Saturday, February 22, 2014

Beginner's luck: Quintuplets without a hitch

I was coming home from the University of Illinois vet clinic where I'd left Giselle for overnight observation after she had a c-section when I received a text message from Mike asking, "Where are you?" I immediately called home, and he answered the phone, sounding exasperated.

"What's up?" I asked.

"Vera had five!"

"What?" He did not just say that Vera had five. Five kids? What sounds like five? "Did you say five? Five kids?"

"Yes! Five!"

I wasn't entirely surprised. Three months ago I had mentioned on the Antiquity Oaks Facebook page that I was worried about Vera because she already looked pregnant. Only twice before have I ever had a goat that looked pregnant at two months, and both times it was Vera's mother Coco when she was pregnant with five.

When I pulled into the driveway and parked the car, I went straight to the kidding barn. All five kids were mostly dry and bouncing around in the straw already. I asked Mike what happened, and he said that he was in the house when he heard Vera sounding serious over the video monitor. He was downstairs, so he couldn't actually see her, but he knew he should head outside soon. He's never actually been the sole attendant at a birth, however, so he didn't understand exactly how soon he needed to get outside.

He walked into the barn to see two soaking wet kids in the straw. He started drying them off as Vera stood there and continued pushing. "I had to catch them," he said incredulously, "because she was standing up the whole time, and they were falling out."

Really, though, if you have to attend a birth by yourself, and it's the first time you've done it by yourself, it seems like a pretty good deal to have things as uncomplicated as possible. And considering the complications we've had so far this year, it's a very good thing to have five kids born so easily.

Getting them all to nurse, however, was not so easy. It was obvious that some of these kids were very small -- as small as the two pound, two ounce kid that had been born a week earlier who was unable to maintain his body temperature in the sub-zero barn. I told Mike I had bought a sheet of vinyl flooring and suggested that we put it in the barn office and put Vera and the kids in there.

The office has an old-fashioned wall heater, so even though it feels warm to a person sitting or standing in there, the temperature on the floor was only 40 degrees, which would not create a huge problem if we waited until the barn was in the 20s or 30s to move the kids out.

Ultimately we left the kids in there for a week. We were checking all of their bellies several times a day to be sure they were getting enough to eat, and we offered everyone a bottle the first few days. Most of the kids seemed content to fight it out amongst themselves to get their fair share (or more) from Vera's two teats. However, one little doe gave up almost immediately, and we'd see her in there with her head hanging down like Eeyore, the donkey in Winnie the Pooh. She is now completely bottlefed.

One of the larger doelings at 9 days of age
We weighed all of the kids at birth and checked their weights again at one week of age. Most had gained about a pound and four ounces, although one buck had gained almost two pounds, and one doe had only gained four ounces.  Clearly, he has been getting her fair share of milk! Unfortunately she does not like taking a bottle at all, so our efforts to supplement her have failed. If she doesn't start gaining an appropriate amount of weight, we might need to take her away from Vera to convince her to take the bottle. As her siblings grow bigger and stronger, it is will only become increasingly difficult for her to get enough milk.


Kelly said...

Oh my five!!!! How exciting!!!! Glad it went smooth for your hubby! I didn't think about you having a FB page. I'm going to find it now :)

Rachel Whetzel said...

Too cool!! Lucy decided to surprise us with kids today...


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