Mama #2 (Tootsie) finally had her babies!
It was at least a 9 hour labor, with a couple of those being pushing. There IS a video of a birth in this post, so if that kind of thing makes you queasy, just skip over it :)
When I (Hannah) came home from work one day last week and went out to the barn to feed everyone, Tootsie wasn’t interested in getting up or eating, which is weird because goats are highly motivated by food. After Ryan got home from work, we pretty much hung out in the barn all.night.long. Because that’s what you do when you don’t have a tv and your goat is in labor.
We actually invited a friend over and had front row seats (heater and hot tea provided).
It probably would have been better for mama for us to leave the barn, and let her labor in peace. Once we left (after midnight) she progressed fairly quickly and was pushing within 20-30 minutes.
The first baby (Holly) had some trouble and mama couldn’t push her out all the way. Her head came out like normal, but her legs were tangled and she was stuck. Both Ryan and I tried to untangle and pull her out manually.
After about 30 minutes, Ryan was finally able to get her out safely.
Mama got busy cleaning her up before the next round of pushing.
She pushed Annie out much easier than Holly. After she cleaned both of them off (we helped a little bit, as you can see from the steam in the video, it was a chilly night in the teens) they were both trying to nurse her.
Being newbies, we thought we were through the hard part, but we have since been told (and experienced) that when goat kids have a traumatic birth, they often have issues nursing and eating. Annie caught on pretty quickly, with little direction. Holly on the other hand was struggling.
It was 3am by this point and we both had jobs to be at in less than 4 hours, so we went to bed hoping they would figure it out by sunrise. But Holly really struggled that entire day to eat. I milked several tablespoons of colostrum from Tootsie within the first few hours and manually fed it to Holly, but she wasn’t interested in learning how to nurse.
After leaving mama and babies for the first day and a half to try to figure everything out on their own, Holly was not doing well at all and we realized that we needed to start bottle feeding if she was going to make it.
This actually proved to be much harder than we thought. She (as pictures above show) was willing to take the bottle for the first day. After that, she wasn’t interested in eating at all. We were forced to hold her down and basically squirt milk down her throat every few hours while she squirmed and cried loudly.
Since she was so weak and refusing to eat, we decided it was best for her to stay inside at night so that we could wake up and feed her and also because the temperature was still dipping into the teens. So, all of a sudden, it appeared that we had a pet goat. Which was adorable, but not exactly what we were looking for in raising goats.
I (Hannah) took her to work with me for almost a week while we would repeat the “torture sessions” of feeding every few hours.
She was getting stronger, but this only meant that she had more strength to fight back when we were trying to feed her.
We were also adding coconut oil, antibiotics (her eyes were infected from her traumatic birth), and electrolytes to her milk every 8 hours or so, to give her an extra boost that she seemed to need.
Finally, I turned to google and in true millennial form typed in, “my goat won’t take a bottle.help”. We’d tried everything suggested, except blindfolding the baby to feed her. So, I tried it.
And it worked.
After she figured this out, we were able to leave her in the barn with the goats in the daytime, and feed her a few times in the mornings and evenings while we were home. Much more manageable than bringing a baby goat in a diaper to work.
Since then, she’s quickly progressed to no blindfold, and last night she actually nursed (with some assistance) willingly for the first time! She still needs more time to remember (and be guided) towards her mama for milk, but we’re pretty confident that she’ll get there.
This has been quite the learning experience for both of us and we’re grateful. This is why we bought a farm.
It’s also been slightly terrifying to realize how exhausting taking care of a baby is – a goat baby, not even a human who is more demanding and potentially more complicated than a goat! But it was awesome to work together to problem solve and take care of a tiny thing together.
We’ll continue to keep you update on all the goats well being, and our sanity in the process :)
Thanks for reading!