Posts Tagged ‘abba’

Friday night we had our first goat crisis.  After getting home and changing into farm clothes, I gathered milking supplies and went out to gather the milkers.  I found Abba in the barn, standing by the hay manger, listless and panting.  *Hard.*  Open mouth panting.  I quickly milked Jacqsonne and Memphis so that I could devote all attention to her.

With some prodding I was able to get her onto the milking stand so I could evaluate her.  I turned on the two box fans in the stall at full force, angling them so she was getting air from both directions. I stuck the thermometer in and when it got to 107 (!!!!) and continued rising, I left Abba on the milking stand and dashed inside to grab my clippers.  It stopped at 107.6!  SCARY!  I had planned to clip their heavy coats this weekend, but maybe this was a sign to DO IT NOW.  I asked HB to come help and I started clipping her thick coat.  Once HB finished the cheese he came out to help clip.  I filled a bucket of cool water and offered it to her.  She drank a lot!  But did not want to eat.

I called a friend for advice on the next step.  There are several wonderful goat ladies in the area, but I rang up my friend Jennifer.  We planned to clip Abba and then start sponging cool water over her.  All I could think of was heat stress.  Unusual – yesterday wasn’t very hot, but it was very very humid.  And the fact that Abba was standing in the barn without a fan made it worse.  My friend suggested that she may have a touch of milk fever, so we went ahead and gave her oral calcium, B complex, nutri-drench and probiotics.   Subcutaneous lactated ringers were also suggested to help get her hydrated, fast.  The CMPK gel, it smells so yummy! like cupcakes!  Although from Abba’s reaction I’m guessing it didn’t taste like it’s smell.  Although Memphis was licking the side of the milking stand today where a little bit was stuck…

By the time we finished clipping, her temp was down to 104.5, so I started sponging her with cool water.  I sponged just like we do the endurance horses when we want to cool them quickly:  sponge water on, paying special attention to areas where blow flows near the skin (the large blood vessels on the inside of the gaskin, forearm, and neck … then across the rest of the body).  You let the water sit briefly, scrape it off, and reapply.  The reason for the quick turn-around is that if you let water sit too long on the hot skin, then it heats up and actually holds heat IN instead of releasing it.  Note:  HB was very stern with me note to use the gaskin area — too close to the udder and a potential source of infection he says, wetting the udder.  Just a thought.  I was very careful around her udder.

Within an hour of starting work on Abba, her temp was down to 102.5 and she was acting normal – eating, drinking, and being very talkative.  I got up a few times during the night to check on her, and HB kept an eye on her through the day.  She appears normal, and I am so, so, so relieved.

I had almost everything I needed for our first emergency.  And you can bet I have extra bags of lactated ringers now.  But it’s made me think about the rest of a first aid kit to keep for the goats.  There are lots of suggestions out there, but I thought GoatWorld had a pretty complete list.

What are your absolute, *must haves* in emergencies?

All the milkers got spring hair cuts today.  I don’t want to risk something like this happening again!  Last night HB and I strung up box fans for the stalls, angled off the rafters so that they blow directly down on the goats.  Xenia clipped up the prettiest, I will have to take pictures tomorrow.  Sweet Roll and Donut are next on the list, especially Sweet Roll with his long, thick coat.


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The goat kids are growing like weeds.  I weighed them the other night, they average around 30 pounds, just over one month old.  Fred and Bogart (Memphis’ kids) are the biggest, and the youngest.  Their bone structure is much more substantial, while Rock and Doris (Abba’s kids) are taller, leaner, but weigh more than you think!

One month.

I can’t believe it.

I spent five months waiting, planning, and in the span of 30 days, time has flown by.  We have a new routine, new kids to play with.  To laugh at.  To cuddle with.  To wince at when they chew a little too much on your hair…

We expect Xenia to kid soon! She is due on Thursday the 29th.  She’s no where near as big as the other does were this close to birth.  Her udder isn’t nearly as full, but I really do think she’s still pregnant – over the past month her sides have taken on a more rotund dimension.  She’s such a high-stress girl.

All the kids have homes:  Doris will remain with us and become a future milker, Bogart will move in with Donut once he’s old enough for weaning – we plan on him to become a companion as we will eventually have to put Sweet Roll down due to his illness.  Fred and Rock will move in with Donut and be fed out and sold to buyers in North Carolina, co-workers of good friends there. I think I managed to pick the most mischievous buckling to keep for our own pet (he will be castrated shortly).  Bogey’s into anything and everything and often keeps me company while I do chores and clean Huck’s paddock.  He finds great joy and jumping on and off objects.  I love his zest for life.  I love all of the goat’s enthusiasm towards life.  It’s something good to model in our own lives.

We put a deposit down on a buckling this week, and we will go pick him up this summer.  He’s a nicely bred French Alpine with good conformation and bloodlines that overlap very little with our current stock.  I wouldn’t have minded something a little more flashy – a nice wide belt? – but we’re not breeding for color — we’re breeding for quality stock with good conformation, attitudes, and milking ability.

