Thursday, May 2, 2013

Unexpected kidding!

We had two baby goats born unexpectedly.  They are twins, one boy one girl.  Both are doing great now.  When we purchased the mom we were told the wrong due date.  Just goes to show, watch your animals.  I was present for the birth, but thinking it was the wrong date, was prepared for the mom to abort, not deliver live babies.  They are both premature, but strong.  They love to play and eat.  Oh man do they eat.  Their mom had developed pregnancy toxemia.  Which in goats is ketosis pre delivery.  So we have two bouncing babies jumping and climbing everywhere.

Sounds pretty straight forward saying it like that doesn't it?  Well, lets see if this will help put it in perspective.

Our Pearl (the mom goat) had stopped eating.  We believed she still had two months of pregnancy left.  We could not get her to eat anything.  We tried Doritos, oats, wheat, barley, calf mana, alfalfa pellets, boss (black oil sunflower seeds), peanut butter sandwich, apples, bananas, spinach, berry's, twigs from maples, and several types of hay.  She would eat none of it.  Even tried to coat grains and such in sweet molasses, corn syrup, and brown sugar.  Goats have a sweet tooth.  She would only eat a few bites of grass hay a day for three days prior to her delivery.  She was in great shape prior to this.  I had noticed that she started to develop an udder and had asked some goat knowledgeable people and all agreed it was really early and to watch her.  Well, I watched her.

Two days before she delivered she was acting off.  She still refused feed, didn't want me to leave, would call for me.

Then the day she kidded (gave birth) I noticed about half way through the day that her stomach drastically dropped.  That means that instead of looking fat, you saw her spine, a gap, then a stomach that was down to he knees.  That is a precursor to birth.  I know that from the cows.

Then about two hours later she had mucus.  So, I knew then there was no turning back and she was in labor.  Now, some background info on goats.  Two months shy of a due date, the babies would not have been alive and they would have been hairless and tiny.  So, I ran in the house, grabbed a garbage bag, sent a message to a friend about Pearl and hoped for info on what I could do.  I logically knew I had no choice but to wait with her.  But I wanted to be able to do something.

So, out I went.  She was walking around pacing a lot.  More mucus.  No visible signs of impending birth.  I go back into the house to draw up a b vitamin shot.  I grab my phone so that I can check messages out in their hut.  I go back out less then 10 minutes later.  I am just in time to see the birth of the first twin.  Not expecting to have any live births I had nothing with me.  It is dark outside at this point and I have only a small light to see by.  I notice it moved.

Wait, what?

It moved again.  The bag was still covering it.  Pearl, a first time freshener (first birth), didn't know what to do and the baby was too small to get out of the bag on it's own.  Pearl moved away.  I rushed over to remove the bag from the nose.  Wait, it has hair.  Ummm, it is breathing!

OMG, it dawned on me, the due date was very wrong.  These guys still had round heads and no teeth.  Goats are born with teeth.  The hooves are still pure white.  It is so cold outside it is shivering already.  It is just laying there breathing.

Without thinking I grab it and put it in my coat and run in the house.  As soon as I get in the door I yell for my daughter to grab a laundry basket and as many clean towels as she can find in a hurry.  She is at the steps with the stuff by the time I get to the living room.  I grab a towel, rip off my coat, remove my sweater, finish removing the sack from the baby and wrap it in a towel.  At this point, I just know I have a breathing baby with hair (although it was not a full coat).  As a second thought I check and it is a little doeling (girl).  Oh wow.

Pure adrenaline is coursing through me now.  I realize I still have the shot in my pocket, how it even got in my pocket and out of my hands I cant remember.  So, I figure I will grab a few more towels and go check Pearl.  All of that took less then 5 minutes.  I run back out with a new sweater on.  Coat is a mess, so it is left to be washed.

I go back out and I bump Pearl.  It is similar to the Heimlich maneuver for a goat, but softer, to see if you can feel any other babies.  I felt another one in there, it is distinctive when you feel it.  So, I sit and wait.  Less then 10 minutes later (15 minutes between babies) out comes the next one.  I can see that Pearl is fatigued.  She just lays there and I move the sack of it's nose like the first.  She gets up, buts moves away again.  I remove the sack and wrap it in a towel.  This one is a tiny bit bigger then the first.  I take it in, it is a boy.

So, now I have two premature baby goats in my house, a fatigued and confused first time freshener in the goat house, and my husband is supposed to be asleep because he has to get up for work in 3 hours, but instead he is holding our baby who is four months and screaming to be fed and put to bed.  I rush out a bucket of warm molasses water to Pearl.  She is downing that.  I milk some colostrum (the first milk rich in antibodies).  I come back in finish drying the babies, get new clean towels under them, and try to feed each a bit of colostrum from a bottle.

They have a suck reflex.  Thank goodness!

So I lay them together, and cover them with a blanket to keep them warm.  I take my own baby so hubby can sleep.  I get her fed and in bed and by now it is almost 1 am.  I pass out just hoping that everyone is alive in the morning.

5 am and I wake up.  The baby goats have yet to make a sound.  I check, they are breathing.  I check and they are still breathing.  Good sign.  I go to check Pearl and take more molasses water.  She drinks half and has past the placenta.  All very good signs.

Hubby comes home on his breakfast break at 7 am to help me milk Pearl out.  I feed the babies again.  They can not stand.  Then my baby gets up and my normal day starts.  I then sit to take a breather.

Then the fun of raising two bottle babies.  I took them to the vet soon after.  Both had problems, but nothing they wont grow out of.  They were three days old before they stood.  Vet estimated them at 13 days early.  At first I had to feed them every two hours like new born babies.  They were just under 3 pounds each at birth.

First photo is them at 4 days old, sleeping.  It is a normal pop can for size reference.  Hooves has darkened and coats are growing, but still thin over the joints.
Next photo is them today with one of our other goats, Snowflake.  They are growing fast.

Just goes to show, be prepared for anything, no matter how improbable.