Age: 2 years, 4 months
June 14. Eight days ago, Brooklyn became a first freshener.
Unfortunately, Brooklyn sustained a headbutt to the stomach on day 135 which threw her body into labor — she was carrying triplets, two black bucklings and one black doeling. Our Nigerian Dwarf buck, Pepper was the sire. I will relate her kidding story for informational purposes.
I definitely learned from this unfortunate event. I learned to trust my instincts, to keep the birthing kit [I use this list from Fiasco Farm] ready at all times, and to keep all my notes on kidding with the kidding kit. There is an excellent page here that describes Problems with Delivery which I did not have on hand at this birth. I also like to have all the goat books with me, bookmarked to the kidding pages. In the future I plan to create a birthing booklet for my own use, which will contain printouts from all sites that I have found handy for kidding instructions, copies of the pages of the books, plus I will include my own birth experiences as detailed on this site.
We went out to milk around 5:30am, and found Brooklyn with clear, sticky mucous stuck to her backside. It was obvious that she had built a nest for herself in the barn, in the hay near the manger. There were puddles of clear mucous in several places throughout the yard, including on the barn porch. I put my finger into the large wet puddle on the porch and brought it to my nose to see if there was an odor, as I suspected amniotic fluid but wanted to outrule urine. It had no odor, so I knew it was not urine, but birthing fluids. At this point, I had not recalled the headbutting the day before, because I had only seen it out of the corner of my eye and hadn’t thought much of it.
With hindsight, I would have cleaned her backside immediately, cleaned my hand and checked to see what was going on. This was only the second kidding I have attended, but I am attuned to the birthing process because I am my family’s doula and have attended 7 homebirths and one hospital birth for my sisters. Next time I will know to trust my instincts and when it seems that the doe is moving out a lot of fluid, it’s probably because she’s been pushing already and has a kid blocking the way.
There is also no way to know if the kids died soon after the headbutting incident, as a goat herder friend of mine told me what happens is the kids are separated from their placentas and die soon after. This is probably what happened, but it could be that the kids were still alive at 5:30am and I could have gotten them out had I only checked.
Okay, so remember I haven’t yet remembered the headbutting event, and just assumed she was in early labor. When I attended Lightning’s birth she labored from early in the morning until she began her first push in early afternoon, so it seemed Brooklyn was progressing in the same way. I stayed with her constantly once I got the kidding kit together and got out there. It was the hottest day of the year so far, I believe it reached 110°F that day. Not fun.
She kept standing up and arching her back, like she was trying to position the kids. I now know that this often means there is a problem. My goat mentor tells me she allows the doe three times of that back arching, then she goes in and checks to see what is going on. I sure wish I’d known that earlier, for again, we may have been able to save the kids, or maybe not.
She would then lie down and stretch out her legs. These movements all appeared to be stretches, not actual pushes. Finally around 12:30pm she pushed, this was different from the stretches. At this point, I was still thinking we had live kids in there, early labor had finally turned to active labor. She pushed rather half-heartedly every couple of minutes and after 25 minutes I couldn’t stand waiting any longer to see what was going on, plus an ear was trying to be born! Yes, an ear was protuding from the birth canal. I washed my hand carefully and inserted a finger. I was unsure what I was feeling, but it seemed very much like the top of a kid’s head where the hornbuds are. This is a problem position, so I washed my hand again, applied olive oil and got my hand inside. The kid’s head was down, it was extremely hard to find the front legs, I could only find one front leg. I recalled reading that although muzzle and one leg is a hard position to deliver, it can be done, and so I began pulling this first kid. I was afraid I killed him helping him to be born because his neck cracked as I pulled on his head. There was no time to start fretting and wringing my hands though, so I put him aside and covered him with a piece of newspaper.
