Sunday, February 25, 2018

Bailey Kids (finally!) WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES

For the past several weeks our family has slipped into a functional, (but ultimately unhealthy) sleep schedule. Because of the cold and the potential complications with Bailey kidding, we have been checking on Bailey every hour around the clock. After the first week, Kristen and Meaghan pitched in and offered to take the 10 pm to 2 am watch, which helped immensely. Still, we have all been waiting impatiently for Bailey to go into labor. About two weeks ago, Sean excitedly announced that there was a discharge from Bailey's vulva. Losing the mucus plug is a sign that we are getting close. But, though her udder filled and her belly dropped, nothing happened night after night.

Friday night we started our routine dance. Sean and I headed to bed around 10 pm and the girls began their watch. We set our alarm for 3 am. Some nights I fall asleep as soon as my head touches my pillow. I woke to Sean, "It's time." Sean said quietly. I thought he meant that it was 6 am and time for us to get up to get ready for a soap making class. "Not yet." I answered and settled back to sleep. "Sonja, Bailey's kids are coming. It's time." THAT woke me. We already had our kidding kit in the barn, so it was just a matter of grabbing boots, coats, and camera.

Meconium stained first born.
In the barn, Bailey was laying down and her kid's nose was presenting in the "bubble". If all went well, her first kid would be born within the hour. The first thing we wanted to know was whether the kid was in the proper position. As its nose protruded, we were expecting to see hooves along the sides or underneath. When more of the head was delivered and no hooves were present, Sean sprayed lubrication on my gloved hand. Slowly I eased my hand inside with my fingers held together (Never enter with fingers splayed. That is very dangerous.) to feel for hooves. My hand immediately hit a hoof. Good news. Slowly, I felt for the other hoof along the other side, but I didn't feel it, only the shoulder. That meant one leg was in the correct position, the other was laying back along the spine. Not a perfect presentation, but the kid could be born this way. I added gentle traction to the hoof I could feel and to the kid's head. As Bailey contracted and pushed, I helped pull the kid slowly until the shoulders were delivered. I left the rest up to Bailey. Within minutes, she delivered her first kid.

Being born is tiresome work!
The first thing Sean and I noticed was that there was fecal matter present in the sac and the amniotic fluid was definitely yellow. Meconium in the amniotic fluid does not necessarily mean that the kid is going to do poorly, but it is a sign that there was some fetal distress. It is important that we watch for joint ill, lethargy, or difficulty breathing which could indicate respiratory issues over the first few days. If signs present, we'll call in our veterinarian. I helped clean off the large bits of gooey membrane from the kid and then placed him on a clean puppy pad in front of Bailey so she could do her part in cleaning her kid. I took pictures and chatted with Sean while we waited for the next kid to be born.

The second kid presented within a couple minutes. We could clearly see the hooves of both front feet in the unruptured amniotic sac. We waited to see the head present. After about 10 minutes, both hooves protruded about 5 inches but there was no head was in sight. Concerned that the head was turned backwards, Sean sprayed more lubrication on newly gloved hands and carefully I felt inside to see where the kid's head was. Just inside, the head was there, facing the right direction. Good news. We waited a little longer and the nose presented and within minutes the second kid was born. The amniotic sac did not rupture during birth, so I opened it and helped clear the fluid from the new kid's nose and mouth before placing him near Bailey's head for her to clean off her kid.

Good job, Bailey!
While Bailey met her kids and cared for them, Sean and I cleaned up the soaking wet puppy pads and towels. Sean grabbed some grain and fresh water in case Bailey wanted to eat or drink. I took pictures and video and sighed in relief that the kids were alive and so was Bailey. And, that we might get some sleep again (At least until it is Rachel's turn to kid.)

Once the kids got their legs under themselves and began to stand, we helped them to latch on in turn on Bailey's good side. It took a little practice, but they both got a drink before we left the family to bond and we returned to bed.

A little backstory for those who didn't know. Last year, Bailey kidded twins. Since she has kidded before and mothered beautifully, we didn't worry too much about them. Once we made sure they could latch on properly and were drinking well, we left Bailey to care for them. There was a problem, though. Bailey developed a severe form of mastitis, an infection in her udder. Though we used the medications penicillin, Today (Cephaprin Sodium) and then Tomorrow (Cephaprin Benzathine), had the multiple abscesses lanced by our Veterinarian and gave pain meds, Bailey's left udder was severely damaged so that scar tissue blocked access to any milk production. We dried her off and over the course of the last year have fought with several on-going infections that spread through her body. Her kids from last year suffered, too. Franklin contracted pneumonia four times over the course of the year, nearly dying on us twice. His brother, Kurt did die. We had NO plans on breeding her ever again. She had other plans.