Our cheesemaking is going well.  We’ve had chevre transported up and down the East Coast by friends, who all come back with rave reviews.  Our friends have been known to hoard their chevre.  We’re up to several different flavors: plain, herbs de provence, cracked peppercorn, and the newest – a smokey chipotle.  My co-workers love me, since I regularly bring in cheese to share.   I luckily work with some pretty daring taste-testers, lots of foodie’s in one animal hospital!  We call them our “R&D department” and test run new flavors on them and get feedback on new flavors to try.  Some work, others need some tweaking.  They in turn share it with their friends, and we’re already developing a future customer base.  It’s the life of the party.   Not really.  But close. 😉

My father has surgery tomorrow, so please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.  I’m likely to be gone for another short stint depending on how everything goes.  It’s been a rough week:  last Thursday HB’s mom had her first chemo session at the same time her father was having quadruple bypass surgery.  Everyone is doing well, thankfully.

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Tuesday morning we decided that if Memphis wasn’t showing any signs of progress we would give her a shot of lutalyse to induce her.  The theory is, the average dairy goat gestation is 145-155 days.  Monday was day 150 for Memphis’ pregnancy, and we were worried about having her hold the kids too long.  Then we may have run into a series of problems created by too-large kids.

Let me state: from what I understand (from reading and talking to other goat people), you should only induce a doe if you are completely sure of her breeding date.  Otherwise you risk inducing a doe too soon – which can cause another set of problems.  After inducing with lutalyse, it can take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours for the doe to go into labor, with most averaging around 36 hours.

So, we gave Memphis a shot of Lutalyse on Tuesday evening and went to bed.  Wednesday our neighbors checked on her and called to report that she was very vocal and nervous.  We moved Jacqsonne back into the stall with Abba and her kids.  We watched them carefully through the evening and everyone got a long fine.  Jacqsonne was quick to remind a kid that her udder was not for them, but otherwise pleasant to them.

I got up periodically Wednesday night and there was no forward progression into labor.  I sadly went to work, worrying that she would go into labor while I was gone and have trouble with no one around to help.  Our neighbors visited again this afternoon and called to say that she was very serene – “the calm before the storm” as they said.  HB got home this evening to find Memphis drying off a little buckling!  HB named him “Fred Astaire” and we marvled at his size.  Memphis is a larger goat than Abba, and I bet her kids are twice their size!

Memphis and Fred Astaire

We let Memphis work on Fred, cleaning and drying his coat.  An hour later, she laid down and began to push, and with some effort out popped a dark buckling that HB named “Humphrey Bogart”!  Memphis laid their quietly for a few minutes and I started to worry.  Bogart started struggling within the amniotic sac and finally broke through.  Memphis got up and resumed cleaning Fred.  I waited a few minutes, washed my hands, grabbed a towel, and went to help Bogart dry off and get the mucous out of his mouth.

Drying off Bogart

Almost immediately Bogart started trying to suckle on my hands.  I tried to get Memphis to cooperate and let the boys nurse, but she would have nothing to do with it.

Humphrey Bogart

Eventually we put Memphis on the milking stand and I milked her.  We bottle-fed Bogart, but Fred wouldn’t latch onto the nipple.  He has limited sucking reflex, I guess.  We went back later this evening and offered a second bottle.  Bogart sucked it dry, but once again Fred wasn’t cooperating – and neither was Memphis.

Luckily, I had brought home a syringe and red rubber catheter from work (a homemade “Save-a-kid” syringe, we wanted one to leave in our kidding kit) and after doing some reading on line decided to syringe feed Fred.  At that point it had been 3 hours since being born and he hadn’t taken in any colostrum other than a few sips.  We felt it was necessary.  It went smoothly and he seemed stronger afterward.

I just peeked in on them and everyone is resting quietly.  I had hoped that relieving some of the pressure in Memphis’ udder would make her willing to let the kids nurse, but she is still not allowing it.  We plan to get up at least once through the night and make sure they’re eating, and bottle feed if we need too.

Little Doris and Rock, Abba’s kids are doing very well.  They’re small, but spunky!  Tomorrow night I’m taking them over to my Jennifer’s for a lesson in disbudding.  Hard to believe that you disbud so early, but it makes sense.

Rock Hudson

Doris & Rock playing with the hay manger

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As you can tell, the neighbors came over to visit little Rock and Doris, see the horses and other animals, and help me milk Jacqsonne last evening!

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I woke up to my alarm clock going off at 3:30am for a middle of the night check on the pregnant does.

As I laid in bed, urging my body to cooperate and get up, I heard a goat cry out, and in response I heard a much smaller cry.

I jumped out of bed, scrambling to find my clogs and a rubber band for my hair, while telling HB to wake up! we have babies!

Within seconds I was in the barn and peeking into the stall, thrilled to see what surprise lay inside.

