Our First Kidding Experience
Published: November 27, 2020
'You've GOAT to be kidding me...' was the reoccuring theme of this whole experience. It felt like the punches just kept on coming. I knew after this whole thing was said and done, I'd be writing this article. But truth be told, I didn't think it would be that eventful. Maybe after that thought, I shoulda' knocked on wood because boy, this whole experience from start to finish was a doozy. Deep down, I knew that this was not going to be the smoothest thing but I also had no idea how tough this whole experience would be either. Physically, mentally, emotionally so incredibly draining but we learned so much from all of this and feel much more prepared and educated for next time.
And after speaking with my two go-to amazing goat mentors (Bethany @mazzletovfarms & Aimee @wishful_homesteading) they both felt that I had a pretty abnormal and rather traumatic first kidding experience, much more so than most. Since navigating through so many different circumstances I feel more ready for the 2021 kidding season. I also realize after going through all of this, that making sure my goats are at their peak in health and properly balalnced with minerals and salts, from the beginning, even before you breed the animal. So I've joined a ton of Goat Health Care and Emergency groups on Facebook that have been such a wonderful resource of information and a wealth of knowledge. I highly recommend joining them if you want goats, have goats or just want to expand your goat health-care knowledge. Now, lets go ahead and dive right on in to this crazy story, we are going to go chronologically from start to finish. So saddle up with a snack or two because this is gunna be a long but good one
June 20, 2020: this was the very first sign that this whole experience was not going to be what I thought it was.. that it wasn't going to be as smooth sailing as I thought. About 4 weeks before Kiva actually kidded, she started showing signs of going into labor and becoming dilated. So we figured for sure she was going to be the first to have her babies but in-fact she was just pushing and showing signs of labor because she was prolapsing.
What is prolapsing? Well, its basically when either their rectum or vagina start protruding out of the body. Its really not a pretty sight and in some cases it can be very severe and you may have to intervene by sticking it back in. But luckily, Kiva's prolapse was just due to her being very heavy with kids (she had 3 in there) and so it was only sticking out when she would lay down. Increasing calcium intake can help fix or heal the prolapse so by advice given to me by one of the emergency goat groups I started drenching her (direct administer to mouth by syringe) with a Cal- MPK supplement to help. Kiva is one of my more stubborn and harder to deal with does, so it was really tough drenching her with the liquid, it seems like she spit most of it out, so I'm not sure how much she actually absorbed but I hope it helped in someway.
It didn't seem to fix the prolapse at all until she actually kidded but I do hope that it helped aid her internally in some way. Going forward, I've increased their daily calcium intake by feeding them both Timothy AND Alfalfa Hay because timothy just isn't as heavy in calcium, so they need a mixture of both to be balanced. I'm also going to make sure they have the right selenium and zinc in-take by top dressing with TRU-CARE and providing GOAT BLOCKS, as I do feel my girls were deficient in selenium too. Weight I'm sure had a factor as well, so I plan to regulate her weight and keep her and the rest of the herd at a healthy size.
For educational purposes, here is a photo of KIVAS prolapse standing up. Also notice even with free-choice minerals and copper bolusing she still showed signs of lack of copper/zinc in her fur at that time!
Compared to now. Clearly she is not heavy with kids so her prolapse is gone but notice how dark black her fur is again, how shiny and untattered she looks. Also notice the fullness of her tail. All of the additional minerals have been working very well.
2 days after Kiva started showing signs of prolapse, Dolly was actually the first to go into labor. But I think it came faster than her body was even ready for because she was not dilated what so ever. She began labor around 11pm on Sunday 6/21/2020 and by 12:30am she had a babies nose sticking out but no more progress made. The baby shockingly was very much alive and breathing but I could just tell something wasn't right and Dolly was not progressing like she should have been. I wish I was apart of more goat groups at this time instead of just one because I would have reached out immediately asking if I needed to intervene and do something. Hindsight, I know now that after 30 minutes of active pushing, if they have not progressed, to go inside the mama and help the baby out.
