Monday, May 3, 2010

A blind kid?

If any post needs photos, this one does -- maybe even a video -- so I'm sorry I haven't had time to get them uploaded, cropped, and edited. The past few days have been crazy. We've been gardening, scything fresh grass for the mama goats in the barn, and dealing with three goats who freshened. I know I need to update you on all of this in the next few days! Although we did not spend hours with the mama goats in labor, because all three of them surprised us, we have been spending a fair amount of time with one of the kids.

He was born on Friday to Annie Oakley, along with a very big brother and sister. He was only 1.5 pounds at birth, but let's take a couple steps back in time. Jonathan had left a gate open, and the horses were out in the road. Katherine had just put them back where they belong, and as she was walking past the pregnant doe pasture, she saw Annie walking along with a kid's body swinging behind her. Yes, the kid was swinging by its neck from her back end.

The kid's head was still inside. Katherine climbed over the wood section of the fence, screaming for someone to come help as she ran to Annie, grabbed the kid and pulled it out, which was quite easy since it was so small. There was a huge kid stumbling around the pasture already, so we're thinking that Annie didn't realize this little sprite of a kid was even being born. After giving birth to a 4-pound kid, she probably wasn't pushing much to birth the 1.5 pound kid, and he didn't weigh enough for gravity to help, even though Annie was walking around.

When she pulled him out, Katherine thought he was dead, because he wasn't responsive, but after she rubbed his body a little, he started sneezing and moving. Twenty minutes later, a third kid was born, a doe that weighed 2.5 pounds. Katherine and Mike moved them into the barn, where the big buck and the doe did what kids do -- they stood on wobbly legs and started staggering towards their mama and nursing. The little kid never stood. After an hour, Katherine decided to bring him into the house for a bottle.

He didn't stand for 24 hours, so bringing him inside was the right call. If a kid can't stand, they can't nurse, so he would have starved. He wasn't doing a very good job holding his head up, and when I called him NoodleNeck, Katherine decided that Linguine would be a good name for him. He didn't attempt to walk until yesterday, which was when he was two days old, but things got really weird this morning. The little guy has been sleeping in a box in Katherine's room. This morning, she put him on the bed with her, and he tried to walk right off the edge of the bed several times. It was as if he didn't see where he was going.

"Mom, I think this kid is blind," Katherine said this morning.

Throughout the day, we've been coming up with test after test to see if Linguine can see. If we put him on the floor, he walks into furniture and walls. If we put him on a couch or bed, he walks right off the edge as if he doesn't know it's there. (Of course, we catch him.) We flick our fingers at his eyes, and he doesn't blink. When Katherine puts the bottle in front of his face, he does nothing. As soon as she touches his lips, he grabs the nipple.

Of course, my first assumption was that we were simply being paranoid. Why would he be blind? He looked perfectly normal and was acting healthy. Then I remembered his birth. How long had he been hanging from Annie's back end? I asked Katherine if the umbilical cord was already broken when his head was trapped inside his mother. Yes, the cord had been severed, which meant he wasn't getting any oxygen until she pulled him out. I googled "oxygen deprivation" and blindness. Yes, oxygen deprivation at birth can cause blindness, deafness, and all sorts of mental and cognitive problems in children, so why not goats?

Now, the question is, what do you do with a blind goat?


Urbangoatgirl said...

Deb, not sure what you do with a blind goat but I had a kid blind at birth many years ago. She was otherwise strong and normal, and over several weeks her vision began to return until she apparently could see as well as any other goat. Your baby was oxygen deprived but still...given time he may come around.

LindaG said...

That's a hard call. It's possible that as it grows, it will get used to being blind, as it learns its surroundings.
Perhaps, as Urbangoatgirl said, it will get its vision later.
Perhaps you should ask your vet?

Good luck!


goatlady said...

Love him ,Hug him, and make him feel Special.

Genny said...

Oh my gosh, Deb, what a fascinating and sometimes heartbreaking life you lead. I've never had a blind goat, but they're pretty smart, aren't they? I'll bet in the right home he'd flourish even if he is blind. I've had blind dogs, and they did great once they knew the lay of the land.

Deborah Niemann said...

Urbangoatgirl, I hope you're right!

Claire MW said...

I had a cat once whom I picked up off the road after an accident. After surgeries to fix the shattered jaw and face bones, and the broken leg, she was deemed blind. Pressure on the optical nerve from swelling caused it. She eventually regained at least partial sight. She was very affectionate. So as Urbangoatgirl says, he may regain some, or full, vision. If not, it might be a tough call, because he will not see the challenges from other goats and might get picked on all the time. Does his pupil show light sensitivity (use a flashlight to test that) and if so, perhaps he can see some light and shadow? I do think that time will tell the whole story.

Deborah Niemann said...

Claire, his pupils do dilate when you shine a light in his eyes, but he doesn't respond at all. We had him in a dark room and thought that he should blink or move his head away or something when we shined the light in his eyes, but he didn't. Still, if the pupil dilates, there is some hope.

SkippyMom said...

Deb I know it is not the nature of a working farm to allow a disabled kid to live because of the added expense/time involved but in Linguine's instance I agree with everyone else...wait and see - he will either thrive or not - and you will be there to love care and watch over him [along with your great kids]

I say give him a chance - with a name like Linguine how could he not be a great success.

You are doing a great job.

Chef E said...

I had a client with a daughter who had similar problems, and she came around, not totally, but we managed working with her and she was able to adapt. I feel things in life work that way, they adapt, my daughter did in many ways, but it will take work, and sometimes what might seem like a burden is so rewarding; it opens our eyes to things in life in a way we might not have though otherwise!

You have opened my eyes to so many things- I was blind to some degree...okay just a little cheffy philosophy!

Deborah, you will help someone else one day...

Unknown said...

Hopefully you can help me...... nigerian doe kidded 4-1-14 with trips induced and she had pregnancy toxemia. First kid didn't make it. The girl and boy are fine except the boy lost his sight after a few days of walking. He too of the first few days couldn't hold his head up or walk. What pointers do your have or possible reasonings do your have? Please, anything can help.

Deborah Niemann said...

Hi Emilie,
There are a few reasons why this may have happened to your little goat. Oxygen deprivation at birth is what happened to our Linguine. Here is a post on what happened to him:
You may also want to join my online goat support group for ND owners here:
Good luck!


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