Age: 3 years, 11 months
2nd Freshening: Gestation 152 days; triplet doelings
1st Freshening 135 days gestation; 2 bucklings, 1 doeling all stillborn; headbutting to side brought on premature labor
Milk Fever by Fias Co Farm
Milk Fever Strikes
More Feedback on Hypocalcemia by Muriel Sluyter Good article showing what signs to look for; however, doesn’t indicate which kind of calcium gluconate.
You might not want to read this story as unfortunately we lost Brooke to milk fever 26 hours after she kidded. I debated chronicling her kidding story because of the tragic outcome, but one of the reasons I tell the story of our kiddings is the hope that someone else can learn from our experiences, either good or bad.
Things I learned from this kidding:
- Reminder to pay attention to my instincts
- Recognize slow labor as being calcium deficiency which can lead to hypocalcemia aka milk fever
- Does that produce more than twins are more prone to hypocalcemia
- Always make sure the doe is eating her hay after kidding or suspect there is a problem
- Heavy producers are also prone to hypocalcemia
- Always have CMPK or calcium gluconate ON HAND before kidding
- Our first experience with a weak kid at birth
My family reported to me by phone around 3:30pm that Brooke had been acting like she was in labor since about 1pm. She was nesting, was walking around slowly, hunching, her sides were hollow.
I arrived home around 5pm and she looked to me like she should kid within a couple of hours, certainly by midnight.
She kept hunching and arching her back. With Dallas’ 2005 kidding, one of my goat mentors told me she only waits for three of those hunches/arches/stretches and checks to see what is going on inside. But I couldn’t remember if that was BEFORE she saw the doe actually pushing, or AFTER. I’m really reluctant to “go in” if I don’t have to, I’d rather not. Actually, for some reason I was having something akin to paranoia about having to “go in” and was really stressing out about it. I called another goat person around 8pm and she agreed with my dh that Brooke was probably still in early labor, since she didn’t have any mucous discharge. I had been debating just doing a finger check, to make sure no kids were blocking the birth canal. But I decided to go ahead and just let her labor. I went to bed and was up at 10pm to check on her. She had a bit of mucous discharge at this time, and she was still hunching/arching.
I went back to bed, and my dh woke me up at 2pm, told me he thought she might go soon. So we went out and sat with her for a while. She was still doing the same thing, no big pushes. I was nauseated because I was tired, stressed and really scared that this birth was going to be a repeat of Brooke’s first kidding. I finally worked up my nerve and told my dh that I thought I should at least do a finger check around 2:45am. I cleaned Brooke’s bottom carefully using this method, and cleaned my hand. With just two fingers, I couldn’t feel anything inside, no baby heads or bodies. I was preparing myself to go ahead and put my entire hand in to make sure she didn’t have any tangles going on in there.
Doeling #1: I guess the stimulation helped Brooke’s pushing urge to get started because within 15 minutes she had pushed out her first baby. Doeling #1 came out head first with one leg under her neck. Her little tongue was sticking out and it would wiggle every time. Brooke pushed and pushed, the baby moved out and back in, out and back in. I finally helped by pushing the perineum up every so gently each time until it was over the baby’s forehead. Soon the entire baby slipped out. I wiped her face and gave her to Brooke. Brooke was so happy about her baby, licking her and nanny-talking to her. Doeling #1 had frosted white ears.
Doeling #2: Soon Brooke had another pushing urge and a bubble came out with the baby’s head and feet. This second baby was born in the sack of waters, completely intact. I tore the membranes with my fingernails and started wiping the baby’s face. This baby was limp and I was afraid she was dead when she was born. But I started rubbing her whole body roughly with paper towels and soon she lurched up her head and coughed. I moved Doeling #2 away from Brooke’s focus and put Doeling #2 right in front of her and she began licking her thoroughly. Doeling #2 had one spotted ear and one brown ear.
Doeling #3: Very shortly after Doeling #2 was born, Doeling #3 was born, and she came out hind feet first. She was so alert, as soon as she was born she tried to stand up. Doeling #3 had two brown ears.
Everything seemed to be okay. I milked Brooke (didn’t strip her out) and got over 2 cups of colostrum. I poured 2 cups into a pop bottle so I could bottle feed her kids. I like to get them to take a bottle in case we have to bottle feed them for whatever reason. Also, since Brooke had triplets, I wasn’t sure how she was going to do at nursing all three of them.
