Although we all intend to keep our animals free from harm, lurking in our pastures and in our barns are a number of dangers just awaiting these curious creatures. Here are some shared true stories of unfortunate happenings that we can all learn from.
DUST BOWLS & DITCHES .......
"I have just experienced a bizarre near-fatality with one of my old boys
that I feel I should share. I remember reading about a similar situation
several years ago, but didn't give it too much thought. My old guy
somehow got himself turned almost upside down in a small bowl-like
depression in the ground, and by the time I discovered him he was close to
death due to the build-up of rumen gasses. He is a big boy (300 some
lbs), so I had some difficulty rolling him into his kush position,
whereupon he began to belch and blow terrifically. He is still quite
weak, 24 hours later, but on the road to recovery and grateful (and lucky)
to be alive."
HAY BAGS & BALEING TWINE .......
"Hi, I had a gal get her head under a wall while dust bowling and
couldn't get up. I was sure she was dead until she blinked! After I
rolled her up, I rubbed up her neck to help her burp up all the gas
and lightly pushed on her gut too. I really brought up the gas.
Years later I had a very pregnant one get in a slight bowl and with a
bad hip, she couldn't get up. Fortunately I was home.
I had a friend lose a female from this, so I was somewhat aware to
look out for this."
Hay bags are useful if used only with supervision. Never use the sting woven hay bags for llamas. Animals can get their heads through the openings of the bag and as they eat the hay, the bag then can become tangled around their neck. Some have even gotten their legs tangled in them. The heavy vinyl hay bags are somewhat better, but the same danger of getting their head stuck is there when the hay in the bag gets low. As the animals eat the hay, they stick their head in further and further and sometimes become stuck or tangled. Never use hay bags in the trailer when traveling ... just put the hay on the floor. And if you use hay bags at a show, stuff the bags as full as possible before leaving for the night. Hay bags are not recommended for everyday use on the farm - only in a supervised setting.
The twine used to tie the hay bales has caused numerous injuries from animals becoming tangled in it. Also obstructions from animals swallowing it. Keep all twines picked up.
Sunken areas and holes mysteriously appear in the pastures from time to time. Sometimes mole tunnels may be the cause. These are often the causes of leg injuries and sprains to the animals.
GATES, OPENINGS & V's.......
The distance between the opening end of the gate and the fence post, or the distance between two gates as they meet, is crucial and can eliminate a possible death. The animal sticks its head through this opening pushing against the gate and making the opening larger. When it pulls its head back to get out, the gate tightens up and traps the animal's neck possibly causing strangulation. The more the animal pulls and struggles, the tighter the gate becomes. Allow no bigger opening than a couple of inches so the animal can't get its head in there in the first place.
In a nice, warm medical room, a cria stuck his head in the U shaped loop under the sink, trapping him and causing strangulation. He didn't know to pull his head up and out. This type of injury has also happened out in the pastures in low forks of trees that just happen to be the right size.
Numbers of livestock die each year due to Hardware Disease. A piece of wire or metal gets baled up in the hay or the animal ingests something while grazing in the pasture. The result can be a puncture, internal bleeding, and a sudden mysterious death. The hardware is only revealed upon a necropsy.
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