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Mother goat and kid

It seemed like every day this week, I woke up absolutely certain that Abigail would have kidded. Without taking the time to make my own breakfast, I'd chop carrots and then head up the hill to check on our doe...who kept showing signs of kidding but never quite managed to pop out a kid.

So, on Friday, I decided to go a bit slower. Even though Artemesia was standing at the gate and hollering, I figured our half-Nubian doeling was maybe just in heat and feeling chatty. I performed my morning ablutions, then wandered up the hill to check on the goats about 8:30 a.m.

Nothing. Abigail's udder had expanded again during the night, but her vulva looked about the same --- no sign of mucus. Yes, the doe's ligaments had been absent for 44 hours at that point...but maybe Abigail hadn't read the same websites I had?

For the last few days, I'd had Abigail on a two-hour watch during daylight hours. This was more for my sake than hers --- knowing that I'd wander up to the barn at a set time prevented me from simply moving in with our goats. But at 10 a.m., I hit a natural stopping point in my writing, went out to carry in some firewood, then decided to go up the hill just a little early....

Newborn goat kid

Licking a kid dry...But not early enough! I'd missed the main event and was greeted by a healthy white buckling, standing on his wobbly feet as his mother vigorously worked on licking him dry.

I rushed back home to alert Mark and to collect my kidding basket, then went inside the goat barn to see if Abigail needed any help. The kid seemed extremely vigorous, but he was also very wet and the temperature outside was about 15 degrees Fahrenheit with no sun yet having popped over the hill. Ice was forming on top of the kid's head and on his ears, so I got to work with a towel while Abigail continued to lick (and even bite) at the ice.

Mother goat avoids her baby

I had expected Abigail not to want me to handle her baby, but she didn't mind me lifting him up and setting him on my lap. According to my notes, if there was another kid she should push that one out within about twenty minutes, so I wasn't terribly concerned at first when Abigail didn't want to let her current kid drink. Instead, every time he headed for a nipple, she sidled away.

(Side note: If you're eating your breakfast as you read...maybe wait to finish this post later. Placenta pictures follow.)

Goat in labor

This process continued for a while, until I tucked the kid into the front of my coat and sat down to give Abigail a little peace and quiet. She promptly lay down, and when I let the kid out, he settled down by her head.

Nothing happened, though, except that Abigail started to shiver, and I started to worry. The books said another kid should come within twenty minutes and that the first kid should also nurse within its first half hour of life, and both deadlines had already passed. So I went back to the house to collect a cool-minded husband and a warm bowl of molasses water.

Goat passing placenta

Abigail sucked down the entire bowl of molasses water in short order, and then she seemed ready to push out whatever was on its way. At first, I wasn't sure if it was a kid that needed help, but soon became confident that the mass of gunky goo was the placenta, meaning that Abigail had carried only a singleton this time around.

Some goat owners are disappointed by singletons (since twins are the average), but Mark and I were actually both glad to have only a single kid to handle. The buckling can be Artemesia's paramour this fall, then will go in the freezer (so no name). In the interim, a single kid will drink less of the milk that I want for myself. Yes, I know I sound a bit hard-nosed here, but that's what growing your own food is all about.

Milking kid

Anyway, back to the kidding drama.... Once the placenta plopped to the ground, Abigail turned around and promptly began to chow down. Some goat keepers don't let their does eat the placenta, and the process did look a little gross. But I felt like Abigail might need the dose of nutrients, and her intentness on the placenta also gave me a chance to help the buckling finally find a nipple. I squeezed out a little colostrum to make sure Abigail had let down her milk, then worked with the kid until he figured out that the teat went in his mouth. Soon, he was happily suckling and his fur was quite dry, so I finally felt comfortable leaving the pair alone.

Mother goat

Next up --- I need to decide whether to milk out a bit of colostrum to put in the freezer as a backup, and then (in a few days) it will be time to learn to milk for the human table. With only a single kid, we should be able to start drinking homegrown dairy pretty soon --- I can hardly wait!

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Congratulations, Anna, and I'm sorry you missed the birth. I love to be there when our does give birth if I have the chance. It looks like you have a healthy kid. We name our young bucks Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner since they will be going in the freezer. Only the girls get real names.

It looks like your doe is a very good mother which is a great plus since not all of them are. We usually wait at least 5 days before we start keeping the milk for ourselves just because of the colostrum. We don't particularly like the way it tastes, and this year it took one of our does more like two weeks before that taste was gone. But you just can't beat fresh, raw goat milk. I look forward to seeing your milking routine, it's always like to compare notes with other milkers. Congratulations again, and I hope all goes well.


Comment by Fern Sat Mar 7 09:14:44 2015
You must feel like a Goddess, deciding all the birds and animals deaths and lives and what-not.
Comment by Anise Sat Mar 7 20:12:37 2015
Congratulations! I am eating my breakfast, but placentas don't scare me. ;-) I'm glad it went so well!
Comment by Brandy Sun Mar 8 07:20:25 2015

Congrats to everybody! He looks like a sturdy little guy, and Abigail a good mother. Yay for all of that. I like singletons as well.. not only is there more milk for us, but also more for the kid. Without competition he will grow faster.

One thing I advise: Stay on top of the coccidia. Be religious about it and he will reach his full size potential. It took us a few years to figure out why most of our kids never got to be as large as their parents. Even without an actual outbreak of disease, uncontrolled coccidia will stunt their growth, as it does intestinal damage before visible signs of infection appear.

Looking forward to more in your adventure! Good luck!

Comment by Suzanne Mon Mar 9 09:27:34 2015

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime