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By: Irene Ramsay & Lorraine
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Rated 2.6 by 690 responses.

These recipes work for plant toxins and are good first aid for other toxins while you wait for the vet. - Irene.

Irene's Recipe for Rhododendron Poisoning.

    15 mls Renco (rennet)
    15 mls Mylanta (milk of magnesia)
    5 mls brandy
    Mix all together
    This is the adult dose!
For kids under 4 months give 5 mls each of Renco and Mylanta and 2 mls brandy, for kids over 4 months give 10 mls of both Renco and Mylanta and 5 mls brandy. Treat goatlings as adults.

Renco is the tradename for junket rennet and you can buy it in any supermarket. It is good for a variety of gastric ailments in goats, and it works even when it is well past its UseBy date, so don't chuck it out just because you can't use it for junket or cheese any more. The action of the rennet is to neutralise the toxins from the rhododendron. Mylanta is the trade name for milk of magnesia. Sometimes you'll find it in a supermarket but more often you have to go to a chemist. Again, it is useful for a number of stomach upsets in goats (as well as humans).

Its action is twofold: it puts a lining on the gut, and it regulates the pulsing of the gut (peristalsis), which often gets out of kilter with poisoning or colic.

The brandy works, but I haven't yet found out why. It is a fortified spirit so has a high alcohol percentage and you don't need much. Alternatively you can use sherry, which is a fortified wine. They are both made from grapes, and work better for medicinal purposes than spirits or wines made from grain or other substances. I got 100 mls of bulk brandy from my local Liquorland. The staff were highly amused when I told them what it was for, although I admit I have nicked the odd tablespoonful for making fruit mince.

It is usual for goats with rhododendron poisoning to vomit rather spectacularly, everything within a 5 metre radius is likely to be covered in green slime. For this reason it is difficult to drench them with an antidote because it is easy for things to go down the wrong hole and either drown the goat within minutes or cause inhalation pneumonia which isn't treatable in the farm situation. That is why I like this recipe because the amounts are small, and you can take 15 minutes over the drenching, a ml or two at a time between sickies, if you have to. One dose is usually sufficient. I've never heard of anyone having to give two although if the goat did not show improvement within an hour after dosing, one could consider a repeat.

It is important to keep the goat warm, but not in the sun, and out of the wind. Have a bucket of fresh warm water available for the animal to drink, and each time it gets fouled by vomit (which has stuck to the face hair) empty and refill it, otherwise the goat will just be drinking up more poison. A goat which is vomiting all over the place is getting rid of the toxins much more efficiently than one which is not, so vomiting is good.

Once the goat is feeling better, offer a mixture of yummies, a handful of various weeds like yarrow, cleavers, dock, prairie grass or twitch, some green pine needles, tree lucerne (tagasaste), willow, and some good plain hay or straw. Don't give much at a time as anything which is fouled will have to be thrown away, so why waste it by being over-generous?

Some other evergreens such as camellias will give similar symptoms to rhododendron, though not usually so severe, and the goat may not vomit. The recipe will work pretty well on most forms of poisoning, including toadstool spores. It also does a good job as a first-aid measure in organo-phosphate poisoning until you can bring goat and vet together. I suggest sticking both Lorraine's and my recipes on the wall beside your telephone so you always know where they are, and you have immediate access if someone else phones you in a panic.

Lorraine's Recipe for Rhododendron Poisoning

    Quantities do not need to be too exact.

    cup cooking oil
    cup strong/strong cold tea (6 to 8 tea bags removed) ["English" tea]
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    MIX ALL TOGETHER and drench the goat with it all.

How does this work?
Oil puts a lining on the stomach preventing more poison going into the system, tea is the antidote, and ginger relieves pain, baking soda helps bring up the gas.

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