Sunday, August 30, 2009

Where did August go?

Wow September is just around the corner, feels like August flew by!
With fall almost here it means rabbit shows will begin to pick up and carry through winter. With my job at the vet it is difficult to attend many shows because of my every other weekend commitment at work. Despite this I am still going to make an effort to attend as many shows as possible, especially to study the other breeds as I begin my registrar journey. (My breed posters have arrived in the mail but the study guide has yet to arrive.)
I did some general barn cleaning today both in the goat barn and rabbit barn. I also worked on posing the hares since they have a show this Saturday in Pennsylvania. None of them were thrilled with the idea and Jasper absolutely went balastic, that rabbit's days are numbered if his personality does not improve. He is the first Belgian Hare I have had with a true "bad attitude." Now he's also the skinny rabbit I mentioned before so if there is some health problem underlying his boxy, growly nature may not be his fault, none the less he is being watched closely...
I will be submiting my e-mail entries tomorrow once I finalize who will be showing, so far my plan is to show Alice, Maeve, Emmer, possibly Trixie, Oliver, Duke and Murphy of the hares. Trixie is looking pretty nice at the moment, her type is flawed but if anything she can be a class filler. The junior does look gorgeous, the bucks are all out of condition which is so weird. I have decided to sell all of my bucks at this show, I do have interest so first pick will go to those who have e-mailed about them. Jasper and Gem are staying home, Jasper since he's skinny and nasty and Gem obviously because of her cuterebra. On a side note, Gem looks beautiful and its such a shame she won't be showing, she's all healed with the fur growing back in already.
The Rhinelanders are trickier.. I think I'm just taking Burrito, Pinto and Theo. Although I may take along Fajita to show too, she's finally looking less broody and I haven't succesfully bred her to Theo yet. Churro will be there for sale, if she doesn't sell she'll be bred later in the fall. I don't really have many showable Rhinelanders which is shame since there is a specialty show too.. oh well hopefully with breeding I can improve and increase my number of showable Rhinelanders.
I have a busy week ahead preparing for the show and various other farm things, including setting up for the arrival of 12 rare/heritage breed day old baby chicks in another week... more on that soon! :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Healing Gem

Looks like healing from the cuterebra is going to take time, although Gem is a very good patient except for oral dosing of her antibiotic, even though the smz is cherry flavored she is NOT impressed and absolutely fights me to get it in, she gets very grunty and boxy when she sees the syringe coming.

Gem showing off her healing abscess and wound. Both are looking better each day, the abscess continues to drain a small amount of pus on a daily basis but the sulfa cream helps keep it dry and from refilling. Gem likes to look out the window on the running board while I tend to her ouchies, keeps her still while she watches the goats and dogs outside.
Now her wounds are covered with the sulfa cream, she's a bit bored with all these treatments, she scattered most of the sunflower seeds on the windowsill, perhaps there's something better on top of the mini fridge?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Goat Ramblings and Update on Gem

I'm not entirely sure what exactly prompted me to buy my three Nigerian Dwarf Goat wethers back in June.. all I know is that since I was going to be living out in the country I wanted to add some true "farm animals" to my growing menagerie and goats seemed like an excellent choice, I liked the idea of them browsing on my woodlands. I went online and read a whole lot of information from various websites about goat care, nutrition, husbandry, and so forth. I also did alot of research on the many breeds of goats out there. Two breeds immediately came to mind, the Pygmy and the Nigerian Dwarf. I liked these two breeds because they were small and as such would eat less (lower feed cost) and would generally require less space.
I settled on the Nigerian Dwarf because of the wonderful color combos they come in and of course those striking blue eyes. I also was excited by the prospect of them being a dairy breed. While I was planning to buy only pet wethers at the time of my original research I did look to the future, and saw the potential for a milking animal down the line.
So my three boys entered the picture, arriving at just under 8 weeks old to the farm. They were frightened and not very used to humans when I got them, they would run away from you when you approached and screamed absolute bloody murder. But now, 2 months later they are completely different goats, while they are not super friendly with strangers (they'll take grain from your hand and will stand for some pets) they have come a long way with me. Gone are the days of not being able to pet them, they now follow me all over the place and will stand nicely for pats and kisses on the nose. Fiddle, especially has become in my lap friendly and will come right up for a cuddle.
Once they bore or have stuffed themselves from browsing they come onto the front porch or back deck and will make such a ruccous until I come out and join them for goat games which mostly entails me watching as they headbutt one another and leap on and off the outside furniture. They especially enjoy "binkying" on the back deck. They seem to like to put on a show for me to watch.
I really am glad I decided to add goats to the farm and am now looking forward to adding some milking does next year. (I want to see how the boys fare the winter before adding more to the herd.) With the progress the boys have made with warming up to people these past 2 months I'm excited to see how much friendlier they will get over the years. If I had one bit of advice for someone interested in adding dwarf goats to their homestead I would recommend patience above all else... even bottle raised babies can take time to warm up to their new human family, but if you're partient and provide lots of treats your goats will come around and be very friendly in time.
And a quick update on Gem, she's doing very well post cuterebra, she hates her medicine and keeps removing her e-collar but I am optimistic she will be all better soon. I'll have some new photos of her healing abcsess tomorrow, along with more photos of the rabbit herd.
Photos of those goaties:
Tambourine attemps to lay on top of Fiddle, ah brotherly bonding

