dead. I grabbed her, and ran into the house with her. On the hose steps Maggie stirred, raised her head, and cried out in pain. 'Just a death throe,' I thought. I've been through this before with other kids. But Maggie did it again and took a shuddering breath. I ran inside and called out for Randy, waking him from a deep sleep.
Randy and I worked on Maggie for hours. We zipped a ziplock bag around her neck and plunged her into a sink of hot water (120-130F). It took 35 minutes before her body temperature approached normal. Then we tubed warm milk into her, and did it again, and again. We gave her probios and nutridrench. We wrapped her in a warm towel on a hot pad and put her into a cat bed we had. Then we prayed.
The next day we had plans to go out to dinner with family. Randy held Maggie before we left and said he thought she would be dead when we got back. I thought so too. She was so weak with head lolling. She'd been tubed more, had taken a bottle, but was in a deep catatonic, almost coma, like state. I steeled myself, I know Randy did the same. But when we got home, she was still alive. And that night, she woke up.
Amalthea has rejected her, which is not surprising. I know she mourned her when she got so cold, I saw her nuzzling her, trying to wake her. So to see Maggie alive must have been like seeing a ghost.
Maggie became a bottle baby and lived in a house in a box on top of Jaska's dog crate. Jaska slept below in her crate. We worked hard to make Maggie a 'normal' goat, so she spent several hours a day outside with the other goats and her siblings. She very quickly healed and is a beautiful loving little stinker of a goat.
When Maggie was still healing she spent a lot of time in the house, and around Jaska, the dog. Maggie thought Jaska was a mommy goat, and Jaska thought Maggie was a weird puppy. Jaska would very politely lift her leg so Maggie could sniff, like good puppies do. Maggie would search for a nipple, like good goat kids do. Both of them would be startled, then confused, and then start playing all over again. Because of this interaction, Jaska now protects all the goat kids, shepherds them when needed and will clean little butts and faces whenever allowed. Because of Maggie's attitude the mother goats, mostly accept her help and ministrations.
In 2015 Maggie had her own babies; two lovely kids named Annie and Stewart. These two lovely kids were sold to a couple of great families and are doing well!
One morning in March, 2012 Marti the chicken was attacked by a coyote. The chickens were out roaming around, as chickens will do. The coyote attacked one, Becky2 (or Beck.E as we call her), but Beck.E escaped into the pack of goats which circled to protect the smaller goats and the chickens.
Marti was apparently at a distance from the goat pack, up by the house. She got jumped but put up a hellacious fight. Jaska, asleep on the bed which overlooks the goat pens, woke up and began barking ferociously. I (Rikke) immediately woke up and ran to the window. The coyote was tearing into Marti's back and she was fighting like a hellion. Jaska and I ran downstairs and I let the dog out. I ran out after. By that time the coyote, who had panicked when he heard my voice, was over the fence and into the deep pasture. Jaska took off after him.
I'm not sickened by gory wounds or blood, which is a good thing. Marti flapped towards me as soon as she saw me, crying for help it seemed. She was spewing blood from her back. I grabbed her up and ran into the house with her (I'm always doing this, aren't I?). Inside I panicked, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. When that passed in a couple minutes I assessed her wounds. Oh My God. I was most concerned about the huge 5 inch long by 3 inches at the widest gash across her back. The coyote had torn off skin, fat and feathers. Her muscles were showing. Strangely enough, that wound wasn't bleeding so badly. But it was pretty gross.
She had at least two puncture wounds, and the one on her back was bleeding copiously. She had another on her vent and all her tail feathers were gone. The down on her rump was removed. One of her legs didn't work right. She was panting and in severe shock. I felt some of the same shock.
I did what I could right then. I picked out broken feathers and so on, and washed everything in a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. I wrapped her up in a towel and put her on another towel in a cat carrier. And then I turned to the Internet. I found useful information on various sites, and found several people who had chickens that had recovered from such horrendous wounds. That gave me hope. I started her on a course of Pen-G Procaine, very small dosage, administered IM in her breast.
Marti came out of shock the next day and ate and drank a little bit. I gave her cat food, water, scratch... I cleaned her wounds again, and put anti-biotic on them (just triple anti-biotic, like neosporin). It was pretty bad. The next day she was even better, but very weak indeed. I fed her by hand, watered her by hand, cleaned her wounds (this time with iodine and water) and put on that anti-biotic.
