Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mastitis...it's not just for women

Rosie has been feeling poorly for about a week. I noticed it a week after kidding. She ate her alfalfa pellets and black oil sunflower seeds with little enthusiasm. I had wormed her so though maybe that was the problem, especially since she started perking up a few days later. But she still wasn't back to her normal self and she was kicking her kids off quite a bit as they were nursing on her CONSTANTLY.  About 6 days after I noticed her feeling badly, I gave her some B-Complex and a antibiotic. She ate well that evening. Something prompted me to check her udder, and sure enough, it was lumpy. I taped her teats that night so I could do a mastitis (udder infection) test in the morning. By taping her teats with first aid tape, the kids can't nurse on her. If they are nursing I get zero milk.

Morning comes and at 6am I'm out in the barn trying to get Rosie on the milk stand. She is pretty weak and falls getting on the stand with her head in the restraint so she would basically strangle herself if she didn't get up. So I had to help her and let me tell you, she is HEAVY! 150# I'd guess. Once all is under control, I follow the instructions and squirt milk in the mastitis tester cups (she didn't have much milk even though she was taped all night - she should have had a full udder). Then I put in the appropriate amount of blue testing solution, then I swirl.  Within 30 seconds the liquid becomes the consistency of pudding that hasn't set up yet - if it remains liquid there is no infection detected. I quickly get online and ask the people in my favorite goat forum what I should do. I'm basically doing the right things but need to add an antibiotic teat infusion, an oxytocin shot (to get her milk flowing better) and massage her udder frequently. And since her milk production is low, her babies aren't getting enough to eat so I got out the bottle and got one to take it (it is always a challenge to get kids to take a bottle when they have only been nursing - same as with human kids) but the other couldn't figure out what to do with it.

On my way to work I got the infusion from the feed store. Thank goodness they open at 7am!. I was scared because the applicator is much larger than the hole it needs to go into. All morning I was thinking about how unpleasant it would be for her. So after all that worrying I get home and it really wasn't that bad. She didn't even notice. So then I got to spend 15 minutes or so rubbing it up into her udder. Then I taped her teats so that the kids wouldn't suck all the antibiotic out. Meanwhile, Paul managed to get the other kid to take a bottle. Boy was he hungry!

I repeated the infusion 12 hours later but had to keep up massage and milking her frequently. I kept her separated from her kids for a full 24 hours but once she started feeling well enough to call for them I decided to reunite them. Plus they can do the frequent milking instead of me having to do it.  4 days after the infusion she still has pretty good sized lumps in her udder but they seem to be loosening up, which is a good sign. I've also been giving her vitamin C and probiotics as well as some aspirin to help with the inflammation. I was hoping to see faster improvement. I read online that goats love garlic and it can help clear up mastitis. We had some old dried up garlic and I offered it to her and sure enough, she ate it. Daisy was LOVING the garlic and kept trying to get it from Rosie.

I hate to say it, but Rosie has been a problem every year since I got her. The first year after she kidded all of her hair fell out and she got mites so I had to treat her for that. The second year she didn't get pregnant at all so she wasn't earning her keep. This year she has mastitis. It might be time for her to go to a retirement home. She is 8 years old after all, and most breeding does only live 10 years or so and die from kidding related complications.

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