Thursday, January 5, 2012

First Lesson of 2012

My first lesson of 2012, is that this shrub next to my house is called a Pieris Japonica. It is sometimes called Japanese andromeda, or Lily of the Valley shrub. It is also the only plant on the list of Plants poisonous to goats that is classified as Extremely toxic, rather than just...ya, know...toxic.

i learned all of this on the afternoon of Dec.31st. i had put Delilah out on a rope to graze in the yard. i do this often, since the pasture isn't fenced yet and their actual pen doesn't have a lot of browse. i keep break-away collars on them, so that they don't accidentally hang them selves if they get tangled or startled. Both goats learned pretty quickly how to break-a-way if they saw something just out reach that they wanted to eat. So it's not that unusual to walk outside and have a missing goat. Typically when Delilah gets off her line, she goes into the shed looking for hay and grain, or wanders back down to her pen. They never really go too far from their food source, so i've never really worried about it too much.
However, on Sat. evening she got off her line, and came right to the front door. So i walked out and tried to walk her back to her pen. She immediately took a couple bites of this shrub that was off the side of the deck, and let me chase her around it a couple times. i realized i was going to need a bit of help to get her down to the pen, so i ran inside and grabbed some corn chips to lure her down. It worked.
When i came back inside i glanced at the scrub i had seen her nibble on, and decided i'd better look it up to make sure it wasn't poisonous. It was. It was not just a mildly toxic... it was listed as extremely toxic. Most of this info i read said that she only needed to eat .1% of her body weight to be poisoned. Ugh.

So i started researching what i could do to treat her at home, it was of course a holiday weekend. i'm pretty sure it's a written rule that my goats only get sick on holidays. Our last goat emergency was over Labor day. So, i calculated about how much she would have to eat in order to get sick. .1% of her body weight was about 16 grams of the plant. i used my kitchen scale to see how many leaves that would be...and i was fairly certain she had not eaten any where near that much. However, i didn't know if she'd eaten some before i found her at the door, or while i was inside to get the corn chips. i watched her for a few hours, and she seemed to be fine. So i went to bed, knowing there really wasn't much i could do but wait.

In the morning, i woke early and went out to check on her. It was immediately obvious that she was not 'fine'. She had green slime/foam/vomit all around her mouth. Her eyes were dull, and her coat was all fluffed up. She kept squatting like she was trying to urinate, but nothing came out. When i walked into the goat shed, i saw dried vomit all over the walls, bench and floor. My poor girl had had a really rough night.

Searching online, i really couldn't find a lot of clear information. Most pages said to administer Toxi-ban and take the animal to the vet immediately. Since it was New Year's day and a Sunday not only were all the vets closed, our local farm store was closed as well. So i began looking online for other options.

On the Goatworld site, i came across a list of goat tips which included Judy Muska's recipe for Poisoned goats.

If you do not have toxi-ban on hand-
1 pint water, 1 tsp
Ginger. ½ tsp
baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. molasses
1 tblsp. Epsom salts
give entire mixture to an adult goat, for a young or small goat, give as much as you can comfortably get down, give slowly, don’t get into lungs.

i had all the ingredients to this at home, so i made it up and began to administer it with a needless syringe. i do not yet know how to drench a goat, and although the process was tedious giving her just about a tbsp at a time, i was still able to get most of it down her.

i began searching again online for suggestions, and really didn't come up with much. Toxi-ban is basically just activated charcoal, and i knew we could get that at CVS. One of the problems with vomiting/diarrhea is dehydration. Many site said to give the goat an electrolyte/ pro-biotic solution once the vomiting stops. i had used up my last pack of pro-lyte plus when she was sick in Sept. and forgot to replace. So i had Kenan pick up some some Gatorade.

i couldn't really find much info on the correct dosage of activated charcoal to give. Most website online said to use the dosage info from the toxi-ban...which i didn't have. The charcoal came in caspules, so i opened them up and added about a tbsp or two of water (i later read that mineral oil works well too). i gave her two capsules which was the recommended dosage for people. Again i administered it with a needle-less syringe. Just squirting a little inside her cheek, and letting her swallow before giving her more. i was really nervous about getting it in the lungs. i also gave her a few ounces of the Gatorade the same way. Then left her alone, as to not cause her any more stress and kept an eye on her.

i was still pretty confident that she hadn't eaten very much, and was having a very mild reaction. When i google goat poisoning online, most sites have a huge list of symptoms and many people describe their goat as lying on the ground screaming in pain, vomiting and having convulsions. So i knew we were really lucky. Although she had been vomiting, she never 'went down' she continued to stand up, and be alert.

A few hours after giving her the charcoal/gaterade. i noticed she was out nosing her hay. She wasn't eating...but looked like she really wanted to. She was pushing it around with her nose, nibbling a little with her lips. i also noticed that she was still squatting like she had to pee, but this time i saw a little urine drip out. That seemed like a good sign, and told me that she is still dehydrated. So i gave her a few more ounces of Gatorade.

i went out to the garden and picked a bunch of the leafy greens that i thought might get her eating again. i pulled the old broccoli plants which still have leaves, several of the kale, some leaf lettuce, wild onions tops, comfrey and swiss chard. Green leaves are supposed to be easy to digest and healing for sick goats. i have also read that goats will eat comfrey for tummy aches. Again she began to nose it all, nibbled and swallowed a tiny bit of the comfrey and Swiss chard.

i was starting to feel like she would be okay. i left her to rest and went about my day...which was pretty much playing outside with the kids on the new swing set. :)

After a few hours i checked on her and was thrilled to see that she was eating again. i filled her water bucket up with steamy hot water, and added a couple TBSP of molasses, and she must have drank half the bucket as soon as i gave it to her. By that evening, i knew she was going to be okay. Four days later, and she is completely back to herself....trying to break into to the chicken coop and yelling at me every time i walk out the door.

So that was my very first day of 2012. It was not the best start to a new year, but it could have been much worse! Starting the year with a dead goat would have probably given me a negative attitude for the rest of the year. Instead, i'm starting this with a lot of gratitude. i feel incredibly lucky and blessed that Delilah did not eat more of the plant. i feel more confident about my ability to treat her at home, although if she had been poisoned worse it may not have made any difference. Then again, maybe it would have. So i'm really trying to look at it as a positive thing...a lesson and learning experience.

i posted this quote last New Years, but i love it so much i had to post it again.

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”
― Neil Gaimen

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't stop reading, I had to find out what happened. I am glad that she is well. Nature study lesson of the year.