Yet again, we have had more adventure than we hoped for today.  My 5-year-old Alpine, Onyx, delivered 2 beautiful bucklings this morning.  At 7 this morning, there were no signs except for her ligaments having relaxed and “disappeared,” and by 9, she was in active labor.  It’s amazing I even caught it.  Once again, my goat did not follow the instructions in the book.  There was no strutting of the udder, no mucous, no puffy hind end, nothing! 

Big, fat, ready to pop Onyx

Long story short, the first did not progress, so the kids (and me) really started praying for God’s protective hand.  I did not want to lose another baby.  Finally, I caught sight of a tail.  I immediately went in, pushed the baby back, got his feet behind him, and pulled him out.  He was essentially lifeless.  You can read below for details, but God blessed us, and eventually he pulled through.  It wasn’t without some great efforts and intervention on my part though!  The second delivery was flawless. 

A proud momma and her 2 new boys

I have been so nervous about this birth.  After Lilac’s adventures, I started looking into the why’s and what’s wrong’s.  Turns out, I am not the only one having issues.  My goat mentor/friend, who has around 40 goats and has already had over ten deliveries this season, has had a 20% loss of her kids.  During a recent issue, she called out a vet, and the vet told her, essentially, that the free-choice kelp and minerals (which I also do) are keeping her losses low.  She said that because of the drought this past year, the hay quality was lousy–from everywhere–and most sheep and goat farmers are suffering a 60% mortality rate in their babies!  She said it is absolutely something nutritional, and although she doesn’t know what exactly, it is keeping the livestock vets around here very busy with dystocias (difficult births), c-sections, and deaths. She praised my friend for her feeding and supplementation regimine.  That made me feel a bit better about my loss with Lilac’s buckling, but had me very nervous about Onyx.  Thankfully, I made better preparations this time, and had a nicely stocked medicine box with all sorts of natural remedies as recommended by Pat Colby’s “Natural Goat Care”–my all-time favorite goat book.

Baby #1, identified by the 2 brown spots on his nose, finally looking alive and content

After the babies were born, and I got the one on his feet, I noticed they both had a deficiency-related issue with their feet.  Notice the hind feet in the next photo, and you can see how baby appears to be almost walking on his “knuckles” rather than his hooves.  Apparently this is a newborn version of bent leg, caused by a Vit. A deficiency (according to Colby; others claim a selenium deficiency), which causes the back tendons to contract and makes it difficult for the baby to fully extend his hooves. The vitamin treatment absorbs, and allows the tendon to relax. 

When they were first born and started walking, baby #1 (the weak one) walked like this on all 4’s, while baby #2 only did it on the front feet.  All my research said it would clear up on its own within 3-7 days, depending on severity, but Colby said that a good dose of straight cod liver oil (Vit. A and D) would correct it within a few hours.  I figured I had nothing to lose, so first I tried the Vit. A, D, E, & B12 gel I had, and gave it to Onyx as well (if babies are deficient, so is she).  Later, I called my neighbor who gave me some of her cod liver oil.  It wasn’t pure, but it was the best I could do, and I gave each baby a dose.  By bedtime, Baby #1 had progressed to using his front legs almost normally, though the back legs were still off, and Baby #2 was walking better on all 4.  I am curious to see how it is in the morning. 

We feel so thankful that they all seem to be doing well for now, and especially thankful that the one survived.  I need to do some research now, though, as I am considering giving my remaining does the Vitamin gel as well, in hopes of preventing similiar issues with their deliveries and babies.  I continue to be baffled as to why my girls keep coming up with all these deficiencies, despite all the free choice supplements they have to choose from, but then again, I got Onyx half way through her pregnancy, so maybe, again, she just couldn’t catch up on her own.  I do wish I could figure that out.  If it is the area we live in, I can’t help but wonder why anyone would continue to raise livestock around here.  This just isn’t “normal.”  I would love to know your thoughts!

Baby #2, identified by the splash of white on his side.

For my future records, here is an account of Onyx’s kidding today.  The due date was Sunday, March 4.

  • 8:00 a.m. Friday, March 2: Tail ligaments began loosening.  Monitored throughout the day.
  • 8:00 p.m. Ligaments were totally gone.  No other changes observed.  Cold night forecasted, so I moved her into the kidding pen. Monitored throughout the night.
  • 8:00 a.m. Saturday, March 3:  No changes observed. 
  • 9:00 a.m. Noticed the hunched-back appearance and pawing, indicative of active labor.  No mucus, no puffiness around the vulva, no strutting.  No other physical signs except ligaments and hunched-back appearance.
  • 9:45 a.m.  Active contractions began.  Water broke shortly thereafter, followed by lots of mucous.
  • 10:00 a.m.  No real progress despite hard and frequent contractions, so I gloved up. Just then, a tail appeared.  Breech delivery.  I went in, discovered the hocks were curled up tight into his rump, so I shoved him back in, adjusted the back legs to come first, and quickly pulled it out.  It was totally lifeless.  I quickly cleaned it’s nose off, and sensed some movement.  I hung him upside down and swung him to help clear his lungs.  I then went back and forth between moderate chest compressions and swinging.  He suddenly came to life and started coughing and struggling to breathe.  I used an aspirator to further clear his mouth and throat. With each attempt, he breathed better.  Eventually he sat up. 
  • ~10:30 a.m. Second baby arrived with normal presentation.  I just cleaned off its nose and handed it to mom.
  • ~11:00 a.m.  Second baby began to stand and think about nursing.  First baby still weak and not interested in anything but laying there. He eventually tried standing a little, but always gave up quickly.  I milked some colostrum into a bottle, and began attempting to force it into him.  Over the next 45 minutes, the second baby began suckling, wagging his tail, and acting normal, and I continued to work with the first baby.  I gave him 2.5 ml Nutri-Drench, about 4 ml colostrum, and 2 cc Bovi-Seri subcu.  About 15 minutes later, he attempted to stand and, with assitance, latched on and suckled 2-3 weak swallows.  At one point, he accidentally grabbed my finger, and his suck was very weak. I left him with mom for about an hour, checking on him regularly.
  • 12:00 p.m. Second baby still doing well except for feet.  He appeared to have newborn bent leg, such that he was walking on his “toes” and his ankles appeared very weak.  First baby had moved away from heat lamp, and still hadn’t stopped shivering.  I brought him inside to lay on a heating pad, and syringe fed almost an ounce of colostrum. 
  • 1:30 p.m.  First baby suddenly stood up, wagged his tail, and seemed to have life.  I returned him to mom, and he immediately attempted to suckle.  At this point, I also observed that all 4 of his ankles were very weak and he was walking on his toes or the front of his hooves.  I gave both babies 2.5 ml Vitamin A,D,E, and B12 gel, and also gave Onyx 5 ml of the gel. 
  • 3:00 p.m.  So far, so good.  Both are doing well and the first baby now seems to be maintaining his body temp and attempting to get up and around and nurse.  Baby 1 weighed 7 lbs. and Baby 2 weighed 6 lbs.
  • 6:00 p.m.  Assisted Baby 1 in nursing again, and he did better with stronger suck reflex, but was still unable to find teat on his own.  Gave both babies 3 ml cod liver oil.
  • 8:30 p.m.  Ensured Baby 2 was nursing, and assisted Baby 1 in nursing.  He did much better, as I didn’t have to physically support him this time, but still had to help him find the teat.
  • 10:00 p.m.  Onyx still hasn’t fully passed the afterbirth (still hanging), so I decided to put her on a Vit. C regimine.   Between the delayed expulsion and my having to physically enter to assist with the birth, Vit. C can only help.  Will continue monitoring babies through the night.