Duke and Meyla

Duke and Meyla

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Biggest Lesson Of 2016-Violet

*Warning* Very long blog post ahead, and it includes some very graphic images. You've been given as much warning as I can give!!

This was supposed to be a lesson learned in 2016, but it got so long that I thought it deserved its own post.

The price of keeping problematic animals
The saying is "A bad animal costs just as much to keep as a good one." We learned that pretty well this year. 
Violet was a doe out of Theda, my first goat, and was born in 2013. Conformationally, she was very beautiful to behold. At first, she also seemed very hardy, was a fast grower, didn't seem to have problems with parasites, and was very people oriented and gentle. Towards other goats, she was an absolute terror(inherited from Theda), and wanted to kill them. Because she was so nice looking, and had the potential for tons of milk, I quarantined her and wanted to get a doe out of her before she was sold.  I was hoping that in future generations, the nasty gene would be watered down enough to allow the does to live with the other does.

Our first problem began in the late summer of 2014, when she got a nasty pyoderma right by the base of her tail. 

About two weeks after being on LA200 to clear that up, she got an infection in her feet and on her legs, which was probably staph. She was so bad that it was very painful to even move. Another round of LA200 cleared that right up.
As fall came around, we got ready to breed her. She came into heat once, skipped her next cycle to come in 42 days later, and then was cystic, coming in every five days. After 3 or 4 five day cycles, we got a shot from the vet to give her on her next heat. It never came. At the end of December, 30 days after her last heat, we sent blood in for a pregnancy test, and it came back positive. Wahoo!
Sometime in January, she had a couple pieces of straw stuck to her hiney, and when I pulled them off, there was a teeny bit of rusty-red blood. I just watched her, and nothing more showed up, so I dismissed it.
 It must have been in February, that her foot and leg infection came back. More antibiotics took care of that.
 In March or April, she got an eye infection which, to Mom's chagrin, I treated with a cayenne pepper rinse. (Believe it or not, it's actually safe, though it hurts of course.) That cleared up very quickly.
 Then her due date in late May came around, and she didn't look pregnant. Mom drew blood and sent it in to see if she was pregnant. In the meantime, she began shedding rusty-red blood again. This time it was more and lasted for a couple of days. More antibiotics were given for that and it went away. Sometime while she was being treated, her pregnancy results came back negative. I think what happened is this; she aborted in January but didn't totally clean out, and finished the job on the date when she originally would have been due. 
I'd had good results with herbal cleanses in the past(Theda was the subject with conditions unrelated to what Vi had, but still should have been a red flag), so Mom and I decided to put her on those from mid June until sometime in October. She didn't have anymore skin infections or other health problems. She was bred the beginning November, and the pregnancy test was positive. As her due date on April 1st approached, I was still skeptical about her. Then one day, I felt a kid kick! I was so delighted! 
On March 29 she got a massive staph infection all over her udder. I pounced on it with every herb I could think of to no avail. On the 30th her udder was full and tight, and her sides had dropped, indicating that she was very, very close to kidding.  On the 31st, her staph infection got even worse, and her udder got harder, and her sides dropped more. Mom started her yet again on a round of LA200. 

The below picture shows a little of what she was dealing with. Most of it was up along the left side of her udder, on the inside of her leg. It was sheets and sheets of white junk and scabs, and very painful. 

On April 5th, Vi had brown mucus, was showing signs of milk fever, but still wasn't in labor. Concerned that there were possibly dead kids, we called the vet. She agreed to come as soon as she could get away from the clinic. In the meantime, we gave her a whole arsenal of stuff to get her feeling better. It worked, and at about noon she started going into labor too. We canceled the vet at that time, thinking that, even if the kids were dead, she'd deliver them on her own. In the evening, she was still having contractions, but was not progressing anywhere from there. I went to bed and Mom watched her on the cams. At about 2 AM, Mom had me come out and see if I could pull the kids out even though Vi still hadn't attempted to push. It took me at least five minutes of steady pressure to even get my hand in her-that's how tight she was. The kid that was coming was in fetal position, and when I felt over its face I knew it was dead. (Live kids have slightly bulging eyes and dead kids' eyes are sunken-these were sunken.) I was 99% sure that the kid wasn't coming out naturally from the time I first tried putting my hand in, but I figured I'd try anyway and maybe avoid the cost of a cesarean. I got the kid into the right position but couldn't do anything more. When I pulled my hand out there was several strands of hair on it, which I later found out meant that the kid was already decomposing. Mom called the vet(a different one than the original one) and he arrived in about an hour. He quickly checked her over and proceeded to do a C-section. 

