Saturday, February 22, 2014

Udderly Ruined

Warning: Graphic Photos

Nettie's fever looks to be under control (102.6 last check).  I'm still giving her two shots of penicillin twice a day (12ml every 12 hours).  But her udder was engorged to the point where it was splitting the skin on the side that was gored.  At first I thought it was just bruising, but Paul said it looked like it was getting worse and that there was actual blood collecting in the left side.  It just kept getting worse and I'm sure the fact that she's been standing most of the time probably isn't helping.  I didn't want to milk her out in fear of rupturing or making her bleed anymore, but I new something had to be done to reduce the swelling.  I wasn't sure if there is some sort of medication that would help or if I should lance the area where the blood was accumulating or what.  So I went into town to sit my butt down at the vet's office, but couldn't get the actual vet to talk to me (although I don't blame him, they were super busy).

My next stop I headed over to the feed store to talk with some cattle people to see if they've ever had a cow with an injured udder.  No such luck there either.  But we were able to come up with sort of a solution for getting her udder drained.

There is a medicine called Tomorrow for treating mastitis in cows & goats.  It's a tube with a thin, plastic tip that is inserted up into the teat orifice and then the plunger is depressed to administer the medication directly into the udder.  So we figured I could use it in the opposite way; squirt the medicine out (into the garbage) and then use the tube to slowly draw the milk out of the udder.

Nettie was finally laying down in the barn so Paul got a towel soaked in ice water and put it on her bruised udder to hopefully reduce some of the swelling.

Once she was used to the cold compress, I massaged Nettie's teat in order to relax the orifice.  Amazingly enough, I just put a little pressure on the teat and it squirted.  So I kept slowly and softly squeezing milk out.  Except it wasn't so much milk as it was a mixture of milk and blood:

There was also some air in the udder.  Again, have no idea if that's a sign of something bad, or how it got in there, but I just kept squirting out everything I could.  All that blood in her udder couldn't be good.

She's standing back up now and I'll go out there once in a while and empty whatever I can from the udder.  She's not eating hay and has only really picked at the alfalfa pellets and handful of grain I gave her.  She ate a few bites of carrot and half an apple, but she needs something in her.  I've given her another round of Probios, B Vitamins and Nutridrench hoping to get her appetite going.

Now we're starting to plan on what to do for her impending kidding.  And there are scenarios going around in my head that aren't nice at all.  If she gives birth naturally, will all the stress cause her to rupture something in her udder again?  Will she even be physically strong enough to go through the labor?  Will any of the vets around her do a c-section for her, and if so, would the recovery from major surgery be more stressful than natural labor?

Then, what happens after kidding?  Assuming the kid(s) are alive, I'm going to have to take them away from Nettie.  Not only am I concerned about her being able to produce blood-free milk by her kidding date, but the kids would end up hurting her udder just by drinking.  Luckily I have frozen colostrum from last year, but I'm still going to have to find a source of fresh goat milk.  Annette is supposed to kid the same day, but she may not have enough to feed her kids and Nettie's kids.

And the worst case (as if it could get any worse)?  Well, let's just say that if Nettie doesn't make it through a kidding here, I've been preparing myself to do an emergency c-section to try and save the kids.


  1. So sorry. Sounds like you're handling it better than I would. I really hope all those "worst case scenarios" going through your head just don't happen.

  2. You really have your hands full. I feel for the poor animal and for all your stress. Hang in there, you'll know the right thing to do when the time comes.

  3. Worst case scenario, you thaw the frozen colostrum & feed it her kids, & that will get you thru the first day. Then milk out Annette & feed all 4 kids. If you milk out Annette 3 times a day, you will boost her supply. You may have to eventually mix her milk with milk replacer for the kids, but you would be surprised how much a nanny can produce. The key is to keep her milked out OFTEN for the first 2 weeks, to mimic her having quads of her own, to weight the milk & feed her 1/2 cup grain +1.2 cup for every pound of milk she produces. Without feeding grain, she can't eat enough to produce that much milk. You have to bring her up slowly, grain-wise, you can't just feed her 2-3 cups without working up to it, or she will get grain overload, but if you empty out the milk & the FIL (an factor in the milk that controls the amount of milk produced) consistently for the first 2 weeks, she will produce what is needed.

