Woody Glen Kidding Season: 5 does, 18 Kids
Documented by Meg Cook
This year marks an exciting new development at Woody Glen Farm. In the past, does have been bred by our herd sires. Bucks are kept in a separate pen and when the doe is in heat, we let her into the pen to be bred. As soon as the buck does his job 2 or 3 times, the doe is brought back out of his pen and back with the does. Then we mark the calendar for 145 days until kids arrive.
This year, Julia had the idea to try artificial insemination. The semen is kept cryogenically frozen in a tank and must be extracted carefully. The doe has to be in standing heat and the semen inserted just right. Two out of three tries took and two does became pregnant via artificial insemination – a huge success. Miraculously, 5 straws of semen resulted in 9 kids!
Our first kidding was a first freshener (first timer), Piper, who was bred by our buck Moonwalk. Piper was born just under a year earlier – the day I arrived at Woody Glen Farm – so her birth was an exciting way to start off the kidding season.
Piper went into labor the morning of February 21st and gave birth to two healthy girls at 3:30pm. The birth was fairly easy – the first girl was born breech (feet first) but she was huge and pulling her out quickly was difficult. But the second girl was born head and front hooves first and came out very fast without assistance. The girls were named Sun Sprite and Moon Dancer for their coloring and also for their sire Moonwalk. We retained beautiful Sun Sprite.
Polly’s Kids: Quads!
Our next doe of the season, Polly, was our first birth resulting from artificial insemination! We were all looking forward to seeing what kind of kids our beautiful Polly and Chocolate Crinkle would throw. In particular, we were looking forward to naturally polled kids (kids born without horns). Typically, we remove horns when kids are a week old, a necessary but difficult task. Since Polly is polled, there was a 50% chance that her kids will inherit that gene. We were also looking forward to some interesting coloring since Chocolate Crinkle is black and white.
Polly went into early labor the morning of March 26 and progressed throughout the day and into the evening. She began pushing at about 9:30 pm, and we prepared for the birth. However, she didn’t progress. After 30 minutes, we decided to see what was going on. Our friend Jaya went in with gloves and lube. She felt a firm body part, what she thought was either a butt or some part of the head. We waited a little longer, and Polly had some big pushes. She made a lot of good progress, pushing the babies up the birth canal. About twenty minutes later, there was bulging and a bubble less than a finger length inside. That bubble burst and was followed by a veined bubble, though we couldn’t see any body parts inside.
At about 10:30 pm, Jaya determined that multiple kids were trying to be born at one time after a black and white hoof emerged and then retreated back into the canal. The tangled babies were the reason Polly was having a hard time progressing.
Jaya and Julia both felt around inside, attempting to determine which hooves belonged to which head and which baby we should try and pull out first. They could feel two heads and multiple legs, and Jaya pulled a miracle untangling the babies and figuring out which hooves went where. After rooting around inside poor Polly, Jaya finally pulled one front hoof out. Soon after, a head followed with the tongue sticking out. Polly pushed hard and the baby was born, a black and white buckling. He was BIG.
The second baby was born at 11:05pm – a golden doeling. Her ears were flattened from being tangled up with her brother, but she came out front hooves and head first.
The third baby was backwards, presenting with his back hooves. Once Jaya recognized this, we pulled the baby out so it wouldn’t suffocate. The baby was halfway out when the head became stuck. When kids come back feet first, they usually try to take a breath when the umbilical cord breaks, which can cause them to suffocate. Pulling hard, Julia and Jaya got the baby out: a buckling with a golden brown and white coat.
A fourth bubble appeared, just as we were beginning to think she was finished. Baby number four presented with two hooves that Jaya grasped hold of, part way out. Jaya reached in further after she identified it as a front hoof and found the head. The baby began to turn her head back over her neck, which would make it impossible for her to come out. Jaya realized this and reached in further to turn the baby’s head back around. After that, it was smooth sailing, and the little doe came out alive. Another black and white baby!
Four gorgeous kids from Polly (All That Glitters) and Chocolate Crinkle. We retained the beautiful black and white buck and the black and white doe. Three of the kids are polled and only one horned! For the WIN!
Mia and Willo – 2 Births in 10 minutes!
We had two does, a mother and daughter team, with a due date one day apart! It just so happened that they both went into labor on the same day – April 21st!
