Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Has Sprung - at last

Spring has finally sprung here in Interior Alaska and about time too. We were all pretty sick of the sub zero temperatures lasting until just a few days ago. The last few days have been sunny and drippy. On top of that we are watching two very pregnant does closely, waiting for them to kid any time now. We have a security camera mounted in the kidding stall. So I have the luxury to be sitting here at the table writing and I can glance at the t.v. screen and see the does laying down, fidgeting, munching, shifting, trying to get comfortable and so forth. Last night I thought Zinnia was going to kid for sure. She didn't touch her grain yesterday nor any Alfalfa. I hardly saw her eat a bite all day. Laying down more than usual. I couldn't feel her ligaments on either side of her tail, but then I'm always a bit rusty with the first does of the season. I ended up going down to the barn at three a.m. then five a.m., and finally sleeping on the couch where I could glance up and see her on the t.v. I had constant nightmares that I was waking up to three kids already on the ground.

That being said, this is the most confident I've been heading into kidding season. My first couple years I was just excited and determined to be there when it happened. After a couple emergencies and losing a couple kids one year, I got trigger happy, or interfere happy and began "going in" and helping get kids out whenever I was worried they were taking too long, or not in the ideal position. The last couple years I've been pretty worried about having kids tangled up or with their heads turned back. Maybe I'll change my tune if we have any trouble, but right now, headed into our fifth kidding season, I'm feeling optimistic. This is the first year that I can get away with attending a birth at home without needing another adult here. In the past I was always panicked when D was at work and I was frantically calling around to find someone to watch my kids while I played midwife. Now they can come along or watch a movie. 

Last year I lost two doelings. The first one, was already out when I got to the barn and was weak and never recovered - well her dam gave up on her and stomped her before I was ready to bring her into the house. Then our second doeling escaped through a six inch slit in the gate and got stomped by another doe. Totally lame. This year, all slats are covered and I am determined not to let sleepiness get in the way of my duty, which is to be there for the does and their kids. We have two does due this week followed by another in May. Then for some crazy reason, I had two does come into heat this week, that I was planning on milking through (Xoe) and keeping dry (Rose) - and of course I ended up walking them up to the bucks cause I just can't resist - possibly a fault in my husbandry practices. Anyhoo, Rose and Xoe may be kidding in August- not my favorite time as going into winter with new kids is just going to be crowded. However, I had a lady put a deposit on Xoe today, so one plus less goat for next winter. I also sold two yearlings this week, Bramble and Bella (my favorite doelings from last spring). I am proud to point out that this moment we are down to eleven total goats- and getting rid of a buck soon. 
 Kidding advice for any of you newbies:
  1. Be there!! Start watching them before they are due so you can notice odd behavior. Seriously, when you start staring at goats all day they do all kinds of things you may not have observed before.
  2. Have your supplies ready whatever you are using; large towels,  J lube and latex gloves pretty much make up my kidding kit. Ok, I also keep a clean lidded tub ready for warm water for the lubricant and or for molasses water for dam after. I also keep scissors and dental floss for the umbilicle cord. I have used Iodine but I'm switching to just goldenseal powder - some sort of antibacterial. I also know where my drenching syringe and back up nipples are just in case, along with garbage bags. 
  3. Study normal and abnormal kidding presentations ahead of time and know what to do for each.  
  4. Look up other kidding related illnesses for dam and kids and know what course of action you are going to take. For exampe, weak kid have cayenne tincture or dried cayenne. Ketosis, have corn syrup or other thick sweetener or hand, etc. 
  5. Have a vet's number on hand and a second set of willing hands in case you've got to go in. Although it is possible to tie the doe so that she'll stand while you go in, but depends on the doe and can be pretty tricky if she is difficult.
I'm not going to name the obvious such as knowing when your goats are due, separating them from the herd, and properly feeding them through their pregnancy. Although I am planning on writing a post on feeding supplements to your pregnant or lactating does here soon. I may have a long night ahead of me, so that is all for now. Best wishes.


Plain and Joyful Living said...

Thank you for taking the time to share.
We plan to breed our girls this fall for the first time.
And how wonderful for your family that spring has arrived.
Warm wishes,

Ashling said...

Good luck...may it be easy and gentle!

Lindsey at NW Backyard Veggies said...

Wow. Those does are in good hands with you, though!

I've awarded you the Versatile Blogger award! I read your blog all the time and love it. You can pick up your award or not over at my blog.

Good luck with the moms-to-be!

Denise Wilhelm said...

Amen on the second set of hands if you have to go in!! I had to untangle a pair of kids while alone, and I was having a very hard time because for some odd reason that doe just didn't want to stand still! lol - I never thought about tying her. Always a better way. :)