As most of you have probably seen on our social media, one of our bucks went down about a week ago and I honestly didn't think he was going to make it.
We had noticed something was off with Cowboy about 8 weeks ago. He was standing alone beside the bucks' shelter and wasn't moving at all. This is not normal behaviour for our boy. He is usually the first one at the gate to greet you when you come in. The first thing I decided to do was check his FAMACHA - it was bad. He was a 5 which is the worst they can be. I took him out of the buck yard to quarantine so that I could call the vet, decide on a treatment and keep a close eye on him. I am one of those people who reads the Goat Emergency Groups on Facebook so I was in full on meltdown mode and thinking the absolute worst.
After chatting with our vet, we decided to pull a fecal and start deworming treatment that day. We figured it was the stress of rut and he just had a worm bloom because of it. Of course, stuff like this never happens on weekdays, it's always the weekend. His numbers were what we already knew... high. We waited two weeks and re-tested his fecals and his count had almost TRIPLED. What? It didn't make sense. We used a second dewormer and waited another two weeks to re-test. His count came down, but barely. He was eating, drinking. wandering the yard with the small group we had moved over with him. It wasn't adding up. We were treating him for anemia and doing everything we could for him. Nothing was getting better. We ordered in a third dewormer and gave it a go. 4 days later, Cowboy couldn't really stand on his own. We helped him up - he moved around once he was up - and we decided we would move him to our garage the next day after we got a pen set up.
The next day was of course a Saturday. We went down to the barn to let everyone out but made sure we stopped at Cowboy's shelter first. He was not doing well at all. Knowing what we know now, we totally kick ourselves for not moving him the night before. He was weak. He could barely move on his own. He couldn't stand, he was no longer eating or drinking. I knew that if we didn't do something - and FAST - he was not going to make it.
My husband carried him to the garage. We got him situated and comfortable and I started racking my brain what to do next. I took his temperature and it was low - 98.4. I got a heat lamp on him, warmed towels in the dryer and kept a blow dryer running on him to try and get it up. We bought a jacket and got it on him, switched his water out to hot as soon as it started cooling down and held the bucket in front of him to make sure he got something to drink every hour. I messaged my goat mentor and said "Please walk through this with me. What am I missing?" She walked me through a treatment she had used in a similar situation with one of her previous bucks. I was ready to do anything to save Cowboy and had nothing left to lose at this point. We agreed that it was his best chance and it's what we did.
I didn't sleep much that night and we were up checking on him first thing the next morning. I remember whispering under my breath the whole way to the garage, "Please be alive, please be alive." He was. Sunday he was able to lift his head up off the ground, which he wasn't able to do the previous day. I knew I had to get him to Monday so the vet could come and look him over. I talked to him off and on that whole day. I begged him to fight to live. By Sunday night, he had developed a phlegmy cough. My immediate thought was pneumonia. Wonderful.
Monday morning came and he was still alive. About the same amount of energy as Sunday, but he was breathing and that's all that mattered. His cough was worse and we were still fighting a low temperature. The vet came that afternoon and we laid out our next steps. IV - he needed fluids and meds. Four days of antibiotics for his upper respiratory infection and three days of anti-inflammatories. She would be back the next day to check in on him. We kept the fluids running for about 8 hours and disconnected it around 10 pm that night.
The next day, you could see he was feeling better. He gave us his signature goofy grin when he saw us, but still didn't have the energy to stand up on his own. We helped him up and let him take short walks with both of us close by, just in case he dropped - which had happened a few times before. The vet came later that afternoon and we decided to do another round of IV fluids. Wednesday morning came and he could start to get himself up off the ground on his own and started to venture around the garage when we let him.
We're now at a week later and the difference in Cowboy is amazing. He still had a long road to recovery and about 20 pounds to gain back. We will check his fecals in about another week to see if the 4th dewormer worked to get his numbers down. We've moved Cowboy's favourite buddy Kevin up to keep him company. His temperature is finally holding steady without his jacket, heat lamps, etc, and his appetite is back. He's being very picky about what he wants to eat, but while he puts on some weight, I'm 100% okay with that! We'll keep him where he is for however long it takes for him to get his strength back.
I'm sharing this on our blog more for myself - to remember the steps we took and how scary it was to know how close we were to losing our first farm animal here at Key Hill. We know one day it will happen, but I will always do what I can to fight for them.