22 April 2008

Two Angora goat kids born this afternoon !

Angora goat birth - yellow kidWe weren't due start kidding for another five days, but Nadia one of our more mature sensible ladies chose a day when the air was humid - ideal to help keep her lubricated in the case of a difficult birth.

Fabrice announced about 4.30pm that the birth was imminent and we rushed down to see a kid already born and the second one well on it's way.

The kid's back legs you can see in the photo are yellow and that's caused by a breakdown in red blood cells creating a pigment called bilirubin which is eliminated in the stools inside the amniotic sac. This "jaundice birth" happens to goats once in a while - as it does in many human babies ! After the kid has been licked clean and has started to feed from his mother he'll recover completely and be perfectly white like his sister.

Angora goat cleaning her newly born kidsWe let Nadia stay in her chosen spot to clean her kids and "talk" to them in that lovely way they do, then after an hour or so we moved the little family to the safety of the pre-prepared "nursery" where the dam can be fed and cared for separate from the rest of the flock to bond with her kids.

Once kidding starts in earnest we have several of these little spaces and they're used until the next lot of kids are born - by which time I feel like a National Health nurse moving patients out because we need the beds!

Newly kidded Angora damWe've checked that both kids are suckling well because it's very important for the kids to drink the colostrum which has the mother's anti-bodies and protects the newborns from disease until they develop their own immunity.

We've been very fortunate to have had two work experience veterinary students here in the past to help us with kidding and amongst other things, they explained that the kid's stomach can only absorb the colostrum up to 24 hours after birth and the absorption is at it's highest at up to six hours so we try always to respect that delay.

We also check that both nipples are being used and that's easy to do because the "plug" in the hole should have gone and the nipple should feel soft and floppy and the milk should flow easily. If we suspect that a nipple isn't being used, we clear the plug and persuade the kid or kids to suckle from that nipple. That's easier said than done of course !

Here is a photo of the two placentas shed about an hour after the second birth. For identical twins there's only one of course but it's nice to see that the placenta has come away clean and for the time being the dam should have no more bleeding. If you suspect that the placenta is still inside the doe or it's damaged and she's still bleeding, contact your vet to discuss what to do. After a week or so the doe should have a slight show of blood coloured mucous which is normal and shows everything's as it should be.

I'll finish this post later - I just have to go and check how they're doing. (Again) ;-)

Here's a short video I took just after the kids were born. In it you can hear the lovely sounds they make and you'll understand why we had to move them to a clean shed!

Day Two

When the little yellow male kid was searching for milk, I noticed that he had a funny way of walking and a closer inspection showed that both his back feet were turned under.

The first time I saw this I was devastated and thought that the kid was crippled. I spent hours rubbing and moving the joint to coax it to become normal and within a few days it was fine.
I found out later that it could have been a lack of selenium which caused this fault and that it's quite common but none of the goat books I had mentioned the problem of crippled kid's feet.

We now always give our goats a lick with added elements especially for pregnant females and we rarely have this problem but it's something to always look out for when the kids are born because it hampers them in their search for their first drink of milk when they need all the strength they can muster to get on their feet and find the doe's nipple fast. Some kids with this condition have to be lifted and held while they nuzzle around and once they've had a good drink, you may have to repeat the process a few times until the kid's strong enough to do it for himself. Thankfully, this little kid's foot corrected itself the day after he was born.

Feeding newly born kids with the doe on her sideThese twins were born early this morning and the doe - a first kidder - just left them and refused to clean them so we took them into the house to warm and clean them up and give her a rest from their squealing.

That can be counter-productive as the doe may not recognise them as hers after they've been handled. In this case it was essential to save their lives and when we took them back down to her she refused to let them near her. If a doe won't feed her kid or he can't feed himself for whatever reason, rather than pushing him under the reluctant doe and struggling on your belly, it's easier to lay the doe gently on her side and place the kid next to the nipple. Kids hate having their heads pushed, so tickle the back next to the tail, pushing at the same time. If that doesn't work put the kid's lips right next to the nipple and squeeze out a little milk to let him taste it. I have also been known to make a kid scream and shove the nipple in his mouth while it's wide open!

If all else fails,and the kid's too tired and floppy to have sucking reflex, then you can consider feeding with a tube - but make sure that he gets colostrum first - ideally from his own mum or another goat from your herd (It freezes well) or from another local animal. If you've nothing else you can buy a commercial colostrum mix.

We kept these three together and she's now feeding standing up but has to be held, but she's at least started talking to these little fellows and I'm sure tomorrow all will be well.

Like all kids, these two's first faeces are sticky and black, changing after a day or so to a consistency and colour of yellow egg yolk. Check on this regularly for the first week or so to make sure that it doesn't clog up the kid's anus. Some mums clean their kids well, but if there are twins it's often difficult for her to keep on top of the job and you need to do it by gently easing off the sticky mess just after it's dried a bit. Don't let it get too dry or it will stick in the kid's hairs and removing it in one piece is uncomfortable for the kid. If it's really dry break up the mass and remove it gently bit by bit.

If the weather's warm be extremely vigilant about fly-strike. Flies buzzing around a kid are always a warming sign! Hot sticky kids bums are a favourite spot for flies to lay their eggs and of course unless they're removed the eggs hatch and the maggots start to eat the kid's flesh. A horrible thing to happen which is so easily prevented by a watchful eye.


Robbyn said...

Congratulations!! They are beautiful :)

Renee said...

Oh my goodness. That video is so adorable. Congrats on the new additions. I love reading you posts because they are such a detailed insight into the life of a "real" farmer. Fun for us city girls :)

La Ferme de Sourrou said...

Oh thanks !!

It's so difficult trying to resist not going to check on them every five minutes.


The Unusually Unusual Farmchick said...

So beautiful! Makes me want to find an angora buck to breed Chia next year. I just love those curls!

Don said...

That must feel good to have new healthy babies! This makes me wat to get some too!

Carolyn said...

They are beautiful Irene. So glad to read they're all doing well.

La Ferme de Sourrou said...

Hi Carolyn,

Yep - they're really lovely and we're spending a awful lot of time with them at the moment. ;-)

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