It has always surprised me why people seem to be so casual about allowing their goats to kid in their pens unassisted-- especially after selling our first doe 'Red' (the Nubian-Boer ding bat) to a family we thought was equipped to handle goats. We were shocked when we learned that the following spring she died during labor. And even more disappointed (a more 'polite' word than the emotion I had actually felt) when the family blamed the doe for not being capable of 'kidding easily', rather than taking responsibility for their own neglect!
Kidding, as many experienced goat owners know, is NERVE RACKING, you never know what to expect, and if you have owned goats long enough, there will come a time when a doe may need assistance; hence why good goat owners use kidding pens, mark down breeding dates, and anxiously dread--I mean await the arrival of their kids.
On the whole our does have been very good mothers, and have all had smooth labors. But, for what ever reason, this year has been rough on our does...
The Labor Log:
We always take notes of our new does labors. Since every doe is different, its important that we take note of specific behaviors and individual 'symptoms' of labor. And record the time intervals between the stages of labor. All this data is then used in subsequent kiddings so that we know when there is an issue, and when things are going smoothly for our soon to be mommas.
Since Zion was our first freshener this year, we really had no idea what to expect. And thankfully (just like mom) Zion is an evening kidding doe, which meant I was able to be home to catch her loosing her mucus plug, and record her labor.
Zion lost her mucus at around 5:30pm on a Sunday evening. She is a very quiet/private doe, so she disguised her contractions and other symptoms of labor well until the baby had actually entered the birthing canal; something I personally don't like, but it is normal for first timers to be 'secretive.'
The legs of the baby presented, but after five hard pushes, and a lot of grunting, no baby. I felt her vulva and could feel that the babies head was just a few inches away from being able to come out, but no progress was being made. So I pulled the legs forward (working with Zion's pushing and contractions). This helped streamline the baby, and with one more hard push, out she came! Mom wasted no time in greeting her new baby, and even as she was licking her face the kid (soaking wet) was already trying to stand! Zions little 'mini-me' doeling was up and walking within 5 minutes of being born, and is still a live wire two weeks later! I love the babies in Silvers lineage, they are super vital, and excellent attentive mothers!
O Lovely! The reason why I am such a freak about taking notes on our does labors, and will readily call out from work when does kid.... Lovely, true to form, is by far the most sneaky doe in the pen. She will eat right up until the moment of hard/heavy labor. Dosen't make even a grunt when she is pushing, and loves to kid early morning-- preferably 3-5 days sooner than her due date!
Lovely also likes to kid standing up, and being very attentive tends to get overwhelmed during multiple kid births. She will focus all her attention on one kid, and forget about the other. She needs help during labor with drying of kids since she doesn't seem to be able to multitask. Once kids are dry she is a fantastic mom, and will even adopt other does kids! She is just one of those does that you HAVE TO BE THERE for.
So it came as no surprise, that as we went to town the morning she gave birth, that we came home to one happy mostly dry little doe, and one with placenta over its face--dead. It was very disappointing, and 3 weeks later Lovely still tries to adopt Zions baby (that happens to look very similar to the dead baby)..kinda sad.
Kidding #3: THE NIGHTMARE---
This Kidding is the entire reason for this blog!
Cassie is our other wild-card. She kids day or night. Just whenever the kids are done cooking. Her labors are so fast and clean we never have to intervene. Just a text book easy kidder, always kids on the date projected, and even birthing with twins--she never has a problem caring for her own kids (and prefers that you stay out of her way!).
That was until 4/24/2017 at 5:30 pm. After getting home from work I went out to feed and milk goats. Cassie wasn't due until the 29th, so I was shocked to see her laying in the middle of her kidding pen. I asked her "What are you doing?" to which she replied with a text book "Cassie-lip-curl" signifying that she is in hard labor.
At record breaking speed I, fed the other goats, and called my husband out to help milk while I dealt with my poor pregnant goat. I had no idea how long she had been in labor for up to this point, and with kidding kit in hand I entered the pen to assist. Her vulva was bulging, but despite hard contractions and pushing--no legs, no nothing. Time to glove up! Soaked with lube, and after cleaning her with betadine I probed with my fingers to see what was going on. There was a set of toes so I pulled them forward, then I felt another set of toes and pulled them forward too. The legs progressed with the next push--then stopped. Another push, nothing, and another push--nothing.
