Evening on the roof in Haiti

Here is a roof top view looking out toward the mountains outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  Darkness has come and it is 75 degrees while the Taconics, Berkshires, and litchfield hills are in the teens and snowing.

Front yard greetes

Front yard greetes

And here are some of the goats that help supply the kid for a kid project started by Dr. Kelly Crowdis, a Christian Veterinary Mission missionary here in Haiti.  Tomorrow we will head out to do some training with a group of Haitian vet agents.  The vet agents provide basic veterinary care to animals here in Haiti. We will learn more about these folks to share with you in the coming days.  So far I have learned rabies is a large problem here with many dogs being infected and human cases still very much a reality.   Veterinary care is limited with less than 100 veterinarians for a country of over 10 million people.  Vet agents help to fill the gap.  Pharmacueticals that are available are often in limited supply.  

We are learning that colic and tetanus are the large problems of horses here.  And about every 5-7 years as a new naive population grows there is a major outbreak of equine respiratory disease.  Cattle apparently experience anthrax, and Hog cholera (classical swine fever) and techens' disease are problems in the pig population.  There was a previous depopulation to eliminate African swine fever and hog cholera, buit the cholera was reintroduced with imported semen.  Vaccination efforts to eradicate it have run into problems because of lack of money, lack of vaccine, political turmoil, and the appearance of Teschen's disease which is currently only active hear and in Madagascar.  This disease ended up spreading because of vaccination efforts for Hog cholera, so efforts have slowed.  More to come...

What is under that blanket or wool coat?

This is the time of year I find myself wanting to hide indoors more than the rest of the year.  That means keeping my chore time as brief as possible some days.  That makes it an easy time of year to overlook how are animals are fairing in their body weight especially if most of their body is hidden under a horse blanket, a luxurious wool fleece, or thick winter coat. I will see more dangerously skinny animals in March than during the worst of the cold that usually comes in January. Unless we remember to check under the blanket  or get our hands physically through the wool we can miss the dramatic weight loss that can happen. This could be from burning more calories to stay warm than the animal is consuming, lowered intake due to poor dentition, less food available because of being low on the proverbial pecking order within a group, decreased immune function making an individual more susceptible to parasites, etc.  Weight loss can be cumulative through the winter so even though environmental temperatures begin to moderate, the animal shows up with marked weight loss or worse yet, "goes down" because of muscle loss even as spring arrives. 

    This is a good time to take a peak under the blanket or physically touch each and every animal, so any necessary adjustments can be made before there is a surprise at spring blanket removal,  lambing time or when body condition loss simply becomes too severe. 

My horse has red urine in the snow

DId you know? - Metabolites in horse urine may include pigments that look orange or red when exposed to cold temperatures and seen on a white background.  This may easily be mistaken for blood in the urine.  If the horse is looking and acting normal, it most likely is normal.  If there is straining to urinate, colic, depression, or other abnormal signs, further examination may be warranted. 

      So be attentive and observant, but no need panic over this common winter time phenomenon.