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Sunday, August 11, 2013

3 Very Different Cria Birth Experiences

Needless to say that after our experience with Sunflower last year we were very nervous about the 3 cria births we were expecting this summer.

I have been told and read many postings about how simple these births are and what to look for after each one; but I must say that each one presented differently and each cria had their own beginning.

When Roxy delivered her cria – Dahlia – we had not seen any evidence she was is labor nor did we witness the birth.  I did know that Roxy was going to deliver any day because of the way she had been acting, and all the movement going on inside her; so when Karl went down to the shelter and saw that she had just given birth we were not surprised.

Roxy had delivered without any problem and Dahlia was up on her feet and nursing within 40 minutes – Roxy had dropped her placenta within 20 minutes of giving birth.

To our amazement Dahlia was up and running in our field within 1 hour and has not stopped with the energy since.  She was straying from her mother and very curious before nightfall and Karl found her out on her own in the early am.  Roxy did not seem to mind this, but we would always see her watching Dahlia from a distance.

I had watched for the placenta, the nursing, standing etc. but, I never saw the meconium plug that everyone says you should see come out with the first bowel movement; as a matter of fact, I did not see ANY bowel movements for the first 36–48 hours so with the advice of our vet, we gave Dahlia a enema, still nothing….  Another couple of days and still not seeing anything; but Dahlia had plenty of energy and was not ailing at all.  We decided to stop obsessing and just keep an eye on her – I have to confess here that I did not actually see Dahlia poop for the first couple weeks of her life – I knew she had to be but I was just not seeing any signs.

Dahlia was our first cria born on our farm so now we knew what to expect – yeah right!

So now it was Ivy’s turn to deliver Iris – we had been observing Ivy in definite labor for at least 5 hours – she was out in our field and I was watching from a distance in our shelter so as not to bother her. 

Ivy got up from the field and came into the shelter to where I was and promptly laid down in front of me and began to deliver Iris; how thrilling!  It only took her about 10-15 minutes altogether, without any problems.  Iris was up on her feet in about 30 or so minutes but Ivy had not dropped her placenta yet.  It took Ivy about 45 minutes to deliver the placenta but Iris was still not nursing even after 2 hours.  I gently reached under Ivy to one of her udders to make sure the plugs were not the problem, as I did I squirted milk out to make sure that was OK.  When Iris was near I would try to get some of her mother’s milk on her.

It took a while but Iris did finally nurse after about 2 1/2  hours; we were concerned because nightfall was coming, that we would not be able to make sure she got all the colostrum she needed.  Iris was not up and running like Dahlia was within 30 minutes, she was lying at her mother’s side.

The next day we did see Iris nursing quite often from her mother but she was not at all acting like Dahlia did from the get go (this was our example – right?)  Iris was more prone to stay by her mother – not run around – remained quiet.  I was getting nervous that something was wrong.  I again did not see any poop or meconium plug that everyone refers to.  She did not appear lethargic or anything I just was not sure……after all Dahlia had acted so differently.

My main concern was the colostrum – so I called our Vet’s office regarding an IGg test, he was on vacation and they did not do them so they referred me to Cornell Veterinary Hospital.  After speaking with a very nice Dr. there we came to the conclusion that we might be obsessing about Iris.  The vet stated “that each cria acts differently, perhaps Dahlia was the unusual one, sometimes it takes a little longer for the cria energy to start.” 

Iris’s cria energy started on the 3rd day and she hasn’t stopped since.

Three days after Iris was born (and yes, I have still not seen her poop) it was Sunflower’s turn to deliver Berberis.  There were no signs of labor; Sunflower had just been staying by herself and close to the shelter.  We had stayed home for the past few days because we were nervous about Sunflower.  Karl had JUST pulled out of our driveway to run a very quick errand and of course, she went into labor.  I had been down watching her and there we were, she started to push and out came his head and feet – still in the sack.  She waited and gave another push, the water broke and he came out as far as the top of the shoulders and then she stopped.  I was getting quite nervous because we were now going on over 25 minutes and she wasn’t progressing; Berberis started to cough and Sunflower looked up at me as if to say “a little help here please”.  I got down on the ground and she gave a little push, while I gave a little tug and out he popped.

Berberis was coughing so I picked him up and held him upside down for a little bit (something I read somewhere) then I put him on the ground in front of his mother.  He struggled a little while to get up on his feet but eventually did after about 40 minutes.

It took Sunflower 2 ½ hours to drop her placenta but she did let Berberis nurse for a short time prior to that.  He was similar to Iris as far as the energy was concerned; he tended to stay near his mother and lay around sleeping a lot.  We were not concerned about his colostrum as we had seen him nursing quite frequently from his mother.

It took Berberis probably a good 4-5 days before we saw his energy level pick-up.  Again, we never saw the meconium plug or poop from him but he was not acting lethargic or anything like that.  After about the 5th day he developed yellow diarrhea; we had not seen anything like this from the other two (we hadn’t really seen any pooping from them); our vet was scheduled to come out and check on the babies anyway so we waited to speak to him then.

Our vet said that the yellow diarrhea was from his mother’s rich milk and that we could give him some probiotic to help; but he was also concerned that he was not getting enough food from his mother.  Much to our surprise, he felt that Berberis, even though born on day 343, was a little preemie (his ears had a slight bend to them and something about his teeth) so he wanted us to supplement him twice daily with goat’s milk.

Of course, I went out to the store and bought 4 cans of evaporated goat’s milk (all that they had) thinking that this was not going to be a problem – if he was hungry he was going to want it right? Guess again, we tried everything but Berberis was adamant about not wanting the bottle! Every time we tried he would immediately go to his mother and nurse off of her; we would see him in the field nursing all the time.  He was not gaining weight as fast as Iris and Dahlia were but he was gaining, not losing.  We decided to stop trying to force him and just keep an eye on him. 

After about a week the diarrhea stopped and he was gaining weight at the same pace as the others.  His energy is off the charts and he is chasing the girls around all the time.

So as you can see – three different delivery scenarios and three very different cria beginnings – it is not always cut and dry – what may be the way for one is not always the way for others.

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