Black Mastitis

So I'm trying to figure out what happened. We were going along just fine. Gideon was able to take care of the animals and everyone was good, healthy, and we didn't have any problems. I think we were a bit complacent.

Then Jeremy and I got a wild hair and bought a couple of bottle calves. Pretty much because we fell in love with their picture and we had the big fence and the goats were fine and everything was fine.

That same day we brought home the meat chickens. So now Gideon couldn't take care of everyone by himself, which was good because we all wanted to help. We had a week to get used to the new schedule and animals. My morning attitude had not improved much yet though. Although I was starting to go to bed earlier at night. So I was on the way to being a "morning person."

Then Gracie went into labor on a Saturday afternoon. We came home from 5 soccer games (which is crazy in and of itself) and found Gracie in labor and a strange dog in the yard. This little yapper dog was only about 1 foot high and trying his dangdest to get to Leeli, our Great Pyrenees. Leeli was trying her dangdest to eat him. So we caught him and took him to the neighbors to see where he belonged. Nobody recognized him, so we had to bring him back home. We locked him up and put his picture on Facebook. His owners came and got him the next day.

Back to Gracie. She was doing great, we got her comfortable in a stall and just kept checking on her. Toward sundown, she started pushing. I sat with her and waited. She was big pregnant, and I had started thinking she would have 3. But the first one needed some help coming out because she was so big. Gracie got the head and front hooves out and stopped. So I helped pull her out the rest of the way.

Gracie got up and let the first one nurse a bit. Then it was time for the second one. This one she was able to get out pretty quickly. So after cleaning up both babies, I took the second one to the other teat to try to nurse. This teat looked a little weird, extra full. I milked her a bit to see if I could help get the baby on there. That's when I realized something was really wrong. Curds of milk were coming out, the udder was cold, and then bloody milk started coming out too. It was disgusting. So I worked on her for a bit, to try to get all of it out. But it was not good. Jeremy and I did all we could and went to bed. We got up during the night to milk her out again and check the babies. Gracie was down by then. So we started researching.

In the morning, we got some colostrum and milk replacer for the babies and antibiotic for Gracie. We were getting as much of the junk out of her as possible, but I was sure she wasn't going to make it. All day Sunday we took care of her though. Monday morning we found her on her side, with her legs out. So we were all crying and telling her goodbye all day. That night, we had soccer practice. Jeremy and I talked beforehand and decided to put Gracie out of her misery. Her breathing was shallow and it sounded like her lungs were filling up, she couldn't move, and all the signs pointed toward her death. We wanted to be able to bury her quickly so that she wouldn't attract any predators or die during the day when we weren't home.

So the kids and I said our goodbyes (again) and went to practice. Jeremy locked everyone else out of the barn and got the gun. Pippy saw him bringing the gun into the barn, and ran around to the door and tried to get in. Pippy is Gracie's mother. (She has been taking wonderful care of Gracie all this time.) Jeremy said when Pippy couldn't get in, she yelled through the door. Jeremy was bent over Gracie and giving her some love but when she heard Pippy's yell, she lifted her head up. Then she sat up and got her legs under her again. Then she stood up.

Homesteading makes you cuss. It makes you pray too. And it definitely makes you praise. The Lord is good, all the time. He would have been good either way. But this time he decided to keep her. Of course, Jeremy wasn't going to shoot a goat that was getting better, so when the kids and I got home, we found her still alive and Jeremy still working to heal her. I was shocked, but we set up to feed the babies and kept researching what the heck had happened.

Gracie was our healthiest goat. She was in beautiful shape, her coat was perfect, she wasn't fat like Addy, or old like Pippy. There was really no warning that this was coming and I really couldn't imagine this had been building up. Mastitis makes everyone sick from the get-go and you notice it before it gets like this.

I finally pulled out our goat book, Natural Goat Care by Pat Coleby, instead of just searching Google. It has a section on mastitis with this very interesting subsection about Black Mastitis. Black Mastitis is something that will make you cuss. Or me at least. It happens within hours with no forewarning, and will usually kill the goat or cow within 24 hours. This finally made sense to me. If I had looked in the book sooner, we might have saved her udder. The protocol for hopefully stopping this stuff is antibiotics and diluted hydrogen peroxide shot up into the teat. We hadn't worked quick enough for that, the udder had already started to detach from Gracie's body. But we started spraying her udder down with the hydrogen peroxide, and we also added in some calcium drenches. So all together, in case you are wondering, we are giving Gracie penicillin shots, pain reliever shots, nutrient drenches, MFO drenches, and electrolytes. The penicillin is keeping the infection out of her bloodstream because at this point her udder basically has gangrene.

But today, Wednesday, she is out in the field eating grass. A whole lot skinnier, and weaker, but alive. Praise be to the Lord!

I think we were just too complacent.


  1. Oy! What they don't put a person through. So glad she made it through and that the babes are healthy. Critters can sure be an amazing source of inspiration. You can tell your children "See, she got better because her mama was yelling at her to do so because mama's watch out for their babies no matter how old they are and Gracie listened to her mama." ;-) Hey, gotta use what works.

  2. My nannie kidded in February. The morning after delivery one teet looked like she had 2 sacs and 1 teet on the side. She had birthed 4 kids and definitely needed both teets. We took her to the vet, got some curds out of the enlarged teet, sent us home with antibiotics (in case she got mastitis!). And something to inject into the teet.
    I decided to intervene on the nannie's behave and bought a manual breast pump and off I went to the barn. We pumped 14 oz out of the engorged side. The milk looked normal but I still tossed it.
    We watched her closely and 2 days later the kids still were not eating off that side and it was huge again. We got 16oz this round but it shrunk the teet down to the size of the other one.
    After that we were in the clear and kids had 2 teets ready when they are.
    I am so glad your nannie didn't have to be put down.


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