Wednesday, 29 December 2010

dammit....part deux

The vet's been. After examining Eudora, he thinks it might be CCN - cerebrocortical necrosis. Also known as Thiamine deficiency. The rumen has been compromised by too much ingestion of B vitamins, creating a slightly too acidic rumen liquor which destroys the thiamine and in fact depletes stores of thiamine in the body's blood and tissue. Harmful bacteria can also proliferate under these conditions, futher weakening the animal.

In this case it was caused by overfeeding of concentrates. By me.

Has anyone stopped reading this, and dialled the RSPCA?

I feel awful.

I know it takes time and experience to develop enough knowledge to best care for your livestock. The incongruous part is that you need to learn on your animals.

I have a backround in keeping animals, and some diseases or zoonoses are commonplace to us and to them. Worms for example. I can identify an unthrify horse, or a dog losing condition, or a chicken gaping and recognise the signs. Anyone who's been responsible for animals knows what a sick animal looks like: a runny nose or eyes, drooping head, listless - or maybe restless. You may even just know that your animal isn't quite himself. Or herself.

It's the actual diagnoses that take time to learn. Worms are easy, and anthelmitic programs are available. But metabolic disorders? Or how about degenerative diseases that are congenital? If your chicken has a weak heart, you won't know until the necropsy. Lameness in a horse? Forget it. There are so many muscles and suspensory ligaments and tendons that can bow or pull - and that's just in the lower half.

None of this exonerates me for the stupidity of overfeeding my sheep.

I can only hope that the B vitamin injections, and antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories have come soon enough to save Eudora from my mistake. I'll be spending the afternoon drenching her with water and electrolytes, and checking on her through the night. If she survives, she won't hold it against me. Animals are pretty great that way.

6 comments:

  1. I'm glad to hear she made it through the night. Don't be too hard on yourself. Everyone who has worked with animals has been there. It's true we do learn on our animals. Unfortunately, there isn't any other way to do it. Experience, as they say, is something you get *after* you need it. You're doing the best you can. As much as this situation sucks, it's going to lead to you being better able to care for your flock.

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  2. I wouldn't have the first clue on how to care or catch signs of problems in farm animals. I think you are doing a terrific job and it is obvious in your writing that you care (you are NOT negligent, you are human).

    Good luck and I hope the best for Eudora.

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  3. Oh Jen, I'm so sorry. Sorry for Miss Eudora, and sorry for you that you are dealing not only with a sick sheep, but with the guilt of having been the cause of her sickness. It's part of being the caretakers of the earth and it's animals, I'm afraid, and although I don't have sheep, only dogs, cats and chickens, I've been there too. Anyone who loves animals and takes them on has been, so don't beat yourself up over it. Take care of her, and let go of the guilt. Give her a pat on the head for me, and I'm sending a hug for you as well!

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  4. Dont beat yourself up over your mistake Jen, and DON'T go where the guilt is. That's a bad place!

    The person who never made a mistake has never been born. We are all fallible.

    Learn from the experience, and move on. That's the only way to look at the episode. Take it from one who could write a book on dropped clangers!

    Julian.

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  5. martha in mobile29 December 2010 08:32

    I hope Eudora makes it! Indeed, it feels awful when you have contributed to the problem through ignorance, but you will never, ever make this mistake again. And that is a gift to future members of your flock.
    Good luck to you both!

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  6. Thank you all for your words of absolution. It's difficult being responsible for another life - I don't know how you people with children do it! - but it helps to admit your mistakes.

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