Something was very wrong today. Our milk goat was not in her usual place. It was time to milk her but Samantha could hardly get her to come. She was shaky, wobbly, and wouldn't eat or drink. She just wanted to lay down. Ever since she had her babies she has been super difficult to milk. Creg had to rig up a sling that attached to the ceiling to hold her up while milking because she wouldn't hold still and would try to lie down while we were milking her. I noticed that her milk production was going down instead of up. This was not normal. Last year we didn't have this problem at all. She was easy to milk. She wanted to be milked because she was so full.
After we finished milking her and she laid down in the grass, I ran to the house to get my book, Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats, to see if I could figure out what was wrong. As I skimmed the chapter on health, I came to something that caught my attention. MILK FEVER- symptoms of milk fever include anxiety, uncontrolled movements, staggering, collapse, and DEATH. Usually occurs within 48 hours after kidding.
That sounded like what she had since it had been almost exactly 48 hours since she gave birth and she was staggering and acting odd. The book said it requires immediate care from a vet who must give the goat calcium borogluconate intravenously or the goat will die. So I called my friend Sara for advice on what to do. She told me their family had lost a goat to Milk Fever when she was a child. It was dead the next morning. She suggested to get her to a vet as soon as possible. Of course this happens on a Friday night, after hours, and Creg and Sierra and Sterling are gone on business. It's getting dark and all of our animals still need to be put up. So I tell Samantha and Steele to quickly put up the chickens, sheep, and goats; grab a snack and get in the truck. I call the vet for directions to his place in Clyde and somehow heave the helpless goat into the back seat of the truck.
When we got there she was worse. I hoped this expensive trip wouldn't be in vain. Earlier when I talked to the vet on the phone he thought she might have toxemia instead, which would take months to recover from and even then, he said she only had a 50% chance of survival. And if she had toxemia, more than likely, we would have no milk this year so we would have to find a different nanny goat or buy some milk for the babies. I was rooting for the milk fever because that was easy to correct.
The i.v. the vet gave Milkshake did wonders for her. Within 10 minutes she was not shaky anymore and started acting like her old self, being nosy and getting into things. And her appetite came back and she began eating the alfalfa we brought with us. It was amazing how quickly she recovered. I'm so thankful it was something easily treatable. And I'm thankful we still have raw milk to drink and I'm thankful Milkshake is going to be okay.
This was a stiff reminder to me to keep a closer watch on our animals, especially when pregnant, to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need. Milk Fever is caused by a drastic drop in blood calcium and can be prevented by proper nutrition weeks before delivery. If we had been more attentive to her food intake, this probably wouldn't have happened. I hate learning things the hard way, but I'm thankful for the second chance.
P.S. It's 2 weeks later and she's doing fine. We haven't had to use the sling on her while milking because she is hungry and gobbles down her food as we work. And she is producing on average about a cup more milk per milking than she did last year. Yay!!! We're getting about 5 1/3- 5 1/2 cups of milk each time.