Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Danger UXG!

I should remember that Fate watches over us and when bored or provoked intervenes. I must have woken it with my cursing directed at our goats, who, since Saturday have eaten all the tomatoes (and plants) the fig tree, the grape vine, smashed the back out of the one greenhouse, eaten all the Jerusalem Artichokes and strawberry plants, the rocket and the final courgettes that had been allowed to become marrows. Having polished off all that they continued to help themselves from the various deposits of hay and solid feedstuff strategically placed for pigs, sheep and horses. They are partial to the dog biscuits as well and yours truly has to fight them off with a few well placed right hooks as I try to get to the kennels through the goat horde.

Each morning is a rush to get to the feed store, fill the buckets and get out again without being detected or trampled. The goats have an internal radar and can home in on any bucket carrying biped with uncanny accuracy come rain or shine, in full daylight or darkest night you know full well you will encounter a goat as you navigate the smallholding.

Not this morning.

All quiet on the western front.

As the cliche says. Too quiet.

Feeding the pigs unmolested was a new experience but one I wish I hadn't had when I found Archie spreadeagled on the floor, looking like a goat who had suffered a parachute malfunction, flat out, bleating miserably. The trail of green mucus ridden pooh a clear sign he was about to shuffle off his mortal coil. I picked him up and took him to the stable knowing he was about to be an ex goat. He had entrotoximia, he had exploded. It soon became apparent that dotted around the smallholding were the rest of the herd, all UXG's (unexploded goats) but reaching critical mass. We needed urgent veterinary help, time was short, especially for the goats.

The UXG's were carefully led into the stable and the vet summonsed. Work was called, we would be very late today.
Entrotoximia is a fatal illness, swift in onset, as little as two hours and the goat can be dead. Symptoms for it listed in the how to keep goats book include dead goat. Its that certain. Ours are vaccinated against it but this offers little or no protection. Its caused by the rumen in the stomach changing from alkaline to acid, this triggers a massive rise in a bacteria the goat has in its stomach which eats the stomach walls away, causes shock, septicemia and death. The cause of the sudden change in ph is usually caused by eating to much rich food or too much of a different food. The goats had been pushing their luck with the garden foraging but survived, the raid on the food store was now, in all likelihood about to prove fatal. Juliet the dominant female was the worst off as she would have defended the food store against all comers, until stuffed, then the others would have got a look in. Archie, one of the kids lacked the constitution of the adults and so succumbed quicker. By the time the vet was called Archie had died.

Paul, a very knowledgeable vet (unusual for a vet to know so much about UXG's anyway) donned his protective gear and entered the stable. Maggie and Geisha, the high maintenance Anglo Nubian's had begun to rally and were even cudding (chewing last nights food again) so they were deemed safely diffused and let back outside. Juliet, Bravo and Ambrose were in a sorry state and their life clocks were ticking away. Massive quantities of anti-biotic and minerals were injected into their backsides, Ambrose cried like a baby at this point. Its an unnerving sound, a goat sounding like a baby crying. All were given a milky type solution that stank like vegetable soup which was designed to get their rumen the right side of the ph scale. Paul was very good with them and we liked him, not sure what the goats thought of him but he had done medicines best, what happened now was up to the small god of the goat universe.

We went to work knowing that two out of six were fine. Doesn't sound good but its the first time that Fate has been beaten here as far as goat illness goes. We also thought that two more might be saved, Ambrose and Bravo were showing signs of recovery. Juliet was only fifty fifty as to whether she would be alive when we got back.

On return Maggie and Geisha were in the tree line like nothing had happened watching us with interest, ready to intercept any buckets destined for other animals. In the stable Ambrose began to eat the fresh hay we put out. Bravo moved to it and stuck her muzzle in it, not eating but still upright and breathing.

Juliet was in the corner, her breathing a horrible rasping sound, she looked around the same as first thing but was now off her legs and it doesn't look good.

Ambrose is recovered, I think its safe to say, Bravo perhaps 60-40, if she can be persuaded to eat I would be more hopeful. As for Juliet I think there is only a slim chance she will be alive by morning.

Half the herd saved, maybe more but its not a game I want to play often, if at all. Fate plays rough with smallholders and likes to win.
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