We had a juxtaposition of events that causes us to rethink how we do some things around the farm. Before Christmas, Nellie,Â our two-year old Nubian became thin and we had her stool tested for parasites and found she was indeed in need of treatment, so we did that and she was getting her weight back on.
In this picture from just before Christmas she is furthest to the left. The vet gave us some wormer and she seemed to be on the upswing, and put weight back on. Last Wednesday when I was in the barn, I heard a goat bawling like one had their head stuck – I looked and everyone looked fine, but it was Nellie bawling. I thought she may be missing the goat we recently removed from the herd. An hour and a half later Emma went to do chores and Nellie was down. We called the vet and he was out in an hour and her body temp was 3-4 degrees below normal, he administered the usual antidotes, and asked if we had a heated building to keep her in. We tried bringing in some heat lamps, but it was not going to keep her warm enough, so she went to the vets.
To make a long story short, while we were attending the PFI conference, we were getting updates on Nellie, none of them good. The vet thought she ended up with some neurological damage, and cautioned us that there was a remote chance she could be suffering from rabies. By Saturday morning it was clear she was not going to come out of it and she was put down.
All this was against the backdrop of a 3 hour session I attended by holistic veterinarian Will Winter who opened our eyes to many things we have been somewhat (opposite of proactive) about. He made a very string case linking pasture health, mineral content of soil, and pasture brix level to herd health, particularly parasite control. We just started using the pasture and creating separate paddocks within the last couple of years and have done some overseeding to increase plant diversity and medicinal herbs, but we have not yet performed a soil sample to see what kinds of mineral deficiencies we may have in our soil, and therefore in our pasture plants, therefore in our animals, and ultimately in us. So this spring brings a renewed emphasis on pasture improvement.
But back to the unpleasantries. So this morning, IÂ arrived at the vet clinic at 8:00 to deliver the goat head to the Iowa State Vet School for rabies testing. I must admit it was unsettling to pick up a sealed foam cooler that contains the head of your goat to get a test that could lead to a series of… oh well, let’s just stop there and wait for the results.