It really has been one of those days.
Stinging rain has been soaking the valley yet again; to the point that we’re weary of wet clothes & damp spirits. We grumped our way through the chores, especially as the goats weren’t particularly willing to behave at milking time, prematurely popping their heads into the wrong stalls on the milking platform & causing chaos. Lloyd visited briefly to help us offload a new (to us, anyway) freezer from the trailer we’d borrowed from him a couple of days earlier; a brief break in the weather enabled him & Tony to tackle the job whilst I hurried on with the rest of the chores.
Merson – our senior Stud Male – had been fretting, rubbing his horns which despite being disbudded as a kid, have grown back; & as generally happens when the horns haven’t been done effectively, grow back in all sorts of weird & wonderful ways, causing problems aplenty as they often either stick out & catch things or as in Merson’s case, have curled tightly round & whilst not a danger to anyone, eventually press painfully into the top of his head as they grow, doubtless giving him the caprine equivalent of a stonking headache.
However whilst disbudding doesn’t always work – indeed we’ve had around half our treated kids go wrong this year (even in spite of being done under general anaethetic by the vet) – it IS still necessary; I almost had my eye taken out by a playful kid’s horn, last year. It’s safer for handlers and animals alike; & causes far less stress & aggression in caprine peer groups too.
We popped Merson onto the vacant treatment stand, carefully securing his head & tempting him with a bowl of goodies. As we only take a little off the horns once the animal has been disbudded if there is any repeat growth, Tony carefully looped the dehorning wire into the metal handles, creating a makeshift flexible saw. The first couple of inches of horn appeared to come off with no problems, the heat in the wire caused by the friction of the saw ensuring that any bleeding was effectively cauterised.
However when it came to the second horn Merson abruptly jerked his head & the horn snapped off at the root, the resultant stump immediately beginning to bleed profusely. I grabbed the tub of Potassium Permanganate crystals I’d kept ready & swiftly shook some over the wound. Thankfully this wonderful stuff immediately staunched the flow; & Merson was returned to the security of his shared pen with only a smal trickle of blood running down his face.
Unfortunately at this point the first horn to be removed, had also started to bleed. Initially it was just a few bright, scarlet beads; however the flow quickly gathered pace & then rather impressively began to spray out in great pumping squirts in time with Merson’s heartbeat; somewhat akin to the scene in Monty Python’s ‘Holy Grail’ when the Knight has his limbs chopped off.
Once upon a time this alarming spectacle would have had us running to the vet, convinced the goat would die at any moment; however now we simply calmly entered the pen & whilst Tony immobilised Merson’s head I again carefully applied a good sprinkle of the ‘magic crystals’ followed by a quick squirt of antiseptic spray. The bleeding stopped almost instantaneously & we left Merson munching his hay, already having forgotten the tribulations of the last few minutes.
Ho-hum, all in a day’s work, eh….!