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Author Topic: Colic  (Read 9399 times)

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Colic
« on: January 06, 2021, 08:23:16 pm »
Just looking for things I and the vet haven't thought of, for others' experiences, etc.

Synopsis : Davy had colic last night, not sure why, is improved today but not 100%.  There follows a blow-by-blow account of the events leading up to and since, hoping someone can spot something or share some insight or experience that may help me avoid a recurrrence.

Background

The Fells have been out 24x365 for 6 or more years, and since moving to Cornwall I have hated them having to be on wet, muddy ground with nowhere dry to lie all winter.  This winter at last the stables are ready and available, and we brought them in when the ground started to be sodden.

They took a bit of getting used to it.  They get turnout in a large concrete yard (with access to their bedded stables) for 4-6 hours during the day, and overnight alternate nights.  (The yard is timeshared with the cattle!)

When the weather is kind, and it's not icy underfoot, they have been getting a bit of a walk around on halters, mostly on a firm / stony track with an occasional foray onto grass if the ground is dry enough.  Just a bit of grazing time (still on halters and lead ropes), not long, just a treat really, and change of scene and something to think about.

It's always a balancing act with Greedy Davy, making sure he isn't hungry for long periods but not overfeeding them.

I aim to get it that they've either not quite finished their net at the next feed, or have not long finished it. 

We've settled into a routine of :
- 8.30am haynet, 1 or 2 slices hay each depending on how empty the overnight nets were. 
- 11.30am turnout, with access to a little hay (1-2 slices) left in the cattle feeder plus whatever is left of the ponies' breakfast nets (they still have access to their stables).  If all breakfast hay gone from both stables, 1 slice of hay in one of the stables so both can eat at once.
- 5pm (ish) teatime treat feed to come in : half a 1L jug (when dry) of soaked sugar beet between them, a good handful of mollichaff, and a scant sprinkle of grass pellets.  (Like a handful between them.)  Sloppy feed, just a treat for coming in.  1-2 slices hay in each haynet.
- 8pm (ish) or a bit later, 3 slices hay in each haynet for overnight

Flossie often has quite a bit left, but she's not greedy so it's safe to give her more than she will eat.

There is free access water in the yard, and we fill up a bucket in each stable each time we check when they are shut in their stables.

(The vet thought this ^ regime should be fine for them.)

About 2 weeks ago, I switched Davy onto woodshavings.  He's a messy boy as well as a greedy boy, and straw is expensive!  (And of course he would eat quite a bit too.)  Then our source of chemical-free hay said this next would be the last pallet, and the cows must have straw, so once Flossie's straw bed needed replacing, about a week ago, I switched her onto shavings plus miscanthus (mixed in the stable), which I really like.  Davy being greedy and often finishing his overnight haynet, I wasn't comfortable to put the miscanthus in his bed.  People say that nothing will eat it, but it's so very absorbent, I couldn't bring myself to risk it.,

All good until...

Monday, Tuesday and colic

(This story pieced together after talking to everyone today to try to map out Davy's Monday night and yesterday until the evening.)

Monday night was their 'free to loaf' night, and the weather was suitable, so they had a good haynet in each stable and a bit of hay in the cattle feeder.  They often swap stables when they are loose in the yard - not least because Davy will eat his own hay and then tell Flossie that she has had enough - so no surprises that Davy was lying in Flossie's stable on Tuesday morning, and Flossie was in Davy's stable.  Davy got up when we arrived, and was happy to go into his own stable with his breakfast hay.

They hadn't had a 'free to loaf' night for a few days prior to this, as the weather had been too windy or too icy.

Tuesday morning turnout was a little late, about 12.30pm.  I was knackered so did not take them for their little halter walks, but they'd had the yard overnight so I thought I could get away with it.

Tuesday around 2pm, one of the Fells spotted apparently eating some horse poo.  Pile quite small, suggesting s/he could have eaten quite a bit.  (Or that, with hindsight, Davy was now only doing small poos and he - or possibly Floss - was having a sniff.)  (I was not told this until later, after I started making enquiries, or I would have investigated sooner.)

Tuesday teatime was a little early, at 4.30pm.  On arrival, Davy was in Flossie's stable, eating the bits of hay from the floor in the corner, where the bits that fall out of the haynet lie.

