animal health

My Bumble Footed Bunny

Sore hocks or Bumblefoot , is a condition that meat rabbits face.  I am in the middle of trying to treat it with Christopher’s’ large male sable rabbit.The condition is more likely to show up in large rabbits who get pressure sores on their feet. The main to problems come from being over weight and from rough surfaces like wire cage floors.The condition is hard to treat but we are making head way.

sore hocks and feet on sable rabbit

sore hocks and feet on sable rabbit

I first noticed that my male rabbit was dancing around his large cage and with in days he was always humped up while sitting or would not come out of the wood portion of his cage. I never thought in 30 days we could go from

new rabbit hutch

new rabbit hutch

totally healthy to this. The male on the left is about 3 pounds heavier than the male on the right. He is also a pure bred rabbit and has a finer coat and larger ears. I think the finer coat also contributed to the condition as the finer hair is easier to rub off.

Once the condition got noticed, I realized that we  had to get the boys up off the wire floor of the cage as much as possible. The first thing I tried was to use the store-bought plastic resting boards. For some unknown reason Diesel still would not sit on it. I then tried a portion of an old asparagus crate. Both rabbits liked the wood better even though the texture was not as smooth.

Diesel sitting on a wooden crate portion

Diesel sitting on a wooden crate portion

I then started treating the wounds. I washed his feet carefully with a anti bacteria soap and made sure that the feet did not have any oozing or open sores. If I had found any sign of an infection I would have taken the buck to the veterinarian. In this case I only saw scabs and missing fur. I then used a triple antibiotic salve on all 4 feet. I washed and applied the salve every other day for a week. The improvement was visible at about 10 days.

10 days improvement to sore hocks, bumble foot

10 days improvement to soar hocks, bumble foot

Both front feet have good hair growth and no scabs and are looking better. The large scab on the left hind foot had shed and was only a small spot. The foot on the right actually looks like it also lost its scab but a new small spot appeared.  I will continue to wash and treat all the feet for the remainder of the winter off and on. I will also try to thin Diesel down some. I am just hoping that I can spend more time with him on his leash but with winter weather it maybe hard to find days like this one.

Walking Diesel in leash in the fall.

Walking Diesel in leash in the fall.

If in the next month these basic treatments do not make the sores smaller the next step is to remove him from this cage altogether. I will return him into the portable cage and take him back indoors for a while.Moving him indoors maybe the only way that he will get enough time out of his cage to heal. He would be in a much smaller cage but one that actually sits in the pine shavings instead of above them. I also would be able to soak the feet with an antiseptic every day for few minutes by using a pet carrier as a foot soak.

The carrier floor needs washed and rinsed and then a small towel soaked in a anti septic covers the floor of the carrier. The rabbit rests in the carrier for up to an hour to soak the feet with out soaking the upper hair of the foot. The recommendation is twice a day for about a month. I am sure that in my case it will be once a day for a month. This clears any infections and jump starts the healing. It also stops me from having to return a wet footed rabbit into a cold outdoor cage where frost bite on the toes could be a real problem.

This will stop us from showing him at local shows for the time being. We were hoping to take him the State Fair and some local shows this summer but for now he is just a wonderful friend for Christopher. I guess sore feet just run in the family.

Categories: animal health, Bunny, rabbit health, rabbits, sore hocks | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Donkeys, Donkeys ,Every Where and Why We See More Then Our Fair share.

Donkeys are making a come back in West Virginia and many other states that have large herds of  cattle. With their protective nature and over all hardy bodies many people find them the perfect guard animal for the hilly mountains of West Virginia. With the increase in use as guard animals and the discovery that they make wonderful pets our farrier business is booming with the once over looked Donkey.

Teaser and Baby Levi 6 days old

Teaser and Baby Levi 6 days old

What you might not know is with the growing population of  Coyote in West Virginia  farmers have taken to using them  as second set of eyes on their farms. Much like sheep herders have used dogs for thousands of years. They have a natural instinct to protect and alarm if some thing is just not correct in their pastures. This could mean any thing from a pack of coyotes is hunting a new-born calf to a cow down in a creek bed. They seem to know when to sound the alarm when a fence is down and 1/2 the herd is wandering down a road way or a strange person is near the barn. They save small-scale cattlemen ( less than 300 head) from having to worry that while out working their day jobs( most farmers need that income too!) that there is some one who will be on guard protecting the newest members of the heard.