I let Brooklyn rest, and gave her some warm water with molasses after we got this one kid out. Finally after about 20 minutes she began pushing again, very weak pushes. She managed to get a big bubble to protude, then she just laid there not doing much at all. I waited another 15-20 minutes (need to get a watch or a clock in the barn!) then decided to check again. This time I found a kid trying to come out muzzle first, no feet. It was difficult again to find the front legs to go with this kid, but I finally got him into position and got him out, he was stillborn. At this point I decided that I was not willing to wait any longer to see if any more kids were inside, and put my arm in again and this time pulled out a stillborn doeling. I put my arm in one more time and felt around, to make sure there were no more kids. I could only feel mushy softness, and withdrew my hand.
We moved the kids away from us and the doe. Now I concentrated my concern on Brooklyn, who was planted solidly on the ground and not showing any signs of getting up. I was worried that she was too weak. She is a big doe, very heavy and it was going to take some effort on her part to get her onto her feet. I felt it was very important that she get onto her feet soon. We offered her some water with molasses again, which she drank some.
I had heard that old timer goat herders will give a doe who has had a rough birth her own milk. I milked her as she laid there, getting about a cup of colostrum. I squirted 3 squirts of Nutri-Drench in the colostrum, stirred it up and offered it to her. She sucked it down like it was the best thing she’d ever had. I told her she had 10 minutes to get onto her feet, or I was going to get her up myself. Ten minutes went by and I pulled forward on her collar so that she had no choice but to get her feet under herself and up she came. The whole time she’s “nanny talking”, looking around for her kids.
I had to keep reminding myself that we pull the kids for CAE prevention and she wouldn’t have had them anyway, but it was still sad to hear.
As she had had such weak urges to push during labor, I next began to worry about the afterbirth being expelled. I called some goat herder friends, and one told me that we had a four hour window, and if she hadn’t passed the placenta by 5:30pm that I’d better call a vet. (I’ve since learned that some feel comfortable waiting as long as 12 hours).
I called a friend who lives nearby and raises goat to see if she had a favorite vet that she would call on a Sunday afternoon. She was not home, but her granddaughter answered the phone and told me that she and her grandmother use Lutalyze on their does when they do not expel the placenta.
In the meantime we began doing some things to help the doe to expel her placenta. We took her on a walk around our property (oh my goodness, that was horrible it was so hot I think this is when I began getting heat exhaustion). We tried vulva massages, basically you clean your hand, insert two fingers inside and massage inside the doe to get her to push which should help her to expel the placenta. I milked her massaged her udder and teats. This was very effective with our doe, Lightning. The act of milking her, and rubbing on her udder and teats caused her to have contractions and expel her placenta. At this point I still hadn’t quite come to the realization that Brooklyn’s birth was unusual, the births premature, and that her body wasn’t really cooperating too well. We tried having her stand with her front legs higher than her back legs, so that gravity could help her expel the afterbirth.
None of these were working, so I decided to try the Lutalyze. Drove to the friend’s house, beginning to get a headache by now from the heat and dehydration as I had not been drinking properly. (I’m usually very good at managing the heat, but this was an unexpected “heat wave” and I’d forgotten one of my main ways to counter the heat was to soak my clothes, and I had just been too busy to drink water.) I was told to administer the Lutalyze SQ, (subcutaneously) but just now trying to find the correct spelling on the ‘net I see that it should be administered IM. Perhaps this is why it did nothing for her.
I began calling veterinarians. Finally one returned my call and as my luck would have it, my cell phone was not cooperating and I’m sitting there, holding it, waiting anxiously for a call back, and it goes, “Beep, boop-beep,” which means someone has called, the reception was poor, so the phone didn’t ring, but they left me a message.
I listened to the message. The vet told me the doe should NOT have had Lutalyze, she needed oxytocin! He told me he no longer comes out to this area, and that I would have to find the oxytocin from a vet supply. I could tell he realized as he said that, that it was Sunday afternoon, and he then said that I could try asking some of the dairies out in this area if they could supply me with some oxytocin. He told me she should have “20 units, not 20cc’s but 20 units.”
