A broken leg

It does not make any difference if it is one or 20 times, when you look at the herd and find a goat lying on its back with feet in the air, it sends a chill up you spine and a lump in your throat. Memorial day morning, we went to check on the goats; and as we came out of the woods, there was a goat, feet in the air and she looked bloated. I turned to Pat and told her we had a dead goat. We arrived at the barn and I went about checking on the balance of the herd, opening gates to allow them to access the lower hay field. As I finished, I started back toward Pat and she screamed, “The goat is alive.” I could not believe it. I ran up the hill to where the goat was as Pat turned the goat over. The head popped up, and she tried to stand.

The goat had gotten her right front leg stuck in the fork of a tree, and had, at some time, fell and broke the leg just above the knee in what we learned later was the growth plate. The doe, a yearling, was not one of our pets. She had not been handled a lot, so when her leg was removed from the fork of the tree, she ran. She made about two steps before I determined her right leg was broken. There was no blood (not a compound fracture), and she did not appear to be in excessive pain; she just wanted to get away from us. We decided to put her in the creeper while we figured out what to do. It took 10 to 15 minutes for her to hop on her good front leg to the creeper, stopping and resting after five or so feet, then a few more hops and we got her in the creeper. She attacked the feed in the feeder. We got her a bucket of water and she took in a third of the bucket. Then she stood there looking at me and asked (in goat language), “So are you going to help me or not?” Pat and I decided we need to regroup, get some supplies and return to “help her.”

At the house we got vet wrap, a clean t-shirt, duck tape, a pair of scissors, and Banamine. I went to the shed and found two pieces of PVC pipe, a 1 ½ inch and a 2 inch piece. I cut a 12-inch piece of each and sawed them down the middle. As we returned to the barn, we both said this is one thing we do not want to do, and then we reminded each other that she was still alive. In the creeper were two large plastic boxes, so we laid the goat on them. I placed a little pressure on her head and she stayed still.

I could feel that the bone above the knee was flat, not what I expected. I worked with the bone trying to get it back in place. After a few minutes, I got Pat to pull on the leg as I tried to get the bone in place. As she pulled, I was able to move the bone a little. We cut the tee shirt into strips (we looked for some cotton padding but settled for the tee shirt) and wrapped the leg from the top of the hoof to six or so inches above the break then wrapped the leg with vet wrap. Next we placed half of the PVC below the leg and place the other half on top and secured with duck tape.

We released the goat and she got to her feet. The foot was still dangling a little but was not moving around as she hopped back to the feed. We knew that, with all the swelling, the vet would only immobilize the leg; and since it was Memorial Day, we also knew the vet would not be available.

Tuesday morning, I call the Vet and talked to him about the leg. He suggested I give her an aspirin every 12 hours. I got an appointment for her to see him on Wednesday.

Wednesday morning we loaded the doe in the trailer and headed to the Vet’s. He checked the splint we had put on the leg and commented that it was a good job. He gave her a shot of 10 mg Xylazine to help her “be easy.” After a few minutes, she was breathing easy when he returned with his casting supplies. He removed the splint and started feeling to find the break. He had told me on the phone that the break sounded like it was at the growth plate and he confirmed it with his exam - she had broken her right distal antebrachium. After getting the leg realigned, he wrapped the leg from the hoof to the shoulder with cotton padding, making sure to keep the leg aligned the way he had set it. He wrapped 4 inch Delta Lite casting around the leg, again starting with the hoof and working toward the shoulder, overlapping each round about three inches. He rubbed the casting every few minutes and continued. He followed that with 3 inch Delta Lite, starting again at the hoof and working toward the shoulder. After he finished with the casting material, he rubbed it with his gloved hands to smooth it out. He put vet wrap over the casting material, being careful to insure the shoulder was padded so the cast would not rub the body and cause an infection. When finished, he gave her a shot to bring her out of her stupor. She stood almost immediately, a little disorientated but on her feet with four legs to put weight on.

He wanted to see her in six weeks; but before we left, he had changed his mind and thought the cast could come off in four weeks. He wanted her kept in a place where the cast would not get wet. When we returned home, we put her back in the creeper; and she went directly to the feed and then to the water. She was happy.

That afternoon, we gave her an aspirin in Probios. She swallowed it and licked her lips. An aspirin every 12 hours, lots of feed, water and good hay. She could get fat.

She was not unhappy in the creeper, but she was not happy. she wanted to rejoin the other goats. After a couple of days she settled down to a day of drinking water, eating fresh hay and of course, a full rations feeder. We were surprise she did not gain weight but looked the same. On June 25th, we call the Vet to determine when or if he wanted to see her again. He suggested Friday, June 26 at 3:30 as the first available time for us to see him.

When we got the appointment, he told us not to feed her anything on the day of the appointment. He would have to sedate her, and she did not need a lot in her stomach. We moved her away from her full rations feeder. This she did not like.

We pulled the trailer to the foot of the hill and loaded her for her trip to the Vet's. He commented about how clean the hard cast was. He sedated her and removed the cast. Afte he removed the cast, he used clippers to remove some of the hair that had grown but could not be shedded. He put on a lighter cast of cotton wrap and vet wrap. He gave her a shot to bring her out of her stupor; this time she came out much slower than when he put on the original cast.

We were told to remove the lighter cast in four or five days. She went back in the creeper. After five days we removed the light cast and allowed her to go outside to graze/browse. The next day she returned to the herd. She is eating good and walking with a slight limp. The right knee is bending. We think she will be ready for breeding when she cycles.

The tree with the fork is no longer. A chain saw took care of it, and it will not hurt another goat.

Ken and Pat Motes
Clear Creek Farms
33 South Clear Creek Road
Fall River, Tennessee 38468
Phone: (931) 852-2167
Fax: (931) 852-2168

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