March 26, 2018

Miracle Baby

Saturday morning we went out to start on chores, just as it was getting light. As I walked toward the goat shed I heard a distressed goat calling. I ran to turn on the light, and there was Anna with kids on the ground. She wasn't due until April 8th, so I was not at all expecting this.

She had delivered quads. A tiny doeling was alive and already dry. The other three were dead, one still in the birth sac. Anna had also delivered the placentas, so she must have kidded at least several hours earlier. 

Anna and her surviving doeling.

Goats usually have a 150-day gestation, but this kidding happened on day 135. That's two weeks too early. It had been a mildly chilly night, so thankfully this little girl wasn't hypothermic. I was especially relieved that she had a sucking reflex. Hypothermic babies can't suck, which is obviously serious because that means they can't eat. Premature babies have trouble regulating their own body temperature, so I put her in a basket in Anna's stall with a heat lamp.


The other problem with being born this early is that their lungs are underdeveloped. I could tell breathing took some effort, but her tongue, nose, and gums were bright pink which means good oxygenation. I put a call into the vet to see if I could get something to help her breathing. Then I milked some colostrum from Anna and was able to feed this tiny baby from a bottle. The vet didn't call back, I reckon because it was the weekend. So I started her on an herbal lung tincture, very diluted and in the tiniest amounts.


She seemed to do okay with the bottle that day, but when I took it to her several times during the night she wasn't much interested. That was discouraging. Her mother kept vigil laying right next to the basket, nuzzling and licking her baby. The next morning I didn't expect to find her alive but she was awake and alert.


Thankfully she was eager for her bottle and readily took several ounces. Her sucking reflex is good, but she has trouble latching onto the nipple by herself. Once I get it in her mouth she can fill her tummy. She managed to stand on her own, and she definitely knows how to holler!


Breathing was still a chore, so last night I upped the tincture to one drop undiluted. This morning she seems to be breathing more easily and her nostrils aren't flaring with each breath. She sleeps a lot but moves around a bit too. She's very wobbly on her feet, but she likes to stand and stretch.

So it seems this little miracle baby will make it. She will also likely remain a bottle baby, even though she's receiving her mother's attentions. I've tried to put her on Anna several times, but since she has trouble latching on I haven't had much success. Once they get used to the bottle, it's very hard to switch them to natural nursing (or vice versa).

Losing baby animals is one of the hard parts of homesteading. I'd like to think that if I had been there when Anna kidded I might have saved them all. But what-ifs are things that should never be entertained. Better to stick with what is, and focus on doing my best with that.

Miracle Baby © March 2018 by Leigh

32 comments:

Woolly Bits said...

I know it's a lot of work to bottle-feed, but that little one is so cute! it's sad that you have lost the other three - but even sadder I think that your vet doesn't answer calls just because it's the weekend?! I don't need ours often with only the cat and the dogs, but so far we've always had a reply - even on a sunday evening! I hope your miracle baby will recover and grow well!

Leigh said...

Bettina, bottle feeding is pretty sweet though, which makes up for the work. :) This is a new-to-me vet. My last goat vet moved to another part of the state and is now only seeing horses. Of course the vet's office is closed on Saturdays, but the recording said to leave a message and if it was an emergency someone would call back in 5 minutes. I guess it wasn't an emergency. Anyway she's doing well and I only expect her to improve!

Mama Pea said...

What a beautiful little doe she is, too! Given her premature state and, obviously, those of the others, I'm wondering if there would have been a chance of saving them even if you had been right there for the birth. Seems she must have been the "strongest" of the bunch.

The only vet in our large county will never take any calls, emergency or otherwise on weekends. Recently, a new vet (still trying to sell his practice a few hours away) has come into the area but is here only every other week right now. Still, he is jammed packed with appointments and calls for the week he's here which is a telling sign people are dissatisfied with the service that's been provided by the vet whose been here for 30 years.

Quinn said...

Fingers crossed for his little girl and her mama - consider that hollering to be good exercise for her lungs!

Paula said...

So glad you got at least one out of the deal; it would have been truly tragic if you'd lost all four. Good luck with her!

Renee Nefe said...

While it is sad that you lost the 3, you also lost the work(lack of sleep, etc) that would have been required to keep them going. So glad that you were able to save this one.

Constance said...

Welcome Baby Miracle, I'm praying for you and you are just lovely.

Ed said...

Most definitely the hardest part is not being able to save all the young animals. I always try to focus on those ones that I was able to save that probably wouldn't have made it. This goat is hopefully an example of that.

Gorges Smythe said...

As for saving them all, it might have introduced weak genes into the herd. Sometimes things happen for a reason. Who knows?

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, thanks! I've questioned the same thing, whether I could have managed all of them if more had survived. Moot point though. Large animal veterinarians are getting harder and harder to find. It would be a great field for someone who loves animals.

Quinn, thanks! She's doing really well this afternoon and I'm very hopeful.

Paula, thanks! It would have terrible to lose them all, especially for their mother. For the rest of the day she seemed to be looking for the rest of them, but she's definitely focused on this one. Thankfully.

Renee, that's very true and I would have felt worse for losing any of them after trying to save them. This little gal is a survivor though.

Constance, thanks! Prayers appreciated!

Ed, that's the only thing you can really do. Some things are just beyond our control, unfortunately. Baby Miracle is doing well this afternoon, which is a relief.

Leigh said...

Gorges, that's highly possible. The doe has tested negative for some of the diseases that cause abortion, but who knows what else might have been going on. She had twins last year, only a few days early, but something else was a play here. I may never know the exact cause; I just have to trust that in the longrun it's for the best.

jewlz said...