Donkeys are hardy animals most have heavy bone structures and can easily survive on a grass alone diet.They tend have more of a fighting instinct  and a higher tolerance to spending lots of time alone then their cousin the horse. They rarely have the health issues of the other equine, so  farmers commonly add one or more to a herd of cattle and leave them to do their job for long periods of time.

This is where Toms second job as a farrier comes in to play. After turning out a donkey for several years you may end up with a crippled guard animal if they are forgotten and not regularly cared for.

Front Feet of apple jack

Front Feet of apple jack

hind foot of apple jack

hind foot of apple jack

Apple Jack is a wonderful donkey that a farmer decided to sell at a local stock sale. He ended up with an animal hoarder and placed on a hundred acre farm with 22 other equine and left for three years. Apple Jack and friends were eventually confiscated by the local police and transported to a horse rescue. The owner eventually faced 24 counts of animal neglect. The owner of the rescue took this photos for her files and asked Tom if he could save him. Apple Jacks’ feet were one of the worst we had seen that summer. Tom got to work trying to remove the excess hoof and correct the twist of his front legs caused by the  long hoof growth.In months Apple Jack was ready for adoption and found a good home with friends of our family who love him and take great care of him and his horse buddies. This is Apple Jack today seven years later.

Christopher riding Apple Jack

Christopher riding Apple Jack

 

Although Apple Jack is not a guard animal for cattle, he does watch over a small herd of goats. He is also  a wonderful mount for a boy Christopher’s age. He is friendly and enjoys us coming to see him about every 3 months to keep is feet healthy

This is a case that Tom just finished up this week (6-9-2014). This is the hooves of a 7-year-old Jenny Donkey with sever neglect . It is hard to believe that she was able to walk at all but some how she managed to get around for about 4 years like this.

7 year old jenny Donkey left in pasture 4 years with out hoof care

7-year-old jenny Donkey left in pasture 4 years with out hoof care

With just a little effort Tom was able to get her feet looking like a normal animal and she should remain looking healthy for a few months but the long deformation of her hooves will return if the are not trimmed regularly.

 

7 year old Jenny Donkey after 1st trim in 4 years

7-year-old Jenny Donkey after 1st trim in 4 years

 

Donkeys are also great for showing and jumping contest. Our communities have several Mule and Donkey shows every summer. People show their Donkeys at Halter ( for confirmation), in riding classes and driving classes. Donkeys and mules also show in a class that is all their own ” The Coon Jump”. Mules and donkeys have a wonderful ability jump great heights from a stand still. Frontier-men and Coon Hunters discovered that their mules and donkeys could jump fallen logs or  tall fences while in the woods from a dead stop. With a little encouragement these animal leap feet into the air to clear a wooden bar set on two posts ( think the Limbo except going over not under). It is exciting to watch a mini donkey of  32 inches tall challenge a standard Donkey at 45 inches to see who can jump the highest. In our area usually it is a mini donkey who wins.

Jose at the Wayne county Coon Jump

Jose at the Wayne county Coon Jump

Vicky with her newest Jumping mini Donkey Levi... his dad is a Champion Coon Jumper

Vicky with her newest Jumping mini Donkey Levi… his dad is a Champion Coon Jumper

 

 

Black mini Donkey 6 days old in the weeds

Black mini Donkey 6 days old in the weeds

 

 

Donkeys are also generally more suspicious of strangers then horses.When working with them it may take more time for them to get to know you and understand that you are not going hurt them. So Tom and I take our time talking and petting them before handling them.

Gab Garvin and Tom working to get to know a Donkey they call Eore.

Gab Garvin and Tom working to get to know a Donkey they call Eore.

 

Gab Garvins' little herd

Gab Garvins’ little herd

 

Just for fun I will remind you why many people chose not to have donkeys……. they bray! The bray is a farmers alarm clock, fire whistle and general alarm sound off  in the pasture and you either love it or hate it but it is all Donkey either way.

One of the funnest things that we deal with when working with Donkeys is that we usually get to hear their bray either when they see Tom walking out to the pasture or on our way out. They maybe saying , “Hell No We Wont Go.” or maybe” Get the Heck Outa Here.” either way, we always get them stirred up and hear the bray while we are around.It is one of the traits that sets these wonderful animals apart from the reset of the equine world and Tom and I just love it.

Donkeys are unique and wonderful smaller equine.They can be trained to pack, ride, drive, show or just enjoyed as a pet . Tom and I find that we are spending more time with these funny animals and we are both glad about it. I hope that post has put a smile on your face because I can not hear a Donkey bray without laughing just a little…. LOVE THEM LONG EARS. One day I am sure to have a bunch myself.