Both does were obviously in labor as they were talking (Willo was yelling) all day long! We thought Willo, the daughter, would go first, but her mother Mia wanted her babies out! Mia was unhappy about Willo hanging around her when she was going to give birth. We had hoped they could be together during kidding and after, but Mia would have none of it. So we put a barrier up in our large birthing pen so they could be side by side without interfering in each other’s births.
Mia started pushing at 3:30pm, but didn’t progress for a full hour. We decided to go in and see if we could feel anything. I went in with one finger, then two – then three. I only felt tissue. Five minutes later, Julia went in and felt a baby bubble, still far back. Mia started pushing more – big pushes, making good progress.
The first bubble burst suddenly. Mia continued pushing, but we could see it was hard for her. I went in and felt the bubble and what I thought was a mouth but was actually one of the back hooves. Mia pushed, and the bubble burst as the hooves came out. We confirmed that the hooves were in fact back hooves before pulling. Julia said pull! An almost all white buckling was born healthy!
As we were wiping down the first baby, I felt inside Mia. The next kid bubble was coming fast. The second baby was born back feet first as well, a doeling with golden brown fur and white belt.
As we were wiping off the second baby, a red sac came out, hanging. This was most likely the sac that is connected to the placenta, which was concerning. Julia instructed me to go in and feel what was behind the placenta. We worried about dead babies, since there was no way Mia only had two in there.
I went in again and felt that the sac was connected to something behind a bubble. Good news! The bubble was still intact. I felt a mouth but no hooves. Mia suddenly pushed, and the baby came out fast, front hooves and nose first. The third baby was another buckling.
Mia stood up, licking her three babies as the fourth bubble came out. Out came a fourth kid with no assistance from us. The buckling was born healthy (and gold and white just like the other 3!).
Mia had four beautiful kids— all gold and white like their daddy. Three bucks and one doe.
About 15 minutes after Mia’s birth concluded, we looked over at Willo and realized she was starting to push! Our friend Jen had been kidding-sitting for Willo while we were occupied with Mia. Julia went over to Willo’s side of the kidding pen while I stayed with Mia.
Willo was doing fine on her own so we just watched and waited. She was silent, focused and working hard! Julia felt two hooves. Willo yelled and the baby boy was born back feet first with a little pulling to get him out fast.
The second bubble came soon after. Willo pushed this baby out front feet first easily. An all white girl! She had some gunk in her mouth and nose, and we had to use extra suction to get her clear.
The third baby came out head first and was born easily as well. Willo had three babies, and we were all in shock! We had been sure she only had two. She did exceptionally well for a first freshener and was a model mother!
Dili’s Kids: Surprise Quints!
Dili went into one-day-early labor on the morning of July 3rd. Her ligaments softened, and she began talking to her kids inside! We excitedly began to prepare to meet Dili’s kids that afternoon.
Her contractions began and quickly became more intense and closer together. By 3pm, the contractions were less than two minutes apart. At 3:50pm, Dili began to push, took a 15 minute break, and then kept working. Julia noted that a bubble was coming, and we encouraged Dili to push the kids out herself. If there was a problem, we would go in to untangle and fish out the kids. We were hopeful that wouldn’t happen, even though we were expecting quads since Dili was enormous!
As the bubble emerged, it burst, and Julia was able to feel that the baby’s hooves were upside down – meaning the baby was coming out back feet first. We went into action to help Dili get the kid out quickly. Julia reached in and pulled the back legs of the baby as Dili pushed. The baby was a boy and perfectly healthy.
As we were cleaning the baby, the next kid bubble appeared. This time, the baby presented front feet and nose first and was delivered quickly by Dili. This one was a girl, similar black markings to the first boy.
Dili took a quick break, and then began pushing once more. We worried there might be two kids trying to be born at once as she wasn’t progressing. Julia reach inside and felt three hooves. She was able to push one back, and the two front hooves came forward. It was clear this was a big baby as Dili was struggling. We grabbed his front legs to help him come out. Another boy! This time, a chamoisée like his mother! He looked huge compared to the first two kids already born.