I'm repeatedly amazed by the synchrony in our experiences! I too had a severely small birth two weeks ago Friday. The nigie buck was right at one lb, though his sister seemed normal sized and healthy. Guess 1. Late spring and preemie births are not so unusual, and 2. I should post my experiences instead of filling up your comment section :). Glad your wee one is showing good outcome potential!

Mrs Shoes said...

Concentrate on this little sweetie, & release thoughts of the others who didn't make it. She's a darling!

M.K. said...

Those last two sentences!! Wisdom for all of life. It's hard to turn our hearts away from the "what ifs." I'm so glad this little one is a fighter!

Chris said...

I'm glad mama has one baby at least, from her efforts. It would've been so hard, if she didn't have one to dote over. I guess four, were just too many for her to carry to term. That's my estimation. It was mama or the babies.

Leigh said...

Jewlz, did your little guy make it? Question, was the doe have a repeat breeding three weeks after the first? Goats can sometimes take on the first breeding and ovulate again three weeks later and conceive a second time. So you'e have one full term kid and one preemie from the same pregnancy. It happens!

Mrs. Shoes, thanks! Those thoughts are further and further behind every time I go feed her. It was just one of those things.

M.K. too bad it takes so long to figure that out!

Chris, I agree. I was especially relieved for Anna. They do grieve if they lose all their babies (or baby.) She isn't nursing her so it's a bit different, but she checks on her frequently and spend the night in the stall. So bonding is still taking place.

Anonymous said...

She's a cutie, and must be a fighter to have survived the rough start. One thing I will recommend when she isn't interested in nursing is an enema. We humans don't do nearly as good a job at keeping things moving as the goat mommies do. At this age, she should be hungry and eating well every few hours, and if she isn't there is a good chance she is backed up. We've started calling it "reverse tubing", and I think it should be routine newborn care for bottle babies.

Leigh said...

Sue, interesting. Thank you for the information. With goats I know that the mother sniffs and licks their tail ends which stimulates sucking. It's recommended to flick the baby's tail when bottle feeding for the same reason. She is passing normal baby goat droppings. She passed meconium the first day and now has golden-yellow colostrum droppings. Peeing well too! I was also advised to watch out for tummy ache because of immature rumen. So far so good. She managed to get out of her basket yesterday and made a wobbly first exploration of the kidding stall. Had to get a bigger box for last night! But I'll give her more space today so she can start to exercise her legs and move around.

Susan said...

I'm sorry about her siblings. While there are sure a lot of 'up' moments, they are balanced by the downs. I do know she is in excellent hands - yours! A real cutie, too. I have to admit to loving bottle feeding. I would just have to be able to sneak them past the building superintendent (actually, he's not the problem, being a dyed in the wool animal lover). My coworkers, however, are another problem.

Tewshooz said...

Sweet baby. Time to march into that vets office and give him a piece of your mind.

Henny Penny said...

How wonderful that you knew how to help that one surviving baby. You are sure good at what you do. Such a sweet baby goat.

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

I am happy to read that the miracle baby is going to be okay! She looks so sweet and I imagine might get a little spoiled. Nancy

jewlz said...

Leigh: YES! My preemie is 16 days old, and appears to be thriving! He, and a 3 mo old doe were sold to a local work from home farm family. I had decided too that it must have been a later conception. His biggest challenge seemed to be temp. control; I didn't notice breathing problems, but upon reflection there was panting I thought had to do with being over heated.

Michelle said...

What a beautiful little girl! Just curious; did you feel for teeth? That's one of the telltale things Shetland shepherds check for when lambs seem like they may be premature. I would give up on switching her to mom; If she figures out that good stuff comes from Anna any time she wants, she'll be sold!

Leigh said...

Susan, I'm sorry too, but it was just one of those things. And yes, it's hard not to love bottle feeding! :)

Tewshooz, yeah, I'm not impressed with the vet. They never did return my call. But she's done so well on her own that I don't think it's hurt her any.

Henny, well, as with everything else around here it was on the job training!

Nancy, it's a relief! And yes, it will be hard not to spoil her. :)

Jewlz, interesting! So glad to hear he's done so well. Sounds like you took good care of him and helped him get his good start.

Michelle, no teeth. I guess that's really helpful for sheep when the ram is left with the flock so exact due dates aren't known. And I have to report that today I put Anna on the milking stand and helped baby find the teat. Once she got hold she really liked that. So did Anna! Later I saw her nursing on her own, which was a huge relief. Earlier this evening I brought her a bottle, but she wasn't interested. I'll still offer it a couple times a day, just to make sure she's getting enough, but Anna is a really good mother so I think things will be fine. :)

Chris said...

That's great news to hear Leigh! That you were able to get the doeling, to take to mama again, despite a brief time on the bottle. Yay, for happy endings. :)

Leigh said...

Chris, it's indeed a happy e nding! Or almost ending, I'm still keeping the heat lamp available on chilly days and not letting her stay out too long. I checked on them once last night and she was sleeping with Anna right there with her. She wasn't awake and crying for milk so I took that as a good sign. I'm just getting ready to go out to do morning chores, and I'll see how she's doing with finding the teat by herself then.

Sandy said...

Leigh,

I'm sorry to hear about the babies not making it. This little one is adorable. She's going to need lot's of loving!

Leigh said...

Sandy, I'm just thankful one made it! It's amazing how they thrive with lots of love and care.

Debbie - Mountain Mama said...

Oh, my heart breaks for the other three babies - how sad!! I'm glad this sweet little girl survived, and she's lucky to have you to help her along!

M.E. Masterson said...

She is beautiful! I pray she continues to improve. Her momma is such a sweetie!

Unknown said...

Great outcome Leigh, worth all the effort! Liz (eight-acres.com.au)