Pink Eye Plague

The sun did come out today, just as little orphan Annie promised it would, though it showed up kind of late to the party.

The morning began in a frantic rush. Our area was looking at severe thunderstorms with 1-2 inches of rain and we wanted to get everyone fed and settled before that happened. First we caught chickens. Then Ryan and Steve set about feeding and moving chickens while Arden and I fed the pigs and put down more straw in the pig huts to keep them warm and dry. We all finished up our respective tasks just as the rain started.

And rain it did!

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Around 11 the rain eased up. Steve headed to Lundale to check on the steers while Ryan and I  helped the chicken guys finish up and messed with the new chicken house. We broke for lunch and came back out to a beautiful day!

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The sun was out and the air was warm. We’d started the day in sweatshirts, but were now breaking a sweat in just tshirts. Talk about fickle weather.

Working calves consumed the afternoon. One of our calf groups – we have two – has a pink eye epidemic. We hoped it would clear up on its own, but it hasn’t. Pink eye isn’t deadly, but it is highly contagious and can render a cow blind. A herd of blind cows would not be fun. After some back-and-forth, we decided it was in the best interest of all our cattle to treat the calves who need it.

Runny, milky eyes are a telltale sign of pink eye

Runny, milky eyes are a telltale sign of pink eye

Our plan was to run the whole group – moms and babies – into the barn where we could then pen off and treat the babies. It took some effort, but we got the group going in the right direction. The moms led the way through the gate into the bar and the silly babies followed along on the outside of the fence. Everyone we needed was still in the pasture and their moms were all in the barn. Fail.

Working cows isn’t easy, but it is predictable. They operate on instinct. They will always move away from you. If you want a cow to move forward, get behind it. If you want it to turn left, get on its right side. If you want it to turn around, get in front of it. Calves are not so easy. They panic and bolt at the slightest provocation and when they bolt there’s no telling which direction they will run. It’s even harder when over half of the calves you are trying to work are partially blind. The key is patience. Lots of it. It took us well over an hour to move twelve calves some fifty feet along the fence and into the barn.

Getting them in was the hard part. Treating them was relatively easy. Steve or Ryan would grab one and I’d harness it. Ryan only treated the calves that actually had pink eye, but everyone got sprayed with fly spray. Fly spray is just an oil based fly repellant. Flies are pink eye carriers so we want to keep them away from all the calves, infected or not. Once everyone was treated and sprayed, we let them all back out on pasture where they enjoyed some fresh grass as a consolation prize for the stress we’d put them through.

For anyone who was concerned about Bob after yesterday’s traumatic move, she is quite happy now that she is back with her chicken friends. She resumed her favorite post under the front door of the chicken house and has even been exploring a bit which is more than she ever did before.

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2 thoughts on “Pink Eye Plague

  1. So glad today was better. But then it almost had to be!
    That calf looks so pitiful. 😦
    Is Bob safe then? Did Chicken-dog get another muzzle?

    • She really was pathetic. I felt so bad for her. They treatments have helped and they all seem to be doing better. Bob is safe for now. The plan is still to send her to slaughter in a few months. Chicken-dog did get another muzzle, but she actually doesn’t need it anymore. Since we got the new house and gave her freedom to run, she’s actually been doing her job!

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