The dark days of winter are slowly growing lighter as the time between sunrise and sunset very slowly is increasing. We have even had a glimpse or two of sunshine this February! There are more dark, foggy, and snowy days to come for sure but there is once again a little warmth in the infrequent sunshine and some birds are returning to sing us into spring time.
The kidding towels and pads are washed and folded and put away, and the supplies inventoried so all is in readiness for the first arrivals who are due around Feb 16. Momma has been trimmed and vaccinated and is getting her daily grain. She is in great shape so we are expecting things will go smoothly. Stay tuned for the big event and we will let you know how it goes. We have just one due in February and only 2 due in March so this is going to be a strange kidding year. I am sure that April will be a blur but we'll muddle through.
Zara had been looking for all the world like she wasn't even pregnant. Her due date of February 16 passed and still she looked like a nice big dry doe. I watched her very closely as she progressed. On the 18th I saw that her udder was slightly fuller and her teats seemed to be filling.
On the 19th she spent the day and night in the kidding stall as her teats had colostrum in them. She was quiet and spent much of her time just standing around. The temperatures overnight were in the single digits to below zero so I spent the night waking up every couple hours to check. I checked her at 4 AM and she was quietly lying in the pen chewing her cud. I looked at her again at 5:15 AM and there were 2 suspicious black blobs in the pen with her.
I quickly dressed and rushed out to discover 2 good sized doe kids. Both of them were dead. I checked Zara and found another tiny undeveloped baby and removed it. The dead does did not appear to have taken a breath and were probably born dead.
It sure isn't the way I wanted to start the kidding season. Zara is doing fine and she will certainly be a help adding her milk to the pail when our next two does deliver. Thankfully it will be a lot warmer by then and we will have a better outcome. Zara's does weighed in at 7.5 and 6.5 pounds.
Zahvia made us wait an extra day but it was well worth it! Zahvia was our first artificial insemination of the year and she settled so we knew her breeding date for sure. She is a rather smallish doe who will turn three on April 20. She has a lot of strong points and seems to be growing still. She didn't even look pregnant but her blood test was pretty strongly in the positive range, she appeared to be starting to build a nice udder and her tail head was starting to lift so we brought her in on schedule for her pre kidding vitamins, vaccinations and grain. She started to fill her udder a bit on Friday so she spent that night in the kidding stall and I kept an eye on her all night.
Saturday we let her out for an hour in the morning to eat and drink with the herd. Saturday night she was restless in the kidding stall but no progress. Sunday morning she came in for her grain and her teats were filling as was her udder. I checked and found that she had colostrum. She went back in with the herd and we noticed that she had started to withdraw from the group and was apparently looking for a place to lie down apart from the others. We returned her to the kidding stall where she spent the day rearranging the straw and lying down and then jumping up. She was very restless. In the afternoon she appeared to be pushing some. About 5:30 PM she was looking like she was going to get serious about this labor thing. At about 6:00 I went out to check and see how she was doing. She took one look at me and turned around and gave a series of long hard pushes, soon a bubble appeared.
A short rest and again she pushed hard. The bubble got a bit larger but no feet appeared so I got a pad out and set up for the newborns and grabbed some towels. I then inserted my clean, gloved fingers into the birth canal to see if I could locate the kid's feet and head. There was one large foot and a head engaged... I got the leg out straight and located the second leg back under the head and bent at the knee. I got that leg extended and the head slipped into position. Zahvia pushed hard as I pulled and the kid slid free as Zahvia lay down and complained loudly.
I got the kid onto the pad and slicked slime off his face as he sputtered and snorted. He was a beautiful dark brown boy with dark brown ears. I turned back to the doe and did a quick check to see if there might be any more kids. I was really surprised to find a second kid all lined up with legs extended and head lying nicely on top of them. I quickly gave an assisting tug and out popped a beautiful doeling. She is long and tall and looks like she is going to be an exceptional doe.
Momma got up and I prepared to lug the kids into the milk room for their drying and tagging and a first meal of rich colostrum. Thankfully Darrel came in the barn as I was attempting to get the kids into the milk room and he carried them for me. The processing took a little while as the colostrum thawed in a bucket of hot water. I milked Zahvia and got a nice 18 oz bottle of very rich colostrum for the boy. Zahvia returned to the kidding stall where she proceeded to drink her bucket of Blue Brew and at about 8:00 PM she cleaned.
The kids ate pretty well. The little girl drank 6-7 ounces and the boy about 4 ounces. The girl weighed in at 7.2 pounds and the boy at a whopping 9.6 pounds! Mom and babies are doing fine and just about finished their colostrum this morning. Zahvia fooled us by delivering twins and we are delighted to have a pretty doeling to start filling our "Keeper" pen. Such a nice start to the coming "kidding storm" as we have a whole bunch of does due the first week or 10 days of April.
