Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wrapping Up February

The only thing February has going for it is that it's short. We ran out of firewood, so had the boys and their friends split a bunch. It's a bit green, but better than nothing. Although, now I'm going to have to have the chimney cleaned this summer.
Scilla had her babies on the coldest day of the year.  I was out there in 20 degrees drying twin boys with a hair dryer. I know it's the buck that determines the sex, but Scilla has only given me one girl in 3 years. And she died. 
This black buckling is the biggest kid ever born here. He must have been 12lbs! He and his brother left this morning for their new home. She is crying for them, but I couldn't justify pouring a gallon a day into them for the next 3 months to get them weaned. I'd never sell them for what all that milk is worth, even with papers.
They are going to a husband and wife in Alabama who are excited to get into goats. These boys will be a good place to start.  
This is Olivia and she is for sale. If she doesn't go on a bottle in the next week or so, she will stay here until she's weaned, although she will cost more once she's weaned. 
She's starting to nibble hay and is checking out the waterer. 
This is her dam's first freshener udder. I'd contemplated selling Maddy because she's a bit high in the hips, but I may just have to keep her now. This udder is amazing and she is well behaved on the stand. 
It's been pretty mucky here with all the rain. I got the worst of it cleaned up this morning and have the callouses to  prove it. I had to quit when the goats all decided they wanted to stand in the new dry spot leaving me no room to work. 

Just a couple more weeks until we get more kids. Opal is due 3/14. I can't wait to see an udder on Magnum's daughter!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Kids Everywhere

How many kids can you fit in half a doghouse? I counted seven. 
Kat wants to know what they're doing up under there. We have had a cold snap here (cold for middle Georgia). I'm glad they have a place to snuggle up and get warm.  
It's not too cold to go out and play though.   This is Bliss playing king (queen) of the mountain.
 
What is it with the little ones that they have such big personality? Here's Bliss playing with my keeper doeling, Ysabel.
This is one of Ysa's brothers. I may just have to keep him too. We will see what Magnum's daughter's udders look like next month and then decide. Ysa and Rand have another brother who is looking for a good home. SG Krisscross Mack Constance 1*M X Raven's Haven Nik Magnum. 
Lovely gave us one big son. She is/was so huge, I really could not believe there weren't more babies in that belly. This is the first time she's been allowed to raise her own kids, and she is very proud of this one. 
Maddy has grown quite a beautiful first freshener udder. I was not planning to keep her or her two doelings, but I may have to reconsider. 
Scilla is in the kidding stall right now. It is 22 degrees out. I hope she waits until the mercury raises above freezing. I was also considering selling her this spring, but now her gorgeous udder is starting to fill, the fridge and freezer are empty of milk, and I'm starting to have second thoughts.

Saturday or Sunday, depending on the weather, I'll start locking some of the kids away at night so I can milk the moms. It may have to be only Maddy for a while as the next two who kidded are both nursing triplets. I'm not sure they have much to spare.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Propylene Glycol and Pregnancy Toxemia

Two years ago, when Trixie developed toxemia/ketosis (the terms are used interchangeably, though technically toxemia is before delivery, ketosis is after) about 3 weeks prior to delivery with a triplet pregnancy, I turned to the dairy goat and homesteader forums. I was relatively new to goats and did not know how to treat her, I just new that she was sick.

Before I turned to the forums, I trusted a breeder's advice that "They all slow down and get whiny when they are big pregnant. Do nothing, just watch and wait." Following that advice, I waited a week without doing anything. I have learned the hard way to trust my gut.

Back to the forums. I established that she was suffering from toxemia. She was not able to take in enough calories to support fetal growth so was burning her own body tissues. This lead to a build-up of toxins in her blood which eventually killed the fetuses and nearly killed her.

Most of what I read online recommended propylene glycol as a last resort. I was told that once I started it, she would stop eating. It would shut down her rumen. It is related to anti-freeze. Start with molasses/ corn syrup drenches. Move to dextrose drenches.

When I finally trusted my gut and started treating her, I started with these "more natural" sugar treatments. She stopped eating. All that sugar caused acidosis which killed all the good rumen bugs. I barely managed to save her life and ended up with stillborn triplet doelings at 142 days gestation.
Swollen feet and legs. 

Jump forward to this year. In late fall, I suspected she was carrying triplets again. As she neared the end of her pregnancy, I increased her feed and alfalfa significantly and began watching her like a hawk. I bought some ketone test strips at the pharmacy so I would know what was going on and not just suspect it.

When she refused her breakfast and had swollen feet on a Monday morning about 15 days from her due date, I knew it was time to get busy. I tested her urine and found it contained moderate to high levels of ketones. I immediately drenched her with 30ml of propylene glycol (PG). That evening her ketones were up to high levels. I increased the PG to 50ml. By the next morning, her ketones were down to trace levels.

