They say that patience is a virtue. When it comes to kidding goats, this couldn’t be more true. They will kid when they want to, and no amount of coaxing or sweet talking will make them kid any sooner.
Goats usually have a gestation time of around 150 days, but they can kid up to five days early or five days late and still be considered within a safe range. This means there is a 10 day period with every doe when she could kid.
There are usually tell-tale signs, such as a full, tight udder, loosened tail ligaments (located at the base of the tail) and a dropped belly, indicating the internal ligaments are loosening and the babies are preparing for delivery. Generally does also get milk before kidding.
However, even if a doe has all of these signs, she may still hold on for a few days. This is what happened to me. I have seven Boer does that are due to kid this month, and they are all due within 10 days of each other. However, using our five day rule, this really means I have a 20 day window in which they could kid.
If it were up to me, all seven does would kid with a day or two of each other, and then everyone would be happy. That’s not how it usually works, though.
They say that things happen in threes. During the 2012 year I found this to be especially true, yet it was usually three bad events, not three good ones — 2013 is proving to be different, thankfully.
My first three event sequence of the year happened on January 9. Each morning, I get up around 4 a.m., to head out to check my livestock, and usually get there around 4:45. On this particular morning, I pulled into the barn, hoping that I would finally hear those kids cries I so desperately wanted to hear.
I opened the door to the barn, and heard nothing but the adult does calling to me. I flipped on the light, and checked the first pen of does. Nothing. Then I headed to the second pen, where I got a surprise. There were two buck kids laying in the pen!
The doe, named Lola, was cleaning her kids and getting them stimulated. This process is especially important, because it is when the doe and her kids bond. I usually help the doe dry her kids off when they have them this time of year, however, because they can chill easily. I then usually stay long enough for the kids to get up and nurse, and then let them be.
I did this with these two kids, and got them warmed up under the heat lamp. I was so excited to finally have some of my kids on the ground. I then checked the other does, and felt no one looked close, so I headed out.
I headed back from my day trip around 3 p.m., and got a text from the family where I am keeping my goats that I had two more kids that had been born. Four kids in one day! I couldn’t wait to get back.
I finally got to the barn, and was ecstatic to see two more healthy bucklings. The doe, who is a 2011 daughter of Lola, the doe who kidded that morning, was not as thrilled, however.
Sometimes maiden does do not understand what happened, and slick, slimy little alien like creatures can scare them. This doe wanted nothing to do with her kids, which can mean big trouble.
In situations like this, it is important to get the doe to accept the kids as soon as possible, because bottle babies are a lot of work, and I prefer for my kids to be dam raised. To get her to accept her kids, however, can be a fight.
The best solution I have found is to halter the doe, and tie her to a rail so she can’t run off. A second handler to hold her works as well. Then the kids are placed at her udder, and I hold up one of her hind legs so that she doesn’t kick the kids, and kick them off her teats.
This process, with time, usually gets a doe to accept her kids. It’s not foolproof, however, and requires patience and time. After working with the doe for several hours, I was finally able to get her to allow both kids to nurse with me holding her foot and she was kicking much less.
I knew this wasn’t going to be an overnight process, and after several sessions she started getting better. She now calls to them and licks them, and doesn’t kick them off nearly as much while they nurse. This was such a relief.
Now, there is one part I forgot to mention. When I got to the barn, I noticed yet another doe in labor. I usually like to let the does have their babies on their own if possible, so I left her alone.
However, after an hour of intense labor, she still did not have any kids by her side. I made the decision to check her, and after putting on sterile gloves and going inside, I immediately knew there was a problem.
I could feel a large item, but no legs. Usually the legs come first, as that allows for the shoulders to move, allowing the body to pass through the birth canal. I was able to quickly determine that not only were there not legs leading, but the kid was breach, which means it was coming hind end first.
This type of a situation is really bad for a doe, because she can’t push the hips and legs through at the same time. I had to push the kid forward in the birth canal, and pull back its feet. Once I get the feet clear, it’s usually easy to pull the kid out the rest of the way with gentle pressure.
At first I was worried the kid had died, as it wasn’t moving. I cleared the face, nose and mouth, and finally the kid took a breath. Once I had this doeling’s face completely cleared, I checked for a second kid. This kid was presented normally, front feet and head first. She passed this one easily, and I took a sigh of relief.
The doe, who I call Cassie, then got up, and started cleaning off her twin doelings. I left her be, and she soon had them clean, and up and nursing.
They say that good things come to those who wait, and I feel very fortunate that I was able to have six healthy babies in one day. It was quite a bit of work, but completely worth it.
I eagerly await the arrival of the babies from the last four Boer does to kids, and will be heading to National Western Stock Show in the middle of January to show two Boer doeling that were born last year. It will be my first year showing at this show, and I am excited to participate in this prestigious show.
I have two pigs that are due shortly after that, so I will have more babies than I know what to do with. January is always such an exciting month! ❖