We were expecting quads from Dili this year, so we weren't surprised when another kid bubble appeared. Dili had shifted positions to clean her babies, so I delivered the next baby, feeling around for hooves and a mouth – which I found! I even felt the little teeth in the baby’s mouth. Dili pushed the fourth baby out into my arms, and I brought him around to his mama immediately so she could lick him clean as I cleared up any gunk from his mouth and nose. This fourth baby was a boy as well, and black and white like the first two babies. We mused about having to tell the three of them apart and we happily watched Dili cleaning her kids.
Suddenly, Dili began pushing again. I looked back to see another bubble – a kid bubble – emerging! Dilli was about to have quints!
We quickly prepared for the last kid to be born. He presented front hooves first and was born easily into my hands. Shocked, we handed Dili her fifth kid. This boy was another chamoisée like his mother and the big boy.
We helped her by making sure each kid got colostrum. Two at a time, we helped them latch onto the teats until their tummies were full, and we were satisfied that they had all gotten enough.
Whew, that was a heck of a kidding season! Now as I publish this, we are thinking about who will be bred to whom and in the spring we will begin again!
Dilihi was named by my granddaughter, Lucy, who owns this lovely doe. The name is Cherokee for "Brave One". We call her Dili for short.
Dili let me know she was in labor early in the morning by talking to me and by midday she had stringy discharge so I knew it was going to happen soon. My friend Jaya came over again to assist in the birth as she had been invaluable in the last birthings that had been so difficult. Little did we know this was going to be another tough one!
She seemed to get down to business early in the afternoon but although she seemed to be trying to push, nothing was happening. So after watching her do this for about an hour, we decided to check to see if her cervix was dilated. What we found was a partially dilated cervix. But after going in there to feel, she started to really yell and push. After about 30 minutes a bubble appeared. Jaya felt again and said the back end of the baby was presenting but had its hocks presenting at the opening of the pelvis. The baby was stuck there. It seems there wasn't enough pressure on the cervix to dilate it properly because of this odd position the baby was in. Jaya reached in and pushing the baby forward some was able to get her back legs to come out first. When she came out though, she was extremely weak. We tried swinging her, suctioning her mouth and rubbing her vigorously but she never seemed to be able to breathe. I even tried mouth to mouth. She had her mouth open and struggled to breathe. She lived for about 10 minutes and then slipped away. We believe she was oxygen deprived during the birth as happens sometimes with butt-first breeches.
The second baby came without much fanfare although she had one leg forward and one back. and she was vigorous and strong. Shortly after that, number 3 came out easily too and was also vigorous.
We are sad to lose another baby. We had 3 sets of triplets out of 4 births but in two of the sets we lost one. Farm life can be heartbreaking but overall it is extremely rewarding.
We always hope for easy kiddings but sometimes things just go wrong. Surrey is 8 this year and this is her 8th kidding. Days before she was due, she started acting strange. She was rolling to her enormous sides and moaning and stretching which looked like early labor but she had no other signs. Day 143 came and went and I was surprised she didn't go then because the last two years she had. On day 145, she was still acting strange so I had a vet come out and check her. Nope, not in labor. But shortly after the vet left Surrey started talking. I knew this was it! Surrey never says a word unless she's in labor or in heat. She also had clear goo coming out. Babies are coming! I called my friend Jaya who has Nigerian Dwarfs also to see if she could be available to help me. The night before this night she had a very difficult birth with one of her does and I couldn't be there to help her so her coming to my rescue was above and beyond (she had been up all night!). She said she would come.
By sundown she seemed to be moving right along in labor and we thought it would be over before midnight. She was having hard contractions and even seemed to be pushing at times. At about midnight we turned lights off and bedded down in the barn and Jaya slept. I was worried sick and knew there was something not right. I did try to "go in" once and check her but I didn't go in very far and felt nothing.
As I laid there watching her, it occurred to me that she was definitely pushing and nothing was happening and while I kept hoping babies were going to pop out any second, I knew I needed to intervene and SOON. So at about 3 I woke Jaya up and said, "We have to go in and see what's going on". She was very foggy and half asleep so I said, "I'm going to DO it!" I took of my ring and lubed up and dove in. I could feel a kid bubble down in there and reaching farther I could feel something round. Didn't feel like a head though, it felt like a hip bone or something. In frustration I said to Jaya, "will YOU feel?". She said okay, so I'm going to just go for it. I'm going to make my hand small and go all the way in (so BRAVE!) So she took off her rings and told me to keep them safe (wedding rings), she put on a OB glove (goes on up to shoulders!) and we lubed her up and she dove in. Within seconds she said, "here is a head! And legs! Oh wait! There are 3 legs here!" Two kids trying to be born at once! So the trick in this situation is to push one kid back and bring the other one forward. Trouble is she couldn't figure out who belonged to which legs! But like a pro (she'd never done this before!!) she carefully brought one kid (with the head she could find) up to the entrance. Within minute or two more, the first one was born! A beautiful golden girl!
