Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Marathon Goat Kidding Weekend (GRAPHIC)

I don't even know where to begin. What a kidding season so far. We have more than a dozen experienced does expecting kids this year and five first fresheners. Those worry me. Not panic, but the uncertainty of milk coming in properly, kids positioned normally and sized appropriately, among other things, weigh heavily on my heart and mind.

Julia on her way to Belfast Veterinarian
I guess the best idea is to try to arrange events chronologically. So, starting on Wednesday, that would bring us to Julia's kidding. Julia began labor around 10 am on Wednesday morning. Things progressed normally for several hours with mucus and contractions beginning. In the early afternoon, things started to go pear shaped. Contractions stopped being regular and slowed to almost a stop. We called our Veterinarian's office and decided to bring her in. If the kid were still alive, we hoped for them to be able to help her deliver it or if not, we expected to pay for a c-section. Upon our arrival 25 minutes later, their exam revealed that Julia's kid was dead. They helped her to deliver and we brought her home to heal and rest. A sad ending, but we took comfort that Julia is alive and expected to fully recover. 

Elizabeth with newborn son
Thursday was spent caring for Julia, watching Moms with their kids, and our normal routine. Because several does were due any time, we started checking does every 2 hours through the daytime and every 3 hours overnight. It makes for restless sleep, but it is necessary when the weather is in the single digits. 

Assisting Elizabeth
Elizabeth went into labor on Thursday evening and delivered a large, single boy around 8:45 pm. It was a challenging birth for her first time. The kid presented with one hoof forward and it's head. The second hoof lay straight back, along his back. Sonja helped deliver this kid after 20 minutes of pushing hard with no forward progress. Firm, outside pressure on the base of the kid's head, which was through Elizabeth's pelvis, helped bring him forward enough to then provide traction in a downward motion to help him be born. We helped Elizabeth to get him clean and dry. First time Mom, Elizabeth was immediately attentive and her son was up, walking and eating within hours. They continue to do well. 

Look at those Baby Bumps! 
At the 6 am barn check on Friday morning, Sean discovered Eve had a mucus discharge. We got her settled in her private kidding stall with water, hay and grain to await delivery. By mid-morning, chores were finished, tails were checked, and since no one seemed imminent, we went inside to warm up and eat something. Sonja cooked breakfast. Sean took out a warm water bucket to Elizabeth and have one last look around. The table was set when Sean returned with the news that in the 45 minutes we had been inside, Rachel- who showed no signs of kidding had delivered a son, who was clean, dry, standing and eating. Breakfast needed to wait. We thought we could move Eve out of her private stall to allow Rachel and her kid to have a safe space, inhale our breakfast quickly, then set up another stall for Eve- who was still only having occasional contractions.

Rachel and newborn son
Nope. No sooner had we escorted Eve out of her stall, that she started actively pushing. That meant delivery would be sometime within the next 30 minutes, if all went normally. Breakfast would wait. Sean set up a stall, moved Rachel and her son- who was bouncing along on his feet as if he were days old, into it and returned Eve to her original kidding stall.  

Eve's labor continued normally and around 1:30 pm, she delivered twins; first a daughter and then a son. Eve needed no assistance with the delivery of her first kid- perfect presentation and delivery. We helped Eve dry her daughter while we awaited her second kid. The second kid presented one hoof and head (again!). Twins are normally smaller and this one was being delivered just fine without our assistance until it's shoulder emerged. Then, the kid went stiff, then limp and its eyes rolled back into its head. It was clearly in distress. Sonja pulled the kid and began stimulating it by rubbing him firmly with a towel and suctioning his nostrils and throat. It seemed so much longer while it was happening, but in reality within 45 seconds or so, the kid was breathing and crying on his own. We helped Eve to clean and get him dried. Both kids were up and nursing in short order and Eve is a very attentive mom. They continue to thrive.

On Friday afternoon Sean left a message with Dr. Caputo to update her on Julia's recovery and in light of two more first fresheners getting ready to deliver, possibly over the weekend, discussed options for treatment if things went south. The receptionist confirmed that we could simply call and Dr. Caputo would meet us at the office. Armed with that knowledge, we felt as reassured as possible. Things would probably go just fine, but in case they didn't we had a plan.

