Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cheating death

Life is such an amazing mystery. After writing about Carmen's birth yesterday, I come home last night to learn that another doe gave birth unexpectedly, and the little girl died. She was small and soaking wet when Katherine found her. Only the mouth and nose had been cleaned off by the mother. No doubt she died from hypothermia. The mom had triplets. When people ask me why we have to be at the births, I tell them that 99% of the time we just need to make sure the kids are dried off. It is amazing that something as simple as a towel can be a lifesaver, but it is.

This morning I went out to check on the two boys. The white one was laying alone, and the buckskin was under the heat lamp. I felt their tummies, and they were not full, I gave the mom some alfalfa and stood the kids up under her to nurse. The mom started doing a tap dance moving from side to side as she munched the hay. The white buckling could hardly stand and gave up quickly. The buckskin followed his mom from side to side, but then laid down under the heat lamp to rest. After about 15 minutes, she finally let him have a few sucks. I am not in the mood to have any more goats die, so I decide to take the boys inside and bottle feed them.

That last comment sounds like Twilight Zone fodder, but as I was walking into the house with the kids under my coat, I remembered my experience with Carmen. I had never had a kid so near death, so I called people with more experience. Some had the attitude that if the kid couldn't make it on her own, it wasn't worth saving her. I couldn't just let her die, and this morning, I couldn't let these boys die.

The white kid was already suffering from hypothermia. When I opened his mouth to put the bottle nipple in, I realized his mouth was ice cold. No wonder he had no energy. He was almost dead. I was ecstatic that he could still suck. (Carmen couldn't when I found her, so I had to tube feed her.) Not only could this little guy suck, but he made it quite clear that he was starving! I had warmed up four ounces for the boys, which should have been more than enough for two 12-hour-old kids. The little white one sucked down most of it without stopping. I offered the rest to the buckskin, deciding to give him more after I'd tried to warm up the white one.

As I had done with Carmen and other kids suffering from hypothermia, I put him in warm water -- and I got a surprise. When his lips touched the water, he started drinking it! Although he has no energy for anything else, he knows he needs nourishment and fluids. That's a great sign. I rubbed him in the warm water, and he moved his legs. After about five minutes, his mouth felt a bit warmer, so I lifted him out of the water and wrapped him in a towel with only his nose sticking out. I got the heating pad and plugged it in. I placed him on it and covered him with the towel. I was constantly checking his temperature, because I don't want him to get overheated. When his mouth was only cool, I uncovered him. I'm hoping that between feeding and laying on the heating pad, he will warm up and totally come back to life.

I hate to ever say anything about whether or not I think a kid will make it. I've lost some, and I've saved some that were in worse shape than this little boy. I am guardedly optimistic, hoping that when I get home tonight, I'll be met by a pair of bouncing baby goats in my living room.

1 comment:

Judy said...

I have had sheep for several years and this was my first year lambing. The first ewe had triplets and one was so cold and small it wouldn't nurse. I brought her home. The second one had triplets and after two days was beating two of them so I took them home. I finally moved them back to the barn Saturday but I am constantly thinking about them and watching so I don't step on them only to realize they aren't in here anymore. I still bottle feed them and I now know I will never be able to sell them so I made the decision to give their dad a new home which was heartbreaking itself. I don't really care about the other animals but the sheep stole my heart. Good luck with your babies.


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