Whew (we thought!). Should be easy now, right? But no. The second kid presented quickly with 2 front legs and no head. What? Where's the head? Confused we tried to figure out what was going on. Then we realized the head was back over the shoulders! The most dreaded presentation! The trick is to get the head turned around to the front so he can come out in a diving position. Jaya got to work immediately and started trying to work the head around. Sometimes the head will snap back in these situations and it's very difficult to do. I pulled out a sheet to look at showing this presentation. I don't know if it helped as she was concentrating hard on the task. She pushed the legs back in to give her more room to work. Finally she said, "I think I've got it!" and sure enough the kid presented at the opening head and feet first. We pulled him on out and he was a little limp and full of fluid. We sucked out goop from his mouth and nose and got him breathing and gave him to Surrey to start cleaning.
Because she was so large before labor, we pretty much figured there was at least one more. Before we could finish cleaning off baby number 2, a sack appeared. It was red and I remember Jaya said, "is that bad if it's red?" I think I said not necessarily but we need to break it and see what's behind it. So we did. Baby sack presented right away but incredibly, there were just 2 front feet there again and no head! Without hesitation, Jaya dove in again to start working on getting his head around to the front. We could feel the urgency of the situation since this kid was last and could be more oxygen deprived. He was a little smaller so there was a little more room to work in there. It's all kind of a blur but it seems like it didn't take too long before she had his head around and he was out! He was very limp and full of fluid also and took more time to get going. He was the smallest too. Turned out he was 2 lbs 13 oz, the middle boy was 3 lbs 3 oz, and the girl who came first was 4 lbs 3 oz.
They are all alive and well and beautiful kids! Surrey did so great and Jaya was truly the hero in this difficult kidding. When you think about it, Surrey would have died if no one had intervened in her birthing and of course her 3 kids too. We're all kind of afraid to do it, but sometimes it saves lives to just be brave and step outside your comfort zone.
Leela told me she was in labor early in the morning on her 147th day. Her ligaments were almost gone and her udder was suddenly full and tight. Good signs of labor. As the day progressed she has streams of clearish goo which is another good sign of labor. I had two friends who wanted to be present-- one of which is having her own babies soon and will be her first kidding, and the other is my helper/farm sitter girl. So Hannah and Jaya came over in the afternoon and we began the long wait. For her past 2 kiddings, she was in labor early and had the kids by lunch time. But this time everything seemed slowed down. After hours of watching her in the barn (freezing!) we came in the house and watched her on the barn cam. At around 9 pm, I saw her stretching her legs out like a good contraction so I went down there to check on her. Then I knew something was wrong. She had discharge that looked bloody-colored and like tissue. From things that I've read, I understood that to mean she probably had lost one of the kids inside :( The bloody color was because the placenta will begin to detach if one of the kids dies. I called my vet who said he didn't have his truck, it was in the shop, but I could meet him at his vet hospital. So the girls helped me and we loaded up Leela and took her for the short 10 minute drive to the hospital.
Poor Leela was simply terrified when we got there. She was shaking like a leaf. The vet checked her internally and found that while she was in fact dilated, the kids were not in the birth canal. However, with his hands poking and prodding in there, she began to push after awhile and the kids started moving up into the birth canal. The vet gave Leela a sedative to help calm her down (she was screaming!). I was worried she might be too groggy to push but it didn't seem to affect her much. When one body of a kid presented itself, it was UPSIDE down and one leg first. You could see it was a front leg, but it was pointing UP toward the ceiling instead of down. After long attempts to get the kid turned around, she suddenly popped out and was alive! With great relief we put her in front of her mother to start cleaning. After only a minute or two, another baby popped right out, this time back feet first. Another girl! She was also alive and wiggly and we were all squealing with joy at the sight of her!
