At dawn a week ago I went to the pasture to check on the goats. Far in the back of the pasture I found Suzy. She had a pretty little kid with her–uniquely colored. The kid has more white on her than any we’ve ever had. The kid was a few hours old, healthy and happy. I confirmed her sex and named her Pam.
But it was all a little bittersweet. If you look carefully at the photo, to the right of Pam you’ll see a bit of what I also found. A stillborn kid. I didn’t mean to capture it in the photo, but now I’m glad I did.
We sometimes have stillborns. I hate it when it happens, but it is part of this life. I knew I’d need to dispose of it, so after I confirmed all was well with Suzy and Pam, I reached down to pick up the dead baby.
That’s when I noticed its mouth move. Barely. There was a tiny bit of life in the baby.
I picked her up (now knowing she was a doeling). She was as limp as a rag doll. She was also filthy and wet. Evidently Suzy had realized the kid wouldn’t make it and, as mothers in nature do, she wasted no time cleaning her up. She diverted all of her attention to the healthy kid.
I carried the nearly lifeless kid to the house. Cherie agreed that there wasn’t any hope for her. Then I realized she wasn’t breathing. She’s dead, I told Cherie.
But then she made another little motion. So we set out to try to save her, knowing there was little if any chance of that.
We filled a sink with warm water and submerged her in it up to her neck. Massaging her cold limp body and washing her off at the same time, we were slowly trying to raise her body temperature. Quick internet research (and a very fortunate hit on a google search) told us that she likely was suffering from “Birth Chill,” which is essentially hypothermia.
After a few minutes we took her out of the sink, laid her on a counter and began drying her with a blow dryer, while massaging her. After a bit longer we put a few drops of molasses on our fingertips (and later in a syringe) and put them in her mouth, to give her some quick energy.
We began to see very small signs of improvment, but her temperature was still way too low.
This continued for hours. As she got warmer, we were able to administer more molasses, with a little bit of coffee.
Cherie and I went back to the pasture and found Suzy. We milked some colostrum out of her. Luckily Pam had only nursed one side, so she still had colostrum available. We returned to the house and gave the kid the colostrum with a syringe.
In time the kid began making a little sound. She even tried to lift her head.
We kept her warm and slowly she began to revitalize.
I’ll abbreviate this long story by going right to the happy ending. The kid made it. Twenty four hours later she was able to stand on her own. Soon she was lustily sucking down bottles of milk.
Cherie named her Miracle.
Miracle lived in the house with us for a couple of days while Cherie nursed her to health. Eventually we were able to return her to the pasture, but her mother didn’t recognize her. So Miracle will remain a bottle-baby until she’s old enough to wean.
We couldn’t be happier about how this episode turned out.
Should anyone ever come across this post while trying to deal with a listless newborn suffering from Birth Chill go to this link and follow the instructions: http://goat-link.com/content/view/27/77/. And to “Goat Lady,” whoever you are, we are very thankful.