Jax came in for her grain this morning and jumped up on her stand. I checked each of the does who are coming in for lead feeding. I saw that Jax had a wet tail...Not a good sign on a doe who is 3 weeks from her due date. Her udder was soft and empty. I returned the does to their pen and made sure that I had a white collar on Justified who is the next doe due. I put white "Close UP" collars in the does that are due so that I can easily pick them out on the monitor. It was a really beautiful day here and the milkers spent most of the day out in their pasture relaxing in the sunshine.
The only goats in the loafing barn were the 3 heavily pregnant does: Justified, Jax and NoFool. I noticed that one of them appeared to be in labor and after watching her push for awhile I headed out to move her to the kidding pen. It was Jax who was indeed aborting. She had pushed the kid up and we had a tail presenting. Darrel came and held Jax while I pushed the kid back and tried to locate at least one rear leg. It took a lot of work but I finally got enough lube in and worked my hand around the hock and with a steady firm pull and a lot of pushing from Jax we delivered a well developed and good sized buckling. The baby has a very short hair coat and is quite obviously 3 weeks early. He was DOA.
Jax was given her bucket of Blue Brew and a shot of Oxytocin to help her clean. She has come into a little milk and we are hopeful that she will continue to come into full production. She is back in with the herd and seems to be doing OK for now.
Justified has been progressing very steadily toward delivery. Her udder has been filling nicely and the teats were first filled with a honey-like substance that changed to a somewhat cloudy yellowish thick substance and then, this morning, the fluid was colostrum. Justified is a nice 150 pound doe who turned 2 on March 4. She is by no means what I would term a large and powerful animal. She certainly holds her own on the milkstand and at the feeder but is a bit smaller than most of our does.
I have been losing sleep for the past two nights as I awaken every 1-2 hours to check the monitor. This morning at 4:45 I was sure that I saw her with a kid partially born. I got up and got dressed and then stopped, before heading out, to check the monitor again before I woke Darrel to come and help me... Good thing that I did because when I put my glasses on and looked again I discovered that she was resting quietly and there really wasn't any sign of a kid. I undressed and crawled back into my warm bed for another hour's sleep... :-/ After checking for colostrum at the morning milking I found that she was indeed ready to deliver so she returned to the
kidding stall where she made preparations and rearranged the straw.
At about 2:00PM she seemed to have stalled in her labor and yet she didn't seem to be trying to position kids. I decided to check and found the first kid in perfect position and Justified still very tight. A little manipulation and I had the front legs fully extended and found the head in good position. Well, with a lot of pushing and some tugging we soon had a nice big beautiful doeling on the pad ready to meet the world. Checking again I found a second even bigger kid right in line and ready to arrive. More good strong pushes and firm pulling and finally the head slipped through and the boy arrived with a lot of sputtering and snorting.
These are the first kids from our new buck and we are thrilled with them. They are strong and wide and show good breed character. They are wide from nostrils to rump. The doe is sold and will make a 4H-er very happy!
The doeling weighed in at 7.2 pounds and the buckling was 8.6 pounds. Nice big healthy kids. The buckling has contracted tendons on his back feet and has been slowly straightening out with firm stretching at each feeding.
Jesse has always been one of those does who just wants to please you and will do everything she can to make your life easier. She is a beautiful animal as well as sweet and we really are thankful to have her in the herd. We were delighted when she settled to Greenhaven's Root beer's Rebel and we have been waiting anxiously for these kids to arrive. I told Jesse that I wanted at least 2 does, please, as I am retaining one and another was pre-ordered. Well, true to form, Jesse went into full labor just as we finished up evening chores. A quick check found the first baby in perfect position and a few good pushes and I was slicking slime from the kids face as Jesse pushed her into my hands. A few swipes with a towel and a quick check and I found that she was indeed a doe. Jesse quickly got busy and soon a second perfectly positioned kid arrived and was snorting on the landing pad.
A quick check revealed another doe kid and just like that Jesse was done and busy licking the kids. We lugged the kids to the milkroom and began the welcoming ritual. Darrel got Jesse her Blue Brew and scooped out the big puddle of slime and wet straw. The kids were checked over from stem to stern and given collars and a big meal of heat treated colostrum. The girls weighed in at 6.6 and 6.7 pounds and were tucked into their warm tipi for the night. Jesse came in and was milked and returned to the kidding stall where she finished her Blue Brew and was ready to return to the herd in the morning.
