Grace is still with us. It’s still touch and go, and very intensive. She is actually on two antibiotics, the first was prescribed by the initial city vet that we had to visit as they were the only local vets that could see her at such short notice. The second, Baytril (the standard poultry offering) was prescribed by our normal vet who is quite up on poultry, having a farming section. Baytril was suggested as, according to them, it can help with infections of the brain area whereas the other antibiotic we have can’t. So, every morning Grace has 0.9ml of Baytril, 3.1ml of the other antibiotic, then three heaped teaspoons of a critical care powder (essentially an energy, mineral and vitamin mix), mixed with a little water and syringed in to her mouth. Every night she has another 3.1ml of the unknown antibiotic, another three heaped teaspoons of critical care powder mixed with water, and some fresh greens to try and tempt her. The vet suggested 11 teaspoons of the critical care powder a day if we could, so we’re probably giving her near that with the heaped teaspoons, but it’s a lot of syringing and it must stress her! Suz’s coat (she holds Grace whilst I do the business end) is covered in the sticky stains from it – Grace has learned to take the syringed liquid into her mouth but close her beak so the liquid sits in her mouth. She then keeps her beak shut, pretending to have swallowed it, until she’s quite confident that *you* think she’s swallowed it. Then she’ll defiantly shake her head, showering anyone near with sticky white gloop! Talk about a battle of wits! Now when I syringe it in I prise her beak apart with my middle finger and thumb, holding her head in my hand from the back. I place the syringe in the front of the beak, so she can bite down on that if she likes and I use my two fingers to keep her beak from moving sideways to remove the syringe, and syringe enough in to sit at the back of her tongue. Too rough and it squirts down her throat which is not good, too gentle and it sits on the tip of her tongue and she refuses to swallow it! Once it’s on the back of her tongue I move my two fingers to form a ring around her beak so she can’t shake her head to gloop us, and to also keep her head level so she can’t drop her head to allow the gloop to drop under gravity. This technique works almost flawlessly – maybe I should try and video it, it’s taken six days to master!
Then we also mix more of the critical care powder with some Oxbow Critical Care (a mix of timothy hay and more vitamins and minerals in it) into a small bowl of water which she is encouraged to drink by leaving it under her nose. We also throw some wheat grain into this, and some nasturtium leaves, parsley leaves and dandelion leaves cut into small bits to float on top. The whole concoction is called “Grace’s Soup” by us all – she seems to like dunking her beak into it, and anything she does swallow from that bowl is doing her some good. Also, once we’ve been through a ‘syringing various liquids into the goose’s mouth’ saga, she likes to rinse her mouth out, so we place the soup in front of her so she’s rinsing with something else good for her!
What we have found is that being totally separated from the other two, one of whom is her hubbie, seemed to get her really down. So we’ve placed the small field shelter the other side of the gate from her two friends, so she can see them through the chicken wire stapled to the gate. We then place her under the field shelter, surround her with her various bowls (Grace’s Soup, a big low bowl of fresh clean water, a small bowl of layers pellets with added poultry spice pellets, and a small pile of whatever greens we’ve picked that she might like to pick from), and she can see them and they can see her, but they can’t get too close to her and they can’t steal her food! Importantly, we also place their drinking bucket of water the other side of the gate, and we’ve found that when they take a drink, she’s more likely to take a drink from hers, to join in!
At night we bring her back nearer the house to the ‘goose hospital’, which is a large dog crate, filled with plenty of fresh hay, covered with a waterproof tarp. The whole thing is in the old pig sty which we use as a log store, so it’s nice and cosy and covered.
After a week of this, her poops have gone from water to a runny green, but thicker by the day for the last three days. She can now stand on her own two legs, albeit quite wobbly, and she’s started to eat dirt a few days ago and pull at small tufts of greenery. She’s not eating a lot though, so today we’ve spoken to our normal vets again who have suggested another three days of Baytril, and we’re also going to start her on a probiotic mix to try and replenish her gut flora. After three days on that we’ll reassess.
Her feathers continue to grow from the moult, bless her, and her bite, which was quite pathetic at the start when I used my finger to keep her beak open whilst syringing the various fluids into her mouth, is now most definitely more acute. To the point that I really do try and keep my fingers out of the way!
So, to cut a long story short, she’s heading in the right direction, she’s not out of the woods yet, but it’s better than it was three days ago! But she really is a lovely goose – lovely colouring and very placid – worth fighting for!