Jerry Posey leading his grand daughter in the St Patrick's day celebration in Ireland, West Virginia on her Donkey Heidi

Jerry Posey leading his grand-daughter in the St Patrick’s day celebration in Ireland, West Virginia on her Donkey Heidi

 

Categories: animal health, blacksmith work, equine health, Farrier work., Founder in Horses, hoof care, photo review, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Turning a Blind Eye, Blindness in Horses, and the Choices Owners Make

Winter has really had a terrible affect on my husbands Farrier business over the last few weeks. With temperatures dropping below zero for several days in a row we just could not make our usual January rounds to the farms as every creature big or small was hiding out looking for some where warm. This is the slowest January in the 9 years, But we did make it out to see one of our oldest costumers last weekend. The Peoscek farm is home to 6 wonderful horses and two dogs and a fuzzy cat.

Austrian Shepherd named Savannah and Christopher in barn

Austrian Shepherd named Savannah and Christopher in barn

As a farm hand I met my friend Mark Peosek around 15 years ago. We have spent lots of time together over the years. It was back then, while I worked at the Hill Crest Farm, that Mark stopped in looking for a well-bred Gelding that would make a fine trail horse. He found a nice little guy about 2 that we all called “Tee Sign” at the barn. He was small for his age but he was loving and quite. Born a sorrel with a big bold blaze and white socks was a handsome young horse.  Mark had other horses and  was looking for something easy to train and ride. He got everything that he wanted from “Tee” and more. After taking Tee home things settled into a nice orderly routine. Tee was broke to ride and healthy and happy he lived in a herd with other horses mostly mares that tormented him. But he was happy, well feed and the favorite mount of my friend… ” He’s bomb proof” Mark would add to any conversation about his horses.

After the next 12 years passed  Mark started to notice a change in Tee’s behavior that could not really be explained. Instead of staying with the “girls” like  he usually did in the pasture he would be alone grazing and nickering all afternoon. This continued until poor old Tee would lose his voice from the constant calling to his friends. He would not return to the barn at a fast gallop at feeding time in the evenings. It was summer time so Mark thought maybe he just did not want to come in from the green pasture.Their was plenty of hay in the field and water to drink so he was able to stay outside if the horse wanted to. The questions began a few months letter as Mark noticed that Tee was thinner when he did come down to the barn and was now spending most of his time in the upper portion of the pasture still crying for his friends when they moved away. Soon Mark had to walk the long hill to find Tee and call him to come in as the summer ended and fall began.

This is when Mark  finally realized that their was a real problem. Mark checked Tee’s eye sight by moving his hand around Tee’s eye looking for some reaction, a wink, a flinch or just a tightly closed eye. Nothing happened, Tee’s reaction was as if noting was moving near his eye. He didn’t have any idea that some one was standing to his  side moving a hand within inches of his face. Things progressed from their and Mark new that Tee was losing his sight. He called his Veterinarian and found out that Tee at about age 14 was going blind  from Moon Blindness. That Tee’s case had gone on so long that it was not really treatable. Moon blindness was going to change their relationship forever.

Moon Blindness in 14 year old Quarter horse owned by Mark Peoscek

Moon Blindness in 14-year-old Quarter horse owned by Mark Peoscek

Moon Blindness as described at this link is a general name for many problems with equine eye but most are progressive and about 20% will blind both eyes. In Tee’s case both eyes went blind in a few months of each other. By the end of last fall Tee was totally blind and Mark was facing the hard questions about what to do next.

Mark asked everyone who knew anything about horses  what they though about Tees situation. He asked his Vet, he ask Tom and I, he asked friends and family. What do you do with a blind horse? There is never an easy answer to these questions. Caring for any blind animals is  time-consuming but there is a way to keep them healthy, happy and safe. The answer that Mark got from most of us in the horse industry was a resounding, Yes! Tee could be well cared for and live a happy life with a few adjustments and the commitment of his owner.

Blind horse care is possible and  just as enjoyable if the horse is given some time to adjust to the new world that they live in. This link shares a short guide to a few often asked questions faced by the newly blinded horse owner and those who care for these animals. Blind Horse care changed a few things for my friend and his horse. Tee spends a few more hours in the barn in the winter because of ice, Mark  also watches how the mares treat him more closely and he added a bell to the halter of a mares to aide Tee’s ability to keep track of the herd. All of these things are important changes but, as you can see from this photo of Tom trimming  his feet and Christopher taking time to grooming him, things have not really changed for Tee. He is still well fed, has farrier work done and is groomed regularly.