Heather, your first doeling is here :-)
Jubilatte had colostrum in her teats at morning chores so she spent her day in the kidding stall where she pawed the straw, ate and drank, and generally paced a bit. At about 3:30PM she appeared to be doing some light pushing and she settled down. At 7:00PM We headed out to do chores and found that she was stringing some light amber pre birthing goo. I milked everyone and we fed Jeshaiah's robust twins, cleaned up and then went to tend to Jubilatte's needs. The string of goo had increased and was a bit darker by now.
I quickly put on fresh gloves and lots of lube and slowly inserted my hand. I quickly found 2 big feet and then a head that was caught on the pelvic arch. I slowly worked first one foot out straight and then the other then tipped the head down a tiny bit. Jubilatte started pushing like mad while I pulled first one leg and then the other all the while checking to see if the head was moving. Thankfully it was and after some strong pull and hard pushes by Momma the first kid arrived and was put on the pad.
I cleared her face very quickly and checked to see if we had a buck or a doe and much to my delighted surprise it was a doe! She sputtered a bit and was quickly covered with a warm towel. Back to check for another kid and, yep another was lined up and ready! This kid slid out easily and joined her sister under the nice warm towel. The first kid had a lot of sticky yellow goo on her and was stressed.
Both girls were toted off to the milk room and checked over, collared, and fed. Jubilatte came in and hopped up on her stand, was milked and returned to the kidding stall for the night. The first born doe weighed in at a whopping 9.5 pounds and her sister tipped the scales at a very respectable 8.4 pounds.
Glynis had a terrible delivery last year and I was afraid that she would not be able to conceive again so I was delighted that she settled last fall. She had some discharge about 2 weeks or so ago but then seemed fine and began all the processes that indicated she would indeed kid on schedule. We moved her into the kidding stall after morning milking and watched her through out the day. I was a bit on edge hoping that she would do well and that there was no scar tissue that would prevent her cervix from opening normally. When we went out to milk in the evening Glynis started stringing pre-birthing goo so we milked and fed the kids and then headed over to prepare for Glynis' delivery.
She was now stringing birthing goo and everything appeared normal. A quick check revealed that her cervix was not fully open and that a kid was positioned at the rim of the pelvis. I slowly dilated her cervix and found that the kid had her feet flexed at the knees and tucked up under her chin. She was not providing point pressure to the cervix in order to dilate it. I quickly straightened first one leg and then the other and worked to fully dilate the cervix.
Several hands full of OB Lube later we had the legs extended and the head engaged. This was a nice sized kid and Glynis needed all the room that her nice wide rump provided. Some strong pulls and hard pushes and the head was soon delivered. Baby then slid out and got her face and mouth cleared. She was a bit stressed and needed some attention to get her going. Glynis helped by licking and nudging her and she was soon taking deep breaths. I returned my attention to Glynis and found a second kid wadded up at the cervix but certainly going nowhere in this position...The kid was dead. We finally re positioned him and got him out. Went back in and found another dead doeling. The kids apparently died a little while ago as they were immature. Glynis was rewarded for her labors and the baby girl was lugged off to be examined, collared, fed and loved on.
Glynis is struggling still and not yet producing like she she should be. She is still quite swollen and appreciates having me spread Preparation-H on her swollen tissues. I gave her some Banamine this morning in hopes that it would help her feel a bit better.
Joanie typically goes 5 days over her 150th day but she just didn't look like she was pregnant. She is a very deep bodied older doe and she had an empty udder. We thought she had lost her pregnancy some time after we got the Biopryn test results back saying that she was indeed pregnant. Well guess what! The old girl out foxed us and delivered a single doe kid in the loafing pen. No fuss, no bother ...we arrived in the barn to find one very fluffy dry doe kid standing by her mom and mom being very attentive.
Darrel scooped her up and put baby and mom in the kidding stall while we milked everyone, fed the kids and thawed a bottle of colostrum. Joanie came in to be milked and hopped up on her stand nicely and gave us a nice quart of rich colostrum. Baby is basic brown and will be retained. Joanie returned to the doe pen and baby sucked down 9 ounces of colostrum for her first meal. She weighed in at 7.3 pounds and we are delighted.
NoFool spent several days with the buck last fall and the two of them were very discrete. We never saw her bred so our breeding date was in fact our best guess. On Monday she came in for her morning grain and showed quite a nice full udder, colostrum in her teats, and no ligaments so she was led off to the kidding stall where I watched her making final delivery preparations. There was a bitter cold wind gusting up to 50+ MPH. That wind sure made me thankful for our camera system. While NoFool spent the morning and early afternoon making final preparations for delivery, I stayed toasty warm by the pellet stove.
