Saturday, 24 August 2013

Of Poorly Goslings and Vitamin B3

Carolyn of the Mini-horses phones seeking our help. 2 of her (4) 6-week old goslings over successive days have suddenly gone lame, unable to stand and then quickly died within the next day or so and a third is going the same way. Will I post a query onto the poultry discussion forum which I moderate, to see has anyone met this before and knows a solution? Meanwhile she rescues the poorly third goose to an indoor pen under her heat-lamp. My poultry 'lot', as usual, quickly come back with helpful suggestions. Sudden lameness in water fowl can be the result of waterfowl not being able to extract Vitamin B3 (Niacin) very well from cereals. As most poultry feed is either cereals or is cereal-based , feed for water fowl can be supplemented with Brewer's Yeast (tablets or powder) or with "Abidec" baby-vitamins in their drinking water. Apparently you do not use niacin itself, as this can caused liver damage. Thank you, if you should ever read this, 'Landkeeper' and 'Rho-B' for those suggestions, which I passed back to Carolyn.

Well, Carolyn's sick gosling is back on his feet and the healthy fourth one is still healthy after a night under the heat lamp and never got as far as being given Brewer's Yeast but, blow me if we didn't wake up this morning and only 6 of my geese came paddling out of the goose house when I opened the door. Our small, backward fella, Fotherington Thomas had gone lame over night and was suddenly unable to lift himself off the bedding. I carried him, protesting, out to the orchard to be with his family but he just sat down on the grass while they fussed and honked around him. I wondered whether he might just be a bit stiff or pins-and-needles-y and had slept badly on the leg and might recover.

Well, he was still there at 8 am. He seemed to have the same symptoms as described by Carolyn - his body, wings, neck and head all fine and bright, alert and still with an appetite. One leg also, apparently, still OK but his other (his right leg) being useless and limp so that he could not stand or walk. Thanking my stars for having done that enquiry on the poultry forum, I headed for Balla-D to obtain Brewer's Yeast powder (and got lucky when the pharmacist turned out to be an experienced and knowledge-able keeper of chickens and rabbits, all be it with no knowledge of geese lameness specifically).

Foth' was rescued back to the goose house where I set him up in one of the cattle feeding-bays on a bed of wood shavings and hay into which I put a hot water bottle wrapped in dog-towels and within reach of him I put a pot of water with the yeast powder suspended in it, and a bowl of various foods including chopped grass, sprinkled with more yeast powder. He settled down to quietly get on with it and, I noticed, took some of the water and the feed.

In the afternoon he was still nice and bright, so we decided to try him out on a bit of physiotherapy, swimming on the clear water of the big pond, where we could see if he was using the right leg at all and where the family could see him and know that he was not yet in the freezer (!). He was using the leg a bit but not a lot, but he seemed to enjoy the bath, a chance to duck his head under, preen, eat some of my aquatic plants and swim about. The other geese, we fancy, were looking on through the orchard fence a bit enviously; they are not allowed anywhere NEAR the big pond now.

One of my 'things' is that I hate to use or hear used the expression 'runt of the litter' It always strikes me that people who use the word, or the expression 'there is always a runt of the litter' go about expecting a runt and quickly latch onto the smallest baby and mentally set him aside for lower expectations, or a cheaper price if he's a puppy, or for some kind of Class 2 treatment. Runts also seem to get culled out first by anyone trying to be 'hard nosed' about their small holdering or farming. Well 'Foth' would definitely have been 'down there' if we were so inclined (and maybe hadn't had the real poor do-ers, Lucky and Dip). He has always been about 2/3 the size of his thriving siblings, day dreaming while they scoffed food, a bit bullied and pushed aside, left behind when they all tear about the orchard. We don't have 'runts', though. We may have babies who are a bit smaller than the rest but they are grand and they will catch up. We have fallen in love a bit with Fotherington Thomas and actually suspect that if he recovers from this one, he may be a 'keeper' if the grown ups will have him. Don't get your hopes up, mind. If his leg will not mend he will have to go down that route.

Meanwhile, the La Bresse from the '8-Ball' woke up and crowed to match William. Bad decision, La Bresse. Should have gone down the egg-laying route. It can be better news all round.

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