A naughty Tambourine goes for the potted herbs..

Tambourine smiles for the camera, he is quite photogenic

Baby Banjo enjoys sitting on one of the deck chairs.
Goats certainly add something special to country life!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cuterebra (Bot Fly Maggot) - WARNING GRAPHIC PHOTOS!

WARNING GRAPHIC PHOTOS - please do not continue reading if you do not want to see a graphic photo of a bunny after a sedated removal of a dead cuterebra (bot fly maggot)

Anyone who raises rabbits will see their fair share of rabbit related health problems and illnesses. I've had rabbits for a very long time now and have seen and experienced first hand some of the worst illnesses and problems rabbits can have. I've dealt with pasteurella causing upper respiratory and lower respiratory infections, I've gone through GI stasis on a number of occassions and have seen some instances of parasites. Today was my first experience with a truly horrible parasite the cuterebra, the larvae stage of the bot fly.

Gem had a small abrasion I had noticed on her back a few days ago which quickly escalated into a large sore, about a few inches up on her back. Yesterday I noticed a "hole" of sorts that looked like a nick. I knew immediately it was probably related to some sort of maggot infection so I took her into work today where she was sedated the nick enlarged and the cuterebra was removed. Following its removal the Veterinarian removed the capsule of the abcsess underneath and allowed as much builup to drain out, luckily there was little to no pus since she was able to remove the capsule intact. It was a disgusting thing to watch as a near inch long fat and dead maggot was pulled from the tiny wound..

For me its agonozing to think she had this brewing and I had no knowledge, up until a few days ago there were no clinical signs, she's been eating normally, playing, drinking and generally doing very well. The cuterebra has a numbing property which makes it mostly unnoticeable to the host, and luckily in Gem's case there was only one large larvae instead of many... It is hard to say how she got the parasite as bot flies are everywhere out here in the country. My rabbitry is indoors and fly free, it is a nearly controlled environment... now all of my rabbits play outside, they exercise in the grass and absolutely can pick up parasites out there. I do keep my rabbits on topical revolution to help control parasites but clearly this is not enough to prevent a cuterebra from getting under the skin... How Gem got the bot fly larvae will probably be a mystery but I am thankful I was able to have her treated. In her case, the larvae was too large to remove at home and did require sedation (especially since Hares are an excitable breed) she is now on oral and injectible antibiotics to help prevent the wound from re-abscesing, I am using a topical sulfa cream to dry the area and the other raw spot on her back. The wound must be left open to drain and she's constantly bothering it so she has to wear a soft e-collar, not that its done much good to prevent her from scratching at it with her back foot.. She is also on pain meds to keep her comfortable and while the photos below may be graphic this is a necessary part of the healing process.

Since I'm on the topic of health problems I thought I would mention Jasper also... he's been worrying me lately since he's been unable to maintain and is even losing weight despite being free fed and having a very good appetite.. what is the cause I do not know but I'm monitoring him closely..
Apart from these two bunnies things are okay at the rabbitry otherwise, I'm going to be shearing the Angoras down again this weekend (Didn't I just do that?) and working more on my various other projects although I think I'll be scrapping my outdoor enclosure ideas for the rabbits after my experience with bot fly larvae....
Jasper showing off his thin frame... not sure why he's so skinny..

Gem after the sedated removal of the larvae recovering in her cage, the significant amount of bloody discharge is unfortunately from her scratching at the wound with her rear foot. The e-collar prevents licking but cannot stop her from scratching. Her nails were trimmed while she was under but it can't prevent her from scratching. She is eating and drinking normally and will hopefully be protected with the antibiotics she is on. I'll post on her progress.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Photos from the Barn

First up are Fiddle and Banjo, and Tambourine's legs. They were being cute goat kids on the deck. Banjo is seeing the cardiologist in MD in a few weeks to have an echocardiogram done to determine what kind of congenital heart disease he has. So in preparation he's been wearing a collar to try and get him a little better leash trained before his visit.

