Poor Luna is sick. She couldn’t get up when I let the others out. After a few false starts I managed to get her to her feet. Her feet and legs seemed fine. When she started moving the problem became clear. She kept circling to the left. She can not walk in a straight line or turn to the right. She can only travel towards her left. We had a ram with the same problem last year. Listeriosis! Also known as circling disease. Very bad news. It is caused by the listeria bacteria, which is often found in silage or wet feed. It causes inflammation of the brain stem and can be fatal. We don’t feed our girls silage and certainly don’t give them wet feed. It can also be found in soil and damp bedding.
It has been such a wet summer, so much rain. The girls often get soaked while they are out to pasture, then come in dripping all over their bedding pack. That is my suspicion, anyway. I called the vet for a consult and he agreed with my diagnosis. She will have to be on high doses of penicillin G 3 times a day for the next week. Hopefully we caught it early enough. That is really the only hope for survival. If it is caught too late it is pretty much always fatal. Riley, the ram, made it through OK. That is a definite advantage to having a small herd. When their behavior is off you notice right away.
Even though she was having a hell of a time getting around, Luna insisted on going out with the rest of the girls once I got her up. I went with her to help. The pasture the girls are on now is to the right after going out the barn door. She could not go that way. So, she staggered to the left and took the scenic route, following the fence around the barnyard until she got to the correct gate. She got along pretty well that way except when she got to the corners. I would have to pull her out of the corners and turn her in a left circle until she was facing the correct direction and let her go. The problem came when the rest of the girls headed back to the barnyard without her. I had to go get her. We ended up following the fence line back. She fell down trying to eat out of the grain tub, but she got up and made it to the water tub OK. After a few circles she made it to the hay manger and was munching happily away when I left the barn. I’ll be heading out shortly to give her tonight’s medicine. Keep your fingers crossed that she will make a full recovery.
While the girls were out I put down an extra layer of bedding and scrubbed out their water and feed tubs. Don’t want anyone else to come down with it!