At about 2:00PM I debated if I should brew a nice cup of coffee or wait on the babies to arrive... I brewed the coffee and had one sip when NoFool got busy and pushed hard. I went to the barn while LaNette contacted Darrel. When I got to the barn and stepped in the door, NoFool gave a mighty push and delivered a nice black doe kid. I got the towels and pads ready and slicked the slime off the little girl's face while she shook the slime off her ears and cleared her nose. I quickly covered her with a warm towel as the wind gusts rattling the barn roof. A quick check found the second kid well on his way into the cold world. He quickly arrived and joined his sister under the warm towel and Darrel toted them off to the warmer milkroom.
NoFool licked them and me and then drank down a nice quart of warm Blue Brew. I got busy with the towels and the hair dryer and got the kids warmed up and the little girl got a nice new ID collar. The doeling promptly slurped down 9 oz of warm colostrum, the little boy couldn't figure out how to drink but we managed to get about 2 oz into him. We tucked them both into the newborn TiPi and headed in for that much needed cup of coffee. NoFool wandered around the kidding pen sniffing the bedding, she drank another 2/3 bucket bucket of blue brew and promptly cleaned... What a good girl! Her kids weighed in at 7.3 and 8.7 pounds.
Jodi is a special kind of doe. She does her job faithfully every day, she stands nicely for foot trims and shots and anything else we need to do with her. She is loving without being annoying and in short every herd should be full Jodi's. She even has such nice feet that she can go several months without trimming.
Sunday morning dawned crisp, breezy and with a skiff of snow on the ground. HE IS RISEN! Happy Easter to all. Jodi had spent the past 2 nights in the kidding stall where I could watch her closely. She came into the milkroom for her morning ration of grain and her udder was quite a bit larger than the night before and her teats were full of colostrum. Back to the kidding stall she went with no fuss or bother and I watched her all day as she prepared to deliver. As I went into the barn for milking Jodi started stringing a nice rope of birthing goo. It was clean and only very slightly cloudy and all looked normal. We milked the girls, fed the babies and put a big bucket of milk in to pasteurize and then headed over to check the position of Jodi's kids.
Fresh gloves over clean hands and a generous coating of OB Lube and Jodi turned her head to the corner and I slowly worked my hand in discovering that Jodi's cervix wasn't open very far. A slow manual stretch and soon my hand slid in and I found the first kid curled up with his nose tucked down to Jodi's left and his knees bent and tucked up under his chest. This boy was in no way interested in coming out to greet the world. He pulled his feet back in about 10 times before I could finally get a good grip on them. I extended his legs and then tipped the head up into position and Jodi pushed hard. Together we evicted the little renter and got him breathing and warm before going back to find a very polite and proper little girl all lined up for a rear presentation.
I quickly got her feet into position, Jodi pushed, and she arrived with a lot of snorting and slime. We got her going and under the cover and I returned to Jodi to find a tiny 1.2 pound very dead doeling. I quickly got her out and we got the two lively and talkative kids into the milk room for drying.
They both had a good meal of colostrum and were active and looking great. They got tucked into the newborn TiPi for the night, Jodi was milked and I gave her Oxytocin to help her clean and headed in for a warm cup of tea and soon bed. The kids weighed in at 6.9 pounds for the buck and 8 pounds for the doe. The buck has ears that want to fold so we have them in rollers for a few days to help flatten them out :-)
The next morning Jodi was lying in the kidding stall quietly and she seemed reluctant to get up. We brought her in for milking and she was fluffed out and looking as if she didn't feel great. She had quite a bit of swelling. She jumped up on her stand after a little coaxing. She wasn't interested in her grain and she hadn't cleaned yet. I gave her 1cc of Banamine thinking that she was just sore. I cleaned up the buckets and lambars and gave the yearlings their pre kidding clips and watched as Jodi just didn't look right and she laid down on her way back to the barn.
Suddenly I realized that Jodi was exhibiting the classic signs of Milk Fever or Hypocalcemia. I quickly warmed some CMPK and gave her 150cc sub-q. Within about 10 minutes she got up and walked back into the barn and started eating. She has been acting normally all day but I will give her more CMPK at milking time tonight and I will leave some milk in her udder.