I had my vet prescribe Dexamethasone, a steroid that will help to develop the kids and will induce labor after about 36 hours. From her previous kiddings, my instincts told me her kids would be fine at about 142 days. It was a balancing act, keeping her strength up and deciding how long she could go and still have the strength to deliver, getting those kids out before her weakened state killed them but waiting long enough that we wouldn't be fighting to keep preemies alive.

I continued with 30ml PG morning and night until she delivered. Her ketones got no higher than trace levels. Through it all, she continued to eat hay and the other creative offerings I brought her (she never really went back on her feed). She liked scratch grains, carrots, apples, lettuce, oatmeal and I fed her what she would eat always being sure that she was not getting so much sugar that we would end up with acidosis of the rumen.

By Friday (day 140) she was weakening and starting to refuse her hay. I knew we could not wait any longer to act, but I also wanted those kids to hang on just a little bit longer. I called Dr. Maxwell at Auburn University and he suggested breaking up the 2ml Dex into two doses, half on Friday, the other half on Saturday to give the kids a boost but delay the start of labor a bit longer.

The Dex perked her back up a bit and she enjoyed lounging in the sun and nibbling hay until she started labor Sunday night (day 142)- my goal from the start.

She delivered perfectly healthy triplets at 2:30am of day 143.

Now let's talk propylene glycol. You can buy it by the gallon at Tractor Supply or find it in products such as NutriDrench. There is a reason it is used in ruminants to treat toxemia/ketosis. These animals rely on good bacteria in their rumens to break down their food. When you drench a ruminant with sugar solutions, their rumen pH goes down killing all good bugs and leading to acidosis. Now your goat is doubly sick.

Propylene glycol will boost blood glucose levels without acidifying the rumen. Additionally, as the liver breaks down propylene glycol, it gives off propionate. Propionate is part of the chemical reactions that turn ketones into glucose and remove acetone from the blood.

With normal blood glucose levels reestablished and toxic acetone removed, appetite returns (at least as much as it is able to with all those babies taking up most the room for food).

In the end, it is up to you to decide how to treat your animal for toxemia/ketosis. I, for one, will go straight for the propylene glycol. 


Friday, February 13, 2015

Population Explosion

I'm sorry I haven't made it on here with an update all week. Trixie delivered her triplets at 2:30 Monday morning. Two girls and a boy. Mama and kids are doing great. 

I am so thankful she and the kids made it through it this time. I feel like God gave us a do-over and we pulled it off!
This is Maddy's Olivia using Trixie as a jungle gym!
Not to be outdone, Kat gave us a set of triplets last night. 2 boys and a girl. She made me wait a full hour after having the two boys to spit her out. I was beginning to get really disappointed thinking she was done. This baby girl will be staying with us!

Next up, Scilla on 2/17 and Lovely on 2/22. Neither of them has a huge udder yet, so we have time.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

First Kids of 2015

Twin girls! Maddy had twins this afternoon. She is doing great as a first time mom. I still need to come up with names and am drawing a blank. For now they are Number One and Number Two. That needs to change. 
I am gulping down my coffee so I can go check on them. It worries me having them out in the cold, but I tell myself that goats are born in much colder places than Georgia. They are in a dry stall, out of the wind with their mama, lots of deep hay, and full bellies. Still my nerves are on edge when I get up to the barn each morning. 
My new herdsire was born in TN too. We are lovingly calling him "Hole in One". I am destined to have all Sundgau bucks. This is three in a row now!

Trixie was a little perkier yesterday. Per Dr. Maxwell's suggestion, I gave 1ml Dex Friday night and 1ml yesterday. There is a good chance she will go into labor today. Another reason to be nervous about going out to the barn. I wish I had a camera so I could check from the house!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Trixie Update

We have made it to the point where if I induce today, Trixie should deliver at 140 days. That's within the realm of viability for the kids and is a bit of a relief. 

Her ketones are down to trace levels, but she's still not eating much, so I am keeping her on the propylene glycol.

Her belly dropped overnight and her ligaments are softening. I want to get the Dex in her to help with fetal development, but want her to get her as close as I can to her due date. I felt movement this morning, so that's a good sign!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Toxemia- Again

I feel like we are right back where we were two years ago. Trixie was off her feed this morning so I checked her ketone levels and they were elevated. I started her on Propylene glycol and then we had plans all afternoon and evening. 
I hated to lock her in a stall, it's good for them to move about when they have this, but I needed to put her where all the other goats couldn't eat her goodies. 
When I got home about 8:30, her levels were even more elevated. I gave her more Propylene glycol and was actually able to get her to eat a good bit of Mr. Harry's clover hay, a small amount of cracked corn, and a bit of Chaffhaye. I hope I can get her back on her feed!

My vet gave me some Dexamethasone, so  worse case, I will induce her in a couple of days. 150 days gestation is Feb. 16.