After the second baby came out, a big red bag came out which is what the placenta looks like when it starts coming. The fluid-filled bag helps give weight to the placenta to ease it in coming loose. However, Leela was continuing to push, so we knew there was another baby in there. Another vet arrived at this time to help (one of the other vets I use). He reached in and said that yes, there was one more baby in there. It took awhile to get to him, and he came out in a full sack of fluid. He was stillborn. He looked full term also and probably died that day. The vets boxed him up in a cooler to take for a necropsy so I would know what had happened to cause him to die. More on that later.
So at 2:30 in the morning we arrived back home with our tired girls but the drama wasn't over yet! I put Leela and her kids in their private stall where I saw them nurse again before I went to bed. At 5 a.m. I heard in the baby monitor, a kid screaming! I jumped up and looked in the barn cam monitor and saw the kid running around in the stall screaming for her mother and Leela was laying in the corner ignoring her! My first thought was that Leela was in trouble-- a torn uterus or something bad. I ran down to the barn and was surprised to see her rejecting her babies! She seemed not to know them anymore! Thinking quickly, I put her on the milkstand and milked out her colostrum and since I had bottles right there too, I fed both babies with bottles. Then I went back to bed for another hour and by then it was morning. Things were no better so I fed the kids a bottle again. Leela was desperate to get OUT of the pen and ran to the gate where we had carried the kids in the night before. Standing with her feet on the gate, she was yelling at the top of her lungs "WHERE ARE MY KIDS???" No amount of coercing would convince her these two darling girls were hers. But then I remembered something else I had read. I knew that trauma could cause this and certainly she had been traumatized, BUT I also read that strong scents could confuse the mother. The kids had been dried with towels that had very strong bleach smell on them. So, I rubbed my hand across her goopy backside and smeared the scent of HER on her kid's heads and butts. I also put a little colostrum on their heads and butts too for good measure. It WORKED! Within a short time she started taking care of them, nuzzling them and whispering "oh THERE you are!!" Whew!! So happy not to have bottle babies. Not to mention what an excellent mother she is and that's irreplaceable!
Baby buckling was found to have a birth defect called a diaphragmatic hernia. A hole is in the diaphragm which allows the stomach to be pushed up into the lungs. He never had a chance. So sorry little buckling but so happy your sisters are healthy and happy!
I can't believe it's the end of October. So much has happened since I last blogged. Two of my does had kids and this fall we had some buck drama. So, I will recap what happened in all three and try to make this a good story!
SURREY's KIDS 2015
On June 17th, Surrey let me know today was the day, but not until afternoon. By evening it was clear that she was going to have them overnight. Trouble with Surrey is she is very stoic. She pushes her babies out with barely a grunt, let alone a yell. So, when it got to be bedtime and she didn't seem quite ready to have them, I bedded myself down in her kidding stall to be there in case she needed me. In the wee hours of the night she came over to me and started licking me all over and then curled up with me putting her head across me. (Aw so sweet!!). Overnight she had a lot of strong labor pains that I mistook for pushing. She didn't really have a good push until 5 a.m.
At close to 6 a.m. the sun was starting to rise and I could here the chickens "talking" wanting to come out of their overnight hen house. Also, I really needed to pee! So I checked Surrey with my fingers to see if any kids were presenting and felt nothing there. SO, I dashed out and let the chickens out-- and ran into the house to pee. As I came out of the bathroom, I glanced at the iPad (monitor) of the barn cam which was focused on Surrey. To my surprise I watched a black and white KID POP OUT. Yep, thanks Surrey (LOL). She pushed that kid out the second I left after spending the night with her. I ran down there and pulled the kid around to her to clean. She was fine. But maybe a minute later, the next kid was presenting back feet first. She was so busy cleaning the first one she barely noticed. The kid was stuck halfway for a few seconds and then when born was COVERED in slime and was choking on it trying to breathe. There is always a lot of birth fluid, but she seemed to have more than her share and it was in her mouth, nose and throat. Plus she was very weak. I hung her by her feet while talking to my vet on the phone, suctioned nose, rubbed and rubbed her little body and she started coming around. If I had not been there, she probably wouldn't have made it because her mama was so intent on the first baby, she hadn't noticed the second one at all. Two healthy and beautiful doelings from my super mama Surrey. The back and white one we retained for our farm. She is adorable and beautiful too. We named her Mia Bella. Her sister was sold to a farm when she was 10 weeks old.