Blind horse getting groomed by Christopher

Blind horse getting groomed by Christopher

As long as Tee’s health stays good I think we can all agree that this horse has a bright future with people love and take great care of him and there is no reason to think of putting him down. He even still enjoys a little ride time with his friends when they come to visit.

Mark Peoscek with Tee gving Christopher to ride of the day

Mark Peoscek with Tee giving Christopher to ride of the day

I am so thankful that my friend Mark took the time to let this new adjustment settle in before making up his mind about what to do with a blind horse. He did not fall prey to the myths listed below.

  1. Blind horses can not have a great quality of live .
  2. Blind horses are more dangerous
  3. Blind horses are sickly
  4. Blind horses can’t be pastured
  5. Blind horses are useless.

Mark and Tee have gained a deeper more understanding relationship over the course of the last two years and Tom and I are happily a  part of this new part of their lives.

Categories: animal health, blacksmith work, equine health, Farrier work., horse health, Horses | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rabbits our new 4-H project

   I have been a rabbit lover forever.We had them as kids and my  family raised some for meat and fur at one time. Over my adult life I have personally owned with or with out my kids about 26 and we have lost a few, sold a few and some have passed away from old age but this little guy is different.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

   By different I mean this is the friendliest, calmest and coolest tempered bunny I have ever encountered. He is a total joy and will be excellent for Christopher to show and use for his 4-h project. “Ratchet” as Christopher named him is a 7 week old Sable Chinchilla.The buck was a gray Chinchilla crossed with a black New Zealand doe…. the sable gene is from the Chinchilla side and Ratchet has all the signs of a Chinchilla with two toned fur and light guard hairs but also inherited the sable markings of dark ears, nose and toes from his dad as he had points of darker gray also. GE DIGITAL CAMERA

    As a 4-H mom you are always looking for ways to keep you kids involved and learning. Raising rabbits is an easy way to teach them all about animals, responsibility, breeding and in some cases about meat production and even the harder life lesson like death. Rabbits are a wonderful introduction to the world of showing animals and competition with-in the world of 4-H. At our last year-end show called, 4-H jamboree, I think their were about 20 rabbits on display and at least 6 were part of the market auction. The market auction rabbits are Pens of three that the member raises for a meat project. The child member bred, raises, and is judged on the weight, size and quality of the animals. Then the child member sells the Pen at an auction at the end of the week. Here the Pen of three usually sells for a price of about 200 dollars . Not a bad price for one litter of bunnies. The money goes directly to the child who raises the animals and is usually used to buy more project items or feed. The buyer has the option of keeping the pen or donating the pen back to the child so that it can either be sold later, eaten or bred again for the following year.

  With Ratchet being so clam and quite ( the best quality for a young child just starting out) I will be able to help train him. He must be comfortable with lots of handling and grooming. Ratchet will have to handle having his toes examined, flipped on to his back to check for missing hair, sex and age. He will need to have his ears checked for cleanliness, carried without jumping over board and sitting quietly when sitting on a display table. All things a child of 5 willbe able to do with help from judges and parents.

   There is no requirement for papers or purebred animals for children this age. the object is to start with the basics and  show what works for you. Only the market rabbits have breed requirements, they need of the meat type and in the correct weight range. older members show purebred and line bred animals for breed classes and thier are 47 listed breeds on the American Rabbit breeders Ass. website at www.arba.net/breeds.htm. Eventually I will pursue another New Zealand for the meat classes and a purebred “REAL” sable for breed classes. Then breed Ratchet to the New Zealand rabbit for the meat bred category.

   Thankfully, Christopher has fallen in love with Ratchet. This is really the first time I have seen him attach to an animal although we had others. He really likes spending time with him. I hope the bond continues and they spend this winter getting to know each other. At this point we have Ratchet in an indoor cage because he is so tiny. His move outside is still up for debate. At some point he should reach a weight of about 10 lbs so he will be too big to stay in a small cage.

Christopher with Ratchet

Christopher with Ratchet

    I am so happy to add another little fur ball to our family and our “living off the land” life style. Ratchet and his babies will further lower my families dependance on the world’s food supply and will offer us another organic meat to eat. I personally love rabbit meat so starting to raise my own for food, fur,fun and profit is a natural way for us to progress. I just hope that as Christopher gets older he will enjoy these animals enough to want to raise a few babies for later projects and is able to sell a few along the way.

 Welcome, to the family Ratchet may you live a long healthy life full of love!

Categories: 4-H, animal health, bredding rabbits, rabbits | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

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