Friday, January 26, 2007

Reflections on Foaling Season 2006 - The Twins Part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The frantic part of this birth is finally over. With an adequate amount of colostrum down both foals, we took a few minutes to access them to see exactly what we had. While they were quite small for normal foals they were large for twins. Their weight was good for newborns.

Both were badly windswept from being so cramped inside the mare. Each had angular limb deformities and deformities to their heads. With the eight legs between them, we had eight different deviations. The head deformities manifested mostly in their jibbahs. The filly’s was pushed a little off center and was a little pointy. The colt’s was more extremely deformed. His jibbah was pushed up high, actually starting between his ears and came to an extreme point. It ended in what should have been the middle portion of a normal jibbah. Everything else on their heads seemed to be where it belonged. Their ears had a funny feel to them though and I was to find out about that issue much later.

As we were checking them over both foals proved their bodily functions were working . At least we didn’t have to worry about that. Since both had strained a little, we administered a glycerin enema to each and the vet left me with two more to administer the following day if needed.

At least in my mind, we were good now. Although Dr Gillette later confessed that he had not expected either foal to survive. I thought I had things under control. Both foals were alive, weak but alive. The filly appeared to be in the most jeopardy but was showing enough spunk for me to soothe my fears. All I needed to know was what I need to do for sure and I would handle it.

Dr Gillette estimated from their size that each would require 3 ounces of milk every two hours. They would have to be bottle feed until they were able to nurse on their own. They would need to be monitored closely for any signs of abnormalities. That being said, he was gone. Even though he had wanted to stay and “play,” he had a full book of clients in the morning.

Dave, also, had a long day of work ahead of him so I called my oldest daughter, Colleen Walker, to find an all night drug store to get baby bottles and nipples. The nipples needed to be the older style nipples that had a large end. Those that resemble the Playtex nursers would not have a big enough end for the foals to grab onto.

Dave stayed with me until Colleen arrived. He helped me clean out the wet stall, get the mare a nice hot bran mash and hay , and dry off and blanket the shivering twins. Thank God for dog blankets, it was all I had that would fit their little bodies.

Colleen arrived with my oldest grandson, David, in tow, just in time for the scheduled 2 hour feeding. Dave went off to bed dragging from his adrenaline crash and we set about establishing a plan.

The filly was obviously the weakest so we decided to begin with her. We wanted to encourage them to nurse from the mare so we would try that first. Because they were so weak, we would only make one or two attempts. We didn’t want to wear them out so much they were too weak to nurse. After the attempt at nursing from mom, we would milk the 3 ounces from the mare and then bottle-fed the filly. Once we had completed that we would repeat the procedure with the colt.

In the beginning we had David hold the mare and Colleen and I together got the foals to their feet. The dog blankets provided ready handles to lift the foals, stabilize them until they could find their center of gravity and guide and/or restrain them. All of which were needed.

The darn filly was so opinionated. She resented being guided anywhere. Getting her under the mare to nurse was quite a production. She bucked, kicked and struck trying with all she had to NOT co-operate. We persisted until we at least got her under the mare even though we were nowhere near her udder. Then we moved on to step two nursing the mare.

Thankfully, Vee was great about everything. We milked the 3 required ounces directly into the bottle and then began trying to bottle-feed our little hellion. Of course, she wanted no part of anything that was our idea. Fortunately, Colleen had bought two kinds of nipples, normal and premie nibbles. The premie ones required less sucking than the normal ones. While both foals had a good sucking reflex, convincing them to use it was another story. Since the premie nipple would release the milk with less sucking, it helped us to get the foals to understand what we were trying to do. She quit resisting as the first trickles of milk hit her tongue and soon had figured out how to grasp the nipple firming and such the milk down.

Once the filly finished her bottle, we let her go and set off to awaken the colt. His sister had not wanted to be bossed around and he didn’t want to get up. He was content to sleep and not happy that we were interfering with his plans. He didn’t resist the way the filly had, he just didn’t try. His legs were like rubber and we had to support him every step of the way under to his mom. He did, however, once there, try to root around for the mare’s nipples and then try to stand on his own. With his two attempts we then moved on to milking the mare and teaching him to drink from the bottle.

The colt was so exhausted from the birthing process, he immediately collapsed back into the straw. We decided the best thing to do was to bottle feed him lying down, at least in the beginning anyway. He would swallow a few gulps and then fall back to sleep. We had to keep waking him over and over until he had finally drank the entire 3-ounce feeding.

By the time we had finished this first round it had taken us an hour and forty minutes. We had a twenty-minute break before we needed to start the whole process over again and we collapsed in a heap. Grateful for the twenty minute break.

To be continued....
Part 5

1 comment:

  1. I am really enjoying this story and you have a great way of telling it. Looking forward to the next edition.

    I was lucky that even though my baby was a few weeks prem, we could not get her to take a bottle, she was a bit like your filly which is why I called her wiggle, would pin her ears back stick her nose out and stretch her neck and show her displeasure wiggling her tail wildly LOL. My husband told me to try putting the milk in a small bucket and once she had dunked her muzzle in it and she got the taste we never looked back.

    The only problem I had was that on the third day the vet gave momma a hormone injection hoping to bring her milk in and later that day while I was feeding the foal, she came at me with her ears pinned back and her full 1100 lbs behind her teeeth bared and bit me badly kust above my right breast. If I hadnt had the wall behind me I hate to think what would have happened. I was bruised over half my chest area and extremely sore for over six weeks. I never did trust her after that and eventually took the baby away from her at five weeks. I was hoping that the baby was getting even a small amount of something from the mare but it didnt appear so because of the swelling that was starting in her legs and the vet telling me that we were probably going to lose her. That was when we did the plasma transfusion.

    So glad you had your help at hand or I am sure you would have been totally exhausted and probably would not have been able to cope.