First I will say that I think I've had the worst kidding luck of any goat owner I know. Was it the goats? My lack of knowledge and experience? Taking on too many goats while raising toddlers in the house? Who knows, but let's just sum it up by saying that in the last six years I have not had a kidding season where I have not had to "go in". I will follow that with saying that maybe I didn't always have to go in, but when you lose some kids because you didn't go in soon enough, you tend to try and prevent that the next time.
All of my kidding catastrophes have involved the kids not being in the correct position. In six years I have had two does kid with their first two bucklings upside down with their heads turned back alongside their body. The first time this happened the bucklings also had both legs tucked against their bodies and not sticking forward. The crazy thing is that I have been present for almost every kidding. I've missed one completely. I tend to jump the gun and pull all nighters only to have the doe kid the following afternoon when I'm so exhausted I just don't care about anything other than sleep.
I'm not going to go into all the kidding positions in this post - because Molly has already done so at her Fiasco Farm Site. So if you haven't checked those diagrams out and ready everything she's already written of preparing for kidding, you should. I do however, have a few things to say on the subject. If you are a newbie to goat kidding it is extremely difficult to know when to put a glove on, lube up and go in for an exploratory search. If you are like me, you'd rather let the doe do her thing and let nature take it's course. I've erred once or twice on waiting too long, one of the times' the doe actually got to the pushing stage, but wasn't making progress and started to weaken which is when we finally went in and at the time I had no idea what I was feeling (chest/ shoulder - no head or hooves) certainly hard to picture when you've never gone in before. So, if your doe gets to the pushing stage, they say the first kid should be out in 20-30 minutes, no more than 40. If she starts to weaken, you go in.
However, what if your doe never gets to the pushing, and never seems to weaken? Most will say to let her go, take her out and move her around etc. I ignored this advice when Zinnia's labor's were not progressing, and at least the second time, was glad I'd gone in when I did, or rather, wished I'd gone in earlier. If the kids are weak or dead when you go in, you probably waited to long - unless something else was wrong.
So, getting to my super simple kidding kit in order of priority:
- J Lube, a powdered lubricant that you can add to warm water and make the slipperiest lubricant ever. As much as I love the idea of olive oil with lavender essential oil - I am a fan of the J Lube results as I would have lost a doe and kid without it when olive oil didn't do the trick.
- Towels (I use old bath towels, but clean rages or paper towels if you must).
- Scissors for the umbilical cord, if you don't snip it short sometimes the doe will chew on it and it can tear and bleed at the belly.
- Goldenseal powder or an herbal antibacterial powder for the umbilical cord, notice I don't use iodine although most do. It makes a mess, plus anything you put on the kids umbilical cord gets wicked up into their little bodies - and Iodine in that form can be harmful.
- Dental floss for tying kids umbilical cords - this is a common practice but I'm not sure it is necessary - I don't always do it - sometimes my fingers are too cold and numb. As long as the doe can't chew on the cord - and as long as you are there for the first few hours to keep an eye on dam and kid.
- Latex glove for putting on if I "go in"
- A lidded pint jar of vodka to sterilize my gloved hand in right before going in. I also have a betadine surgical scrub on hand but have never used it.
- I also keep a couple clean lidded plastic containers on hand, one for warm water for lube and one for herbal tea to administer at the beginning of kidding and to put warm molasses water in for the doe after kidding to restore vitamins and trace minerals lost during kidding.
- I keep cayenne powder and tincture on hand for weak kids. Rubbing the tincture into their gums and chest is supposed to help get their heart going in addition to giving them lots of vitamins.
That's about it, and again it is past my bedtime so I may be adding significant tidbits I've forgotten about later. As always I would love to hear about how your kidding season is going. Has anyone else noticed that there have hardly been any comments at all in a while? It is like I'm writing posts to nobody - except my blogger statistic thing says that over a hundred readers are reading my posts daily...weird.