Abba and Doris Day

I found Abba along the side of the stall, licking the remains of the amniotic sac off of a little brown and white goat kid.

I squealed (softly) with delight.  Our first goat kids on the farm!  Becky, if you read this – thank you so very much for this opportunity!!

As I watched, I was concerned as Abba became agitated.  She would paw the ground and just narrowly miss the baby on the ground.  When the kid would try to get up, she would head butt it and knock it over.  Concerned, I watched carefully to make sure she wouldn’t hurt the poor kid.

Boy was I happy when she laid down a few minutes later and began to have contractions.  No wonder she was agitated!  Another kid was about to come out!

Rock Hudson and Doris Day

I ran inside to give HB an update and when I returned there was a beautiful little silver, black, and white kid on the ground.  I ran back inside to let HB know and came back to watch the interaction.

I had said, over a month ago, that if one of the girls had a set of male-female twins I was going to name them Doris Day and Rock Hudson, after the movie stars of the same names from the 1960’s.  So the little brown and white doeling is Doris Day, and the buckling, Rock Hudson.  I think this sets the precedence that all goat kids born this year will be named after movie stars of the time period.  Just for kicks, because it’s fun.

I’m amazed by the instinct Abba showed.  She was hand-raised by her breeder, and yet she stepped into her motherly role without delay.  She knew just what to do, and did it wonderfully.  I did step in and help towel off Rock’s face when she was a little slow to like the sac off his head.  She’s taken to her kids rather well and is very attentive.

Rock Hudson, Abba, and Doris Day -- The Happy Family

We had debated over whether we wanted to dam-raise or hand-raise our goat kids.  We’ve decided to do a combination of the two for this year, in part due to our work schedules and trying to feed them during the day.  With Abba so confidently taking over her mothering role, I think it was a good decision.

I helped the kids nurse, and watched them walk on their long legs in the stall.  Full and content, they settled down to sleep.

Rock Hudson, plum tuckered out!

Fun times here at Spring Mill Farm, folks.  Fun times.  Now, to play with these kids, get Abba cleaned up, and wait for Memphis to kid!

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Abba, 148 days

Today marks 148 days bred for Abba and Memphis.   This morning I measured the circumference of their ever-widening abdomens.  Their last measurement was at a month out, so about 3.5 weeks ago.

Today’s measurements:

Abba – 50 inches

Memphis – 51 inches

That’s a gain of nearly 5 inches each!  It’s been a lot of fun watching their bellies (and udders) swell as the time draws closer.

They say their tail ligaments soften as they approach kidding time.  You see the same things in horses, the tail head begins to feel very flaccid.  I’ve been feeling the ligaments for over a week now, at least twice a day, and I don’t really know if they feel “soft” or not.  They’re certainly a lot softer than Jacqsonne or the other goats!  I figure one day I’ll palpate the ligaments and be like “OH!” and know what it’s supposed to feel like.

The girls have been loving the break in weather, warm days combined with extra sunlight and fresh green grass in the pastures has made them very happy.  Yesterday Jacqsonne’s milk production increased by 2/3 of a pound!  She gave a full 3/4 of a gallon yesterday – her biggest production day yet, and definitely the biggest increase we’ve seen in her production.  I couldn’t believe how full her udder looked last night.  I’m sure I insulted HB when I questioned if he had milked in the morning – she was just that full!

We’ve started letting Sweet Roll, Donut, and Xenia out in the barn lot during the day.  Xenia is cooperating with the new schedule, and Sweet Roll enjoys the sunshine so much.  I hate that it’s bad for him – UV light aggravates his pemphigus (go figure).  While I figure out the next step for him, I figure why not let him enjoy sleeping in the sun?  Today is such a nice day, that as long as everyone gets along, I’m letting Huck roam the barn lot with the boys and Xenia.  They adore Huck’s haynets to the point where I’m considering getting them their own!

Well I better get busy.  HB and his dad are putting the roof on the barn shed today.  I picked up some summer-blooming bulbs that need planting (glads and dahlias) and I really want to start some seeds today too.  And Huck needs a ride.

Enjoy this beautiful day!

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146 days

Abba's udder, 145 days pregnant

Today marks the girl’s 146th day of pregnancy.  I took photos of them yesterday to show their developing udders.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to take photos of the girl’s hind ends when you’re by yourself?  It’s nearly impossible! because they want to inspect what you’re doing.  I found myself dipping into the barn for a few minutes to do chores, then popping outside really fast before they noticed me so I could get pictures.

I knew it was unlikely they would kid on St. Patrick’s Day, but it would have been fun if they had!  If we had March 17th kids, I wanted to give them Irish names, like Clare (as in County Clare) and Killarney, just for kicks.  But I like the names so much I might just do that anyway!  Irish names for 2010?  Why not? 😉

Memphis's Udder, 145 days pregnant

Here’s to patience! 🙂

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