Emily - Very Pregnant!
Emily is my oldest Nubian doe. She is a big sized Nubian. She is 8 years old this spring. She is also my heaviest milking doe ... giving me a little over 2 gallons a day for most of the milking season. She is also the doe that gave me quads ... yes 4 kids ... 2 years ago. (See the earlier post on My First Kidding Season - Emily) She is due to kid on the 24th of this month (January) and is as big as the year she delivered the quads!
About 2 weeks ago, she was having a little trouble walking. She acted like her feet or knees were hurting. I trimmed her feet to see if that would help. It didn't. So, I figured it was just because she was getting so heavy with the kids.
Over the course of several days it became harder for her to get up and come into the milking parlor to eat grain with the other does at feeding time. Even though none of them are in milk right now, I have continued having them come into the parlor for their grain. It's easier that way to be sure each is getting their fair share of grain!
I started bring water with molasses in it to Emily several times a day, because I didn't think she was getting up enough to drink enough water from the big trough.
Emily trying to get up
Then one day last week she refused to get up to come into the parlor to eat at all. I eventually got her up, but she was weak and very wobbly on her legs ... that now look like tooth picks trying to hold up a watermelon!
I became very concerned that she was so weak and losing body weight. You can feel her backbone. So, I increased the frequency of bring feed, hay, and sweet water to her. She seemed to be going down hill quickly.
I did some internet research on problems in pregnancy and found this article on Pregnancy Toxemia and Ketosis. It described Emily's symptoms clearly! I had to act quickly to save Emily and her unborn kids!
The description of Pregnancy Toxemia and Ketosis and some advice from the article is below:
Pregnancy toxemia and ketosis are the result of the high carbohydrate (energy) demand of multiple fetuses in late pregnancy. The kids require an increasing amount of carbohydrates the last trimester. Does bearing twins have a 180% higher energy requirement than those with just a single fetus. Does carrying triplets have a 240% greater energy requirement. When this demand exceeds the supply, fat is metabolized into glucose. The metabolic needs of the kids are met at the expense of the dam; this is what causes the ketotic condition. To complicate matters, multiple fetuses produce more waste products, which leads to the doe becoming toxic if she does not flush them from her system.
When there is a decrease of glucose levels in the doe's brain, they tend to lay down, become sluggish, and show a loss of appetite. They may get stiff, and walk with a staggering gait. Swelling (edema) of the lower limbs is not uncommon.
Diet should include high quality roughage and increased concentrates. At fist sign of decreased appetite, or unwillingness to rise, managers need to be wary. Exercise should be offered and forced if necessary. Some type of high-energy supplement needs to be given to keep the doe from coming ketotic. The carbohydrate (energy) level of the diet needs to be increased. This can be accomplished by adding corn, fresh alfalfa hay, or a soybean supplement to the diet. Increasing the protein does not necessarily increase the energy level.
The key to treating toxemia is catching the subtle symptoms promptly. Fist concern is to hydrate the doe and get enough sugars to the brain to get if functioning properly. We have been successful treating does with 50% Dextrose solution and Magic. We give 20cc magic two to four times daily at first signs of toxemia. If the doe is completely off feed or becoming lethargic we give 4 ounces 50% dextrose (1/2 dextrose, ½ water) with 3cc B Complex, 500mg thiamin, 50cc Calcium Glutamate (orally) and probiotics.
With this advice in hand, I immediately mixed a batch of Magic (1 part Molasses, 2 parts Corn syrup, 1 part Corn oil) Since she was so close to her kidding date and the Calcium was recommended also, I also put some of the CalMagCo paste into the mixture that I give the does right after they deliver their kids.
For the probiotics, I started giving her some of the homemade goat milk yogurt that I had in the freezer from last milking season. She loves the yogurt and licks the cup clean!
Emily eating yogurt!
With the help of Tonia and her daughters, we got Emily moved to one of the clean kidding pens last night. Her legs are still very weak so we had to slip a tarp under her and carry her from the goat yard into the barn and around to the kidding area!
Emily in one of the clean kidding pens
Once again ... I am so thankful for Tonia's help and friendship!
Emily with her grain, hay, and water
Emily can now eat and drink without having to compete with any of the other does. Her appetite is good and she's drinking lots of water. Even though she can't get up, she is peeing and pooping just fine! I'll have to clean up after her often to keep her comfortable.
As long as she is in good spirits and eating well, I'm going to keep giving her 50cc orally of the of the Magic mixture 4 times a day and keep an eye on her. But, if she starts declining in condition, I am prepared to induce her labor with 1cc Dexamethazone.
The article (and others) say that this is the best way to induce labor if necessary.
If the kids are within 7 days of due date, and the doe does not respond immediately to treatment, giving 1cc per 100 pounds of dexamethasone can induce labor. Labor will begin within 48 hours. Dexamethasone is preferred over hormonal induction of parturition because of its beneficial stimulus to appetite. Also, dexamethasone may also prepare the lungs of marginally immature kids increasing their chances of survival during labor.I'm keeping a close watch on Emily and will post updates .... I want everyone to be aware of the symptoms of pregnancy toxemia and ketosis just in case! I'm SO glad I caught it in time with Emily. I think she's going to be fine.