Always a wrinkle

Pippi
Pippi, looking a little droopy

Kidding is all finished and it’s always a relief when the babies are on the ground. Now we get to worry about all the other things that can crop up!

Pippi's babies
Pippi’s babies

One of the things we are always watching for regarding the moms is something we call “milk fever,” but it’s not a fever, and it has to do with milk only in that the does need a lot of calcium to keep up the milk production. The birth process takes all the extra calcium stores in their bodies and when they start nursing their babies, the need for more sometimes exceeds what they can produce. Humans have bred domestic goats to be such heavy milkers that this is something we always need to be aware of (and I presume that this is a danger for milking cows as well, I know it is for sheep). So yesterday when I got home from the vet and went out to return disbudded babies to Pippi and SnowPea, I found that Pippi had not eaten much of her hay. I took her temperature and gave her a little molasses water and she seemed to perk up, but awhile later she did not appear to be any better, or any more inclined to eat. No temperature or other symptoms, so I began to treat her for hypocalcaemia, or milk fever, before things got any worse. This is not an easy treatment as it involves multiple injections of calcium gluconate, multiple times a day. I also have a calcium drench, but I have not been very successful with that in the past (it must be the foulest tasting stuff under the sun, they all shoot it out their noses and mouths and act like I have just given them poison. I got some into her, but not as much as I wanted).

And so Pippi remains in her pen with her two gorgeous babies, and we have turned her into a giant pin cushion. Better than the alternative, and she is responding to the treatment, but not as quickly as we (of course) would like to see. She ate a little more last night and today, but we are not going to let her out into the general population until she is eating well. Her milk is still coming in and her buck and doe are doing very well, always have full bellies. I really don’t want two bottle babies!

There frequently is a Wrinkle in the Force, especially with farm animals. And since today is May 4th and Star Wars Day, I can only say: May the Fourth Be With You! And hope that it is with Pippi as well.

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5 thoughts on “Always a wrinkle”

  1. Sorry to hear about Pippi’s troubles. I’ve heard of people here feeding goat milk back to the does sometimes for other things. Would banking some milk in the freeze for the girls at birthing time help, if at least taste better and easier to get down? I know I’ve worn liquid medication the cats have spat back out sometimes. Not easy getting stuff down the hatch, no matter what the species.

  2. Really. Hmm. I don’t know! That would be worth looking into. I wonder if it would take too much to change the balance in their systems. Interesting. I will have to research that! The FiasCo Farm website recommends Tums being fed out pre and post-kidding, which is also a good idea. I have not been able to get my girls interested in them so I am crushing them and adding them to their feed. Don’t know how much they are getting, though.

  3. The thing I might worry about with Tums is the same as for humans – it changes the pH of the stomach, and could affect nutient absorption and gut flora. Keep us posted on how all this works out…

  4. Thanks for pointing this out. I can’t use Tums because they give me stomach cramps. I think I am going to stick with the alfalfa. Possibly add some kelp, free choice.

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