In early March, a compassionate woman in the Finger Lakes region came across a group of animals on a rural property in a terrible state of neglect. She immediately brought the suffering animals to the attention of local authorities, who had confiscated animals from the property in the past, but had never been able to successfully charge the owner. Left to fend for themselves for weeks, the six small white goats the SPCA discovered were in great need of veterinary care. Malnourished and emaciated, all were coughing, crawling with external parasites, and plagued by internal parasites. Their hooves were rotten and terribly overgrown, curled and cracked, making each step painful. Four chickens also languished at the unkempt property, all infested with lice and severely emaciated.
Thankfully, working with the SPCA, Farm Sanctuary was able to rescue all of the farm animals from this sordid situation, and bring them to safety. When they arrived at our New York Shelter, the goats, one male and five females, feasted on hay and settled down into our Rescue & Rehabilitation Center to recover from their ordeal. Caregivers immediately treated them for lice and pneumonia, and trimmed their hooves. The male, who was previously unaltered, was also neutered once he was strong enough for the procedure. Like the goats, the chickens were treated for their ailments and given a quiet place to rest.
As the formerly intact male goat had been living with the five unspayed females at the property they were seized from, we knew it was likely that the girls were already pregnant although they all looked far too thin and three were under a year old. A veterinarian performed a sonogram on each, and it was confirmed – all five were in the late stages of pregnancy. Due to the severe neglect they endured during their prenatal stages, and the fact that four of the females were very young themselves, all of the goats’ pregnancies were high risk. Farm Sanctuary staff anxiously watched over the expectant mothers 24/7 until each one gave birth, ready to assist should any complications arise.
Lulu was the first to give birth. Her tiny little girl was premature, and had trouble nursing at first, as she was too weak to suckle. She required around-the-clock care and regular tube-feeding to ensure that she received the nutrients she needed to survive. Under the watchful eyes of shelter caregivers, and with her adoring mother by her side, the baby, now named Tara, soon began to thrive. A mama’s girl at heart, this sweet girl is the reserved and quiet one, preferring to hang out with Lulu rather than romp and play.
Next to arrive were Juno’s twins, a boy named Sebastian and a girl named Belle. Weighing even less than Tara when they were born, these babies were very little but took to nursing a lot faster than their cousin did. Juno, however, has an infection in her udder that prevents her from producing enough milk for her babies, so the twins have also taken to nursing from their aunties, Lulu and Olivia, to get the proper nutrition they need. Little balls of energy, these two can always be found frolicking outside.
After Sebastian and Belle came Olivia’s boy, Elijah. As the smallest and youngest of the goats, Olivia had more difficulty giving birth, especially because her baby was fairly large – weighing about two pounds more at birth than Tara did. Despite his size, Elijah was also too weak to nurse from his mother, so he was tube fed by caregivers until he could suckle on his own. Known for the signature brown stripe on his coat, Elijah is now a strong, even bigger boy who loves to run, buck and have a good time!
Born of his mother Marjorie, baby boy Gabriel was the next in line. While Marjorie’s delivery went more smoothly than the others, we did have a bit of a health scare when Gabriel was born and rushed him to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals to ensure that he was okay. Happily, he quickly returned home with a clean bill of health, and has been doing great ever since. In fact, he is quite the little firecracker, always head butting his buddies and family members, trying to entice them to join a game of chase.
And last, but certainly not least, are Lizzy’s twin babies, ZuZu and Otto. These little cuties were also very tiny at birth and too sickly to nurse on their own. Lizzy, who was bred many times before she was rescued, has very large, distended udders and the babies had trouble getting milk at first. To ensure they got a good start in life, ZuZu and Otto were tube fed until they finally started to suckle. ZuZu, who developed pneumonia on the first day he was born, is also receiving antibiotics and seems to be improving daily. While we don’t yet know these new babies very well, they are both incredibly sweet and bouncy, and we have every hope that they too will be just fine.
Settled into their new environs, these beautiful goats now live as though they don’t have a worry in the world. The proud, doting new mothers spend their days resting in the shade or piles of clean straw, gobbling up all the tasty dandelions in their pastures, climbing the fencing to trim the leaves off nearby bushes, and watching over their precious babies while they nap, explore, play, and romp excitedly together in the pasture. It is such a joy to know that the kids will never experience the carelessness and neglect their mothers once suffered, and that they and their moms will remain together and continue to receive the care and attention they deserve. Our sincerest thanks goes out to everyone who gave generously to our Emergency Rescue Fund to help make this happy ending possible!