Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Handling Injury in the Herd

It's a phone call no goat herder wants to get, yet, it happens. My son called to tell me one of our does, was wounded; not just any wound, an eye wound. To me, of all the things to damage, the eye of any animal is the hardest to heal and the most challenging to care for. Often, it is hard to tell if the eye has been cut, scratched, infected, or simply irritated. While it can be obvious if it is severe, over the phone is never easy. 

Sound farm boy that he is, my son snapped a decent picture of the eye (not the picture above). The eye was bulging, draining clear fluid, and obviously wounded. So, what's a girl to do?

1. Assess the mess.
    While eye wounds can be gross, they are not often fatal- nor do they always mean loss of the eye. For Daisy, the eye was still in tact, in the socket, and the drainage was clear; all good signs.

2. Consider the situation.
    This doe is expecting, which limits the course of treatment we are willing to undergo. Not being a life threatening situation for her or the kid, we decide to handle it ourselves and treat externally. 

3. Plan of action.
    A simple trip to the local farm supply store offered a sterile wash complete with antibiotics. Not pleasant to administer, but the least invasive thing we can do while still attempting to keep infection at bay. My general philosophy on intervention is always 'less is best'.

4. Work the plan. 
     For weeks, my son and I took turns rinsing the wounded eye with sterile antibiotic wash two times a day while keeping an close watch on her. After a week, the swelling subsided and the drainage stopped. We kept the wash going for four weeks total, until the swelling was completely gone and she seemed to be out of the risk for infection. 

This case was fortunate, as our doe never developed infection, fever, and the eye did not protrude beyond the socket. Had any of those issues developed a vet would have been needed due to her being 'with kid'. Her eye would have had to be removed, antibiotics administered, and potential loss of the kid. 

My words to all- no matter what animal you have taken responsibility for, please take the initiative to learn about their care: the potential injuries, illnesses, and diseases that could develop.. and how to treat them. Often times, rapid response from the owners is not only enough, but even in a distressing case that response can save the animal's life (and further suffering). 

While Daisy does seem to have vision loss, she and her baby are healthy and doing well today, thanks to an observant and quick thinking farm boy!

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