Abby and her twins
Kid watch continued as Tierzah, Abigail, and Hannah were all due at any time. On Saturday morning, Abby delivered first with no complications. Within half an hour, she had given birth to a daughter and a son. Small twins, their legs were bent in strange angles and not strong enough to support them in standing properly. This is common; colostrum and time sort things without assistance most of the time. Abby was attentive to her twins, but we didn't have time to watch the new family closely because it was Tierzah's turn. 

Tierzah went into active labor around 10 am. With our new barn cameras installed, we messaged our friend, Shea from Knotty Goat Soapery, to see if she wanted to tune in and watch the delivery. When 20 minutes of steady pushing passed with no progress, Sean called Dr, Caputo's answering service and we asked Shea to come out to give her opinion. Things might have still been okay, but we were getting prepared in case they weren't. 

They weren't. First, Dr. Caputo's answering service informed Sean that she was out of town for the weekend. Our safety net was gone! Through mixed wires, we thought we were covered and discovered we could have a problem! We quickly messaged our local goat peer group asking if someone might have time to call into local large animal practices to see if we could be seen if necessary. We are so grateful for their willingness to help take that off our shoulders so we could focus on Tierzah. They were fantastic and within minutes we had leads on several potential experts should it come to that. 

It came to that- Tierzah had a large, singleton who was presenting head first, no hooves. While waiting for Shea, Sonja gloved up, squirted on lots of lubrication, and did a careful internal exam. She could feel the kid's head ready to be delivered, but no hooves present. Knowing we would need to push the kid's head back inside in order to find the hooves and that smaller, more experienced hands than ours were 10 minutes away, we decided to wait. 

Shea helping stimulate kid
When Shea arrived she did the same exam and reached the same conclusion: the kid's entire head was in the vaginal vault (past the pelvic canal) but her folded front legs were holding her back. Shea tried to push the kid's head back inside to try to grab hooves, but couldn't get her hand inside far enough. We paused and discussed alternatives. The BEST option was to have a veterinarian assist. They have the good medicines to manage pain and the ability to perform c-sections, episiotomy, and control complications. The closest veterinarian who could take us in an emergency was hours away- a ride which would almost certainly mean that we had given up on a live kid birth and would be trying to save Tierzah's life.

We decided that Sonja would try again. She pushed the kid's head back inside the pelvic cavity and was able to get her entire hand inside this time. She could just feel the smooth surface of a hoof, but couldn't manage to grip it hard enough to pull it forward. When she removed her hand, the head followed back into the vaginal canal. Sonja asked Shea, "Do you want to try again before we give this up?" Once the kid begins taking breaths, they can't be pushed back inside; they have to be delivered or die. Time was running out. Shea agreed. 

Tierzah and daughter
On her second attempt, Shea was able to insert her entire hand. She could just feel a hoof with her pinky finger. Closing her pinky and ring fingers together, she pinched the hoof and pulled it forward. As she withdrew her hand holding the hoof, the kid's head stayed in the forward facing position and followed. One hurdle passed. Tierzah's cervix was dilated properly, but as a first freshener, the kid's huge head had a hard time pushing through the vaginal opening. In the end, it took Shea applying pressure to the base of the kid's head, externally, from the base of Tierzah's tail with one hand and carefully easing the kid's head through with the other. Sean had the kid's leg and it's head pulling it downward and out. Sonja was holding Eve's head to prevent her horns from injuring Shea accidently with one hand and easing the other side of the kid's head through with Shea. Tierzah had the hardest task- she pushed and strained with all she had. And, it worked. Somehow, it worked. The kid was born, but our relief was cut short when it stiffened in distress instead of coughing or crying. 

Shea and Sonja stimulated the kid by rubbing it with towels and used a syringe to remove fluids from nostrils and mouth. It took longer than seemed comfortable, but in minutes, the kid began coughing. Tierzah was initially not convinced this wet, crying ball of goo was worth her time or the efforts to deliver her. It didn't take long for her to change her mind. For all the trauma of birth, the kid- a girl- was active and nursing in short order. The pair are doing great.