Anywho, back to the story- 1:00 am rolls around and still no progression, but still not knowing (at the time) that I needed to intervene, I just dedicated to leave her be to kid on her own and I headed off to bed (I had to be up for work at 6 am). My husband is usually up at 5:30am to water half the gardens and so when he got up, he went outside to see how Dolly was doing and he immediately ran inside and woke me up. I ran outside and discovered, here we are, 5:30am and baby was still sticking outside of mama and starting to become very weak from being stuck in the canal so long. Mama was very exhausted and was no longer pushing (a really bad sign). So I started calling any and all vets in the area, it was so early, only emergency vets would answer and surprisingly none of them were even willing to see our Dolly, not even the equine doctors!
We were feeling so devastated and hopeless and in such a dire situation and couldn't understand why no one was willing to help. After calling around to so many places, I eventually found a vet up in Angels Camp that wasn't open but had a voice-mail message that was very helpful. It said, "If this is an emergency to download the "AIR VET" app and try to connect with a vet virtually there." So I downloaded the app immediately and paid the $30 fee to connect with a vet and it actually connected me with one of the vets at the Angels Camp clinic that I got the AIRVET App recommendation from. That was Dr. Thomas Heermance, and he first told us the same thing so many others had, "he was booked solid when they opened at 7am and that he probably wouldn't be able to squeeze her in" and then he proceeded to instruct us on what we needed to do to help Dolly and that if it doesn't work that we probably need to pack her up and drive her to UC Davis so that they can perform a C-Section on her.
Kyle being the absolute calm, collected and down-right amazing farmer he is- reached right on inside her as Dolly screamed bloody murder (probably the hardest part for me, I just cant handle hearing any animal in pain) and tried his hardest to reposition the kid that was coming out and to find its front leg, so that he could give it a tug. He was able to pull it head all the way out and also found a leg but we could tell it was of one of the other kids legs- being that the baby with its head stuck was black and the leg was blonde. So essentially the two kids got wedged even harder in the birth canal after Kyle trying to intervene! Dr. Tom was on face-time via the AirVet app this whole time and said that if we don't think we can make it to Davis that he would push all his clients back and would try his very best to delivery her babies but that she may still end up having to go get a C-Section. But at this point, I was just so relieved and thankful that someone local was willing to help and I just knew deep down that if we had to make to drive to UC Davis that Dolly would be near death by the time we reached there (3 hour drive) and all of her kids would be dead for sure.
So I told Dr.Tom 'we are packing her up and coming your way'. Thankfully Angels camp is only about 30 minutes away, 20-25 if you're flying and we arrived right around 7am on Monday morning. The vet and tech's were extremely quick to get her out of the car and into the barn to start working on her. Dr. Tom isn't a goat vet but does a lot of equine and other large animals and has some experience with goats too, so it was so nice they had a barn that they treat their large animals in. From this point forward I was so impressed with how efficient Dr.Tom and the nurse technicians worked together to get Dolly and her kids in a safe state. They immediately tried to reposition kids and with not being able to, they gave her a epidural shot to numb the pain, shoved the kids all the back in and then pulled them all out one by one. The first baby that had its head stuck for sometime was a little buck and he was barely hanging on for life. The second was a little blonde Doe, alive and well and the doctor was sure there were no more but decided to go in anyways to make sure and we were all shocked to see him pull out a 3rd kid, a little Holstein doeling! Victory!
Both of the little doelings were doing so well and immediately started nursing and responding to mama but the little buckling was in bad shape. He was sticking outside of Dollys vagina for so long that it started to cut off his oxygen supply around his neck, his chin was visibly swollen from the pressure and the tip of his tongue was completely black from him biting down on it for so long. We tried to get him to nurse on his own at first but his mouth was too swollen, he was too weak and then Dolly accidentally stepped on him and he seemed to really go downhill. I told the vet and he swooped him up and took him inside the building, then one of his techs came and got some colostrum from Dolly's udder to feed to him, they immediately gave him some kind of booster (I'm pretty sure he said some sort of steroid shot) and did their best to get him to drink-which he finally did and it was enough to give him some energy. Miraculously after all of that, he made it and was nursing on his own, which was nothing short of a miracle, so that's what we decided to name him- Iyanu, meaning miracle in Nigerian. He is a trooper and will be one of my pet goats, forever! The other two had no trouble nursing and after about a week, all of Iyanu swelling went down completely, his tongue though- is still dark on the tip!
