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The last few weeks have been crazy to say the least as we’ve been frantically finishing barn and house projects in anticipation of beginning our kidding season. The bucks got a whole new, amazing area (future post I’m sure), the barn and house have received new electrical outlets, we’ve built dividers in the stalls for kidding to better utilize the space, and a million other little odds and ends, all in the crunch up to kidding season. Once kidding season starts, most things in our lives come to a halt.
This weekend we finished up what we could and manned our battle stations. Two of our does were hitting day 145 (the first day delivery can usually happen) of their gestation on Tuesday, and we were expecting a tough time.
Abby is a doe that we brought in last year with two other goats of fantastic breeding. She is a lovely, full bodied doe from great lines. She is also the only goat I’ve ever owned who has truly disliked me. Even though we reached an uneasy truce over the time she’s been part of my herd, I’ve never bonded to her like I have with the rest of my girls. We have a running joke that she’s my goat arch nemesis.
We weren’t able to settle Abby after she arrived, and we worried that at 5 years old and never having been bred before, she would be difficult to settle. When we did manage to get her settled this time around we had an early ultrasound done by the vet, and she only saw one baby. But Abby grew huge. We worried about her having a huge single and the issues it could cause. I predicted it would be a buckling to boot.
We were nervous to say the least. Tuesday passed and no one was showing any signs of having babies. When I woke up Wednesday morning, I checked in on the monitor and noticed Abby acting uncomfortable. I asked my husband to keep a close eye on her because I had a gut feeling she would be kidding that day.
Sure enough at 9:30AM I got the text that I should probably head home as Abby was having contractions. My coworkers weren’t thrilled, but they know the drill when babies are coming. I was out the door and raced home….so I could sit and wait for several hours. Abby progressed slowly. Small contractions. Some getting up and laying down. But essentially going nowhere. I had my doubts that she was even really going into labor.
And then it happened. She went down again, and this time her legs started kicking out to the side. Pushing! I went into the stall and crouched down next to her while she kept a wary eye on me. As she began to push in earnest, I tried to reach out and offer Abby some traction for her feet, but she swung her head at me and I backed off. As the tell tale bubble appeared, a farm friend arrived just in time to get her first glimpse at a kidding before her goats kidded latter in the spring. I was excited when I saw two hooves and bright pink tongue appear, and her sack break shortly after.
Abby struggled for a while to get the head out, but from what I could see if wasn’t as huge as I feared, so I decided to let her work at it on her own. Once the head was through, the body followed slowly. It looked like a nice, normal sized baby. Huh.
We had decided to pull Abby’s babies and bottle raise them. Typically we like to dam raise, but in this case, we were worried about Abby’s potential aggression if we allowed her to keep her babies. Plus, we had agreed to sell her in milk with another of our does at the end of the month. With these factors in mind, we felt it best to let her bond with us in the stand and train her to be a good milker while raising the babies separately.
As I was cleaning off the baby Abby has just delivered, she maneuvered desperately to clean the new doeling and I have to say, the guilt hurt my heart quite a bit. As she moved around the umbilical cord finally broke and I scooped up the new baby to be dried and moved. But, I just couldn’t believe we were only getting one normal sized baby, so I “bumped” her just to check. Sure enough, I felt the telltale lump of another baby. Minutes later, Abby dropped down and easily birthed out baby #2, another doeling, slightly smaller than the first. We were so excited.
As I handed off baby #2 to be dried, I decided to give Abby another bump just for the heck of it. Sure enough, I felt baby #3, a hard lump, right at the birth canal! Just as I was pulling my hands away, Abby went down and out shot baby #3, backwards and super tiny. I wasn’t sure the baby was breathing and had to break through the sac to clear the face. Happily I saw breathing, and a quick check revealed a third doeling as I dried it off carefully.
With the babies in the house and being cared for, we put Abby on the stand and milked out her colostrum. While she was a little stampy, we soon got what we needed for the new babies. In the milkings that have followed, she has calmed down quite well, and we think she’s going to be a great milker when all is said and done.
Her triplets doelings are doing well and loving life in our living room as we work to transition them to life out in the barn. We couldn’t be happier with how things have worked out – healthy triplet doelings, and a doe who is learning to be a great milker and have more tolerance for her people.