Letter Re: Lack of Large Animal Vets Even in Rural Areas–Be Prepared to Do It Yourself

Dear Mr. Rawles,
We are presently in the middle of lambing season here. The day following our shearing, one of our ewes looked quite ill. She was glassy eyed, was shaking, and unsteady on her feet. A quick consultation with our Merck Veterinary Manual made me think that it was likely milk fever. Merck said the stress of shearing and delayed feeding is a trigger. Death could result in as quickly as 6 hours without treatment. Therapy recommended was an injection of calcium. It was then I discovered that the availability of large animal vets does not go hand in hand with rural locations! We could not find a vet that had any injectable calcium within 70 miles! The nearest vet, 50 miles listed herself in the phone book as a “large and small animal” vet, but had no injectable calcium on hand! And no, the feed stores didn’t have any either! We finally reached a small animal vet 70 miles away, bless his heart, whom I only consulted by phone, and whom I had never met. We reached him just before he was leaving his office. He had some injectable calcium on hand. He could not come out to our place, but he was willing to leave it in his mail box for us to pick up. No charge!

The thought struck me: If things are like this now, then what will they be after things go bad? I am really going to rethink the vet supplies I keep on hand, and stock up! – LL

The Memsahib replies: ewes, mares, or cows can die of milk fever . It is most common in dairy cattle, but it does occur in sheep, horses, and even cats and dogs. It can occur both prepartum and postpartum. I recommend that any SurvivalBlog readers that plan to raise livestock learn how to do their own vetting, assemble a hard copy set of veterinary references, and lay in the needed supplies, in depth. When the grid goes down, we will be on our own.