Here is one of the boy's new stackers, very similar to the original style but with improvements.

Here is my original style modified with improvements to prevent shavings from being easily kicked out and to keep the hares from opening the magnetic closures.

This shot shows a new stacker next to a modified stacker. My rabbitry has really come a very long way!

Friday, August 14, 2009

9 new hare hutches!!

My 9 new hare hutches are finally completed! They are my original style hutches solid floored stacked 3 high with some improvements, including litter guards so the shavings aren't knocked out and even more height! They are aproximately 4 feet long by 30 inches deep and a little over 2 feet high. They are really nice and will allow me to grow out those potential 10 juniors I mentioned a few posts back.. I'll have photos tomorrow, along with photos of the improvements on my older hutches to make them more hare safe and friendly.

The boys, Murph, Duke, Oliver and Jasper who had been living in smaller temporary hutches are thrilled with their new abodes!

That is all for now, a huge thanks to my hutch builder, he did a fantastic job!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Will you rub my belly?

Reuben would like you to rub his belly please... since obviously Fiddle is not interested..
Its way too hot outside, thank goodness for A/C and in the case of the goats and dogs, cool baby pools filled with water and a nice shady spot under a tree.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fall Plans

With it nearly hitting 95 degrees today its hard to imagine what I'll be doing this fall in terms of bunnies, but I am always thinking ahead!

The first big thing I have planned is going for my ARBA rabbit registrar's license. This is something I've wanted to do for a while and since I've been an ARBA member for 4 years now, I'm more than eligible to start the process. I've been flipping through my standard of perfection often lately and I'm planning on buying the registrar's study guide early this coming week. (I also am buying 2 breed posters, one for my barn and one for my work, so all of our clients can see then many bunny breeds out there!)

I don't know when I'll actually apply to take the test and so forth but I hope to do so by early next year, taking all of Fall to study and familiarize myself with the many breeds of rabbits. Being out of school at the moment and only working/taking care of the farm animals gives me a good amount of time that I can dedicate to studying.

Another thing I'm planning on doing with the bunnies is doing more "training," work with them. Years ago when I just had Ezra as my pet bunny I had taught him a great many tricks including coming when called, bringing me his toys (fetch?) teaching him to stand for treats, and putting toys in a basket. Melody another of my pet rabbits will still do a good amount of these tricks, provided she gets a good treat for doing them. (banana or papya works well)

Hares and Rhinelanders are both remarkably smart and active breeds which I'm sure would excel with trick training and interaction of this sort. I'm looking forward to training some of my "show" bunnies this fall. I have a few neat ideas in mind and will try to video tape my progress.

Other fall bunny plans? Well I am breeding Fajita to Theo on Monday so I should hopefully have a bouncing litter of Rhinelanders to play with, and hopefully I'll find a match for Trixie in the coming months so I'll have another litter of hares to prepare for too...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ramblings and Photos

I've finally decided on my "official" numbers for my herd.. its a tough decision but being just one person running the rabbitry and with so many other commitments besides the bunnies I needed to make a number and stick to it. I've been caring for 9 hares and 6 rhinelanders lately along with 2 pet angoras and of course Shelby. Soon the other pet bunnies will be moving down and that will be a whole lot for me to take care of, especially since all the bunnies are seniors or a month away from being seniors! (On a side note Melody who I mentioned last blog post is doing just fine per my mom.. she's a trooper that bunny)

I have decided that 6 will be my maximum number of senior rhinelanders, this includes show bunnies, brood does, and bucks. This number will force me to cull hard. My junior number will not exceed 10 which gives me room to grow out any little ones I like and see how they develop.

Hares are going to be a maximum of 5 senior bunnies and 10 juniors, with the goal to move out any juniors who will not be staying to senior age by the time they reach 4 months of age.
Now that I have my numbers lined up I will need to stick to them! I have also made a mental note of absolutely no more pet bunnies even "showable pets," I just don't have time for them, no matter how much I might want to add another rare breed to the rabbitry!

These numbers give me 9 senior show/brood rabbits then my additional 7 pets which makes my total senior rabbit number 16, a good solid number. Now the juniors will complicate it since my numbers will go up when I have litters but if I stick to my numbers I will cull out the animals that don't make the mark for my herd.
On to the photos, mostly take today since it was my day off from work:

My goats are ridiculous, they go on the deck and headbutt the door wanting to come in the house, here they are hanging out on the back deck about to demolish my poor Basil plant..