Looking back on this whole situation, we are so thankful and lucky that all three of Dolly's kids survived and that Dolly did too and that she didn't come down with any sort of infection which is highly common when you have to intervene as we did. The vet did give dolly some Banamine for pain, Pen-G for infection and Oxytocin to make sure she bonded well with her kids. We are so thankful for the doctor and his staff for being so willing to see us and for treating so fast and effectively. This is the same vet that treated our Piper and so many of our other animlas now. He is truly the very best of the best!.
Dolly was a wonderful mama to all 3 of her babies. She let all 3 of her babies nurse but not too long as to not hog the milk from another siblings. She took good care of her babies and herself and has a huge udder but tiny itty bitty teats. So shes nearly impossible to milk by hand. I will have to get a milking machine for my sanity (lol) but also to hep me milk my does with tiny teats! haha! We also ended up keeping 2 of Dollys kids so I don't truly know what her udder would produce if she wasn't nursing but she never produced us more than a half a quart per day. Unfortunately, Dolly is pregnant again (against our wishes, Whisky our buck broke into the pen) but she is due in January so we will have kids bouncing around here soon enough! Please send good vibes that Dolly has a smooth and easy delivery this next time!
Dolly cleaning her two doelings at the Angels Camp Vet hospital
Nurse Cathy trying her best to get Iyanu to nurse off Dolly.
Dollys three gorgeous miracle babies. In order from left to right- the cream colored doeling went to my friend Melissa ad she is now named Delilah. Iyanu is the little black buckling next to her and in the photo to the right is my little Miss Moo, who we also ended up keeping and shes my sweet little princess.
Flora is my eldest doe and was around 4 or 5 when I adopted her. So shes still just not near as trusting as my other does. Flora is our only doe that wasn’t a first time freshener this year, she is the mom of Kiva and has birthed I believe at least 2-3 times before. Her delivery was fast and without any struggle. She is a literal pro and birthed both of her girls so quick I didn’t even have a chance to watch it.
I went to check on the girls around 11pm because I knew they were all close to birthing and I didnt want to miss it. To my surprise, I found Flora going into labor (with the tell-tale sign of the giant mucus plug hanging from her vulva), so I rushed inside to tell Kyle who was fast asleep on the couch from an exhausting day staying home and taking care of Dolly and her 3 kids (luckily he was able to take that whole week off work because I was not). He was not interested and fell back asleep, so I went out to the chicken coop to make sure all the birds made it inside the coop and topped their feeders and refreshed the duck ponds so I wouldn’t have to do it in the morning, took maybe 20 minutes tops and went back to check on Flora around 11:25pm and found that she had delivered in that time! She was in the pitch black cleaning her two little tri-colored doelings, black-brown and white, they are the perfect mix of mom and dad and are absolutely beautiful girls. One was giant and one a tiny little girl, we were convinced she had 3-4 in there so the fact that she had only 2 was shocking to us!
I needed this perfect delivery so bad, mainly for good moral... The truth is, like I said above kidding can be so emotionally hard, draining, scary and sad, you guys... Its not always the best case scenario and that's a really hard pill to swallow. After dealing with so much within the first week of kidding, I just couldn’t take any more anxiety at that point. Thank goodness Flora was a text-book example of how a good goat delivery should go. After labor sets in, experienced mamas should have baby crowing by 20 minutes in, first time mamas should be crowning by 30-40 minutes in, and once first kid comes, next kids should be quickly behind in 30 minute increments- tops. I didn’t know what to look for going into this kidding as far as when a mama is having issues with delivery. Going forward, I know that what happened to Dolly wasn’t normal and I should have probably intervened by calling around to vets a lot sooner and the fact that all babies and mama survived is nothing short of a miracle. But maybe also had something to do with the fact that we didn’t intervene and get our hands in her and make things worse, which I know that’s what people recommend but being so inexperienced I think the fact that we left Dolly be and took her to the vet was the best option and it proved it to be because everyone survived.
