Poor Sucking Reflex

It’s also referred to as “Dummy” kid (foal, calf). In the ongoing saga of Lil Snooks’ rejected kids, this story continues. On Friday night we made a valiant effort to try and get their mother to take them. When it was clear she would not, we tried every one of our mother does to see whether they were willing to surrogate them, even though we knew this was really a long shot. Our older does weren’t fooled one bit and quickly pushed them aside. Bitty Betty was curious. She had kidded only 2 days prior and we had lost one of her doelings, so we wondered if she might possibly be fooled. She licked them but would not nurse them. But she also did not clearly reject them and she was comfortable with them being in her pen. We finally decided we’d pursue this in the morning and brought the kids into the house. By the time we got to bed is was after 2am and then we got up every 2 hours to feed the newborn rejected kids. The little black one took the bottle fairly well the first 2 feedings, passed her meconium and seemed a bit weaker than her sister. Subsequent feedings she took fewer and fewer amounts of food and then stopped sucking all together. We were exhausted from the lack of sleep but knew we needed to persist.

We knew that not eating for a newborn was not a good sign so we figured out how to tube feed. We did this about 3-4 different times but she seemed to not be thriving and we were seriously scared that we were going to lose her. Around noon on Sunday Mike realized that neither of the kids had pooped since passing the meconium and then I noticed how much the black one’s belly was rounded out. This was serious and we then needed to figure out how to give tiny baby goats enemas.

We researched this and found directions: Make certain to use warm water so that you don’t lower their body temperature, use a little bit of dish soap, find a small container to put the warm soapy water in that has a tip you can insert into their rectum (fortunately I had on old hair coloring bottle that was perfect), Mark the bottle for 9 ml. Fill the bottle the directed amount and gently insert into the rectum taking care to only insert very shallowly and slowly squeeze the water into the kid. Let them run around so do this in a tub or walk-in shower, can be repeated up to 8-10 times until the blockage has passed. It worked perfectly and both kids passed a good amount of poop.

The white faced one was immediately more perky but the black one still had no interest in eating the next 2 feeding times even though she seemed excited about the prospect of eating. She wouldn’t suck when we put the bottle in her mouth even though she had done it 2x prior. We worried that she was developing Enterotoxicosis and we did not have C & D Antitoxin on hand. We ordered it to be shipped next day, but this means we wouldn’t receive it until Tuesday. I looked for emergency vet clinics calling them to see if anyone had C & D antitoxin on hand. None did, as they all only handle dogs and cats. My vet called us back after we left a message but shockingly told me she had no idea what C & D Antitoxin was. WHAT!!?? How does a vet that does farm animals not know what C & D Antitoxin is? After many hours of research and fretting we went to bed hoping that we were wrong and hoping we did not have a dead baby on our hands the next time we got up to feed.

Fortunately we were wrong about the enterotoxicosis. But this baby still wouldn’t eat and we were seriously fretting about it. We were determined to teach her how to suck and not continue tube feeding her. I found a blog on my “go to” online forum for excellent goat advice – “The Goat Spot”. In that posting I found someone had responded to another person’s similar issue. Karen from Serendipity Dairy wrote a blog post about her experience with this similar dilemma. Read her blog post here. What struck me in her blog post was how her little goat was reset and began sucking. She wrote “The Madigan theory that proposes that during labour, a biochemical “on switch” must be triggered during birth to allow the neonate to recognize its mother, nurse and become mobile.” but her little goat had “switched on” and changed after one of her pregnant does had licked the little kid all over until she was a sloppy mess.

I began wondering if the mother licking the placental sack off the babies also was a trigger point. Remember that Lil Snooks had not cleaned these kids when we found them. We wiped them clean with towels. I tried a crazy idea. We enlisted our 1 year old maleGreat Dane, Ozzie, to be the surrogate mommy. We encouraged him to lick them, I even slathered peanut butter on the black one’s side to make certain the Ozzie slopped her up really good with a lot of licking. He’s always out by the barn with us and it drives us nuts that he licks the sheep butts and eats their poop, but since he likes to do this, we encouraged him to lick these little babies butts too because in our research about constipation in bottle babies, we learned that this happens because they do not have a mother licking their bottoms to get them to poop.

So maybe it was just time, persistence by Mike, or Ozzie’s slobbery contribution, but on Monday Mike was able to get the black one to start sucking the bottle. Now she wasn’t out of the woods by any means, but not having to tube feed her is a big deal. We continued with the Ozzie tongue baths Tuesday, she was still not doing well and again by the afternoon she was acting excited to eat but then would not eat. We did another enema and gave her time and an attempted feeding. But then after she still wouldn’t eat, we gave her a dose of C & D Antitoxin, which had thankfully arrived that day. Then she ate at the next feeding. We’ve been weighing them every morning and she was not gaining weight. Thursday we experienced the same as Wednesday… we did Ozzie tongue baths, she ate some then stopped eating in the afternoon but acted hungry. We did another dose of C & D Antitoxin and then the next feeding she was hungry and ate.

Friday morning we tried adding probiotics to her milk. By Friday evening she was robustly guzzling down the milk. OMG! what a change in this little girl. She’s doing very well now and we have hope that she is now out of the woods. She is 11 days old now, and has gone from her tiny birth weight of 3# 11 oz up to now being 5# 9 oz.

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