Horsey Therapist

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Turkey Nursemaid

I'd rather be doing... what? Something I'm sure would be more fun than tending to sick farm animals. Although not much is more satisfying at some deep level of my being.

I'm reminded of hospice work I've done. With people as a clinical social worker; with my mother as, yup, a daughter; with animals totally by surprise.

Yesterday felt like an animal hospice day and an animal nurse maid day. I am some pleased to have the balance of one dying animal and one recovering animal. Do you suppose this means there is Fairness in the universe??

After feeling lousy for a few days expecting a turkey to die, and after realizing indeed he was weaker than before but not really close to dying, I had to see what I could do. I really had thought 'he'll die today', and that was last Sunday, and Monday, and Tuesday.

Internet research opened my mind to the possiblity of force feeding him while I tried to learn what might be ailing him and then, while providing treatment as well as food and liquids. Fortunately he was weak enough that I could force feed him but he put up a fight nonetheless. I was worried about my fingers until I found that turkey beak gripping is not all that threatening. At least not by this fellow.

So, I started force feeding him Thursday. I admit, I do like the feeling that I may be helping and could kick myself for not thinking to try something sooner. However, yesterday, FF Day 3 (force feeding), he clearly was feeling better, stronger, more resistent to the FF routine, and even tried to fly up and roost after watching some other fowl within his view.

So what have I been feeding him? Warm water mixed with Super Blue Green Algae (from CellTech now known as Simplexity), probiotics and digestive enzymes from the same company. Once a day I add some ground flax seed for bulk, and today I added some soaked turkey pellets. What did I use to feed this stuff? A turkey baster of course! (Thanks to an online resource from my Google search.)

Researching disease and treatment were not too satisfying. Mostly because it's very likely this turkey has "Blackhead" disease, although he does not have a black head, he did not get sick and die within a few days, but he does have other unquestionable symptoms like yellow droppings that smell like sulfur. Yuck. Anyway, the good news is since I started this FF routine, he has droppings! How's that for positive reframe?

Most everything I've read says that this disease is fatal most of the time. So maybe it's not Blackhead. I will have to do more research, although I'm starting him on some acidified copper sulfate in water which reportedly will treat Blackhead if that's what he has. So many questions! I usually save my questions for topics like 'what can I do to support Rusty when he ... ?"

I suppose if the footing were good enough I'd be out riding and not worrying about this turkey. I have grown fond of him although I'm not sure, assuming he survives and resumes his life as a free ranging turkey, I'll recognize him from the other toms we have. Although if I approach with a turkey baster in hand, I'm guessing his reaction will make him recognizable! I sure would like to do a better job of 'letting it be his idea' with this force feeding stuff I'm doing! How to set it up so a turkey wants food from a turkey baster??? That is the question!

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