DILI's BIRTHING-- June 22nd
June 22nd it was Dilihi's turn to have her kid. She went into labor on her day 145 (right on time). She labored all afternoon and had her ONE big boy in the evening. It was a tough labor for her since it was her first time and he was BIG. But she did very well and took to mothering like a natural. He came out head and one front leg first and I had to pull a little and get my fingers around his shoulder, then he popped right out (she was screaming the whole time). Whew, next one will be easier, Dili! Congrats!
BUCK DRAMA-- September 2015
In September, I decided to sell Cha Ching, who had fathered most of the kids I had in 2015, and buy a new (and better) buck. Cha Ching was a sweetie but after growing up and becoming an adult, it was clear what his conformational faults were. He had a unnaturally wide chest which made him walk funny-- almost stiff legged. Also he had a "steep rump" which if inherited by any of his daughters could mean difficult births in their future. So after shopping for a new buck and selling Cha Ching, I found an older very handsome buck and traveled to Tennessee to get him. He had an outstanding pedigree and had been shown some-- so I assumed he would be easy to handle. He did turn out to be fairly easy to handle but that wasn't the problem. Introducing him to Zeus went fairly well although Zeus decided right away that he wasn't giving up his position in the buck pen. He harassed Nite Rider constantly. Just normal buck behavior-- trying to rub his scent on him and "talking" to him the way bucks do. Leela came into heat and things got hot and heavy in the buck pen but still they seemed to work it out. Leela had a really odd heat which lasted 6 days. 6 days of begging for the boys and 6 days of being bred to them. At first I bred her to Rider but she kept begging for more each day so I put her in with both boys and they both bred her. I will have to do a DNA test to see who's babies are who's when they are born (but that's another story). Anyway, after the drama of Leela's heat the real trouble started. I noticed the two bucks really going at it one afternoon. They were slamming their heads with full force into each other. After a few hours of this, I heard them in the large dog house-- Rider had trapped Zeus in there and was ramming him on his side! I ran in and grabbed Zeus and dragged him to the barn where I locked him in. He was covered in blood and obviously in pain-- panting and crying. I left them apart overnight and the next morning tried to put them back together but no way. They started fighting again. Zeus was in such obvious pain, I called my vet to come out. He said the poor guy had a concussion and his wounds were infected. He gave him antibiotics and pain killers by injection. I started to build a separate pen for them but they settled down again and I thought they had probably worked out and established who was king of the buck pen. Well that lasted about a week and then one day they were at it again. This time I was sure one of them was going to die. Rider had Zeus trapped in the barn and was ramming him again! I pulled them apart again and built a separate temporary pen where I put one of them in there at a time. At one point, Rider rammed into the fence between him and Zeus and knocked it down BENDING the cattle panel with his force. It was time to let him go. The woman I had bought him from agreed to let me bring him back and exchange for young buckling with very similar pedigree. He and Rider had the same dam (a wonderful doe with great milk and show pedigree). I drove him back there and picked up a very small 5 month old polled buckling I named Einstein (he needed a strong name to live with Zeus right?). They have become best-buds. Zeus rubs himself all over the little guy but Einstein tolerates it. When he grows up, he will one day protest, but it's unlikely they will fight to the death as they will already have established their pecking order. Welcome Einstein!!
Khaki let us know early in the morning that she was thinking about having her kids. She is normally very quiet but she started "talking" to us (or her kids). This was her first time and she was at day 144. I watched her all day long but didn't put her in the kidding pen until she started having visible contractions. That was late into the evening around 8. I had some close friends that wanted to be here for the birth, one of them planning to buy two of her kids-- a doeling and a wether. I was hoping to keep a doeling out of this breeding as well.
The 4 of us sat with Khaki for 4 hours as she labored in late 1st stage labor. She was so intent on her work and would stand staring intently at the wall for each contraction as they got closer and closer. Finally she laid down and started to push. On her very first push she let out a yell so we knew babies were on the way into the birth canal.
