Let me just say first, I don't claim to know everything and rely on my vets, mentors, and the internet for a lot of guidance. But I can give you a few pointers on what to look for on a failing cria. Just this year after 4 years of really not having any birthing problems we have had two recent situations. First a stillborn from a dam that has had many healthy crias and second a cria that looked to start out right and start to backslide within 24 hours after birth. We are awaiting the final results on the stillborn's necropsy, but the preliminary findings show nothing apparently wrong. Possibly an umbilicus wrapped around the cria's neck in the womb is what we have so far.
On the second failing cria, all started out well. Dam was in labor at 9:30am and gave birth without event at 10:00am. She passed her placenta within a half hour of giving birth and it was complete. I did my usual of washing her teats and pulling the plugs. She had milk and was ready to nurse her cria. The cria did not make an attempt to stand within one hour but did kush. I thought that was a little strange, as usually the newborn are making an attempt to stand within a half hour but I chalked it up to it being very cold that day and me doing a lot of drying and keeping the cria warm. I assisted in getting her standing and she wanted to nurse. I made sure she latched on and watched her suckle and swallow. Terrific, I thought, no problem here, she's got it. I continued to dip the navel, check her out and weigh her. She weighed 14.5 at that time. Then I let dam and cria bond. I kept getting the cria up and getting her to nurse throughout the day. In the evening I really didn't notice any change in the cria. After she would nurse she would immediately kush. No running around, just as if she were trying to keep warm. Her temp. was 100.2 so I thought that odd that she seemed so cold? I had her in a box stall, under a heat lamp, on straw with two cria coats. Every hour Scott and I took turns getting the cria up and making her nurse. On Friday morning she was nursing by herself. But still seemed cold to me. I kept taking her temp throughout the day, but still it was normal. We thought we would give her another 24 hours and see if she would pick up some weight and go from there. She was nursing on her own now and we would keep a very close eye on her. On Saturday morning it was a different story. Still no temp. but her eyes were weeping. Also I did not like the color of the skin around her mouth and nose. Very dark red and her nostrils were flaring a bit when she got up to nurse. But&still nursing on her own. But no weight change. We started her on antibiotics right away. Within four to five hours her eyes looked much better. She seemed to be a little brighter in the evening but I still did not like the way her color looked or the fact that she was not gaining weight. I called Dr. Michele Ing and let her know what was going on. Dr. Ing was out of town for the weekend but contacted my by email. Boost up the antibiotic dosage and if we could keep her stable, we could schedule a plasma transfer on Monday. That is exactly what we did and on Monday headed to Dr. Ing's with dam and cria for a plasma transfer. When we got to Dr. Ing's there was another ranch ahead of us for the same reason. A cria born three weeks premature gets a plasma transfer. Our little cria was so active I am sure they wondered why we were there. But once Dr. Ing looked at her she said the same thing, I don't like the coloring on her muzzle and the flaring of her nostrils, let's go ahead and do the plasma transfer. For whatever reason, she did not get the antibodies she needed and an infection has set in. After the plasma transfer was complete, and the cria was given more vitamins and antibiotics she was free to go home with her dam. Now our little cria is six days old and running and jumping like a typical cria. My advice to anyone having a newborn this year is to keep a close eye on the pregnant dams. There may be a trend from any cria born to dams that were exposed to the snots. There seems to be a lot of premature cria and stillborns this year. Coincidence, possibly and we will never know for sure. Still be very watchful of your cria. Look for signs of struggling to breath. Not gasping as you would know that is a problem, but dark color around the nose and mouth and flaring of the nose. Also any mucus coming from the eyes. And of course little or no weight gain within forty-eight hours. If you are able to, have antibiotics on hand. We keep Naxcell and Exenel on hand just in case we have a problem we can at least get the cria stable before transporting it to the vet. Always make sure you have a clean dry area for birthing. These cria are susceptible to infection as soon as they hit the ground. If they don't get their antibodies they will certainly get a bacterial infection as our cria did. Lastly, it is amazing what a plasma transfer can do. I have witnessed many cria that looked like rag dolls when they were taken to the vet turn around on a dime with plasma transfer and support care. They are truly amazing creatures.