Thursday, July 1, 2010

Getting Ready To Deliver

Chicory has to be sooo... glad that she is no longer pregnant because we have been having 90 F some degree weather and oh how miserable that is when you are hugely distended. I know, I've been there and done that. You might think I'm digressing a bit to go back to the beginning labor stages to explain the signs and progression but I need your help. For my whole married life I have always wanted to be a writer. Okay, I put my adjectives after my nouns and phrases in all the wrong places. I can't spell, and my daughter keeps teasing me that she is going to give me a jar of commas to use because I must not have any. But... "I wanna" (to borrow a way too common reply of my grand kids). I wanna be a writer. I wanna write articles and have my photographs be the illustrations. I wanna write a couple books and the truth is I'm 50 and that was when I always said I would begin my book and my writing career. Not that I haven't been writing for years just trying to overcome the huge hurtle of pictures being my first language not words. But I always figured by this stage in my life that I would have overcome much of that. My kids would be raised and gone, Ha, Ha and I could spend my time concentrating on writing. Though my writing has progressed, I still really struggle and Toni says I still need that jar of commas, and spell check on the computer ...LOL yeah, well, it isn't hardly enough. But, I'm 50 nearing 51 and it's now or never.

Even though my present situation is making a writing career a HUGE challenge I'm moving forward. What I'm reaching out to you dear friends today is to help me with the beginning stages of an article I'd like to write. I've been photographing like crazy and doing research on different subjects hoping by this fall to have some time. My brain is on over drive with all the multi-tasking. Not to mention the lack of sleep. I know some of you are old hands at this midwifery thing and I'm asking for your input.

What am I missing and is there funner names that could be used for the stages of labor progression.

This isn't the article so don't get out your commas and red pencil to mark for spelling error. It would look like a blood bath. Just be my sounding board as to what I've missed.

Here goes...
My stock is always moaning and groaning, laying down even when they eat by the time labor rolls around? Not that they are overly fat because I'm trying to put weight on Chicory right now after her triplets but because they typically have lots of babies, good sized babies. The most extreme in that example was two ewes we once owned, mother and daughter, that averaged 12 to 14 pound lambs. That wouldn't be so unusual but they always had twins and triplets. Yup, carrying 36 pounds of lamb is a lot of weight even for a large ewe. I didn't weigh these triplets but they are good sized.

Moaning Myrtle - I mean Chicory, wasn't any more noisy than those two ewes. I'm sure she thought she was dying though since with her previous owner, which was last year, she had only a single buck. Not that I'm saying she wasn't fed well but body conditioning has a great deal to do with how many fetuses the animal will conceive and carry. That means if your doe is too skinny she won't have many kids or too fat either, A Goldy Locks And The Three Bears approach is what is needed. You know - just right. But this article isn't about flushing or feeding in preparation to breed. An interesting fact though is that all animals, that I'm aware of, typically have more than one fetus growing at the early stages. Even ones like horses that almost always just have one foal. The mare is secretly developing two fetuses at the early stage. One will be absorbed. The one that is more viable because there isn't enough nutrition available to support the growth of two. Good thing because twins is almost a sure death warrant for the mare even if she carries them to term. Then the poor cute little foal needs a goat mama or a best friend of their mamas who also just had a foal. Yup, last year this happened to our neighbor. His old mare, Princess, died right after giving birth and her best friend, BeBee, who had foaled just a couple days before, raised hers and voluntarily on her own took in her best friend's foal. Of course the colostrum was milked from the dieing mare and fed to her foal.
Okay, I admit it, I had these cute photos of our neighbor's mare and I just had to use them somewhere. But since we are off the subject, take a look at those tiny teats goat and cow milkers. I've milked my share of mares to fill a bottle of milk for a weak foal - give me a cow or a goat any ol day. Those teats are a three finger affair. We had some Saanen yearling does that were like that. We got rid of that line and those consequently those teats after it was evident it was genetic.
Not everyone hates tiny teats because I read where they milk mares in Mongolia and my curiosity what it is meant I drank some mares milk once. Don't say yuck.
Admit it, you've never tried it in fact it's quite sweet and tasty. Not that it is worth it to take up mare milking any time soon.

When it comes to early labor it doesn't matter whether it is a mare, a sow, a dog, or a goat, if babies are headed out the back door Mom's joints are going to have to loosen or the little ones aren't getting out the barn door. Maybe, that wasn't the proper way to say it, I should of said vulva but I like barn door - its more homey and folksy. Now when your looking at that barn door, shortly before labor it often appears swollen, and pinkish. Much more noticeable on the Saanens I had but Chicory skipped that part of pinkish and swollen and didn't hang slightly open like many I've kidded. Nope, Chicory like so many other goats I've known didn't read all those prenatal books. She didn't have time with all that eating and drinking, and taking all those naps. She leads such a rough life.

So though I've read the books it didn't mean she was going to go by the book. She didn't and though all the triplets were lined up just right, the skin around her vulva never stretched like it should keeping the barn doors locked up tight. Like I said some things just have to happen and those are the things you look for. A loose hanging barn door isn't always one of those things you see but you'll know that there is a problem when nothing comes out.

