Wednesday, February 3, 2021

First Kid of 2021: Iscah & Ja'el

Ja'el, hours old.
As kidding season closes in, does begin to show various signs of impending birth; the ligaments around the tail soften and feel like they disappear, the udder becomes full, and often there is a discharge. One of the sweetest signs is catching a doe "talking" to her belly. As we get closer, we take precautions to make certain our kidding kit is fully stocked and ready in case we need to intervene. We clear and set up our private kidding stalls and we begin checking on the does every couple hours. 

Empty soft drink bottles refilled
with hot water make great insulators,
along with hay.
Iscah, in typical goat code form, hid all signs of her immediate delivery so she could surprise us with a single doeling between noon and 2 pm check in. Sean went out for what he thought would be a quick perusal of the barn for any does in labor only to find a very loud, half cleaned goat kid all alone. Because the temperature was 10* that day, he scooped her up and brought her inside for me to help warm and clean her up a little more. The internal temperature of goats runs much warmer than humans and to go from a wet, balmy 101-103* to an amniotic fluid covered kid, born in 10* can be shocking. Most of our experienced Mother goats make quick work of cleaning up their offspring. Iscah is still new to the game. She clearly made an attempt before deciding that hay and water beckoned, but didn't finish the job nearly well enough to be entirely useful.

When it is necessary to intervene, we normally employ a gallon zip lock bag to encase the kid, then carefully submerge the bag in a sink of warm water. This is a very efficient way to warm kids quickly. This singleton would not fit into the bag. And, since Iscah chose a dirty corner of the barn to give birth and not a nice clean stall, the kid was covered in frozen bits of stickiness and bacterial laden grime. We used a wet cloth to wash her body well from shoulders to hips and down legs. We left the head and tail messy. It is important to leave Momma's scent on the kid, especially since we don't want bottle babies if it can be helped. While I was cleaning the kid up, Sean went searching for the missing Momma. It is very easy to see who had recently given birth. 

Hay nest for added warmth.
Iscah and Ja'el were reunited in a clean, private kidding stall. Iscah has only had one other kid, born 2 years ago. She was vocal and attentive to her kid, but disinclined to let Ja'el nurse. Sean patiently held Iscah's leg to prevent her from kicking her young. It is necessary for kids to get colostrum within 18 hours of being born- the sooner the better. This gives them some protective antibodies that help the kid to thrive. Ja'el was very weak. She had a suck reflex, but the combination of uncoordinated legs and unwilling Momma made it quite a task. We tried for about an hour before Ja'el was too tired to continue and settled into a hay nest to sleep. Being born is hard work! We left the new family to bond and checked on them regularly, encouraging nursing each time. 

Bottles were quickly accepted.

By evening, it was clear that Ja'el needed some additional help. Sean milked one side of Iscah's udder and I attempted to bottle feed 3 oz of colostrum. Ja'el took to the bottle without any trouble. Satisfied that she had a full belly, we returned her to her mom. Three hours later, we offered a 2nd bottle when we were still unable to get her to latch on well- even with guidance. We set our alarm to checked the family through the night, ready to bottle feed if necessary, but weighing that need against the real risk of nipple confusion and potentially working against our end goal of Iscah caring for her own kid. Sean got Ja'el to drink several times through the night and things were looking up at the 5 am check in. 

At 8 am, Ja'el took a turn for the worst, again. Ja'el was curled up next to the hay manger, cold and slow to respond, away from Mom. We brought her inside to warm her once more. A healthy kid can usually maintain their temperature- even in the cold. But, we believe the extra stress of not being cleaned and dried quickly, maybe set her back and made her susceptible to the cold. Once she was warmed, I attempted another bottle. Ja'el refused it for the first time. Not a good sign. We repeatedly tried to get her to nurse from her mom to very little progress.

Sweater time!

Faced with the challenges of a kid who couldn't maintain her temperature nor yet master her legs and a Momma who was reluctant to nurse, paired with incoming snow and more cold weather, we decided to bring both goats into the laundry room for the night. The tiled floor is easy to clean and the room hosts nothing of danger to harm them. Through all of this, I messaged images and video to my local goat people group. Even when you are sure you are doing the right things, another perspective- other suggestions are useful. Ja'el absolutely refused to take a bottle from me. She would nurse for a minute before plopping down to sleep under her mother. We set the alarm and checked the pair through a second night. Finally at 8 am, Sean witnessed Ja'el nursing normally without assistance. Relief! 

Finally sorted and doing well.

We kept the pair inside until the evening. Iscah finally seemed to fully accept her daughter so we took the chance of putting a goat sweater on Ja'el to help keep her warm in the barn. We watched the pair through the night, but no more assistance was needed on our part. And, with a bit of drama, 2021's kidding season has begun. I am thankful that it turned out well. I really needed to begin this season with some happiness. Ja'el's welcome cetainly fits that bill nicely. 

Thanks for joining us, Friends. We are very happy you are here. 
Sean & Sonja 

That face! Ja'el looks like her Momma.
We think she'll be naturally polled, too.

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