I began calling dairies and finally located one about 25 miles away that answered the phone and was willing to supply us with oxytocin. I called the veterinarian again to find out how much 20 units was, and at this time he told me to give the doe 1cc of oxytocin and if she had not expelled the placenta within 30 minutes that we should give her another 1cc.
Finally we arrived back home and gave her 1cc oxytocin at 8:20pm. She didn’t seem to respond to the injection. 30 minutes went by, no reaction. We gave her the second dose and waited until 9:30pm. By this time, I was nauseated, I had a splitting headache, I couldn’t stand to be up another moment. I asked God to keep His hand on her and watch over her.
Tonight while researching the ‘net I found that the recommended dosage is 1.5cc oxytocin per 100 pounds. This doe weighed 200 pounds the day after giving birth, so we did not give her enough oxytocin.
Later I researched and found on the ‘net that it is okay to wait up to twelve hours for the doe to expel the placenta. I was reluctant to leave her and go into the house and go to bed, because then I would not know if she expelled everything.
The next morning I was reluctant to go out to milk, and had to take an antacid for my nausea. I was terrified that we’d find the worst, (that she would be dead) who knows what the side effects of the medications we’d given her could be. Finally I worked up my nerve and went out, to find that she was okay, and the cords were no longer hanging from her vulva. I did find the cords that were hanging, in the barn, they were dried up but wet and messy at one end, indicating that she more than likely ate the afterbirth, as is normal (usually we do not allow our does to eat the afterbirth). Still, it was frightening not knowing if she’d expelled everything, or if she still had clumps of afterbirth left inside her.
As a precaution we decided at the advice of my goat mentor to begin her on antibiotics. We gave her 3cc Bio-Mycin 200 once every 24 hours for five days. I also took her temperature day and night to be sure it remained steady. She had quite a high temperature, ranging from 103.6°F to 104.2°F but according to my goat books a healthy goat’s temperature can be from 101.5°F to 105°F so I guess we’re well within this range. I also learned that thermometers which contain mercury are difficult to use when the temperature outdoors is over 100°F! I thought the thermometer was broken, because it would not shake down. I finally drove to a feedstore and bought a new thermometer only to find this one was “broken” as well. As it turns out, when the temperature is hot, the only way to use the thermometer is to shake it down indoors where it is cool. Then immerse the thermometer in cool water until ready to be used. Once you take it out of the cool water, immediately insert it into the goat to take the temperature (takes 3 minutes).
We also gave her probios, vitamin C and snacks to get her appetite going again.
All of the does seemed affected by this kidding, our milker’s yield dropped in half and she refused to eat her grain for no apparent reason, except for the stress of the kidding. Finally today, 8 days later, all of the does seem to have their appetite’s back. We are milking Brooklyn daily, and her yield is up to over 7 pounds each day. She is two years old and a first freshener. Up to today, I had been milking her sitting on the barn floor because her hooves were in bad shape due to not trimming them for the last 6 weeks of her pregnancy. But I worked on her hooves this morning with cutters and a rasp, trying to get them back into shape so she would feel comfortable on the milking stand.
It is such a pleasure to milk a doe that stands still on the milking stand. I will be happy when Brooklyn learns this important part of her life. Currently we are having to lift her, and she is uncomfortable on the milking stand and leans heavily against me as I milk her. Lightning did this at first, but she weighs much less than Brooklyn, and it is quite a strain on my body to push against her as she is leaning against me. Luckily, Brooklyn’s teats are nice and long, and I can actually use all four fingers to milk her, although it is such a habit to use only three for Lightning that I am having to learn a whole new way to milk.
We will not be able to use the milk for human consumption for 12 to 18 days after the antibiotics are finished, so in the meantime the dogs, cats and chickens are getting a lot of milk to drink. Also, I am going to try making soap with some of this milk. If the kids had survived, they would have been getting the milk for quite some time, and we usually don’t drink the milk for the first 2-3 weeks anyway as it doesn’t taste good yet. Her milk is very creamy and white though, can’t wait to try it.