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Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Princess and The Bloat

I have taken some time before sharing how our farm princess spent some time being severely ill, because I wanted to make sure she really was healed before I bragged.  There aren't many pictures, because honestly, I was too stressed to think about taking pictures.

Let's start at the beginning.  This may take more than one post, so bear with me.

The farm's special show heifer that my oldest son is showing this year is known to eat a bit more that she is supposed to.  She was supposed to be in heat (ready to be bred) on a Saturday, so we turned her into the yard in front of the barn with one of the steers.  He would tell us for sure when she was ready to be bred.

All day we kept watching and we never saw anything, but they just kept eating all the green goodness in the yard.  That evening she was a little bloated.  I mean she was a little puffy on her left side up high, but we weren't that concerned and gave her some prairie hay.

When we went back to check her before bed, she was bloated more, so we tried to run a tube down her to relieve the air, but we didn't get any air which meant she had a frothy bloat.  (Remember the Gas-X commercials?  She had a lot of foam built up in her stomach that wasn't letting the air out.)  We gave her a bottle of Thera Bloat that should have brought the bloat right down.  We went to bed, but I couldn't sleep, and checked her again a little after midnight.  She was BIGGER and was showing bloat on both sides which is absolutely not good.

We tried to get a tube to relieve air once again, but got nothing.  We gave her another bottle of Therabloat and nothing.  In a last ditch effort before I called the veterinarian at 2:00 am, I poked her side with a needle.   The needle started to relieve gas, but the needle wasn't long enough once the stomach started to pull away from the skin.

We finally called the veterinarian at 2:30 am.  He tried a tube and said we were correct in thinking that it was a frothy bloat.  He gave her another bottle of Thera Bloat and continued to watch her.  The bloat didn't come down as much as he like, so he gave her another bottle.  At 4:30 am, she came back home and we tried to get some sleep.

At 8:00 am, I went to check her to find that she was still bloated.  Remember, one bottle of Thera Bloat should have brought bloat down on a calf her size and at this point she had been given THREE.  I consulted with my neighbors that used to have dairy cows.  They decided they would gather any supplies left in their barn and come right over.  They looked at her and agreed we HAD to do something more.  We used a stomach pump to add 1 gallon of mineral oil and two MORE bottles of Thera Bloat to her stomach.  We also had our son continue to walk her around the pen.  As he did, she started to pass gas out both ends.  I never knew that those sounds could be music to my ears.

Her bloat finally came down!  Success or so we thought.  I fed her a little grain the next day and she bloated again.  We tried some other remedies recommended from friends.  She continued to eat hay until Thursday.

On Thursday, we couldn't get her to eat anything and I could tell she really didn't feel well at all. She was sweating down her back and she looked like she felt absolutely terrible.  My wonderful neighbors came over again this time with a stethascope.  As they listened, they didn't hear any activity in her rumen (the biggest compartment of the stomach where the fermentation takes place).

I started texted my friend +Dairy Carrie looking for any suggestions at all.  She was discussing the Princess's symptoms with her veterinarian as my neighbor Cindy called her vet.  I had already talked with two other veterinarians that afternoon and was out of ideas.  As we contemplated all the suggestions we had received, I felt the only thing would be to take her to a veterinarian hospital. 

A quick call to the Oklahoma State University Veterinary Hospital confirmed that they agreed with everyone else.  She possibly had a blockage causing the bloat, baler twine in her stomach causing the bloat or tumors on her esophagus not letting the air escape...something.  If any of these were true, she needed more specialized treatment than what we could get locally.

I had not been sleeping much at all checking her all night, so I decided to load her in the trailer and take her to Stillwater, OK that night.  My mom graciously agreed to jump in the truck with me and keep me company.

Check back tomorrow to see what the OSU Veterinary Hospital Staff did to save our Princess.