When my morning alarm woke me up, I was pleasantly surprised to have had a good night’s sleep without the anticipated need to hop out of bed in the early hours to assist kidding. Before I could go outside to meet Steph who has joined the team that morning, Gyppy needed her daily fuss.
Steph is a zoology student with an abundance of intense indoor lambing experience… It was great to see another person drawn into the wonderful world of goats! I knew that over the course of a few days that Steph would become a crazy goat lady.
With the new arrivals beginning to gain strength and their appetite increasing, it was loud in the barn. A few of the kids felt empty, so I supported them to find their mother’s tears and to latch on. It wasn’t long until Steph and I heard a goat in labour, 2 bucklings were swiftly delivered. It was vital to clear the second kid’s airway incase the doe focused her complete attention on the first born. Once both of the kids were placed in front of the mother, I left them to bond. I found that some goats did not appreciate their personal space being invaded whilst others were clingy. Steph and I decided to leave spraying navels with iodine until the does had licked their kids clean. So we were not causing unnecessary stress immediately post-birth or introducing a foreign smell.
Shortly after, 2 doelings were born. Some does nursed their kids after the third stage of pregnancy, once they had expelled the afterbirth. However, if a quarter was too large, I milked the doe to reduce the tear size to enable the kid to latch on with ease. I was able to milk a litre of colostrum which was labelled and stored in the freezer for future bottle feeding (a necessity for the kidding period). This is important in order to prevent mastitis which is inflammation of the mammary gland.
Topping up weaker kids like Foxy and Fred was one of the regular daily tasks, so milking a few of the doe’s supplied this demand for a range of colostrum dates.
During a practical cattle workshop @ Bristol, I first heard of the California Mastitis test from a current vet student. The milk is mixed with a reagent, solidifying if positive. When I was at a routine get visit at a dairy farm, a sample of milk was taken for further mastitis testing. Somatic cell counts are used. When bacteria penetrate the teat canal, somatic cells move into the mammary tissue. However, it was interesting to read in Diseases of the goat that there is a difference between bovine and caprine mammary gland milk secretions. Bovine = merocrine secretion. Caprine = apocrine secretion. In apocrine secretion, epithelial cells are pinched off so cytoplasm appears in milk as DNA-free particles. Methods, therefore need to distinguish between these particles and somatic cells.
For a while I was monitoring Fred, the tiny buckling, to see if there was any correlation with being extremely vocal and sucking. I soon realised that he was full, he was straining when defecating. Although the tar-coloured faeces look worrying, I knew that this was perfectly normal but learned the term ‘meconium’. If meconium was visible during a birth, one of us would intervene to pull the kids out as it is a tell tale sign of trauma. The yellow amniotic fluid may be a result of the kid being under stress due to blood and oxygen levels decreasing. Meconium can be breathed in and block the airways. The sticky situations came a day or 2 later as the bright yellow faeces would collect around the anus and block the kids up! Cute goats are not so cute when peeling off poo clumps.
I am sure Fred was also crying for his favourite human.
After a busy morning in the goat barn, Meg took me to the local cattle mart which was a new experience for me. We sat like statues to avoid a slight hand movement being mistaken for a bid on a cattle lot. It was intriguing to see how different people bidded though!
Back to goat work.
I was very interesting in hearing about entropions because I practiced using Michel clips during the vet lambing course I had attended. It was much simpler (and effective) with the goats. Meg demonstrated how rolling back the inverted lower eyelid and pinching the skin underneath corrected the entropion. If the eyelashes had caused trauma to the cornea, Meg applied an ointment. It is best to identify them ASAP, so I held the kids whilst Steph checked their eyes.