  4. OOps --that should be 1/2 cup grain extra for every pound, not 1.2 cups - - sorry, fat fingers!

  5. I can't say I have ever had, seen or known of anyone who dealt witht he type of injury Nettie had. We have had our fair share of triplet lambs that required bottle feeding and a couple of mastitis type issues but punctured utters have never been one of them. That being said I think I would rob all the extra milk I could from the other available nanny goats and up the feed levels like Marivene mentioned.

    This scenario has made me glad we don;t have any horned animals around here.

  6. I think Nettie has a huge hematoma on her udder . . . which may not be as serious as it looks. A hematoma forms when a part of the body receives a hard blow (which we know Nettie did) and blood forms outside the blood vessels. This would cause the discoloration (blood right under the skin) you see on the outside of her udder. It's likely the blood inside her udder and coming out of her teats is the same thing.

    The frozen colostrum will be great for her kids. We've had kids that we bottle fed goat milk replacer (after getting some colostrum into them) and they did fine.

    I think Marivene's suggestions are all good ones. Annette could well prove to have enough milk for all the kids.

    I'd say your biggest chore before Nettie kids is to get her eating again. If it is a hematoma on her udder, I don't think that will keep her from kidding normally . . . but nursing the kids would be probably not be a good thing. Especially with the blood in the milk. But you've got to build her up again before she kids.

    I am so in awe of you, Carolyn. You are fantastic in the way you're preparing for and dealing with this situation. Remember we're all rooting for you and behind you all the way. Hugs.

  7. Carolyn,

    You are just awesome for looking at all angles & preparing for all types of situations. I do hope Nettie is okay & kids healthy kids. And I don't envy you one bit if you have to bottle feed those babies.

  8. Carolyn - a reader asked me to repost this to your blog for her.

    PP. I hope you will help a fellow homesteader. Carolyn @ Krazo acres has a doe with gangrene mastitis. I tried to send here info but her site will not let me comment anonymously. I see that you comment there, so if there is any way you could make her aware of the situation. The doe can survive but needs quick actionand will not be easy. Thanks. Kathy Miller. Birch Tree. Missouri

  9. Here's sending her some healthy energy!!! Hang in there...

  10. Did you know there is a cannula that you can insert into the teat and the fluid should drain out.....unless there are clots there. Those have to be squeezed out.
    There is a cap that you put on and just leave the cannula in place. There is always the danger of inserting bacteria into the udder using any kind of insertion process. Be sure to wipe everything with alcohol and be as careful as possible. It that black discoloration or her udder color.

    Some things to consider: gangrene mastitis (research this one closely).
    Severe bruising after the injury

  11. gld, we checked out the cannula's at the feed store; they were for cows and too big. I''ve been able to squirt enough stuff out that it's no longer engorged and it's actually shrinking to where I know there's no milk production going on. By now in her pregnancy she would be FULL. '

    I researched the gangrene after PP posted the lady's concern. I'm pretty certain that it's not gangrene. It's obvious (although not in the posted picture) that it's just pooled blood and there are parts already starting to lighten up. But there's definitely also some brusing. Keeping an eye on it though.

    My main concern now is getting her to eat. She hasn't more than nibbled anything in two days. I"m drenching her with RedCell, Nutridrench & electrolytes on a regular basis and she's drinking. I'm going to the feed store this morning to see if I can get another tube of the b12x5; I gave that to pickles when she was off feed and it perked her right up.

  12. Oh my goodness Carolyn you have your hands full. You are so smart you will find a way to fix Nettie right up I hope she kids with no problems and now you have Pickles milk to feed the babies. If she doesn't make enough you could always buy milk replacer, it's nasty stuff but I raised my buck on it and he's a big strong boy now. Hope the b12 gets her eating again. Good luck :)

  13. I don't have anything to add to the good advise here. Just letting you know we're rooting for you and Nettie.

  14. So sorry to hear about hope she recovers.