A goat who won't let her kid nurse
I should have known that Abigail's kidding experience
was too simple. The birth itself went fine and our doe clearly bonded
with her kid...but she really, really didn't want to let him nurse. On
the first day, once the placenta was gone and life in the coop had
returned to normal, I kept checking in and seeing the kid head for the
udder...then Abigail would run in the other direction. A search of the
internet suggested that this behavior is distressingly common, and that
the solution is either to bottle raise the kid (not our goal) or to
stick mom in the milking stanchion in order to give the kid an
opportunity to drink.
When the kid was six
hours old, I decided to try the stanchion trick. The result? Complete
and utter chaos. I tried to leave Artemesia in the coop and to carry the
kid while walking Abigail to the porch, but our doe seemed more
concerned about leaving her herd mate than she was about the location of
her kid. After much screaming (Abigail and Artemesia --- I refrained,
despite my frustration), we went back to collect the doeling and all
four of us (plus Lucy) ended up on the porch.
Lucy was intrigued by the
new creature in my arms, Artemesia figured out that by jumping up on
top of the picnic table she could stick her nose in the bag of alfalfa
pellets, and Abigail realized that she could yank her neck right out of
the stanchion. Nearly in tears, I ran to get backup.
Meanwhile, I decided that
with only one kid, Abigail's udder wasn't getting all the way cleared
out, which probably kept the flesh perennially tender, so I pulled out our milking machine
and set it to sucking colostrum out of the other teat. I have to say
--- that milking machine is a life saver. I was able to hold Abigail up,
keep the kid's mouth on the nipple (he isn't too bright), and milk the
second teat all with my two hands. When Mark showed up, everything was
under control (even though, once again, he was right --- I should have
called him sooner).
Since then, Abigail still hasn't let the kid drink on his own, but things have
gotten much smoother. After his fourth real feeding, the kid finally
started jumping around and acting like a baby goat should, which was a
huge relief. Meanwhile, Abigail still requires an admonishing hold
around her hind leg at first, but she soon settles into the stanchion
(which we've relocated to the kidding stall to make crowd control
simpler). Even Artemesia has figured out her role --- cleaning up any
tidbits Abigail leaves behind once the milking is done.
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