But going back to Flora, I left her be and came back early in the am around 5am to find her babies spread apart in the pen and her far away from them laying down next to Kiva. So I grabbed both babies which mama did not like and she proceeded to try to ram and bite me (horrible mama behavior, she’s calmed down so much since then) but none the less I put her and her babies in a separated area in the goat pen so that they could bond and I could monitor if they are getting enough milk and if mama was letting them feed. After a couple hours I could tell I was just over reacting because mama was very much in love with those two girls and would have literally died for them.
The next main concern was that after birthing Flora went off her feed for a couple days, I could tell because I was separating her and was able to monitor her food and water levels which were not going down at all. I gave her a dosing of 'PROBIOS Supplement' to help with her rumen health and keep it active and after a couple days she went back to her normal ration. Flora is such a good mama and is my very best milker of all my does. In top production, she produces over a quart, in late production she produces ¾ quart. She is not the easiest to get on the stanchion but she’s calm once on and makes milking a breeze. I can’t wait to breed her again and i know she will trust me so much more around her babies this next time. We have built a bond since I've started milking her and I think she's acting starting to finally like me. lol
This was Floras big girl, the one that took up all the room in the womb, She went to my friend Jaclyn and her name is Fiona.
This is her second girl, her little itty bitty doeing, much smaller than her sister. She also went to my friend Melissa who has Dolly's cream colored baby, her name is Dakota.
Flora in top production, producing me full quarts every single day, sometimes even a little bit more!
Our next challenge came the very weekend the kids were born. We had 5, 3-4 day old kids and 105 degree heat wave that made it almost unbearable to be outside. At that age they cannot regulate their temperature well so I was really afraid of losing them to heat stroke or exhaustion. Its also so hard on pregnant mamas about to give birth so I was scared for them too. We pulled out all the ticks to keep these babies cool and it seemed to have worked well because all babies got through the heat wave with no issues.
The following are some of the methods we used to cool the babies and mamas down: 1) providing large frozen water bottles in their pen for them to lay on or against and in their water to cool it down. 2) Lots of shade in the form of shade cloths all over their pen with tons and tons of fans facing in all directions. 3) MISTERS hanging over their water buckets to help cool their body temp down slowly without causing shock and actually taking the babies and setting them directly under the misters to cool down their little faces and feet. They felt so relieved and some even slept under the misters for hours.
Holding Miss Moo up into the misters to help keep her cool in the horrible heat wave we had.
Ruths Kidding/Congested Udder:
Ruth came next but not until nearly 2 weeks later on July 4, 2020! Her baby was an Independence Day baby, a sweet little creme colored buckling with little elf ears that hung down a little bit. They ended up straightening out but boy was he just the cutest little baby ever. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to be there for his birthing because Ruth decided to kid in the middle of the day at around 4pm right before we got home from hanging out with family, talk about bad timing again! Lol! We were so certain she was going to have at least 2 or more kids but were shocked she ended up with just the one boy but he was a big boy for sure! I’m just thankful she kidded a healthy kid without any issues on such a noisy day to boot! I remember our neighbors were setting off insanely loud bottle rockets all day and night until 10pm so I don’t know if the stress from the noise made her kid but either way she did very well and I’m super proud for her first time that she kidded like a champ!
Ruth wasn’t in the clear of a completely seamless kidding because 2 days after kidding, she developed a congested udder because her kid favoring one udder over the other and so the udder that wasn’t getting used became enlarged, hot and swollen and her teat itself was very red and sore. We had to bring hot compress outside with warm soapy water and soak the teat, while gently massaging, breaking up and trying to milk out the congestion in her teat. It didn’t take very long to get all the congestion out and was able to bring her udder back to normal after continuously milking out that side each day and also encouraging her baby to suck on that side too. Her baby ended up nursing from both sides after we got the congestion out and she didn’t have any issues with it after that.