He removed two dead, rotten kids-a buck and a doe. They were full term but had deformed heads. They were also adhered to the walls of the uterus and the vet basically had to peel them off. As he was stitching her back up, he found a golfball-sized growth on her uterus and cut it off. 
He gave her a couple of injections and said she had a 5-10% chance of making it. I think the chance was higher because she was already on antibiotics for the staph infection. He said she's need another shot of the powerful antibiotic on Saturday-if she were still alive. 

The below picture is about 12 hours after surgery. She's drinking again!

With Mom and I spending hours with Vi for the first three days or so, coaxing her to eat with any forage that we could find, all kinds of supplements(including Vit. B which made her milk a startling neon green!), and lots of Banamine, she was alive and improving on Saturday. In the meantime, I had been told that the powerful antibiotic makes the animal nauseated and not willing to eat, so we opted to just give her 5-7 days on PenG.
At this point, we realized that she should have been in the sale barn or knocked on the head a long time ago, but I guess we felt the need to take responsibility for our actions(taking her so far and getting her into this mess in the first place), and help her out now too. We knew she was going to the auction very soon but we didn't want her to die on our watch. 
Anyway, she healed up quite nicely but then began biting at her surgery site, keeping it very raw looking. She had developed an abscess under her sutures.

The first picture was about 20 days after surgery. The stitches had all popped out and everything was looking good.

Probably two weeks later, I noticed that it wasn't healing anymore, see below.

I was told that this is a very common ailment in caprine cesarean patients. So I sterilized a pair of tweezers, popped her onto the milk stand, and proceeded to pull big chunks of hardened pus out of an unhealed suture hole on the top of the incision. Once I got a bunch out and couldn't reach anymore with the tweezers, I pushed on the incision. Pus starting squeezing out like toothpaste out of a tube. I continued to push, squeeze, and otherwise manipulate the pus out, and found that there was another hole in the bottom of the incision where pus could escape. After pus stopped coming out either hole, I flushed the whole thing with diluted iodine. I found that the whole space between the top and bottom holes was just a big cavern. I could squirt fluid in from either way and it'd come out the other hole, along with more pus. Eventually, I got it all running freely and clearly-for one day. I would pick the scab off, remove big strings of pus with tweezers, and then squeeze and rinse every morning. This went on for almost a week after which we monitored it and sprayed it with disinfectant twice daily for another week. She healed up from that fine too, though she had both a bucket around her neck and a shirt on her back to prevent her from continuing to chew on it.

 Here is a video for those of you inclined to medical things such as I am. It was when it was much, much better already so it's not really gross at all. I'm not sure how long it was taken after we first starting cleaning it, but I don't see a bucket on her neck so it must have been several days or a couple of weeks. I don't remember...
Vi was such a good girl through it all. Our milk stand is against the wall so that when a goat is on it her left side is against the wall. Because Vi's incision was on the left side, I had to turn her around on the stanchion. She just stood there, unrestrained, throughout the whole procedure every day. She also stood for milking too, as her big bucket neck didn't like to fit into the head gate. She was one of the hardest goats to sell, and oh, how I still miss her very much! I can't spend that much time and effort on any animal and not get pretty closely attached to it. And she was such a lovely goat to humans.

My lesson here is-if I have another problematic goat like Vi, get rid of it. I don't want those kinds of bloodlines in my herd, even if they might win in the show ring. Besides, if we'd gotten rid of her a long time ago, we would be at least $500 better off, not including her feed bill. And I wouldn't have gotten so attached to her.

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