Tragedies along with joy

Based on Ginger’s birth date last year, Capri was four days overdue on Friday, April 4th.  She went into labor during the evening, but things were not going as expected.  This was only my second kidding so everything is still new with having had only one kid last year.  I called for help from my helper in the yard who had been a paramedic, one reason being the goats are all familiar with him so there would be no additional stress with a stranger coming in.

Things were not going well at all.  Around 11:15, the baby was presenting but not normally.  She was in a little ball, not breech or any other familiar position, nothing in any of the drawings.  I called a goat friend who called someone else and advised me to call the vet.  When the vet called back, while he was on the telephone, the first baby was finally delivered at midnight.  He told me that if the first one was born, the others would be born just fine as the largest is born first.  He said he would come out but didn’t think it was necessary.  That was a huge mistake on my part.

My exhausted doe had minor contractions now and then and was obviously very uncomfortable.  I stayed with her constantly, sleeping on and off in the straw next to her.  By 7:00 a.m, Saturday morning, there were still no more babies born or even presenting.  I called the vet and he told me to go ahead and bring her in.  He also told me there was very little chance any remaining babies were still alive.  We put Capri and her little doeling in the car and went to the vet’s office.  He was able to deliver the second baby, a buckling, after a great deal of effort.  At first he thought it was dead but he was still alive.  He commented how large the kid was.  He proceeded to deliver the third, another buckling, who also appeared to be dead but was alive and bigger than the one before.  Then he delivered the fourth, another buckling, who was dead; the placenta had torn loose.  The fourth baby was bigger than the others; in fact the vet had to use a “catcher” to pull him out.  So there goes the theory that the largest is born first – not true this time for certain.

We put all three babies to mom to ensure they got some of that precious colostrum before leaving the vet’s office.  It was the doeling’s second real meal.  He gave Capri some injections to help her including an antibiotic.  By the time she got to the office, she had been in labor for twelve hours and was exhausted.

When we got back home, Capri slept a lot.  She also wanted nothing to do with her babies.  I did, however, several times put them to her udder to eat so they would get some of that precious colostrum.  I also milked out some to feed to the third baby; he wasn’t strong enough to eat for himself.  I also was able to get some from a friend to feed him.  I was feeding with a syringe since I had no nipples.

Just before noon on Sunday, Summer delivered triplets, all born within a half hour and with great ease, just as it should be.  It was after they were born that Capri welcomed her babies to her.  I was so afraid she was rejecting them but apparently either just needed the rest or the hormones raging with new babies did their work.  I didn’t care which because she was fussing over her babies now.

On Sunday afternoon, my eldest granddaughter and I left long enough to go to the feed store to get some Pritchard nipples.  The weak buckling didn’t have much of a sucking instinct so I had to work to get milk into him.  The next day, I took him to the vet who was able to get him to take the nipple so I was looking forward to that rather than the syringe.  He told me he didn’t know if the little guy would make it but commended me on everything I was doing.  The little guy died on Tuesday; I called the vet’s office where they reassured me I did all I could for him, that he had just suffered too much trauma during kidding.

It was terribly sad, but I still had the two born first as well as Summer’s triplets.

The lesson taken from this is DO NOT FEED YOUR DOES GRAIN WHEN THEY ARE PREGNANT.  The exception is early in their pregnancy while they are still in milk; once they are not being milked, they should never get grain.  I followed advice to give Capri grain the last two weeks; that was the worst advice I could have gotten and cost the lives of three precious little goats.  The problem is that all extra calories go to the babies, and Capri’s babies were huge.  Though we didn’t weigh them, they were all over four pounds, far too large for such a little doe.  Apparently, Capri’s body was especially good at utilizing all nutrition to its maximum, evidenced by her very rich milk.

At this point, I was trying to concentrate on the babies left with the little buckling buried under the apple tree.  We buried him there because when his siblings were bigger, they would be playing there and in a sense they would all be together again.


Postscript:  The little doeling, the firstborn, died at ten days old.  Her story is here:

Whenever I hear about someone whose doe is especially large, I worry a lot wondering if they are giving her grain.  Sadly, my own experience related above has been repeated many times, in one form or another, for people who also followed the bad advice that I had been given.  While there is never anything absolute when caring for animals, there is one absolute:  NEVER give grain to pregnant does who are no longer milking.  As soon as they kid, they can have all they want but not before – otherwise you risk having babies too large for mom to safely birth.  Many wind up needing a C-section or having babies die as happened to Capri and me.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Capri and Princess | VanEden Goats

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