We did buy mastitis strips from tractor supply when that all was happening to make sure she didn’t have an infection but the test came out negative and its nice that we now have those test strips available if we need them (which we did end up needing again a few months later). Recapping on Ruth: she was a wonderful mom, took care of her baby like a champ and was so sweet to all the other kids too. Miss Ruth is my second highest producing doe, in her peak lactation she milks over a quart and in her later lactation she produces a little over a half a quart! Such a heavy producer for her first time kidding and I’m really looking forward to seeing her production increase over the years!
Sweet little elf eared boy. He lives with my friend Jaclyn also and Floras doeling Fiona, his name is Winston.
Ruth's congested udder, you can see how advisably larger her left teat is from her right.
Ruth in top production producing a quart a day for me!
Kiva's Kidding/Rejected Kid:
Wednesday July 8, 2020, Kiva was the last to deliver her babies and her kidding came so quick and so unexpectedly, none of us were ready for it. And honestly, I’m just so confused by what happened with her because we really thought she was going to be the first doe to kid by all the signs she was showing but the fact that we didn’t have exact breed dates for any of them we truly had no clue when the babies we coming. The major thing that was leading us to believe she was going to kid first was the fact that she was starting to prolapse when she would lay down from the pressure of her kids on her uterus. When she would stand up, the prolapse would go back in but she appeared to be dilating and on her way to delivering any day, this was back in late June, before Dolly even kidded, so the fact that her babies didn’t come for weeks later was just really strange. As mentioned above, I started drenching her with calcium to help with the prolapse, which was not easy to give to her and the whole administering of it seemed to stress her out more than it did any benefit. Her prolapse ended up getting worse as the days went by and she started collecting feces, dirt and all sorts of nastiness on it when she would lay down and then she would suck it all up into her vulva as she stood. I tried to keep it clean but it was nearly impossible.
Thank goodness she didn’t end up getting any sort of infection which I’m surprised about but really she didn’t have any issues again until she gave birth and her birthing itself from what we can tell was pretty quick and easy… but THAT was the problem, I think they came so quick that she didn’t even have time to clean them properly before the next kid came. We thought she was only going to deliver 1-2 babies tops but ended up delivering 3! Kyle went outside at around 5:30am to check on them and had found that Kiva had given birth but it was not a good outcome. 3 babies delivered, 2 deceased- 1 tri-colored doeling & 1 holstein buckling, 1 alive- a tri-colored buckling. The two that were deceased were still slightly slimy but were stacked up next to eachother like she tried hard to revive them.
Unfortunately, when first time mamas give birth to multiples in a very short amount of time and if we are not there to help them, they often times cannot clean the baby’s nose and airway fast enough and the babies end up suffocating from the slimy baby sack covering their little nostrils. This is the hard part about owning livestock, some end up being deadstock and its never easy. Finding those 2 deceased babies was so frustrating and devastating for us but even more so for her, you could totally tell that she knew fully what had happened. She appeared to be in major shock, she was so out of it, she didn’t want anything to do with her baby that survived and seemed so confused at what she was suppose to do. I had to lock her and baby up together and bring baby to her often so that they could both get use to him nursing. It was a long first 24 hours.
She also took forever to pass her placenta which was a worry for me also, by the time she passed it about 24 hours later, it smelt like literal death and I didn’t think it was smart for her to eat it at that point so I scooped it up and threw it out. Normally you want them to eat their placenta because it has hormones and other nutrients in it that help bond mama to baby and help bring in her milk. Her little boy seemed less energetic than the other babies and I was so worried he was not getting all the milk that he needed but after a day or so I could tell they had bonded and that my concern was no longer an issue.