As the first kid arrived at the opening, things didn't look quite right. There was a baby bubble emerging but it was surrounded by her cervix which was dilated only about the size of a half-dollar! I started to panic and thought to call the vet but there really didn't seem like there was time since it appeared she would push her whole uterus out with this baby if we couldn't get it through the opening! So I took a deep breath and started working my fingers around the opening carefully widening it. It was very thin-- I guess it "effaces" like in humans before it dilates. Working and stretching it worked and the kids head and one leg appeared and emerged. A little wiggling and working of this kid and she was out at 10 minutes before midnight (Easter Sunday)! A beautiful little doeling who stood up within a few minutes and started walking around!
In 20 minutes she started pushing again. This time a huge head emerged and one leg out in front. This kid was enormous! With a little assistance again on my part, he came out. He was a large buckling that weighed in at 4 lbs 9 oz (doe weighed 3 lbs 12 oz). They were both up on their feet walking around in minutes.
They both started nursing right away, as soon as we could get Khaki to stand up. She had been so big I was sure she had 3 or 4 kids. But after the buckling came, her placenta started coming out so we knew she was done.
Another lesson learned on this kidding: they can gain too much weight by eating lots of alfalfa throughout their pregnancy! As we still have 2 more does to kid, I have cut back on the access to alfalfa for the pregnant girls. The 2 girls in milk still get all they want.
The two kids are sold to a lovely woman who is living in my town (first time!). She is learning all about goat care from me and helped with disbudding and care of these two cuties.
As Leela's due date approached I checked her several times a day for her ligaments to soften or other signs. Her due date came and went without incidence. But that evening she started "talking" which is one of her signs. She is normally a very quiet doe except when she has kids. I checked her ligaments and they were definitely softening. I could still feel them though so I didn't think she'd have them overnight. I was right.
The next morning her ligaments were gone and she was very talkative. I called a friend to come help me in case I needed it. I gathered all the supplies -- lots of warm towels and the kidding kit and sat in the pen with her. I could see her having contractions all morning. She would stand up and sort of stretch UP and her belly would become very hard and round. Hours into this stage we could tell they were coming faster.
Another friend arrived to take the place of the first one because she had to go to work. Right after she left, Leela gave her first big push (see 1st picture). Soon after there was a gush of fluid-- one of the sacks had broken. The first kid soon presented but with only one foot and the head. While she was pushing with all her might I worked my fingers around to the shoulder of the kid and sort of wiggled and pulled until she came out. She was BIG. Leela took to mothering her right away. The little doeling was trying to walk in just a few minutes and already started looking for the teat. In 20 minutes the second kid arrived without too much fanfare as he was in the diving position (head and two hooves). She was happy to see him too and probably glad to be finished!
At first I was waiting for another but afterbirth started coming out so I knew she was done. Both babies nursed right away. I weighed them using a fish scale and put the kids into a cloth shopping bag (one at a time). The doeling weighed 4 lbs 10 oz and the buckling weighed 4 lbs 6 oz!!! Nigerian Dwarf kids average about 2 to 31/2 lbs. These kids were a result of my overfeeding Leela by allowing her to have grain during the last month of her pregnancy. Lesson learned! I will not give grain to my pregnant does until their kids are born ever again!!
The kids are both polled!! I'm so excited about not having to disbud them! And also it is easier to sell polled kids! I will be keeping the little girl and I already have someone interested in the boy. He is very flashy and adorable! The girl is very pretty too! What a happy day!!
I've been thinking a lot about how to ensure that my kids are easy to sell for good prices. My main reason for selling them at good prices is that they are more likely to go to good homes if someone is looking for quality stock. My goats are raised primarily for milk so I breed for good milk production first and show lines second. There is a saying in the goat world, "your buck is 1/2 the herd". So recently I started looking at farms not too far away (Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina as well as my state of North Carolina). I wanted to find a buck or buckling I could breed UP my herd with --one that would have great champion parents and grandparents and from excellent milking lines. My two bucks now are good, but not superior in that regard.
So yesterday I found him! He is almost 5 months old and I purchased him from Fields of Grace farm -- I had been lusting after her goats for a couple of years. She's in Sevierville TN. This boy not only has great genetics (champion parents and grandparents, plus his 1/2 sister is a top producer in milk. Then to top it all off, he is POLLED (naturally hornless) and has moonspots! My first goat with moonspots! He's adorable and will be a beautiful herd sire!
