Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ups and Downs

 Dawn is doing fairly well in the wake of giving birth to her second litter. She has been a little nervous and jumpy lately, but has been a good mother to her 5 babies. The main signs of her nervousness is trying to dig at the cage and occasionally chewing on the wire. I've been considering whether it might be good to shift her to the growing out hutch when butchering happens on Wednesday.

Dawn's second litter is still in the huddle in small balls in their nesting box. In this case, a literal nesting box. They are doing quite well for being at that age, and are very very energetic. I'm not sure how much of that is the warmth allowing them to use more of their food to move around rather than just live, how much of it is them, and how much of it is Dawn being a more experienced mother. In any case, they are all over the place. I look forward to seeing how fast they grow.

As you can see the first two litters have grown out well, and are good sized. Lately they have been spending nearly as much time sprawled all over the place as they have bouncing around like popcorn. The big white one Above is a large healthy buck that is very dominant, and looks like he might be a good breeding candidate. Why would we want to keep a white out of Umbra and Sunny? Well, because he could introduce health, and good sized litters into our American Blue/White program without compromising the coloration of the American lines. We'd have to let him grow out and test breed him to be certain, but it seems like a decent idea at this point so we will not be butchering him when we butcher the rest of the litter.

Butchering Time
Due to scheduling we will be butchering Wednesday night with the help and supervision of Michelle Chandler. As we come up to that date there is the excitement similar to stage fright going on for me, I can't speak for the Lady of the House. It's something like dread plus excitement based around not wanting to mess things up and needing to do everything right the first time on the fly. I also have the questions in my head of how will I handle killing our first litter that I've taken care of day in and day out, and weighed almost every day until the past two weeks. We will find out tomorrow.

The list of things that we have.
* Sharp knives for dressing and skinning
* A stick or broom handle for the killing
* Buckets
* Bowls
* Freezer bags

Things we don't have.
* A cleaver
* A working hose point for running water outside

So far we look to be as prepared as we can be, and we will take things as they come.

As mentioned in the title of the post, there are downs. Sunny did give birth to her second litter, which would normally be a good thing. Unfortunately she gave birth to 17 dead kits. 4 of them were not fully formed fetuses, and the other 13 were in the 70+ gram range. Some of them did not have skin.

Due to the difficulty of pushing out 17 dead kits which is much harder than pushing out 17 live kits, Sunny prolapsed her vagina. If you specifically want to learn about it, you can look up information about it. With veterinary advice from a livestock vet we pushed everything back into place, and she is healing up. She seems to be relatively unharmed from the experience, but it was traumatizing for her, and upsetting for us. The important part is that she is ok.

In the moment we had to make a fairly quick decision process when we realized she had prolapsed her vagina. We had to do research into what it was, and from that research decide whether to treat or cull.

Factors for treatment:
* This sort of thing is not uncommon in high stress situations, especially when it is hot. In this case repeated bear visits with high heat.
* It does not always relapse as long as the stress is managed.
* It was a HUGE litter, and could have been a great boon to us if it had survived.
* She was not in shock or severe pain.
* It is not a genetic failure from what we could find from research or talking to the vet.

Factors for culling:
* Relapse is possible.
* We weren't %100 sure of the treatment being successful potentially leading to pain or harm to her that could be prevented by culling.
* We aren't going to continue using Californians in the long term.

In the end we decided that the best course of action was treatment. If healing was difficult, or she seemed to be in pain that we would cull her. I am glad that we seem to have made the correct choice. We are giving her some time to rest before re breeding her so she can fully heal and recover on her own time. We will likely re breed her when we breed for our final litter of the season in mid to late August.

We have been seeing a staggering number of beautiful moths around our house both during the night and during the day. The Lady of the House has been trying to get good photos of some of them. This was one of the more stand out photos of one of our interesting visitors. Normally bugs aren't my thing, but they are legitimately interesting looking creatures that are (for the most part) harmless to us and what we are doing.

Weight Charts
You will notice that there are no new weights in Dawn's or Sunny's first litters weight chart recently. The weighing process has just gotten too stressful to continue with them. We will be weighing them one final time before butchering to have an accurate count of their full growth, but there is no need to torture them for information.

We are re examining how we want to do the weight charts in the future. A definite change is given my schedule we just won't be weighing on Sundays as that gives me another 15 minutes of sleep before a 13 hour work day. We are also likely going to be going to once a week weight checks once the babies reach a certain age. We haven't decided specifically what that age will be yet.

Dawn Litter 1 Weight Chart

Dawn Litter 2 Weight Chart

Sunny Litter 1 Weight Chart


  1. Aw, I'm sorry to hear about Sunny's litter. I hope things work out for her.

    I don't recall if you ever said, but out of the first litters how many were male and how many were female?

    1. Thanks for the well wishes Kinto, she seems to be recovering well.

      We haven't sexed all of them, but will be checking all of their sexes before we butcher them for reference. Their sexes haven't been relevant since we weren't going for breeding stock.