Caring for an injured eye


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Horses have a knack for finding trouble even in the safest of environments.  The horse's eye seems to be an area of increased vulnerability.  As a veterinarian, I see several eye cases every week.  From swelling caused by bee stings or trauma, to large corneal ulcers that threaten to impair the horse's vision for life, it can be difficult to tell what is going on without further examination. The majority of these injuries heal quickly with the help of topical antibiotics and oral anti-inflammatories.  In rare cases, the eye is reluctant to heal itself and needs the help of more aggressive intervention.

If an injury to the cornea is refusing to heal, often the next step is to place a sub-palpebral lavage system through the eyelid.  This allows medication to be administered multiple times per day without having to pry open a painful eyelid.  In a hospital setting, it is possible to treat these horses hourly around the clock and sometimes have a more favorable outcome.  If the injury is continuing to deteriorate, a graft from the conjunctiva of the eye can be surgically placed to help bring blood supply, nutrition and add protection over the corneal ulcer. 

Once the horse's eye has stabilized, they are often released from the hospital with the lavage system in place and can be receiving frequent medications.  This can be a worrisome and exhausting period for an owner.  A lay-up care facility is a nice step down from the hospital.  At Dragonfly Farms, we can manage the sub-palpebral lavage system, the frequent medications, private turnout and offer a quiet, clean environment for recovery. 

Meet Polly, a lovely little mare who sustained a serious eye injury several weeks ago.  She has been such a joy to work with.  After receiving a conjunctival graft in the hospital, she moved to our lay-up facility for continued monitoring and medication administration through her sub-palpebral lavage system.  She is continuing to improve and we will be monitoring her eye closely to make sure she keeps moving in the right direction.

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Cattle in the Back Yard

We brought eight of our steers and heifers to our farm from a rented farm. It is a joy to see them right outside the house. We have a field with good grass and clover for them to graze. We are supplementing a little high quality hay. They have fresh water and minerals. These cattle are putting on good weight and will be ready for harvest this spring. We are using a single strand of electrified twine to create smaller paddocks in the field so that we can move them through one section at a time.

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Grassfed Beef Genetics

When selecting cattle, there are many factors to consider in order to produce the best grassfed beef that we can. The most important is the cattle that we work with. We have chosen the Belted Galloway and Angus breeds to use, but our selections do not end there. There is great variety within any breed as far as types of animals. We select for smaller framed, 1,000-1,200 lb cows that stay fat on grass alone. The cows need to be fertile, good mothers and live a long time. That will give us one calf per year from each cow for many years. The calves need to grow well, be vigorous, finish from 18-24 months with well marbled, flavorful beef.  All of the animals need a calm disposition. Selecting for these traits improves the herd, allowing us to produce our best grassfed beef.

grassfed cow herd

grassfed cow herd

Our cow herd consists of Belted Galloway, Angus and a few crosses of the two breeds. Our bulls are below. The Beltie bull we have used for three years and our Angus bull is new this winter. 

Ajax, the Belted Galloway bull

Ajax, the Belted Galloway bull

Cedric, our Angus bull

Cedric, our Angus bull

Here are a couple of our cows with the form that we are aiming for. 

Udaberri, a registered Belted Galloway cow

Udaberri, a registered Belted Galloway cow

Tessa, a purebred Belted Galloway

Tessa, a purebred Belted Galloway

Here are a couple of the calves born in the fall of 2012. Pictures were taken in the summer of 2013. The first is a purebred Beltie and the second is a Beltie x Angus. 

Beltie calf, 9 months old

Beltie calf, 9 months old

Beltie x Angus

Beltie x Angus

We enjoy learning more as we grow and improve our herd of cattle. Breeding for better cattle is one way we improve our grassfed beef and strengthen our business.