We gave Brooke some warm water with molasses, which she sucked down and she also had some of her colostrum. She wasn’t interested in the rolled barley we brought her. Usually our does gobble grain (especially Brooke!! she loved grain more than any of our goats) when they are being milked.
So the first indication of a problem was the labor failing to progress. But I kept telling myself that Lightning had a slow labor last year and she was just fine. And maybe I was just making too much of a fuss out of this. (Doubting my instincts!) In hindsight, I now know that labor failing to progress is a concern. On a goats list that I’m on, one of the members says she gives one ounce of calcium to her does at the beginning of their labor and another ounce if they fail to progress. Before we started kidding season, I read Ellie Winslow’s book where it talks about hypocalcemia and the protocol of administering CMPK and I meant to have it on hand before kidding, but I forgot to order it!!
The second indication of a problem was Brooke’s disinterest in eating. Not eating grain is fine, but definitely indicates her body trying to balance the calcium “By the way, once her calcium level has been regulated and she resumes eating, she may initially refuse any grain that is offered. That should not cause you concern because her instinct is still trying to regulate her calcium-deficient condition. She is the best monitor of that.” from Ellie Winslow’s Making Money With Goats.
Also, I did not catch that Brooke was not eating her hay. Third indication. She was very disturbed at the thought of her kids nursing. So I was continuing to bottle feed them, and twice I tied her so I could hold her still and coax her to let her kids nurse.
She was licking them but was not interested in them nursing. Possibly a fourth indication. But Brooke had spent her entire life fending off kids that were trying to nurse and she’d never had her own. So I figured she was just antsy about that, and hadn’t quite gotten the idea that her babies should be allowed to nurse.
I brought her a flake of hay of her own, but the other goats ended up eating through it. I guess I thought she was eating some.
One of my goat friends has been wanting a spotted baby from us, so I offered one of the triplets to her. The baby with the most spots was [of course] the one that was so limp at birth. Doeling #2 had continued to be very tired after she was born. She would get moving if I rubbed her, but otherwise she was just lying around very weak. I put a baby goat sweater on her after she was born, and gave her two squirts of Nutri-Drench to get her started. I finally ended up bringing her inside because she was not warming up and moving around very good. Once I brought her into the house, she perked up pretty good, but continued to be tired. Here is a picture of the second baby.
I went ahead and took the baby girl over to my friend’s house, so that Brooke would only have to deal with two babies. My friend prefers to bottle feed her kids, so I thought it would benefit us all to place the doeling sooner than later. I also figured this little girl would need a bit more TLC, and my friend would provide that.
By around 4pm, I started realizing that she was not acting at all herself, acting depressed and still grinding her teeth (an indication of pain). Her udder felt sloshy, like it was swollen with water. It didn’t feel like congested udder usually does (hard and tight). I had milked her two more times that day, and was barely getting 1 cup each time, with stripping her out completely. I actually insisted that she come to the milking stand one time, having to pull her most of the way. More normal behavior for Brooke — we often dragged her to the milking stand — so I didn’t see this as being too unusual. I could tell she was weak when she got up on the stand, because her back legs almost collapsed (fifth indication) as she hoisted herself up. She refused grain at that time and was not interested in her own milk either. I asked my dh when he got home from work if he would help me with her. I could do it myself, but it is easier with help. As it turns out, she didn’t fight me on anything I did.
Around 5:30pm I submitted an inquiry post to a goat list I’m on [Holistic-Goats] asking for advice, detailing my plans of what I was going to treat her with.
I went out after that with my dh, we gave her a shot of Vitamin B complex, 8 cc’s. I gave her 50cc’s of Nutri-drench. We went back in and ate supper, then came back out and I gave her a dosage of Safeguard wormer, and some ProBios.
By 7:30pm, I thought her symptoms sounded like milk fever. I took her temperature at 8pm, it was 103.1°F. Sub-normal temps are part of milk fever. Normal goat temperature is 101°F to 104°F. So she was well within the normal range, certainly nowhere near being sub-normal.
Treatment for hypocalcemia/milk fever is calcium. I had Calcium Gluconate, one 10ml vial that said to only use with slow intravenous drip.