Tuesday evening I went up at 9.40pm, Davy was lying down and not right.  Teatime hay gone, but no interest in nighttime haynet.

He would get up but wanted to lie down again, lefthand side behind ribs a little more firm than I would have liked.  Haltered him and walked him around for an hour or so.  He did manage one small poo.

Not improving : periods of seeming fine, you'd think, "Oh, he's getting there", then he'd slow down, drop his head, want to lie down, or try to kick up at his stomach.  No sweating, but breathing a little bit laboured.  By 10.40pm, he looked more bloated and at 11pm I phoned the vet.

The vet called back and talked it through, we decided it would be worth her coming out.  She said that we could let him lie down if he would be more comfortable, provided he wasn't thrashing about and looking as though he would hurt himself.  This we did, and he did manage a few farts while we waited for the vet.  She arrived at midnight.

All signs normal except gut sounds rather quiet, especially on left.  He did another small poo as we took him round to the milking parlour to stand for his rectal exam.  The rectal found some impaction in the left.  Pain killer, drench of much warm water and 4 big tablets (presumably effervescing).  More farting ensued, by now Davy was much more his normal self, bright and alert, ears pricked.  The vet was with us an hour, and by the time she left he was interested in a flap of hay.

This morning he was a little quiet, but got up and came for fuss.  Hay eaten, but no water drunk.  Some poo in stable (hurrah!), looked fine if a little dry.

We gave them lots of walking about and few little bits of grazing 11.30am - 12.30pm, then left them in the yard with some pickings of hay in the cattle feeder and Flossie's stable.

4.30pm afternoon yard, Davy was again in the corner of Flossie's stable picking up the dreggy wisps of hay from the floor.

A few nice piles of healthy poo in the yard, can't tell if that was all Flossie or half and half.  A nice healthy poo, not trodden in, in Flossie's stable - most likely to be Davy, and fairly recent.

He was still a little more firm on the lefthand side than I would like. 

He ate his tea as normal, then set to on eating his hay - but then stretched his jaw a few times and stopped eating the hay.

I'm off to look in on him again shortly.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2021, 08:26:11 pm by SallyintNorth »
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Colic
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2021, 09:40:28 pm »
You don't say how old Davy is? Are his teeth ok? What is your worming programme? Is he urinating ok if he isn't drinking much?


He may not be suited to your new regime. OK they have turnout but standing around in a concrete yard isn't the same as wandering around in a field picking at this and that. The biggest change to their routine over the last few days seems to be that they had reduced turnout because of the weather.


I understand your concern about them having somewhere dry to lie down but horses only need 20 minutes of REM sleep in a 24 hour period and are designed to spend 22 hours plus eating. Most of their sleep/dozing is done stood up.


I was taught that you shouldn't wait any longer than 20 minutes before you call a vet to suspected colic. These days advice is to call the vet immediately. Walking a horse with colic may help but can also make things worse in some cases.


Hope he is back to his normal self  :fc:




harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Colic
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2021, 09:44:28 pm »
Also meant to say that "stretching" the jaw can be indicative of something not being right.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Colic
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2021, 12:48:17 am »
He's 20, and his teeth are, the vet says, a little rough but not worryingly so. 

There is a hard lump on the outside of his jaw which definitely warrants further investigation and will get it, but he's had it some time, it doesn't change, the vet says it doesn't seem to be interfering with the teeth and doesn't protrude into the tooth space or the inside of the jawbone, and there is no sign of active infection at the site, although the lymph gland in the neck is larger on that side, so there is clearly something going on.  It could be, and most likely is, a bit of blackthorn picked up when grazing the hedgerows in summer, but it could be something more sinister.  She will come back with the portable x-ray machine in a week or two, and we will find out more about it.  She will rasp his teeth at the same time.

We use rotational grazing - cows then sheep then ponies then rest and regrow - and we pick up pony poo daily, and both ponies are very good 'doers', but the vet says it would be worth worming them with a broad spectrum wormer now and then doing a FEC in the summer each year to see if anything further is required.  I am trying to bring myself to buy Pramox, and wondering how the heck I manage and dispose of a week's worth of poo and bedding from two large Fell ponies, without putting it into the midden where it would end up on our grassland or our veg.   ??? :o

She did say that - apart from the colic - both ponies seemed to be in fine fettle, although Davy does have some soreness around the anus and tail head which I will get at with the hibiscrub.

