The goat kidding season has begun. We were not expecting any of our goats to kid for at least 3 or 4 more days, but Brownie got a head start. This is only our second year of experience with goat kidding. There are several signs to look for like the udder freshening and looking hard or glossy, pelvic ligaments loosening at the tail head, a mucous discharge, swollen vulva, doe is very vocal, doe’s loss of appetite, pawing, sunken sides and sagging of stomach, unusual behavior, restlessness, or seeking solitude. Because we are still learning how to identify when a doe is going into labor, we were a little surprised. Brownie had bagged up, but the udders did not appear hard or glossy. Brownie has always been a little less social than the other does so seeing her by herself isn’t a huge alarm. But once we noticed her by herself for a prolonged period of time way out in the back part of the pasture, we thought we better go check on her.
As we walked out to her, we quickly realized she had already given birth to twins! One healthy size buckling was cleaned up and almost dry while the doeling was considerably smaller, very wet, and just recently born. Brownie is a very good mama and was cleaning her newest doeling as it tried to find its legs. We prefer not to intervene in the process as long as everything is going well.
We checked out the buckling (determined he was a buckling) and found him healthy. His umbilical cord was nice and trimmed no more than 3 inches and was not bleeding so we did not tie it off. Thus far we have not had the need to tie any umbilical cords off with dental floss, but are prepared if there is ever one that is long or bleeding a lot. We sprayed the umbilical cord with iodine to prevent infection and to help it dry up. We also sprayed the hooves to help them harden as kid hooves are so soft.
The buckling had no trouble finding the teat, but the smaller doeling was so wobbly and struggled to milk. She had a time even finding the right area, but then when she did it seemed her head was just too heavy to hold up and keep steady. The poor little girl’s head just bobbed all over trying or the buckling would bump her and she never could find her way. I’m sure it was because she was the second born and needed a little time, but I guided her more than once to the teat to make sure she nursed immediately to get colostrum. The doeling’s umbilical cord also looked good and we sprayed it and her hooves with iodine as well.
Brownie, our doe, was grazing in the pasture. We provided her with feed and water. She inhaled the feed. Initially, she did not seem to want the water. I thought this strange as they normally go straight for a white bucket and last year the water was devoured at kidding. She didn’t seem too weak to drink, but this was different and unexpected. She finally drank plenty of water when we held the bucket tilted up to her mouth.
We didn’t want to disturb them immediately, but after a time we did want to get mother and babies back down to the goat shelter before it got cold. It was a beautiful unseasonably warm day, but the wind was picking up and the forecast was 31 degrees that night. We carried both kids and walked the doe to the stall where there was plenty of hay and it was warmer. Although the buckling wobbled from time to time, he began curiously checking out his new surroundings. The runt doeling was still so wobbly and just wanted to rest. She didn’t even show interest in nursing when I tried to guide her. It seemed Mama wasn’t paying much attention to the runt and was tending to the buckling. I of course was worried. We kept a watch and after a time of resting, the doeling did get up and move around and found her way to nurse on her own. Then mama was attentive to her as well. I guess mama just knew better than we did that her baby needed to rest.
We checked in on them several more times that night and the next morning baby girl was looking so much stronger! She is still much smaller than her brother and her bleat is so tiny, but she seems healthy. Mama and big guy are doing great too.
We have been leaving our 4 month old Great Pyrenees puppy, Titus, in the goat pasture with the adult goats. He has been learning quickly and is doing well with the adults. However, he is too young and curious to be left alone around the babies. He is excited and needs more training. He listens and learns quickly and will make a fine livestock guardian dog once he matures. He is still a babe himself!
Last year Brownie’s kid was very dark with less variation in colors. The twins this year are dark, but have a lot more variance in color that make them so appealing!
We had been battling some major plumbing issues under the house (4 feet of water) the day Brownie went into labor. I am sure we were preoccupied and not as attentive as we should have been, but to be quite honest we really thought it would be later in the following week. Titus is not the only one that is still learning. We must do better about watching for all of the signs of labor. We are so thankful and blessed that it was a healthy birthing without complications and mama had it under control, but we should have been there sooner just in case she needed us.