Jenga began her struggle back about April 8. We got the goats fed and began milking as usual. When the last milker came in we tried to get Jenga up to bring her into the milkroom for her grain. (We lead feed our does during the last month before they are due to deliver their kids. I feed them up to about 2 pounds of grain once a day. This enables them to keep condition while putting extra calories into their developing kids. Kids add about 2/3rds of their body weight during the last month and they grow so big that the does just can't get all the nutrition from hay at this time) Jenga couldn't stand up. Her temperature was normal and she was very alert but she just couldn't get up. Well I finished milking and gave Jenga a Vitamin B shot and hoped for the best.
Any time a heavily pregnant doe is down and too weak to stand It makes me think of ketosis! If in fact the doe can't get up she cannot consume the needed calories and she will start pulling from her own fat reserves. This produces a condition called Ketosis. The waste product produced by the liver as it converts the stored fat to glucose, produces an excess of Ketones poisoning the doe. The way to reverse this process is to increase the calorie content of the doe's feed. The usual treatment is to dose with Propolyene Glycol 3-4 times per day. The problem with that treatment is that the PG upsets the rumen and farther depresses the doe's appetite. The trick is prevention and early intervention. Whenever I have a doe who stops cleaning up her grain in late pregnancy I immediately give 500mg of Niacin twice a day. The vitamin tablets are readily available at the grocery store and most does will eat them right out of my hand or their grain pan.
Well, Jenga refused the Niacin tablets so I gave her a big dose of fortified Vitamin B. I also gave her a dose of Banamine. I read an article several years ago that said that they had done a study and found that if they gave Banamine that they had a 60% better recovery rate than without. The next milking Jenga was still struggling but she was able to get to her feet and she came in for her grain. I again gave her Banamine and repeated the dose at evening milking. As Jenga began to move around more it was obvious that she was not only struggling with her back legs as the growing kids put more pressure on her nerves but she was moving VERY awkwardly on her front feet as well. As the days passed she continued to eat well but when she stood up one shoulder blade seemed to pop up well above her spine and she developed a distinct dip in her chine. Somehow she had sustained a serious injury to her back and spinal cord. Somehow we managed to keep her going for the full 3 weeks remaining and she delivered safely on her due date.
Jenga went into the kidding stall for the last 4 nights of her pregnancy, returning to the doe pen until her last 2 days. I watched her closely on the monitor and she showed all the classic signs of labor on Sunday starting at about noon. We milked as normal on Sunday night and then prepared to check on Jenga's kids. I put clean gloves on clean hands, washed Jenga's backside and lubed my hand thoroughly.
Jenga was completely dilated and ready to deliver. Unfortunately her firstborn was in no hurry to leave his warm and comfortable hot tub. He was curled up in a little ball with his head down and to the doe's left. Jenga has a nice wide rump so I had lots of room to maneuver and I managed to get the head up but when I reached to get the front legs up the little brat stuck his head back down... A bit more positioning and I again had the head up and I grasped it firmly and hooked my fingers in the soft tissue under the kid's chin and I pulled the head well into the birth canal and then secured the feet. Jenga pushed hard and we quickly had a nice baby boy on the pad. He was breathing well in short order and I again checked Jenga to find a lovely doe kid in perfect position and ready to greet the world. She arrived quickly but her umbilical cord broke very close to her belly and she was bleeding. I quickly grabbed the stump and pinched very hard and held it for a minute. The bleeding stopped and I went back to see if Jenga had more and she did indeed!
There was a very patient kid waiting to make his entrance into the world backward. A very quick exploration and his feet were quickly brought up and and Jenga gave a hard push as I pulled him quickly. He arrived with a splat as I allowed him to fall to the ground. The jolt cleared his face and made him gasp and soon he joined his litter mates and was hauled off to the milk room to be dried, fed, and tucked in for the night. Her kids weighed 6.4, 6.4 and 7.2 pounds at birth.
Jenga was given her warm bucket of Blue Brew which she sipped a bit before returning to the task of cleaning up the kidding residue. During the night Jenga cleaned and finished drinking her entire 2 gallons of Blue Brew. She came in the milkroom and I milked her standing on the floor. She returned to the herd after a shot of Bamamine and more Vitamin B.
Jenga continued to struggle through the next two days. She came in for milking twice daily and even managed to start jumping on the stand. Unfortunately her back and spinal injuries are not improving she will be put down in the morning. She tries so hard and really wants to milk but the extent of her injury makes it impossible for her to live a normal life. She is in some pain and is losing condition because she cannot stand up and eat normally. She has to take breaks and rest.The rest of the herd gives her space and no one is picking on her but sometimes when the herd goes out to pasture she just lies in the barn resting. It is a very sad end to a beautiful and promising doe. I will miss her sweet personality and great production. As a final gift she gave me a nice doe kid and her red buck will soon join Kerri Hendrix's herd. Sometimes being a herdsman really sucks.