Baby Season 2020!
And so, it has begun. With the first goat to deliver being a Boer goat named Brown with Sox, we have started our baby season. This is the first baby season that we have had to deal with baby season, as well as everyone having the Bubonic Flu of 5th grade. When I was younger, it always seemed so amazing that my dad never got sick. Everyone else in the family would have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel and he would seem fine. Now I realize, it doesn’t matter if you are sick. It doesn’t matter if you can hardly stand upright. What matters is the fact that you, regardless of how bad your entire body aches, have to take care of the barn chores. Everyone gets run down and tired from time to time. Not everyone has the luxury of resting whenever they need rest. Luckily Sox would take to motherhood very smoothly. She was a first-time mother but delivered without an issue. She gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl and had them dried off and up and eating before we knew they were born. However, our luck was going to be short lived.
Waddles was the next Boer goat to deliver. The birth was easy enough. She delivered a spotted little boy that was up and bouncing. Waddles had no interest in feeding her little guy. Usually once the mom starts to build a little bit of pressure in her udder from the milk, they will eventually decide a suckling kidd isn’t so bad. Waddles was not having any of that. It took one of us holding her while the other one steered the little guy onto the target. He would connect, she would move, again, and again and again. Finally, he started to get better at latching on, and she became slightly better at standing. Every four hours for the first three days we had to hold Waddles while he ate. Finally, she decided that she could just stand still without our intervention and they were both on their way.
Next was Red. Red is a seasoned mother and also acts as the barn nanny. She is always the goat that helps clean off other goat’s babies and is a very strong milk producer. Red had triplets. They were all three spotted and strong. She dried them off and had them nursing in no time. The first two days with Red were easy. Then she started to go down hill herself. In a blink of an eye her milk went away, she had a terrible look in her eyes. She just stood with her head in the corner and a black look in her lovely brown eyes. It is always frightening when something goes wrong. Red had developed ketosis or simply put her blood sugar levels had dropped. We gave her a drench of propylene glycol to give her a jump in blood sugar, a drench of vitamins for energy and some electrolytes to get her hydrated. We pulled the babies off of her and put them in the garage. We gave them baby bottles of frozen milk we had kept from last year that we had defrosted and heated. The biggest and strongest of the three was lifeless and cold to the touch but still breathing. He was cold on his ears and legs. He would barely eat anything. Jordan held him in a towel with a heating pad rubbing his ears and legs and she kept trying to get more milk into him. The other two bounced right back with a belly full and cuddled together in a pet carrier. The weak one was rubbed until 11 and then we covered him in a towel and put him on top of the heating pad. It was all we could do until the morning. At three we came out and he was still cold. He only drank one cc and was lethargic. Again, we rubbed him trying to get some blood flow and perk him up. After we rubbed and tried to get more milk into him, we fed the other two. They were fully on the mend and bawling for food. They took the bottles like they had never been weak. They got their bellies full and were put back into the pet carrier. We went out to check the rest of the babies and Red. The other babies were doing well. Waddles had finally started to stand for her little ones. But Red still had a bad look in her eyes. We had to wait until 8 to give her another dose of propylene glycol. We offered her some free choice electrolytes and she drank a little. She was still not interested in feed and just wanted to stand in her stall with her head against the wall. All we could do is wait until she could be drenched again.
At eight we checked the weak little triplet. He had died. It is always disappointing when something so young doesn’t make it. It seems impossible to go through a season without losing one. Sometimes it seems like there is something wrong from birth, that they are not going to make it, regardless of what is tried and what precautions are taken. The other two of the triplets were hollering for milk when they saw us. A hungry baby goat is a healthy baby goat. They both drank a full bottle and were satisfied. Now it was time to continue to care for Red. We loaded the drench with the glycol and headed to the barn. She was still standing like she was in a daze. We drenched her and offered her feed covered in molasses. She did not have an appetite. She just seemed depressed. We moved her two remaining triplets out of the garage into a stall that has a section that is under a heat lamp. Since they just had their bellies filled, they were content sleeping in the heat. We put them under Red’s nose before we put them in a separate stall and she wasn’t interested. We knew that was a bad sign for our baby lover, Red. By noon the treatment had started to kick in. She was becoming more alert. We put her babies in with her to nurse what little milk she had made and hopefully lift her spirits. She wasn’t making enough to sustain the babies so we had to bottle feed them in addition to her milk. In a couple days the amount of milk we had to supply was dwindling down to nothing. Red was making enough and the babies were bouncing along.
The next to deliver was Cindy Crawford. She is a Nubian that was not bred as a yearling but finally bred as a two-year-old. Cindy was not so very big, and our best guess was either she would have a single baby or small twins. When we went to the barn Saturday morning Cindy had a tail sticking out of where baby goats come out of. Her baby was coming out backwards. The perfect delivery is like an Olympic diver, front legs first head down. Coming out backwards is less than desirable, but certainly doable. We decided to give her some time. It was 4:30, we could check the progress in half an hour or forty-five minutes and maybe she would have the baby out. She did not. She was not pushing the tail was not moving it had not progressed whatsoever. We decided to wait a little bit more. Another half an hour and still no progress. It is always a thin line between rushing in and making things worse or waiting to long and making things worse, but with no progress it was time to help. Eric went in and repositioned the baby so the back feet would come out first and then pulled the baby out. It was a live little girl! Now we waited to see what would come out next. Surely with the baby out of the way more babies would follow or she would clean up and be done. We waited and nothing else came. Cindy pushed a little bit but not much. Luckily, we have a neighbor, Jenna that is going to Penn State for animal science and loves all sorts of interesting animal situations. Even more luckily for us she was home for the weekend. Ten minutes after texting Jenna she pulled in the driveway. She was in the stall and helping the next baby out before we could get the towels to dry it off ready. The second one had her legs behind her and her head was out. She to had to be repositioned. Jenna was all over it like a pro and out she came. Then Jenna checked and found a third baby! Cindy was having triplets. The last one came out with a little pulling and we were drying him off as well. Now it was time to get them started to eat. We thought Cindy was bad at delivering. She was even worse at standing for her little ones to eat. The first milk they make is really important for the little ones to get into their belly. It is the colostrum and there is nothing better to help the babies avoid getting sick. Between two of us holding her and Jenna starting the babies they all got a little bit of milk. We decided we would set these three under the light with Red’s two to get rested and try again in an hour.
After an hour had passed Eric held Cindy and I steered the babies onto the udder. Cindy was terrible. She tried to jump, step to the side, walk backwards, walk forwards, and finally she tried to sit down. They all got a little bit of milk in their belly but not enough to fill them up. She was out of milk. We had already thawed some milk that we just heated in bottles and gave it to them to fill them up. Cindy would catch on. It has been three days and Cindy is still not catching on. The littlest girl of hers is able to latch on while she dances but she isn’t making enough milk or cooperating well enough for the other two. So, every four hours we take bottles of warm milk to the babies to get their bellies full. Sooner or later Cindy will get it. Hopefully sooner because there is nothing better for babies than having their mother feed them. With 12 more moms to deliver in the next two weeks the faster things smooth out the better life is for us. However it goes, life is good.