But hold on, we weren’t in the clear just yet.. I could tell the little buckling seemed kinda 'hunched', and his butt had something sticking out of it. So I put a glove on grabbed onto it and the hardest 4 inch piece of foamy baby goat poo came out of his behind. It was like cement and he had become impacted. Mama goats are suppose to actively clean their kids behinds by licking away any stuck or hardened feces. But apparently, first time moms can kinda suck at caring for their kids and that was Kiva alright. She would attempt to clean his butt but never actually clean it, she would lick the air instead of licking his little bottom. Total fail, lol. So we ended up having to give him a liquid enema to clear his blockage, so he didn't get sick and end up dying of sepsis.. (I mean, as if things couldn't get any worse right?!!) We looked it up and found that warm water with a couple drops of dish soap directly injected via syringe into the anus, with corresponding massages of the belly, repeating a few times until blow out occurs. And boy, a blowout it was.. finally after 3 syringes full, lots of belly massages and allowing him to walk around a bit he pooped out the biggest hardest mass of poop. You could tell he instantly felt better and was a happy energetic baby from then on out. I kept a good eye on him though just to make sure he didn't have any issues after that.
Poor Kiva though, I have no true idea of what happened to her two babies and can only guess it was just from too fast of a delivery but she did so well delivering all 3 babies by herself and I hope I can be there to help and support her next time! She ended up being a very good mama to her little buckling and because she only had one she somewhat dried up compared to how big her udder would have been if she had the 3 of her babies survive. She never produced me more than a half a quart per day.
Kivas only kid that made it, her little buckling Bourbon, we ended p keeping him because I couldn't find him a home that had the same age kids and I didn't want him to be lonely... I'm a sucker basically. lol!
Iyanu aka the Accident Prone Boy:
Well, this story wouldn't be complete without one more traumatizing accident right?!? LOL... Well, I wish it wasn't the case but it was so here we go. Fast foward about 3 weeks after all the babies were born.. The mamas and babies were kept in another pen separte but right next to Whisky our buck so he couldn't immediately re-breed them and to allow babies and mamas to properly bond etc. BUT the babies could run inbetween the fence slats the separted the mamas from Whisky and go run around his area, which had pallets and walking boards and all sorts of fun stuff to run and jump and play on.
Well, one night we came home really late and heard the babies crying but it wasn't really out of the normal cry so we figured it was just for attention and we went on inside for the night. The next morning comes around and I go outside to give everyone fresh hay and the mamas grain and discovered that Iyanu got his foot stuck in a tiny crack between two wooden boards on a pallet that was used as a ramp for another wooden structure.. poor baby was hanging there for god knows how long but I assume since the night before when we heard the cries. Talk about the immense amount of guilt I felt raging through my heart and stomach. I immedatly scooped his limp body up and felt his leg had no strength in it at all. It was just as limp as a dead fish. He was weak from crying and hanging upside down all night and so I brought some pellet and water to him, both of which he ate a little but he really just wanted to be back with mama to nurse and be near her and his siblings. He could not bare any weight on it at all and appeared to drag it beind him as if it had no feeling left in it at all.
My biggest fear was that his leg got cut off of curculation and his leg had died, or that he could have possible broke his foot or tore all his ligaments and tendons. I called our vet and he basically just advised us to let him be and watch him carefully and if it dosnt improve to bring him in for a cast and xray. But thankfully within just a day or so, he started baring weight on it again and within 3 days he started jumping up and running fast again. Now, at 4 months old, you would have never known anything happened to his leg. But his name isn't Iyanu- "miracle" for nothing!
Oh my sweet Iyanu boy, what he lacks in luck he makes up for in cuteness lol!
Well, if you made it all the way to the end. I appreciate you sticking around to read and hopefully learn from our experience. It was tough, anxiety-ridden, a bit traumatizing at times and well just straight up cray-cray but I'm almost glad this was how our first experience panned out because bad things are GOING to happen when you breed your livestock. And if I can learn and experience situations from the get-go that will prepare and educate me for the years to come, then I'm not only glad I got those experiences under my belt but I'm also glad it happened the way it did too.
I truly feel so much more ready, prepared and knowledgeable for this coming breeding season. I know now what my girls need to be healthy and nutritionally and mineral balanced. I truly hope that out of everything that happned that you pick up a few things to stick in your back pocket for when you breed your goaties. I think most of the time things go perfectly but there is aways a chance that it wont and now I'll be even more ready for when those times present themsleves again.
If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to eave thm down below. Thanks so much for reading and I hope if you havnt already, you would consider subscribing to our BLOG!
Happy Kidding and best of luck!