I called a local goat friend and she said to give her a shot of BOSE, give her the Calcium Gluconate orally. She said to give her some Banamine if I had it on hand (for pain, we don’t have it on hand), and she said I should call our friend that lives close to me for calcium.
When I couldn’t get hold of the friend who lives close by, and I was still afraid to use the Calcium Gluconate orally because of the warning on the bottle, so I decided to go ahead with my first plan which was to give Brooke a drench consisting of Vitamin E, Vitamin A and Vitamin D (this via cod liver oil), and Calcium & Magnesium (this via crushed calcium pills). Goatworld.com said she needed calcium, magnesium and A, D and E. It just didn’t say how much. I also don’t recall mention of potassium.
I got that into her I would say at 10pm. I was by then so exhausted and worn out, I just had to get to bed. I intended to check on her at midnight, but neglected to set my alarm. I slept like a log until 4am. I actually wasn’t too concerned as one of my books said something like (paraphrased) “Bear in mind if you find a doe in this condition she has likely been down for three days, so time is of the essence.” So I thought I had more time! And I had given her calcium. I just didn’t know that I should have given her CMPK (a balance of minerals) every TWO HOURS. If only I had known!
I went outside and she was lying on the barn porch, nosing her leg and the ground where she was laying, bobbing her head kind of funny, like an old senile lady fondling her pearl necklace. I thought at first she was looking for hay, so I threw flakes to the other does and brought one to her. I tore open the flake and got out some of the tender parts and offered them to her. I thought she tried to eat it. I got her to stand up. Her babies were crying and starving hungry, so I went back in to get them a bottle. When I came back out, she was hanging her head and frothing and foaming at the mouth. I forgot about feeding the babies their bottle, and went back in to get the Calcium Gluconate. I’d decided I had better give it to her. So I got that out of the vial and into some water and got it into the drench gun. I drenched her with that, she swallowed it. I then got 50cc’s of Nutri-drench into her, and 1 cup of warm water. She was drooling and dripping the water out of her mouth.
I took her temperature and she was at 98 something. I think 98.8°F. Oh God. Sub-normal temperature. She was trembling and shaky and out of it. I went back into the house to wake up my husband and then I went back out and fed the babies. They were milling around their dam, she was drooling foam on them.
I went back in, and felt so weak, like my blood had been drained from my body. I wasn’t sure if I had what it took to go out and check on her again. So I asked my husband to come with me for moral support. I wanted to check her temperature to see if the Nutri-drench or Calcium Gluconate had helped her at all. I put a blanket in the dryer to put on her and try to warm her up.
She was lying down, half on and half off the barn porch, clearly in trouble. We moved her off the porch onto the ground and she started flipping around like a fish out of water, moaning and lurching about. In desperation we decided to try giving her the lactated ringers we had on hand, in case she was dehydrated. We started the IV subcutaneously, and I covered her with the warm blanket. There was a nail on the porch just out of the reach of the tube for the IV, so I went looking for something to hang it so my dh wouldn’t have to stand there holding it. While I was gone, he called out to me and told me he thought she just died. I ran back and kneeled in front of her, and laid my head on her chest. Nothing. She was gone. I had already been crying and this brought about a new round of tears and I apologized to her, that I could not save her. We have never lost a goat. We’ve always been able to save them.
After she passed, we went and got a blanket to put her on, so we could pull her out of the goat yard. She has always been a big doe, and weighed around 200# usually. We then went out and dug her grave.
Brooke was our favorite. She was sweet and had the weirdest quirks about her. She will be missed. I thought it would be neat to give her a legacy in her daughters, so we are naming her girls:
Doeling #1: U-Say Ranch Brooklyn TwoPointO
Doeling #2: U-Say Ranch Brooklyn’s Hailey (my friend has this doeling and named her Hailey and was happy to have Brooklyn’s name on the registration)
Doeling #3: U-Say Ranch Brooklyn’s Mocha
Doeling #1 looks like Brooke in the face, she has the stripes that Brooke had. She is tan and blonde, where Brooke was black and tan. Here are some pictures of Brooke and TwoPointO (later known as Brooke II).
Brooke, we loved you. Thank you for entertainment and laughs that you provided. No more of those nasty hoof trims that you hated so much. Lots of delicious hay and plenty of all your favorite treats. You left three baby girls to carry on your name. May you rest in peace, honey.