TIN CANS, TENNIS SHOES AND THE KITCHEN SINK
Once upon a time, there was a little fainting goat named Willow. She loved to eat tin cans, tennis shows, and the occasional kitchen sink.
Wait a minute! Did I really just say that? Why, yes, I did! But who am I joking? Contrary to popular belief, goats really do not eat anything and everything. Maybe they do in cartoons and comic strips, but not in reality. In fact, goats can be very picky eaters.
You should keep in mind, however, that goats are mischievous creatures. They sometimes eat things that they should not. In fact, three of my goats had me in Super Duper Panic mode this past weekend.
It all started when I let all the does into the woods that connects to the goat pasture except for little Willow. She is pretty small as she is a Myotonic (fainting) goat and is only three months old. While separated from the other does, she became bored and started nibbling in an area where I typically don’t see the does eat. As such, I walked over to see what she was getting into.
When I saw the green and purple leaves, I started to panic. I got Willow moved away as quickly as possible. I then started pulling up the weeds. The commotion grabbed the attention of the other does, who proceeded to dash over to see what was going on. As soon as they saw what I was doing, a couple of them decided that it was a good idea to help. There version of helping included eating what they were pulling up. My level of panic tripled!
You see, this small patch of weeds that was now deemed an hors d’oeuvre by the little doeling and two yearlings was Perilla Mint! I was in a panic due to the fact that Perilla Mint can be toxic to goats. This plant can also be deadly to other livestock including cattle, horses, and sheep (Purdue University Extension Office, n.d.).
One of the most noticeable things about Perilla Mint is the color of the leaves and stem. Generally, the leaves are green on one side and purple on the other. However, the leaves can also be all green with a tinge of purple, or simply just green. The Perilla Mint has a square stem that can grow to 3 feet tall, is hairy, and can be green to dark purple. Flowers bloom from July to October and are white to purple (Purdue University Extension Office, n.d.).
I called the veterinarian to see what to do. She indicated that I should immediately give each goat two activated charcoal capsules. Then, an hour later, administer Milk of Magnesia every three hours. She continued to inform me that my quick response would be the saving grace in this situation, which gave me hope. However, we would not know if that was enough for at least another 48 hours.
Fast forward through an emotional roller coaster of a night. I could either be found in the barn, pasture, or the woods. I was on the lookout for more Perilla Mint, which I politely yet sternly pulled up by the roots so that my herd’s health wouldn’t be put in jeopardy again, if I had anything to do with it. Fast forward again to Sunday evening, which was the 48-hour mark. My sweet little Willow and my two yearlings made it out of the proverbial woods just fine! I was, and still am, very thankful.
Before I end this story on such a high note, I would like to make a suggestion. Please give your county extension office a call. If they are anything like the Rockingham County, North Carolina Extension Office, your representative will be more than happy to make a farm visit to see what may be lurking in your livestock pastures. I know that before this past weekend, I had already had my agent out on a few occasions. However, since some of the woods had been cleared to open the area to allow more sunlight to shine through, changes to the landscape took place as well. From now on, I will be requesting a farm visit on an annual basis just to ensure that something like this never happens again!
Purdue University Extension Office. (n.d.). Beefsteak Plant (Perilla Mint).
Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from https://www.extension.purdue.edu/