He makes plenty of wet in his bed, yes.  Not overnight last night but he'd done a big one between 4.30pm and 8.30pm today, also a poop.  And he'd drunk some water.  He'd eaten more than half of his hay but left quite a lot of small stems on the ground under the hay net, more than usual.  I don't know if he always does it that way and eats it off the floor later in the night, or whether he's not wanting to eat all the stems he's pulling out of the net.  So I soaked his evening hay, thinking (a) that would get more water into him, (b) it would soften the stems if he is finding he isn't wanting to chew as much and (c) the hay would need less additional water inside him for digestion. 

He is definitely not 100% yet, but at this point I don't know if it's a tooth/jaw problem, a continuation of yesterday's colic still improving, or another tummy ache from eating or doing the same thing today he ate or did yesterday that I haven't yet worked out what it is. 

They will definitely be getting more walking every day now, unless it's not possible due icy conditions, as more exercise can only be good, and we are wanting to do that anyway.

I would have put them out again for a few days now, actually, as we are forecast to be more or less dry for quite a few days and the ground has dried up well since the last very wet spell.  But the vet thought not today, not until Davy is fully recovered, and she wasn't keen on him eating frosty grass, which it may well be some mornings.  (Was this morning, and will definitely be one or two mornings at least in the next week.)  Daytime turnout on grass for a few hours (when it's not wet and not icy) is a possibility.  I am not sure if they will want to come in for their teatime treat but we could try it. 

Even if I was happy for them to continue to be out all winter in all conditions, up to the coronet in mud, we don't have the land to keep sacrificing 2 acres to getting trashed by the ponies every winter.  Whatever field they have been in takes well into June to recover enough even for sheep, and we rarely manage to make enough hay for everyone for winter as we can't get a field shut up early enough.  By having the ponies in for most of this winter (and the cattle as usual), I am hoping we have grass to turn the cows out onto in March, and to wean their calves onto, grass for the lambers to eat and make milk from, and - given a reasonable spring - the ability to shut up a field in May for a July hay crop, and hopefully make enough hay and haylage for the next winter.

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Colic
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2021, 12:59:39 am »
He is definitely not 100% yet, but at this point I don't know if it's a tooth/jaw problem, a continuation of yesterday's colic still improving, or another tummy ache from eating or doing the same thing today he ate or did yesterday that I haven't yet worked out what it is. 

One thing I was hoping to get some shared experiences of... using miscanthus / elephant grass as bedding.  Anyone had a horse eat it?  Flossie's bed is mixed shavings and miscanthus, and of course over time, bits of spilled hay get mixed in too.  If Davy is guzzling spilled hay in her stable, might he be taking in enough shavings and miscanthus along with it to cause a problem?  Might he even think he likes miscanthus and be eating it on purpose? 
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Colic
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2021, 08:14:51 am »
Why not do a FEC now? With ponies that age, on rotational grazing and in good order they probably have little or no worm burden. Seems odd to worm and give yourself the work if you don't need to do it. 


The mouth issues could have led to the colic and would explain the mouth stretching.


Shavings wouldn't digest so I would expect to see them in the droppings if he is taking a lot of them in but like most animals horses are adept at picking up what they want. If he tends to eat up quickly then slow him down with small hole hay net, hay bag or double haynet.


No experience of miscanthus sorry but if he is eating it purposely you'd see him hoovering around it the bed when there was no hay.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Colic
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2021, 10:52:26 am »
Brilliantly helpful, thanks harmony.

Vet was dubious about veracity of FEC at this time of year as eggs may not be being produced.  She clearly thinks worm burden is a candidate cause of the colic, so worming a sensible prophylactic.  But as he is still not eating much hay (although pooing normally now as far as I can tell - hurrah  :relief:), I too think it's more about the front end.  Will phone vet today and discuss.

He loved his little teatime sloppy feed yesterday, so I am wondering about getting some fibre feed and feeding a bit of that sloppy a few times a day.  Doesn't need chewing? 

 :idea:  I think the outer tube of the miscanthus would probably be detectable in the poop, so I will have a dig around in it and see.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Colic
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2021, 01:35:26 pm »
The vet has a good point. Encycted redworm need treating over winter. You could equest rather than equest pramox unless the vet is thinking tapeworm?


