Friday, March 16, 2012

Noodleville Updates-Both Happy & Sad

Hey there blogger world.

One of my readers brought it to my attention that I’ve neglected my blog for well over a month now……

I do apologize, I’ve kind of been in hiding I suppose… licking my wounds.

As many of you know, my dairy goats are a big part of my life and I’ve suffered some terrible losses this year.

First though, some good news. I left y’all hanging on my last post, but I’m happy to update that Sabrina had two healthy bucks and milked very well. One boy, now named Moose, was huge… 12lbs and already had visible horn buds at birth! The other lil man, Toby, was 8lbs, and had wattles.

Toby, Cou Blanc buckling
Sabrina & buckling
I evaluated my herd and made some decisions on where I want to go with it…. Sabrina, though a FABULOUS milker, didn’t fit into my plans and since I can’t maintain a large herd, I had to make cuts. She went to a great home though… 1st time dairy goat owners who needed milk and we stay in touch regularly. Sabrina is the easiest to milk, most tolerant animal I ever met and she has been just wonderful with her new family and very tolerant of everyone learning to milk on her. Toby, the lil buck with wattles, went with her as a companion and is spoiled rotten by their 5 children and they are loving the fresh milk & have been making yogurt by the gallons. Moose, that chunk, went to replace a buck who was lost to snake bite last year.

Now a bit of the bad. After deciding which way I wanted to go with my herd and breeding plans, I scraped up the funds to buy a beautiful bred doe named Astra. She was my idea of perfection and I worked so hard to get her, then drove 5 hours to pick her up…. Sadly, she came home with pregnancy toxemia and due to some inaccurate, but well meant advice, I missed the early warning signs.

We progressed to hypocalcemiaketosis so rapidly.

Days spent in the barn injecting calcium, spoon feeding her, drenching with alfalfa gruel, trying to boost her energy with sugar…Kefir for her rumen, stole cud from a healthy doe to drench into her (almost lost a thumb in the process), set up a dextrose IV, minced hay in the food processor to feed tiny bits at a time….. Every 2 hours, day & night, tending to her….
Days of sitting in the barn floor praying, begging or crying…..Small improvements that gave me hope…..only to be followed by crashes that had me watching with a desperate hopelessness….

I can’t describe the hopeless horror of watching a dream blow up in your face. Worse yet, that dream felt pain and looked at me pleadingly and I couldn’t fix it… Astra was something I thought I could never have and having this thrown in my lap was just awful.

We had to make a choice…Our hope was to pull the kids early to take the strain off her so she could recover.. But when the vet arrived, it turned into a last minute c-section to hopefully save a kid, but certainly not Astra. Instead we lost all 3. She had a beautiful cou blanc buck with wattles, and a broken chamoisee doeling…. I couldn’t have asked for more… It was exactly what I wanted and in the end I only got to hold dead kids and gave Astra an apology before we released her. Many people don’t understand…Some don’t see what all the fuss is over a goat, but I can’t explain it to folks who haven’t experienced what I have….
RIP Astra
To my goat friends & mentors… Many of you were right there with me through this and I can’t thank you enough for your support and help. Y’all kept me going and though we didn’t get the outcome we hoped for, I’m so thankful for the help & encouragement.

To those who own goats, please read Sue Reith’s HypocalcemiaKetosis information. It is valuable information.

A few lessons I took away from this that may be helpful to some….. Have your vet give you a bottle of injectable CMPK to keep on hand (Vet RX). It is much, much more effective than oral CMPK (sold OTC), and unlike oral CMPK it doesn’t have a harsh carrier that burns (oral CMPK burns the throat).

Inject 30ccs, SubQ and make sure the injections are warmed to body temperature. I microwaved a damp towel until burning hot, then wrapped my syringes in it and reheated the cloth & rewrapped as many times as needed until I got it to body temp (which goat body temp is warmer than humans)……

My vet didn’t have any CMPK injectable on hand (it’s an RX) so I had to make due with injectable calcium gluconate (sold OTC at TSC for cattle, give 30ccs, SubQ at body temp). I now have 2 bottles of CMPK injectable on hand, but if you can’t get any, at least keep calcium gluconate on hand. Sue Reith also has a recipe for homemade CMPK *here*. It won’t work as fast as injecting it, but unlike the oral CMPK you purchase, this you just make with ingredients from the vitamin isle and mix with warm water to give orally… So no caustic carrier like the oral CMPK.

If you catch the warning signs early enough, the homemade CMPK could just save your doe, but I would still urge you to try to get the injectable (or injectable calcium gluconate) on hand for emergency situations…..

These metabolic issues progress RAPIDLY and as I learned, mere minutes count. Had I caught the small warning signs sooner, I may have been able to save her...

For a doe needing sugar (ketosis), buy a $5 of injectable dextrose from TSC. It’s listed as an IV for cattle, but you can give orally and at the same time, give injections, SubQ, 30ccs at a time as often as needed. Keep several bottles on hand. I found out about this too late, but it did perk Astra up a bit.. Better than anything else we tried.

I also had to use the dextrose recently on another doe... She went off her feed after kidding and her urine had a slight "sweet" smell to it. Tested it with a ketone strip and it turned purple. Warmed up 2 syringes with 30cc each, injected the dextrose SubQ over the ribs (one shot on each side) and then drenched her with 60cc orally. Gave 30cc of CMPK injectable & repeated the dextrose in 2 hours. Then again. Next barn trip she wanted her grain. Did one more round before bed, and the following morning I tested he urine with the ketone strips and nothing showed up. So if you are quick, catch the signs early, you CAN turn around metabolic issues like ketosis & hypocalcemia. Anytime you have a doe go off feed... Check her temp!! Don't ignore it.
Many sites recommend propylene glycol for ketosis. I know it *can* help, but try a bit on your tongue. It HURTS!!! Very caustic and can burn the esophagus making them not want to eat which does even more damage........ Not to mention, something of that nature isn’t friendly to beneficial & necessary rumen flora…

I’m not knocking those who use it, but I’m happy I found an alternative. I will not touch propylene glycol, or items that contain it (Nutri-Drench) with a 10ft pole... Most especially when I found something more gentle, more easily accepted and not harsh.The injectable dextrose is YUMMY (yea, I try goat meds…) and it’s a double whammy because they can have it orally and by injection.

