Bo’s Crooked Legs

You may want to pull up a chair and pour a cup of coffee or tea, because this story will take a little time. If you are a very soft hearted individual, you may also want grab a box of tissue. No, Bo didn’t die, but he had some struggles, and I won’t tell you the end of the story until we get there somewhere down the page. Now if you’re the kind of  person that turns to the end of the book to see how it ends before you even start reading it, you can scroll to the bottom of this article and see what happens. Otherwise, here is how the story began.

On Thursday, April 2nd, right on schedule at 150 days gestation, Cricket went into to labor. Cricket is one of our first fresheners that I have high hopes for. Her grandmother, Katy, was one of our first does. She was a good mother, good milker and all around very good doe. Cricket’s mother, Ivory who we sold last fall, was also a very good doe, except for that very irritating hollering that she refused to stop doing. It’s the only reason we sold her. 

Our friend, Faith (pseudonym), came over to watch and participate in the birth since she plans to start her own goat herd very soon. As the kids feet presented during labor, I realized the legs were crossed. At this point I wasn’t sure whether these feet belonged to different kids or the same kid. Even though I had not seen this presentation before, I didn’t feel I should intervene, instead I waited to see how Cricket would proceed.

After the feet but before the head appeared, Cricket got up and laid down several times, which is normal during labor. But one time when Cricket started to lay down again, she landed on a pile of hay. She had pawed up some of the hay in her birthing pen in a nesting type of behavior, which is also normal. This is kind of hard to describe, but as she lay down, she landed on the downward slope of this pile of hay, which caused her to roll all the way over on her back, then onto the other side. I was worried what might happen to the kid’s legs during this accidental roll over.

Shortly after this event, Bo was born. As his head emerged, we realized one of his legs was quite a bit ahead of it, while one of them was not. After he was born, Cricket took a few minutes to decide what this thing was she had just expelled from her body. Even though it was a cool day, we gave her a few minutes to adjust because the umbilical cord had not yet broken. I wanted her to be the one to break the cord, instead of us. I moved Bo up toward Cricket’s head as far as the cord would allow, to encourage her to begin licking and cleaning him. Faith removed the mucous from his mouth, and some of the birthing material from his body. A little while later, I cleaned, dried and stimulated Bo with some towels. Then a short time later, Cricket stood up, broke the umbilical cord and began investigating her new son.

After Cricket began licking and talking to Bo, I made sure the wax plugs were removed from her teats, and helped Bo get his first meal. At this point, all appeared to be well. A few hours later, as Bo began to get up and try to walk, we noticed his front knees were not straightening out as he stood. He had an awkward look to him, but still was getting up and around and trying to nurse on his own, just like any newborn kid. I hoped his awkward knees would correct themselves over the next few days. The first things that came to mind were the way his legs were crossed and being compressed with each contraction during the birthing process. The next thing that came to mind was that while his legs were crossed and outside of Cricket’s body, she rolled all the way over during labor. Now, I’m beginning to wonder about birth trauma to his legs.

 

We decided to give Bo a few days to see if his legs would strengthen and straighten out on their own. They didn’t. These videos are at day three and are the ones that really got to me. We knew that we would either need to try to do something to help Bo’s legs, or put him down. Other than his legs, though, he is a strong, healthy animal.

Off to my goat books I went. This is the only book I have that really dealt with birth trauma, as opposed to nutritional deficiencies. I read all about nutrient and mineral deficiencies and bent leg, but none of these maladies matched up with Bo’s predicament. In the book, All About Goats, on page 131 it says, “Contracted tendons, particularly of the forelimbs, are common in newborn kids resulting in an inability to straighten the leg. Mild cases with a partially bent leg will often resolve on their own as the tendons stretch with movement; more severe cases may need splinting to stretch the tendons and allow weight bearing on the foot.” After finding this, I went to the internet to find out how other people have splinted baby goat’s legs. There are many different ideas out there for the looking. Armed with this information, Frank and I decided to use stiff cardboard and duct tape. Here is what we did on Monday morning, when Bo was 3 1/2 days old.

Cardboard, socks, duct tape and scissors

Start off with a sock for cushioning and protection for Bo’s skin

Wrap in preformed, stiff cardboard

Duct tape cardboard in place, then fold the sock over both ends

Duct tape the sock in place over each end

Then do the other leg

One of the first things Bo did after we finished his splints, was nurse. That was one of our concerns, and he had no difficulty at all. Good. That was step one. We encouraged him to walk, just to make sure he could get around on his own. The next thing he did was try out his “new legs” and play. Yea! So far, so good.

