If ya didn’t know…..I have an animal science degree from Colorado State. I worked in veterinary hospitals as an assistant/technician starting at the age of 16. I still occasionally assist a friend who is a house call veterinarian. I know a fair amount about animals and their care.
That being said….animals are dropping dead, getting sick, and getting injured all around me.
First, one of our pullets died the 2nd day we had her. How? She pasted up. What is pasting up? Why it is when the bird’s poop gets caked up around its butt. This results in the bird not being able to poop and it kills the bird. Nice, huh?
Soon after, our dear pig George Washington died. He lasted 4 days with us before kicking the bucket. We’re pretty sure it was worms and pig lice that got him. Even though he was allegedly de-wormed, de-loused, and vaccinated. Abraham Lincoln (George’s brother) got a dose of de-wormer/de-louser and the bedding was all treated with lice powder after that event.
George was quickly replaced with Cinderella. Three days after she arrived, she got a runny nose and runny eyes. After an extremely long work day, the hubby and I had to chase her around the pen, catch her, and give her an antibiotic so she didn’t follow in the footsteps of Ole’ George. A regular pig rodeo at 8pm….lots of fun.
Then, a couple days ago, I went out to the chicken coop to find one of my year-old hens, Pepper, dead on the coop floor. She hadn’t shown any sign of illness, was eating and acting fine the day before, then….boom…..dead. I cut her open (my scientific mind was curious) to see if I could figure out what killed her and she had NO breast muscles. Seriously, there was no muscle where it should be. It was the craziest thing! I think she may have had an impacted gizzard or some sort of digestive issue that caused her to not absorb nutrients. This resulted in her body cannibalizing itself for energy. While trying to figure out what killed her, I did some research online and found that the “backyard hen” community (yes there is one) actually has a name for this……Sudden Chicken Death Syndrome. No, I’m not kidding. RIP Pepper
The day after Pepper died, I came home to a bleeding pig! Seems that Abe and Cindi had a bit of a scuffle and he had bitten her ear. She was bleeding like a…….wait for it……stuck pig! There was blood all over the concrete, the feeder, their fur and at first, I didn’t know where it was coming from. The eldest came out to help me clean Cindi up. She helped hold her down and wipe the blood off so we could find out where the injury was. After our pig rodeo, we were covered in poop, blood, bedding, and hair. The wind was whipping around and it was cold out. My daughter looked up at me and said, with a huge grin on her face, “That’s the first time I’ve felt like a real farm girl!”
I’ve learned a couple things….
- It is difficult to recall things you learned in college 15 years ago and haven’t used since.
- No matter how nice your housing is for your animals, they are still livestock animals and sometimes they die.
- The plan was to never shoot our animals up with antibiotics. If we didn’t give Cinderella antibiotics, she would have likely died. Sometimes not following the plan is better than the alternative.
- Remember to check new pullet’s butts before bringing them home, then check them twice a day for a couple weeks after.
- Pullets think that checking their butts is very rude.
- Being covered in pig blood and shit is a “real” farm girl baptism.