Fields of Grace FL Zeus
Sire: J-Nels GP Freelance
SS: J-Nels SQ Gray Poupon *S
(Rosasharn SS Sequoia *B x CH/MCH J-Nels ER Dumplin 1*M -LA 2011 EEEV 90, 2012 VEEE 90)
SD: CH Steele Ballew Lantanna *D
(MCH Steele Ballew Blue Bayou x MCH/PGCH Half Pint Flora)
Dam: Little Tots Estate Cleome
DD: PGCH Woodhaven Farms Cowgirl 1*M
(Woodhaven Farms Texas Twister x MCH/PGCH Flat Rocks Opal *D)
DS: GCH SM3Pines PT Tsaber +B
(Little Tots Estate Pseudotsuga x ARMCH Gay-Mor Berry’s Jurassic 1*M
His Dam’s daughter (his 1/2 sister) Little Tots Estate ST Nahar milked over 1000 lbs in the last 2 years and was both 2013 AGS National Top 10 305 day test and Top 10 1 day test winning and 2013 Sue Rucker Silver JUJU Award!
So here it is January 18 and my best doe Leela is due in 9 days! I'm assuming she will kid on the same "day" as she did last year which was 146. She's very large but because she is such a LONGGGG doe, she carries the multiple kids very well and is not so much wide as she is DEEP.
I have been busily making preparations for kids-- I put a heat lamp in the kidding stall and built a kid hut out of a barrel and put a small heat lamp (100w) in the top of it so the kids can go in there and cuddle up for warmth. I also cut a new door for the kidding stall to the outside and made some portable hog panels (cut down from 16 feet to 8 feet for portability) sections that link together to create a small outside pen for Leela and her kids to stay in for a few days until everyone is acclimated. My does usually get very antsy to rejoin the herd by the 3rd day but I feel like it's crucial for her to have one-on-one time with her kids to get to know them and solidify her role as mom. This particular doe was not too happy to be a mom her last time when she had triplets. She chose one of the three to love and dote on and the others pretty much had to fight for teat time. Subsequently, the one doeling whom I retained (Khaki) grew fat and strong and the other two did fine but were never as big. I ended up getting the littlest one back when her new owners decided to sell her. Her mom is still mean to her but she is a trooper anyway. She is MUCH smaller than Khaki and I will be waiting to breed her until she is close to a year old.
So the waiting game is ON. I will post pics of the new kids and blog (brag) about them soon!
Finally, 7 month old (and a whopping 50lb) Khaki came into heat again and I watched her daily for flagging and interest in the boys through the fence. She had a big glob of white estrous one day so I knew we were close. But the next day passed and still no flagging. Then the next day came and still no flagging or interest! But when I checked her vulva it was swollen and "open" looking so I knew she must be in standing heat! So on a whim, I pushed all the girls into the barn except Khaki and let Cha Ching in to see her. At first she ran from him but then she was interested and started flagging. It took him about 30 seconds to breed her -- so fast I missed it on my video even though I was filming. But she most definitely tucked under after his big thrust. So I let them hang out for awhile to see if he could do it again. He tried and tried and she patiently waited flagging her tail and standing for him and just before I was going to give up, she jumped up on the bench and he did too, and he managed to penetrate again-- she jumped down and stopped to tuck again. I was so pleased! I put him back in with the boys and Toro took after him with great displeasure! About 3 hours later she was still flagging at the fence so I brought Cha Ching in again for another try and he was again successful! We'll see if she comes back into heat but I have a feeling 3 times will do the trick! So excited to see this beautiful couple's kids! If she settles, she'll be due about April 1st (she'll be one-year-old on April 2nd!).
Sorry for the graphic pics but for those who are learning, this is what it looks like when the buck makes penetration (last pic). Then the doe will tuck her bottom under which may be to pull the semen in to ensure she will be bred. I find it all fascinating!
I love to tell the story of how I came to have these wonderful goats. I have dreamed for many years of growing my own food and being self-sufficient so when I bought my property I set out right away putting in gardens and an aquaponics system. Fast forward 2 years, my neighbor went on a special diet and couldn't have any dairy so she offered me her fresh raw goats milk she had purchased at the farmer's market. Well, I just fell in love with it! I quickly realized I couldn't afford to buy this wonderful milk but then I had a thought... I could get my OWN goats and have milk and cheese right here! Little did I know I would fall so in love with the goats!