Shea left around noon. With everyone stable, fed and watered, Sean and Sonja grabbed a quick breakfast/lunch of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. We called the back-up veterinarians who offered to take Tierzah to thank them for their time and confirm that we had one more mother due sometime within the next 24 hours. We were hoping Hannah would hold out until Monday, but in case she didn't we wanted to be set up. Most of the time, goats will kid without needing to call out a veterinarian, but when you need one, you NEED one. We don't dare be without a plan. 

Abigail's daughter
During the rest of the afternoon, we saw that Abigail's twins were having a hard time maintaining their temperature and they didn't have a rooting or suck response. We brought them inside to warm up on a heating pad. When they were warmer and began to be active, Sean milked Abigail and we offered the kids a bottle. The little girl drank 4 oz without hesitation. The boy would not suck. Not the nipple, not my finger, not anything. We took him outside to try to get him to drink from Abigail, but he wouldn't even try. He was clearly not doing well and needed colostrum. 

With no other alternative, we tube fed him 3 oz of his mother's colostrum. Warm and full, we returned the twins to their anxious Mother while we continued to monitor their progress. In the early evening, we attempted to get them to nurse again from Abigail, but they were weak and unwilling to try. It is not usual, but sometimes it takes a little bit to get sorted. We offered a second supplemental bottle of their mother's colostrum and this time both kids drank without a problem. We returned them to Abigail's care. 

I realize at this point, that this is an extremely long post, Dear Reader. However, we didn't get a break all weekend, and neither shall you.

At 5 pm, Hannah went into labor. She had contractions here and there, but nothing regular. First timers can take a longer time in stage one, so we were aware, but not overly concerned. By 8 pm, a large bubble appeared and popped in a whoosh of brownish liquid. A second bubble appeared immediately after. A little strange, but not uncommon. Some does have two or three bubbles appear before the real one shows. Worth noting, but no need to panic. The lack of visible contractions and pushing WAS more concerning, as was the lack of vaginal stretching in preparation for birth. Sonja asked Sean to call the Dover Foxcroft Veterinarian Hospital answering service to have a veterinarian call us back and she messaged asking Shea to come out again and give a second opinion. Shea arrived in about 10 minutes and the veterinarian called back at the same time. Shea agreed that the delivery wasn't looking normal. We decided to drive the hour+ to get to the veterinarian. Normally we would do an internal exam first, but we didn't want to rupture the bubble or have a half delivered kid, stuck and us having to drive for help. Under the circumstances, we loaded Hannah and went. 

Hannah and her son
We arrived at 9:50 pm and met the wonderful Dr. Kat. Her initial exam showed a perfectly positioned kid. What should have been an easy delivery turned into an hour long event. The kid was through the cervix, but stuck within the vaginal cavity. We all thought this must be a huge, singleton kid. Dr. Kat prepared and began pulling the kid with both it's legs; it's nose perfectly ready to come through. Sean held Hannah to provide counter pressure. Sonja waited out of the way. After a few attempts went nowhere, Dr. Kat tried to pull the kid using chains. It was unsuccessful. Sean and Dr. Kat switched places to see if Sean could apply enough pressure to pull the kid. Though the vaginal walls thinned and turned nearly inside out, the kid would not budge.  During this attempt, to everyone's surprise, the kid who had been limp up until now gave a twitch of it's tongue and leg. We had all assumed with the problematic delivery that we were dealing with a kid that had died en utero and we were just trying to save Hannah. This made everything more urgent and complicated. Sonja asked if she could glove up and help. We took a breath, gave Hannah a quick rest, and discussed trying once more before performing an episiotomy. Dr. Kat pulled legs, Sean held Hannah in place and Sonja pushed the base of the kid's head from outside, near the base of Hannah's tail.

