Kidding season for me was a whole lot of crazy the past two days. I only had two pregnant goats this year so I assumed this would be a piece of cake kidding season. One goat was bought pregnant with no known due date. I normally have a rule about always knowing the due date so I don’t spend 3 weeks in the barn staring at a goat’s butt, but I thought that since I have been breeding goats for 10 years that I know the signs of impending labor by now so I can accurately predict when this goat should kid. Umm…. well, that’s not how it worked. Three weeks ago her ligaments softened and her udder started to develop. Those two things usually signal to the seasoned goat owner that birth is going to occur soon. Every day I would stakeout her pen and watch her butt for the slightest tail twitch or tiniest discharge. I would then announce to my family* that she looked closer than yesterday and could go at any minute. *My husband gets great joy out of harassing me about my prediction skills.
The other pregnant goat was my senior Alpine doe. She was on her fifth set of kids and always likes to kid at the very end of her gestation – 155 days. For some reason I forgot this fact when I scheduled a meeting at Dartmouth three months ago. I remember thinking “Let’s have the meeting on April 17 because my goat will have kidded DAYS before that. She’ll be at day 150 on the 11th”. Suffice to say, I did not go to Dartmouth on the 17th!
Lucy had her kids right on time for her – day 155. At noon she was nesting a lot and looking very restless. She went into labor at 5pm. She would push two times and then stop for 30 minutes or so. By 8pm she was pushing two times every 10 minutes. I got worried then because things seemed to be going very slow. She was pushing only a few times and there was no discharge at all. I got my hand in her and could not feel a kid. I waited another hour and tried to feel again, with no luck. Finally at 11pm she was pushing a couple of times every 5 minutes. At that point I could feel that something was coming into the birth canal. I could feel a hoof and maybe a nose. Finally some discharge started and we got down to business. As soon as the bubble appeared, I popped it and grabbed the hoof. The kid was jammed in tight because it was big and there was one hoof forward and one back. Luckily Lucy is a big doe so passing a large, compact kid was not impossible. I helped pull the kid as she pushed. The kid came out and was a big brown and black buck.
Lucy immediately stood up and started to clean him off. About three minutes after the buck was born, while Lucy was still cleaning him, she squatted down and quickly pushed out a smaller brown and black doe. I grabbed the doe and got her cleaned off.
Well, all while this was going on in one stall, the pregnant goat in the next stall decided to get in on the action. Ruby started to make a nest and lie down and grunt. I kept looking over the fence to check on her while Lucy was in labor. At one point I told Lucy that if Ruby kidded first, Lucy was FIRED! It kind of felt like a race between the two goats.
Luckily Ruby did not have her kids that night. By the morning she was still nesting but had no discharge. I decided to head to work since she could give birth in one hour or five. I was pretty worn out from waiting on Lucy most of the day before and just didn’t want to sit in the barn for another 5 hours. My husband was going to be in and out of the farm for the day so I left him strict instructions to call me at work as soon as he saw anything happening.
At 10am I got the call that there were three new babies in the barn. Two were up and getting cleaned off by mom but the third was not moving and not cleaned off. I rushed home. My husband took the third kid into the house and washed it off with warm water then stuck it next to the woodstove. When I got home the kid was very week and breathing heavy. It was a buck. I grabbed the other two kids from the barn and brought them in to dry them and warm them. They were does. One was chilled and needed to warm up. The other was up and started to nurse on a bottle within one hour. Finally the second doe warmed up enough to try to look for food. She would root around but whenever I put the bottle in her mouth she would not suck. I knew she wanted to eat but she didn’t want anything to do with that bottle. I worked on her for 3 hours before I gave up and took her back out to the barn. She immediately nursed on mom and mom was very happy to have her kid back.
The buckling took a long time to get warm but he eventually started to eat from the bottle and move around. I kept him in the house until he was able to stand on his own. He got to go out to the barn after screaming his head off while I tried to make dinner. I don’t have much tolerance for noisy baby goats while I am eating!
It was a whirlwind kidding season that took less than 24 hours from start to finish. All kids and moms are doing well!