Bo quickly got used to using his “new legs” and began to play with the other kids much more than ever before. We planned to leave the splints in place until Friday, which would have been four days. But, Thursday evening, when I went up to milk, I found this.

Since one of Bo’s splints had worked it’s way below his right knee and was no longer serving any purpose, we went ahead and removed them both. The encouraging sight I saw, was that his right leg was straight and he was using it normally. Now to see how the left leg was doing.

 

His left leg was awkward when he tried to walk on it, even though it was straight. We hoped a few days time would improve it’s use. 

This morning, two days after removing his splints, here is Bo. We still feel his shoulder stance is a little wider than the other kids, but he now looks and acts like a ‘kid his age’, so to speak.


I have to tell you, it chokes me up a little and does my heart good, to see the improvement Bo has made. Frank and I both have soft spots in our hearts for animals that struggle. Bo has given us another great learning opportunity. We had never splinted anything before, animal or human. It gave us the chance to research, brainstorm, experiment, discuss improvements and what worked, and gave us a successful finished product – straight legs. All of this will still eventually lead to food on our table. Bo is destined to become a wether, like the other young bucks, which we will raise and butcher in due time. Does this make me sad? No. We raise animals for the purpose of providing ourselves with good, wholesome food. 


We were fortunate that this story had a happy ending. Not all of them do. We have had baby goats that were not able to overcome the obstacles they encountered at birth and have had to put them down. I didn’t know how this story would end, that’s why I have postponed telling it. But now I feel fairly certain that Bo will do fine. And as for Cricket? She has the makings of a fine milk goat. She has trained to the milk stand and milking routine well. I still have high hopes for her. And if I attend another birth where the kids legs are crossed, I will do my best to reposition them correctly in the hopes that this will not happen again. There is no guarantee that this was caused from birth trauma, but that is what my gut instinct tells me from all of my reading and research. Sometimes there is no way to know why some things happen. But this time, we were blessed with a successful solution. I am grateful.

Until next time – Fern

18 thoughts on “Bo’s Crooked Legs

  1. Well, the problem with Bo's legs are just my theory. I still can't help but wonder if it wasn't just birth trauma from his position and from when Cricket accidentally rolled over on her back. Thanks for letting me know you would have done the same. It's nice to know.Fern

  2. Very interesting. I've had kids with contracted tendons before but they didn't look like that. My vet said contracted tendons will straighten out on their own after awhile so they don't need splinting. I have found that to be true but in this case, I would have done the same as you. Good job.

  3. We have some Vetwrap, Fiona, but I don't think it would have been stiff enough to give Bo's legs the support they needed. I save the whole sock. You just never know when it may come in handy for something. Thank you for the idea.Fern

  4. You really need some goats, Kymber. You would just love them. And with all of that wild comfrey everywhere, they would have lots to eat….in the summer that is. You would have to work pretty hard to feed them through the winter, though. Something to ponder. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  5. An addendum…..Have you ever used Vetwrap? It is a stretchy self sticking wrap for wounds and sprains. Made by 3M I believe. There are good generic brands as well. I am also going to save the tops of worn out socks, you idea to use sock tops for the soft liner was great!

  6. Fern, and Frank – i know from reading your blog how much you care about your animals and what lengths you will go to to take care of them. i am so glad that you were able to take care of little bo's legs. i understand why you are grateful to have learned something new that you can apply to future birthings of any animals. i love what i learn here. (and yes – i want goats!!! bahahhahah!!!)your friend,kymber

  7. Thank you for sharing Bo's story. He is a favorite of mine since I participated in his birth. I am able to watch him grow and then be food on my friends table. What a blessing God gives us everyday.

  8. Watching the kids play cracks me up every time I go to the barn, C.M. They are just a blast to see, especially Bo. This morning I could hardly tell any difference between him and the other kids. Again, I am thankful. Fern

  9. We haven't had any pendulum legs, Goodwife, and I hope we don't. I've seen knuckle walkers before, but it seems to correct itself within a day or so. This was really a learning experience. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  10. Glad the splints worked! We had a kid born once, one of triplets, whose back leg swung like a clock pendulum. I thought for sure it was broken, but after a few days, it was as solid as a hind leg should be. We've also had them walk on their knuckles for a few days but they've always straightened out. I've never seen a kid with that front leg weakness, and I'm glad again that the splints helped him out! 🙂

  11. This is an excellent example of dealing with livestock, large or small, things go wrong. I have had calves born like this..usually from being very big with a heavy birth weight and not much room in the cows uterus. I also found that if a cow has a calf with this problem th seem to have a tendency for this problem. I did not think goats would have leg issues though so as usual you taught me something!

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