So I'll go over the have to's and your doe will pick and choose the want to's and don't count on each delivery to be the same. It often isn't.

1. A goat's gestation is around 140 to 150 days. Chicory chose 152 this year. Starting to get the picture?

2. Every goat's joints will loosen in preparation for birth. Now they don't have to get carried away and that means every joint loosen to the point that their joints pop in and out. Yes, Chicory again. For a month before kidding you could hear them pop with each step she took. This made it critical that I keep her hooves trimmed so she was walking as correctly as possible and not stretching out ligaments in the wrong direction. Okay, I slacked off the last week and a half but I didn't think the poor girl could stand on three legs and not fall down.

2. What I was really watching for was the loosening of her rump. The one that was fairly flat before this stage for it will raise higher and higher as birth approaches. Some of my does get to the point where they can't even hold up their tails before going into labor and it flops to the side. This is one of those have too's. The spine has to raise up to allow the birth canal to open.

For the rest of the does who's tails are aren't beyond flaggin, I put my hand on top of the rump near where the tail attaches, grip gently, my fingers curling around the tail bone. If they meet she's really loose. Then I know labor is soon, usually within a few day, most likely 24 to 48 hours. Though don't hold me to it as I've been made a liar more often can I can count by one goat or another.

3. The does udder will be fairly full by now and shortly before labor it will normally stretch to taunt. Oh I've had a few older girls fill half way and then during labor fill the rest of the way up. I even had one old girl that didn't fill all the way up until a couple days after kidding. A yearling's udder has to develop so it will be full when she goes into labor. 4. The mucus plug I thought was a sure sign of going into labor within 12 hours but Chicory slimed for near on to nineteen hours. Don't get excited if you've missed this stage for I often don't see the plug and sometimes it isn't secreted until labor begins. Often it isn't this thick either. Chicory had the slimiest deliver I have ever experience in any species I've worked with. The purpose for it is to plug the entrance causing a barrier against bacteria to prevent it from entering the cervix as it dilates. Dear Chicory went into overdrive on this part and I've still haven't found out the hormone involved in producing this slime -still researching. My leads say oxytocin, anyone know?
5. See that dip in front of Chicory's hip bones. That's the kids dropping into position. With an older doe, Chicory is only two, then this becomes much more pronounced. Alright, yeah, with an older doe this area always looks a bit sucken in but none the less look for a pronounced change.
6. When a doe goes into labor she will paw a great deal. They call it the Nesting Stage. Eventually she will paw and lay down, get up and paw some more and lay down. Unless your Chicory and she skips the laying down on the job position and does it all standing up.

Don't think that this behavior is confined to just labor -- does, sheep, etc. have Braxton Hixes too. My experience is the older they get, the more they have them. Remember the mother ewe that had all those big babies, she used to torment me with them. Since she had so many babies and the last one sometimes had to be pulled as she'd leave it at the entrance, I had to be there. Wouldn't have fussed with a ewe like this in a commercial herd but she threw wonderful 4-H lambs. Lorna was her name and she'd be at this loose tail head, moaning, pawing the ground, breathing hard and fast, laying down, and getting up to paw the ground again stage when she was just having Braxton Hixes off and on for three weeks before giving birth. The last week kept me up nights to only have her stop at 2 in the morning time after time and say, "Ha, ha I fooled you again. You can go to bed now. "I'd then get a little nap before I began to do livestock chores, home school, and the myriad of things every mother of three has to do in a day.We had one such day, the 150 day when I thought for sure Chicory was in the early stages of labor as she'd paw the ground, breathe heavy, and wouldn't hardly come out of the shed, another good sign. But no after I went down every few hours all day she up and quit and went placidly to eating. Don't think that animals in labor don't eat. It can be a sign but then again I've had them much on hay in between pains.

7. When the real thing occurred and the pains were more intense, Chicory moved on to the What Have I Done stage. This is where she pawed the sawdust filling the air with its particles and push her head up against a wall when she was having a contraction. Usually at this stage they aren't laying down during the strongest peak of the pain. I kept looking for an opportunity to catch Chicory showing the whites of her eyes in alarm as the contractions came but alas, I was disappointed. My Saanens were real pros at it.

8. Chicory progressed from the What Have I Done Stage to Oh My Aching Butt. That's when she switched from pressing her head against the plywood to pressing her rump against it. It wasn't long before she started to lift a hind leg in pain when there was a really good contractions. With young doelings, they often cock their heads and stare back in bewilderment at their stomachs. A what is going on back their look. 9. Even more than all these signs, I'm looking for the increased arch in the rump. This is Chicory having a strong contraction. This rounding arch will become higher and higher as the spine raises to allow the kids to progress out through the birth canal.
The spine will be standing up now, a hollow indent on each side. Then comes the water bag but we've already gone beyond this point so... that's where I'm stopping.

What have I missed oh wise ones?

No comments:

Post a Comment