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!
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!