Then they joined us on the lawn for bunny playtime.

Reuben and his belgians, Trixie on the left is the free ranging rabbit.

I just love my dogs, can you tell? <3>
Griffyn and Reuben, best friends forever.

Close up shot of the two siblings. I can't say how lucky I am that Griffyn likes dogs and my pitts adore him. He really is the perfect cat for my household!

Pepper's turn to nap with the kitty.

Shelby out grazing, looking good for 8 years+ in age. I've had her 7 years come this January and I got her as an adult bunny so who knows how old she is. She's quite the princess and is enjoying being the only house bunny thoroughly.

Gem, not amused with this camera nonsense.

Handsome Duke, he's a flashy hare, I'm looking forward to showing him this fall.

Reuben and Trixie again, they're good buddies.

A view of some of the playpens, I wish I had enough so every rabbit could come out at the same time, I'm saving up for that.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rabbitry News

Baby Uno got a new home today! I took Shelby into work for her molar trim to grind down her points where they are sharp near her tongue (an anesthetized procedure) and one of the doctors decided to take baby Uno home to her family. Its great that Uno has a loving home where he will be doted on. Although Uno had nice markings for show, his pasteurella history and his small size would never of made him a good candidate for the show table or for my breeding program. Hopefully he will make a nice fit for his new family! While I am sad to see him go, I am glad he will get more attention with his new family, Shelby and I will miss him bunches, and if it doesn't work out, he can always come back.

In other news, I'm in a holding pattern at the moment with the bunnies, cleaning regularly, grooming and just evaluating them whenever I get the chance as I work towards getting an idea of who will stay in the herd and who will be sold in the fall, I need to decide on one more Belgian to sell and possibly move out a Rhinelander buck.... decisions..

I revolutioned the whole herd today, selamectin is one of my favorite medications to use in the rabbitry, it kills mites both ear and fur and can help remove some internal parasites. Its pricey but well worth it in my opinion in terms of herd management and health. The rabbits hate getting their revolution as much as their nail trims, there is alot of shaking, twisting, thumping and furious grooming attempts as they twist their heads backward to try and lick it off, luckily behind the neck is nearly out of reach for all bunnies to groom.

On a sad note, I got a call from my mom today who reports Melody is suffering from GI stasis. She is not doing well and may not make it. Fingers crossed she pulls through, Melody is prone to stasis, and I have no idea why, there are no changes in her diet, housing or lifestyle that would account for why her gut slows down. Last time she was in stasis I nearly lost her, she pulled through in the end, she went everywhere with me for 3 full days sitting in a basket so she could get treated with fluids, pain medicine, gas drops, and of course most importantly force feeding. I am hopeful but also know her prognosis is guarded. Its hard to know exactly what condition she is in since she still lives with my mom and the soonest I can get to see her is Thursday if she makes it til then.

Well thats all thats happening around here at the moment, Shelby's molar trim went just fine, she has one point that couldn't be reached with the drill the Doctor used today but she'll need to go in again in a few months to get that last point taken care of. She's a trooper, although as expected confused as to where her baby Uno went.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Griffyn the New Kitty

On Thursday I went to follow up on that rabid raccoon problem I had at the Spotsy county Animal Control... of course while I was there I made the major mistake of looking at the tons of animals they have for adoption.
Its always sad to visit an animal shelter, especially since this one is an interesting case, since it serves a county that is urban, suburban and rural. As expected it was completely overun with dogs and cats and even some pocket pets too from all walks of life, hound dogs that hunt and pampered purse dogs. They were full to the brim with cats and kittens, and that's where Griffyn comes in..
I was looking at an older "barn cat," when one of the employees and I started chatting, I explained I had 2 rambunctious dogs and she said if I was interested in a dog friendly cat she knew the perfect choice. She took me over to Griffyn who she had fostered for 6 weeks, he came in as a trapped feral, totally wild and over the time she fostered him, she tamed him. Luckily for me she had a dog in the house, a big poodle who he really took to. So the rest is history, I adopted him. :)
He's got a raging URI typical of shelter kitties but is otherwise doing well, he purrs constantly and true to word he loves the dogs. He's going to be mostly outdoors once he heals from his neuter and URI. He is a great kitty, 6 months old or so and it will be fun to watch him continue to grow up.
Even as a bunny breeder I do believe that adoption is a great choice, there really are way too many homeless pets. Going to the shelter reminds me how responsible we are for every animal we produce.. I will certainly bear that in mind each time I place an animal in a pet home, making sure to screen out those who are not ready to make a commitment to the animal.