I don’t know about you but other than a few days here and there, like the big snow about a month ago, I seemed to have missed winter. Farmer’s Almanac says it is going to be warm and wet. I believe the tilt of the Earth’s axis is changing. Nobody has bothered to check. That is out of my league but help taking care of your animals is firmly with in my league. With the ground being so rotten wet and us all slopping around in the mud I have recommendations for trying to keep your animals’ feet a little drier.
1. Fix a place for them to be out of the rain and muck. Something simple like a three sided-shed. Or free access to their stall. Lay down sand or fix the footing so it is dry or drains well. Muck it out regularly. To get them to stay in longer, put hay in a slow feeder bag or cover the hay ring with a net so the horse or cow or goat, sheep has to work a little harder to eat. This should work unless your horse is like my friend’s who got disgusted after thirty minutes and walked out.
2. Water: Keep the trough clean and ice free. To encourage more drinking, some salt on the food will help some. My endurance rider started making a tea bag of the feed and putting it in the water bucket long enough to flavor the water. This is a good idea to do before and after that trail ride or practice. It is colic weather so do as much prevention as possible.
3. I always get antsy about this time of year when we are feeding hay. Remember to feed soaked non molasses beet pulp to help keep those intestinal pipes open and working.
4. I am seeing a number of wethers (castrated goats and sheep) having urinary calculi this time of year. I think a good idea is to do prevention and put ammonium chloride in the water or feed. It is bitter so some type of flavoring and gradually getting them use to it being in their feed or water is best. Goats’ anatomy does not permit catharizing to clear the stones from the urethra. I know because I have tried; obviously unsuccessfully. Straining to urinate without success; crying in pain; bloody urine; depressed; off from the herd; not eating or drinking would be signs you would noticed. This is an emergency and call me sooner rather than later. It may be possible to medically treat. The other options are surgery where the urethra is re-routed to the rear; basically- he becomes a she.
It is coming on Spring and hopefully weather will get better or at least drier. This is a good time to have the annual vaccinations and Coggins.
I am always appreciative of my loyal clients who make me an active part of their animals’ health care. By working together, we can prevent most crisis. I am completely ok with seeing you once a year for the annual check up and vaccinations. And on those social occasions with no animal crisis involved.
Practicing good medicine is paramount. That means I do not treat over the phone, especially if I have not seen the animal or have you as a client. In the past, in an effort to be ‘helpful’, I have done so and it has always blown up in my face with the animal not receiving the care it needed. I must have the Client-Patient Relationship established and examined your animal within the last 6 months. No more freebies over the phone. That is bad medicine and illegal.
Health Certificates: After much thought, I have decided that I will no longer provide 6-month health certificates. It is my belief that they defeat the purpose of a health certificate which is to help in tracking disease outbreaks. A Health Certificate establishes that on that day and location, the animal was healthy. USDA says that can stand for 30 days. I understand that you who compete and travel find it annoying to have me come out every time you go. This is not about the money. It is about doing my job as a veterinarian in being on the front lines for disease control.
It is always about prevention of disease and maintaining the health and well being of your animals.
Like most veterinarians, I simply care about your animals and you. As I tell my clients: I am always doing my best. Some days I get to walk on water; other days I can’t find my way out of a wet paper bag. But I am always doing my best for your animal and you. When we work together as a team, we create more opportunity for successful outcomes.
Well, the daffodils are blooming and Spring is coming. I look forward to seeing you all out on the trails and pastures enjoying life.