Probing again I noticed something was dreadfully wrong--no nose/no face! I had to go in deeper to find out that the baby had its head tucked down between its legs! And worse yet, it was tangled with another kid!! I tried to pull the head up, no success. So I had to gently (working through the waves of hard pushes and contractions) get the legs back in, then pull the head up, get the head re-positioned, and try to keep it in line with the birth canal to extract the baby. THIS is where I wish I had a lambing snare--or piece of cord...which of course I didn't....
After 15 minutes of mom crying, grunting, and pushing, I was able to get the head and legs in the right spot, and deliver one enormous doeling. But it had already drown. I tried swinging the kid, and patting it to get its heart jump-started, but there was another kid on the way, and this one was already gone.
Momma was very tired at this point, lacerated from the size of the kid, the manipulation, and was barely contracting/having difficulty pushing on her own. Again (not having the preferred supplies I needed), I gave her an emergency drink of electrolytes, brewers yeast, and molasses water--which she guzzled! It was now 8:30pm since this whole ordeal started.
After resting, I went in for the second kid, and immediately noticed it was still completely encased in the placenta, and was wiggling and very much alive! She was in the right position, just needed help since momma was so tired from the first kid. Within a few minutes, the second enormous baby was coming out! Mom quickly assisted in cleaning the second LIVING kid, and after taking another drink of her 'Powerade" we let her bond with her gigantic doeling. The doling was born, dry, nursing, and walking around by moms side by 930pm
By 11pm the afterbirth presented itself, contractions stopped, and all was well......
Well, that's where we erred. Well was not well enough. I woke up early the next morning, still in my pajamas, and stumbled like a Zombie out to check on Cassie and her kid. Cassie was laying down, eyes dilated, and still panting! So I had her rise up, and pulled her out of the kidding shelter, and there was a leg! I knew the kid was dead, its leg was like ice, but it needed to come out, so momma could finally rest.
Gloving up again, and well lubed, with momma having a very swollen 'baboon butt' and being very in happy with me--I went in for the THIRD kid. Again, in breach. This time with its head folded backwards! Doing the same process as before (smoother this time) the kid was out within 15 minutes, and I was covered in sticky placenta. The third baby was just as big as the other three, and dead as suspected. With the dead kid removed, Momma and I rested together for a good 30minutes staring at one another.
The last kid was birthed at 6am. Making this goats labor at about 12 hours straight!
By 9am she had received an herbal 'spritz' to her very swollen mommy parts that will help reduce her swelling, and was enjoying a small breakfast with her living doeling. We will continue to keep a close eye on momma and giver her electrolytes for several days. This experience was excruciating for both of us, and its one I hope we will NEVER have to face again!
And in light of what we have both learned, WE would like to dedicate this blog post to new, or soon to be goat owners. With some Tips/advise on difficult goat labor. WE (the goat and I) do not recommend fetal manipulation for new goat owners, and STRONGLY advise having a veterinarian present to assist during hard labors like the one described above.
Unfortunately, we simply do not have any vets in our area qualified to assist in goat labor, and very few willing experienced goat people that are willing to drive 1hour out to our place at 12-1am and help us either. Which is the ONLY reason I even attempted what I did, or subject this doe to what she experienced. If we had trust worthy goat people we could contact for support, OR better yet a VET who knew what he/she was doing with livestock they would have been our first option!
Here are some examples of the ways kids can block their 'exit' to the world:
What we feel are useful things to have in your Goat Pregnancy Kit:
Pregnancy Kit (The BASICS):
++What we learned and WILL do in the future++
If we ever have to 'go-in' and pull a kid.. we will go in again and pull all the others immediately as well so the doe can rest sooner. Next, We will not rely on seeing contractions stopping or a passed placenta to tell us there are no other kids. We will check does with multiple kids in a hard labor situation.
We cannot afford a sonogram machine--however if it is affordable to YOU to get your doe checked by a vet (or purchase one for your farm) we recommend having does checked-- that way YOU already know how many kids to expect, and if one is missing--you know why.
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