My nerves are still raw from the ordeal with Astra. I didn’t have her long, but when ya sleep in the barn with a goat for days, it speeds the bonding process. All the “what ifs” & “should haves” haunt me. The images from my barn that night are torture. It looked like a scene from a horror movie after it was all finished and it took me 2 days to fully clean it as I could only bear so much at once…

I thought I was made of tougher stuff, but this one really hit me hard. Knowing what I know now, I wish I would have given up sooner and saved her the pain. But I stubbornly thought that if I held on, if I did more, prayed harder, or begged more I could fix her. I’m sorry I couldn’t offer her more than my lap and tears at the end.

I will never buy another doe, on management so different than mine (she had no real calcium source in her diet prior to coming home with me) who is bred and so close to kidding. The move I think, tipped the odds against her.

Very hard lessons, but at least I learned them and I hope to never go through such an ordeal ever again.

For brighter news, Bleuberry kidded on March 5th. Weirdest labor ever. Contractions were sporadic.. Weak, then strong, then gone. Even with the help of CMPK injectable (good for hypocalcaemia and sluggish labor) and oxytocin, we could not get real contractions from her! During the process she tried to lick the skin right off me… Lick…lick..lick, then a sharp bite when a contraction hit. I’m sporting bruises from the bites!

After a while with no progress, my mom ended up fishing the kid out. Good grief, that was awful.

He didn’t want to come out and he was big. This is Bleuberry’s first kidding and she had a 12 1/2lb buckling. Poor Bleuberry has some tearing from it and I just felt awful…

Bleu's buckling... Pretty smokey color.

Add to it, she wouldn’t contract afterwards to expel the placenta. We went in and massaged the cervix, that got us some contractions, but not much. Then we kind of did this heimlich maneuver with our hands right in front of her udder and pulled sharply up…. After several rounds of this we finally got her to start expelling the placenta. She’s got a bit of udder congestion and was pretty sore, but she's mending well....

Applied Preparation H to help ease the pain from tearing (which she seemed to appreciate), did a round of antibiotics, and babied her with hot molasses water and her favorite treats. We pulled her kid at birth and he left as a bottle baby shortly after. I was just too tired to deal with him and since I wasn’t keeping him, it was better to place him sooner rather than later. Bleuberry never saw him and bonded to us instead….. Licks us and baby talks to us….Very sweet, but the down side is she screams like crazy when her baby (me) leaves the barn.

We have had a few awkward moments when I sit in the barn and she starts cleaning me, then starts nudging me towards her udder like she would a kid… Milk stand time has had it’s ups & downs, but other than the huge battle of getting her up there, we aren’t doing too bad at all. She's a first fresehener, so I cut her some slack. Hopefully in time things will go a bit more smoothly.... Pleased with the udder I’m seeing so far… It’s not going to be as nice or productive as it could have been if she would have had multiples instead of a single, but it’s well attached, high in the rear & good sized teats that are easy to milk… Still needs time, but I’m excited about the potential she’s showing.

Anywho, I am done kidding until May and am so thankful for that. I am down to Bleuberry, Casper, Comanche and Tonka after my losses & herd thinning and have to work to rebuild my Alpine herd….

Kind of feels like I’m starting at square 1 all over again, but I feel like I have a better idea of what my goals are, so hopefully this year I can work towards those goals & tuck the heart break away for a little while.


Helen said...

I am so sorry about your doe!! Thank you for linking to that very helpful article. Was Astra a French alpine? She really was beautiful.

* Crystal * said...

Thank you Helen.... It was a very hard loss. I feed a balanced ration with plenty of calcium (alfalfa) in order to prevent metabolic issues... So, yes, I read about them, but reading it on paper, & witnessing it were very different. I just wasn't as prepared as I should have been, and not having experience with it, I missed the subtle warning signs..... I just wish I could have a "do-over" :(

Astra was American.... She was an AI baby, & a grand daughter to SGCH Cherry Glen Radical Gesture...... Beautiful doe. Oddly I'm one of those oddballs in Alpines who prefers Americans to French. 95% of all my favorite animals & bloodlines I drool after are American, so it makes sense that that is what I'm more inclined to go after.... There are some gorgeous French Alpines out there, many I'd love to have.... One of these days I may get one, but I won't base a purchase on American vs. French status.... I'll go with the animal that has the traits I most admire :)

Leigh said...

Oh Crystal, I am so, so sorry. How devastating for you. There seems to be no end to thing things we encounter and have to learn. I know you feed alfalfa for calcium, but had that been part of Astra's diet before you got her? Thank you for posting this though. I was beginning to wonder if something had happened.

* Crystal * said...

Hi Leigh,

No, Astra was on a free choice grain diet and grass hay prior to coming home with me. She had gone off her food a few days before I picked her up, but the breeder had assumed it was because they sold her companion and she was mourning.....

Turns out it was the beginings of her troubles and I foolishly didn't delve deeper into it as quickly as I should.

I now know I will only purchase adults who are on similar management as my own, and never again will I buy a doe so close to kidding.

No matter which way you look at it, her death was my fault. Yes, I learned from it, but the price was too high and the consequences haunt me still.