Hopefully she will be able to get back and look at his mouth soon.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Colic
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2021, 02:47:35 pm »
More useful input, thanks again harmony.

Would they have picked up redworm when we do rotational grazing so that it would be many, many weeks or months before they are back on same ground again, and sheep and probably cows as well would have grazed it in between?  And we poo pick pony poo daily.

If he had a tapeworm, wouldn't I see segments in poop?  I look at the poop as I pick it, and never have... 

He does have a big belly, but (a) he also has lots of condition (and does not carry it on his neck which is where Floss puts hers) and (b) it did reduce on hay vs grass.

We have had the occasional poops with pinworms on them (but not often and not for long, and not recently), but that's a whole different thing to eradicate if we think it could be causing a problem... 

More later, gotta run now. 
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Colic
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2021, 04:10:43 pm »
I would be surprised if you have a worm burden given the age of the pony and your grazing set up but even if you have no/low egg counts and don't worm at any other time of year it is recommended all horses are wormed in the winter because of potential redworm issues.


You can see tapeworms in the poo. It isn't recommended you worm with pramox if you don't have tapeworm because of resistance concerns.


Hope you didn't have to run too far  :roflanim:

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Colic
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2021, 02:29:21 pm »
Update on Davy : he is eating much better, drinking, pooping and peeing, and nearly normal in himself.   :relief:

He does seem to chew a little more carefully than usual, but much better than he was - and eating more slowly is good for him, I'm sure.  I've tried to organise the vet to visit to look at this lump in more detail, and to give him more pain relief if needed, but with no success thus far, so I am now resigned to it being next week.  If I thought he was miserable or in a lot of pain I would raise merry heck, but he seems to be enjoying his hay - soaked or unsoaked, his own is now soaked but he still steals other hay which isn't - so we will get the teeth rasping and lump exploration booked up when it works for the vet.

Meanwhile, these sore patches on his tail and anus have healed spectacularly quickly and well with hibiscrub.  The tail lesions reminded me of scald on sheep's feet, so I'm minded to try hibiscrub next time I have a sheep with scald! 
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Colic
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2021, 06:59:14 pm »
Finally got a callback from the vet and I now have Bute for him for a few days.  We will get the vet out to do teeth and investigate the lump next week.  We will give him an hour or so on grass in the middle of the day when it's dry and not frosty, and I will get a hay replacer feed to give him when we can't give him any turnout on grass during the day.

I've got some grass pellets soaking to give him his first Bute with later on. 

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Colic
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2021, 02:21:48 pm »
[member=10673]SallyintNorth[/member] there is a high fibre beet for horses - speedibeet - only takes 15 mins to soak.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Colic
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2021, 07:12:33 pm »
[member=10673]SallyintNorth[/member] there is a high fibre beet for horses - speedibeet - only takes 15 mins to soak.

The vet recommended Fast Fibre from Allen & Page, so I have fetched some of that today. She didn't think beet was a good plan, too much sugar.  ETA  I must have misunderstood her I think : Fast Fibre contains unmolassed beet :/.  (Among other things.)  But it's very low energy, low sugar, high in fibre, can be used as a hay replacer : that was the main thing.  In case he continued to not be wanting to eat enough hay to keep his digestion working well.

I gave Davy a small feed with Bute last night, and 20 minutes later he set to with his haynet.  Every scrap of hay was gone this morning.  (And it was a good full net.)  He had drunk most of his bucket of water too.

So I am delighted, but of course now I am back to having greedy horse who eats all his hay within 4 hours...   ::)

 :idea: Maybe I should only give him Bute in the morning, not morning and evening, so that he eats more moderately overnight.   :D   Just kidding, it's lovely to know he's pain-free. :hughorse:
« Last Edit: January 10, 2021, 12:43:28 am by SallyintNorth »
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Colic
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2021, 11:34:16 am »
I read recently that one way to slow down fast eaters was hanging nets from the ceiling so pony has to stretch for it and it's not so easy to eat so quickly as the net moves about. It was in an article about how long a horse can safely go without food. The answer is four hours and it was written by a veterinary equine dental technician. Once the stomach is empty of food the gut acids and enzymes start to break down the inside of the stomach then the intestines. Hence the very large number of equines with ulcers.

 

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