Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's not always easy

It's not always easy to have so many animals.  Unlike cats or dogs, rabbits are prone to just dropping dead for no reason.  Luckily, as an experienced show breeder, I can more easily detect early warning signs than your average pet owner.  One thing I can't predict is when the rabbits are going to have trouble giving birth. 

I lost 9 rabbit babies this week.  Four were because the mother didn't make a nest for them, five died because of birthing trouble the mothers had.  I had only two babies survive and they aren't out of the woods yet- between birth and weaning, so many things can kill baby bunnies- from abrupt temperature changes to leaving the nests too soon- to genetic defects not visible to the eye or troubles with processing their food.  I don't breathe easy until a rabbit is at least 10 weeks old.

The chickens are a whole new set of problems.  I only have owned two in my life before this set.  I was lucky in that Boo and Nugget were healthy girls who survived everything life and my inexperience could throw at them.

Yesterday one of the black pullets, Kettle, came up sick.  She was lethargic and hanging out in the back of their house.  She refused to eat or drink and looked like she had been blowing snot, as well as exhibiting signs of diarrhea.

I immediately began to panic, knowing full well I didn't know what was wrong with her, much less have any idea how to treat her.  Google is only so helpful when you know what exactly you need information on.  "Sick Chicken"...that's not so helpful.

We did a few commonsense measures- she was removed from the flock and quarantined.  I mixed up some electrolyte and vitamin water and dipped her beak in it repeatedly until she drank a little, more to get me to leave her alone than for any real want of the liquid.  I dipped some bread in to the water and tried to get her to nibble that to no avail.  In the end, I just sat and talked to her, stroking her head and back.

There comes a point where you can do all you can do.  Then you just have to hope they survive the night.

Thankfully, Kettle did survive the night.  She ate a bit of chick food out of my hand and lightly fussed at me for keeping her away from the other flock members.  I was incredibly relieved.  I had prepared myself for the worst.

She still isn't out of the woods.  I'll keep her quarantined a few more days until I am sure she won't relapse.  Then she will have to deal with the joys of reintegrating back in to the flock. 

It's not always joy and sunshine when you own pets- especially not those of the dual purpose/livestock variety.

Thankfully it seems like a crisis has been averted this time!


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