When we discovered that Bailey was going to kid this season, we were worried for her health and that of her kids. If she had twins, they would have to share one side of the udder because the left side produces milk, but there is no way for it to pass through the teat. Based on the poor production of the right side, we need to be watchful that the kids are getting enough milk from it. If they are, great! The right side will stop producing in time and the kids can be reared sharing the right side. If not, we needed to be prepared for that. I had frozen colostrum from last year's kidding season. And, I have frozen milk from our final milking in December to feed the kids until Rachel kids. Then, I can milk her and feed the new kids. We only bottle feed if absolutely necessary. It is really not the BEST thing for the kids, but it is certainly better than the chance of them starving to death without interference.

This is all we have been able to collect. :(
Back to the present... Sean and I were both able to milk about 2 ounces from the working side of the udder. It was not much, but we were hopeful that under the laws of supply and demand, Bailey would produce what she needed to in order to care for her bucks. When we checked on the family at 9 am, Sean was only able to get a half an ounce from the working side. No need to jump the gun, the kids might have already nursed and emptied the udder. Bailey developed scours in the hours after kidding which made her backside and her private pen a mess. While Sean cleaned Bailey and her stall, I brought the kids inside to wash off the dried fecal smears and introduce them to Kristen and Meaghan. I warmed 4 oz of colostrum and gave them each half by bottle-which they took to easily. Then, the boys fell asleep, cuddled with us.

We thaw colostrum in a double
boiler until warmed.
When Sean came inside, I suggested we keep the kids inside for a couple hours to give Bailey's udder time to fill up. The plan was that Sean would milk her out after 2 hours to see how much milk she was producing. If she was producing 6 oz or so, that would be a good sign. Sean returned inside with a mere half ounce of colostrum. Not good news. I added it to another package of colostrum from the freezer, warmed it and fed the kids another 3 ounces each. We returned the kids to Bailey. She may not be producing enough milk, but she is their mother and has shown a desire to clean them and sleep with them. So long as that continues, we'll not pull the kids.

Over the next 24 hours, the kids each ate 24 oz of colostrum from bottles and Sean attempted to collect colostrum from Bailey. Each attempt yielded no more than half an ounce of milk. Bailey's scouring (diarrhea) had not resolved by morning. Because the kids were born coated in meconium and Bailey was showing signs of developing mastitis again in her left udder, we injected penicillin, vitamin B (for energy and to stimulate appetite) and banamine orally (to help with the pain of an engorged udder). We also gave her pepto bismal to help ease her scouring. The kids were covered in dried fecal matter, so once more, we brought them inside to clean off. We let them stay inside with us to eat and dry off (about 3 hours) and again, Sean attempted to get milk from Bailey. Again she only produced about a half of an ounce.

So, this is our plan for now: We are applying warm compresses to Bailey's udder every three hours, when we are also cleaning off any fecal matter that is on her back end. Tonight, Bailey enjoyed half a dark beer (helps with probiotics), and did not enjoy, -but needed- Probios paste (helps with probiotics), an antibiotic injection, pepto bismal orally, and vitamin B. She has all the hay she wants 24/7. We want her to produce milk, but we also want the left side to dry up. As any woman who had had a child understands, there is some pain involved in engorged breasts. We are trying to alleviate that, too. We hope that in time, the left side of the udder will stop producing milk and the swelling will come down enough to allow the right side's passages to open to allow more milk to reach the outside. At the moment, she is HUGE, but only drops are coming out of the right side. If that happens, great! The kids are still trying to drink from that side. We're hoping that helps, too. In the meantime, we are bottle-feeding the kids 4 oz each every 3 hours around the clock.

Carter & Benton
As for the kids, they are showing no signs of distress. They are both alert and active. Both take the bottle without trouble already. They are making loose milk poops and urinating normally. We expect they will grow to be healthy additions to our homestead. And, one last thing, we promised to reveal their names... These lads are named Carter and Benton. This year's naming theme is the television show ER, since that is what we have been watching on our "down" time in the evenings.

Here is a short video of them both minutes after their birth and 6 hours later~

Thanks for visiting with us today. :)
 ~Sean & Sonja

1 comment:

  1. So beautiful! The birth and the children! Thank you for sharing!