All at once, with a swoosh the kid was born. Not huge at all. 5 pounds would be generous. Sonja got to work trying to stimulate the kid who had been in distress for a while by the look of the copious amounts of meconium staining and dark fluid. It was gasping for breath in slow spurts. Dr. Kat was busy with Hannah, checking her internally, injecting calcium, oxytocin, pain medication, antibiotics and drawing two steroids and an antibiotic for the kid- who we were all surprised to find alive. His nasal passages were clear, but the kid was shocky and not willing to breathe normally. While waiting for the steroids to be injected, Sonja gave him a couple mouth to nose breaths, which seemed to help him get oxygen. The towel was soaked with amniotic fluid and blood. With nothing else to hand, Sonja took off her undershirt and used it to continue to stimulate the kid to wake up. He started to cough and make weak crying noises. The steroids were injected and he began to perk up more and more. 

Understandably, Hannah wanted NOTHING to do with this troublesome thing. The shock of the traumatic delivery paired with the loss of blood and sedative effect of the pain medicines combined to make Hannah a sleepy mother. She slept next to her kid all the way home. We stopped several times to check on them, but they were exhausted. We considered Sonja carrying the kid during the ride home, but feared removing him would add to the possibility of rejection. 

Hannah and Jake Day 2
We settled the family in our laundry room for the night on a stall mat covered with absorbent pine shavings. The kids legs were swollen and he couldn't stand on them. Hannah was dazed and bleeding slowly. There was no way to get him up to nurse, but he needed colostrum. Plus, the act of nursing would help stem the flow of blood and the release of oxytocin would help with bonding. Sean milked Hannah gently and we bottle fed the kid, who ate thirstily and without any trouble. Hannah only had a little over an ounce, but it was a start. 

A few hours later, Sean milked her again and only came up with about half an ounce from both sides. Her udder didn't fill at all. She just wasn't producing milk yet. We weren't ready to give up. It can take a day or two sometimes. To help stimulate milk production, we kept milking her every few hours. When she didn't produce enough, we added some of Abigail's colostrum to fill the 3 oz we needed per serving. 

Hannah and Jake in barn
Through Sunday, the pair remained in the laundry room, where it was warmer than the barn stalls. Hannah lost so much blood and the kid was still unable to stand after 24 hours, though he could move his legs and was active. We bottle fed the boy, who Sean named Jake, every three hours around the clock. We gave Hannah pain medication and more antibiotics. The biggest concern is that though Hannah is not hurting the kid, she is also not cleaning him or coming to his calls. He may end up being bottle raised for nutrition, but if he can be raised beside his mother within the herd, that will be the best for him in the long run. 

Another issue arose on Sunday, Abigail's twins were having difficulty maintaining their temperature on their own and they still were not latching on vigorously, nor moving as actively as they should be. We supplemented with bottles again. The boy drank normally, but the girl (who had been doing so) absolutely refused. She would not latch onto Abigail either. We warmed her and put her back with her mother to try to get her to drink normally, but she refused to try. After 5 hours of nothing to eat and refusing to suck, we tube fed her 3 oz of her mother's milk and returned her to Abigail's care. When Sean checked her later that night, both kids were finally on their feet steady and rooting under their mother. That's a relief! We will continue to watch the family, but it looks like things have turned the corner there. 

As I write this Monday night, all of the families are doing great or improving their conditions. For those keeping track: 
1. Jemimah: 2 girls named Tamar and Ezri
2. Iscah: 1 girl named Ja'el
3. Becca: 1 boy named Riker
4. Tabitha: 1 boy named Quark
5. Keziah: 1 boy named Isaac/1 girl named Damaris
6. Julia, one stillborn kid
7. Elizabeth: 1 boy, unnamed yet
8. Rachel: 1 boy, unnamed yet
9. Eve: 1 boy/1 girl, unnamed yet
10. Tierzah: 1 girl, unnamed yet
11. Abigail: 1 boy/1 girl, unnamed yet
12. Hannah: 1 boy named Jake
Elizabeth and son
12 healthy mothers, 8 hearty sons and 7 thriving daughters so far this season. 
We have 8 mothers left to kid. This year's naming theme is Star Trek: TNG & DS9 for kids who will eventually be adoptable and as always, we use Bible theme names for those who will stay here forever. Do you have any suggestions for names? Comment them below! 

Thanks for visiting with us, Friends. We are happy you are here.
Sean & Sonja

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