The next day I switched to a saline solution, homemade, to clean the wounds. I used pickling salt and well water and a bit of baking soda. I was concerned that the iodine or peroxide was too drying. I was however, encouraged because there was little necrotic tissue in or around the wound. I applied the anti-biotic, neosporin, every day for a week.
After about 9 days I found a vet that would see her. She was recovering energy but couldn't stand. Her wounds looked great, in fact the deep puncture wound on her vent was almost healed. At the vet (a 45 minute drive away!) we did an xray. The news was very bad.
Marti has a broken hip bone. The vet said it would likely never heal back to 'normal' and recommended a 1,000 -1,500$ surgery. After hearing the details I judged that the surgery would probably kill her anyway and do little to actually help her. So we drove home. I told Marti I'd give her 6 weeks and we'd decide then.
3 weeks after the attack Marti's puncture wounds were completely healed. The huge gash in her back was closed; new skin has grown over it. She quickly replaced all the feathers that were torn out, except for the patch of down on her rump. She was bright and alert and ate and drank well. However, she still could not use her leg properly. So she learned to compensate. She stood on her good leg and used a wing to hop.
By June of 2012 Marti had fully recovered. She was a bit lame as she moved, and definitely had a limp. All her wounds were healed, her feathers grown back. She started laying eggs again in late April of 2012 and hasn't quit yet! She regained her high status in the flock and is a chicken inspiration!
April 2015. 3 years later and Marti is still with us. It is very difficult to tell her from the other chickens as she hardly ever limps at all. Her back looks a bit strange where her hip regrew; apparently a piece of bone sticks out of it and so it looks lumpy. She is a very friendly and quiet chicken and loves to come 'help' me weed in the herb garden, just as she did when she was recoveringand I'd hand collect and feed her worms from her constant station at my elbow. She still lays eggs!
Fall 2017: Marti passed away naturally, of old age. As happens with many chickens, she simply wandered off after obviously getting a bit addled pated. We will miss her!
There are quite a few sites on the net that can help with healing up farm animals. Goodness knows there aren't that many vets who are willing to do so. Anyway, Randy and I turned to these pages at www.backyardchickens.com for information. There are other sites and they are also very good, it's just that Randy has been on backyardchickens since before we got our chickens.
Backyard Chickens Forum for Predators and Pests: There is lots of good info in the comments on these threads.
There are several books that cover goat care and many websites. Every beginning with goats book
has a small section on care and those do well at first. But there comes a time, perhaps sooner rather
than later, when you need to know more. Rikke, the farm 'vet', recommends the following books:
- Goat Medicine: Smith and Sherman, 2nd edition. Might as well start with the super expensive one first. This book is for veterinary students, and is technical. It is probably more knowledge than most people need.
- Diseases of the Goat by John Matthews. This is another veterinary manual. Lots of great information, albeit a bit hard to understand.
- Georgis' Parasitology for Veterinarians by Dwight D. Bowman. I think it's on edition 9 now, I have 7. Good pics of icky bugs and worms if you are doing your own fecals or bug id.
- The Goatkeepers' Veterinary Book by Peter Dunn. This is a great book, written for non-vets by a Brit with much experience. It has good pictures and illustrations and goes into detail about the ailments most people are likely to encounter with their dairy goats. It is British, however, and they do have different drugs available, and different ideas about things like banding and such. I have the 3rd edition which is now super expensive. Here's the 4th.
- Personal Milkers by P. G. Stewart. This is NOT a vet book. It is, however, a great book for beginning with Nigerian Dwarf goats.
There is tons of information on goat care on the Internet. Much is good, some is really bad, some is great.
Here's a few links:
- Jack Mauldin's site. This is about boer goats, but very good information is included.
- Fiasco Farm is a very good site for information on management and care. The woman who writes it has abundant knowledge and is very generous in sharing her learnings.
- Hoegger Supply Company. This is the commercial website of a company that has been selling goat medicines and supplies for something lke 70 years. They have a lot of good information tucked into the website and their catalog. I buy a lot of medicines and supplies from here.
- Caprine Supply. This is the commercial website of a small company which sells goat supplies, medicines, milking systems and so on. Recommended!
- Jeffers Livestock. The website of a company which specializes in animal medicines and supplies. They do livestock, house pets, horses and so on. Often they have the cheapest medicines, however there is little to no health advice on their site.