Goat Baby Sweaters

I have to admit the first time I saw a pattern for “goat baby sweaters” on one of my favorite goat sites, Fiasco Farm, I thought to myself, “What is WRONG with people? Making SWEATERS for goats?!” Being in Arizona, with it not getting THAT cold here, and since we make a point to plan for March or later babies, I just couldn’t see the point in wasting my time.

Well, since our herd queen produced one little baby girl, and she isn’t being overly motherly with the youngster, I thought it might be a good thing if I crocheted one up for her. I am really glad I did, because after a record breaking 144 days without rain, it is finally raining and it is VERY cold outside. It is currently 43°F with a windchill factor of 36°F.

I worked on the sweater yesterday, and got it finished by 10pm last night. My gauge was off (I eyeballed the gauge piece — it LOOKED right — I made the majority of it while Kevin was driving, and we were waiting for his turn to take his driver’s license test — I didn’t have a ruler with me), and now in retrospect I realize I put the sweater pieces together backwards. However, since my gauge was off to begin with, if I’d continued on with the pattern the sweater would have been hanging down another four inches off the back of the doeling, so I had to put it together backwards. And even with my mistakes, it looks fine. I ran out of pink and moved on to purple and it looks like I planned it, lol!

I took it out to put on her last night, and this morning when I checked her she was snuggly warm indeed.

I’m sold on baby goat sweaters, and hope to make a few more to have on hand.

"Do you have a bottle for me?"

"Is that really you in there, daughter?"

"Whatcha eatin', Mama?"

"Are you SURE you're my daughter dressed in that?"

"I'm still a little tired from being born on Friday."

"I guess this is fine, as long as I can still clean your bottom." ;-)

Originally written March 11, 2006

Dallas 3rd Kidding – 2006

DOB: 3/10/02
Age: 4 y 1m
3rd Freshening: Gestation 148 days; 1 doeling
Due Date: March 11, 2006 Kidded on March 9, 2006
Previous Freshenings:
1st Gestation 150 days; 1 buckling, 1 doeling
2nd Gestation 150 days; 2 bucklings

Sire: N.AZ. Anatolians Keci’s Bambi is a registered American buck
SD: Az High Country Spotty is a registered American doe
SS: Ragels Ziegenhof Keci is a Purebred Nubian

Dam: The U-Say Ranch Dallas is a recorded grade doe
DD: AZ Apache Vales Thelma
DS: AZ Apache Valley Joseph

Let me just quote dh to our ds upon my arrival home (from work): “All went well, Mom wasn’t here.”

They like to tease me about my having had to “pull” kids in previous kiddings.

So no kidding story for Dallas this year. There is however, plenty to yammer on about. This young lady has an unusual looking bottom. I suspect hermaphroditism. You may not be interested in what this looks like, so I’ve placed the pictures on a different page. Click here if you are interested in seeing the images. I am not sure yet, so I am asking some of my goat mentors for their opinion and how to tell more if this is her condition. UPDATE: Several goat breeders responded to my question on one of the lists I’m on, and they assure me this little one is normal.

And here are some pictures of mama — the herd queen — and her newest baby princess. Mama has more spots and patches then she knows what to do with, and the sire is spotted, but together they seem to produce plain babies. This little girl does have a white spot on her head, and one white spot on her left side.

March 11, 2006. It’s finally raining after a record breaking 144 days. I crocheted a sweater for the little princess. Click here to read about it and see her modeling her baby goat sweater.

Dallas’ 2nd Kidding 2005

DOB: 3/10/02
Age: 3 yo
2nd Freshening
Previous Freshenings:
1st Gestation 150 days; 1 buckling, 1 doeling

Sire: N.AZ. Anatolians Keci’s Bambi is a registered American buck
SD: Az High Country Spotty is a registered American doe
SS: Ragels Ziegenhof Keci is a Purebred Nubian

Dam: The U-Say Ranch Dallas is a recorded grade doe
DD: AZ Apache Vales Thelma
DS: AZ Apache Valley Joseph
The most significant things I learned with this kidding:

* I came to the realization that a lack of pushing urge can be directly related to kid tangling. When the head engages the birth canal, this causes the doe to have the urge to push mightily. If the doe has pushed a few times, but then stops altogether, it could be that the kids are tangled up, or are not presenting properly. This is why it’s important to check to see what is going on inside once the doe has indicated she is in active labor for 30 minutes.
* Overweight and underexercised does will often have trouble kidding.

The 14th, Monday, is Dallas’ official due date. At her first kidding, she delivered on the 150th day of gestation. It is said that does tend to follow a pattern. If they kidded on the 150th day of gestation at their first kidding, they tend to deliver on that day with subsequent pregnancies. If Dallas follows this, she should deliver on Monday. [Dallas delivered on her 149th day of gestation.]

March 11, 2005 Friday

Dallas began having some discharge this morning. It was a rusty color. I read my goat books and websites I’ve bookmarked and didn’t see anything regarding this color discharge, so didn’t think too much of it. I wiped the discharge away, and she didn’t get anymore of this color. [Later I found in one of my printed out sites that rusty colored discharge can be a sign of infection and sepsis; luckily this was not the case this time.]

March 12, 2005 Saturday

Dallas is having some discharge again today. Before going to bed at 8:30pm it seems her tendons have disappeared, but I could still feel the kids moving around, so decided we won’t have kids during the night. [Most of my information indicates if you can feel kids moving around, then you have at least 12 hours to go.]

March 13, 2005 Sunday

We got up to find Dallas had kidded. NOT. Of course not… Dallas still had discharge, and was still moaning and groaning. I called one of my goat mentors and she said that she thought Dallas was still in very early labor, and would quiet down once she was in “real” labor. Around noon I checked on her again, nothing was happening, so decided to take a nap and check her in a couple hours. When I got outside around 2:30 or so, she had a very long white cord hanging from her. I wish I had taken a picture of it. I tried to remove it, but it was pretty tough, so I just left it. I’m assuming placenta membranes, but not sure. I decided to stay out with Dallas, and keep an eye on how she was doing. Finally around 3:30 she stretched her back, and did a small push. At 3:45 she had a massive contraction where she pushed her way through the barn door, out into the yard. She then proceeded to spend the next 30 minutes cleaning up every drop of fluid she had emitted from her body. No more pushes whatsoever. I called my goat mentor, and she said if it’s been 30 minutes that I should take a look inside and see what was going on.

So I scrubbed my right arm and hand, and Dallas’ backside and felt inside with my fingers. I felt feet. I went in a little further, and felt more feet, I believe 3 were trying to enter the birth canal at the same time – no heads. I had to put my arm in quite a bit in order to find a head. My goat mentor had told me that at the conventions she has been to lately, the vets are recommending that with the case of tangled kids, try to find one foreleg to match the head and don’t try to find both forelegs. I also remembered learning with Lightning’s 2004 kidding that head only presentations are okay. It is easier on the doe for the kid to present with a forearm and head, rather than just the head, but it is possible. I could not match any legs to the heads I was feeling. Finally, by putting my arm inside the doe up to my elbow, I was able to follow the neck down to find a foreleg. But once I got the foreleg and head moving in the right direction, and the doe would push, the two forelegs of the other kid would present right alongside! The doe was screaming, and finally fell onto her side with her head stretched out. I was afraid we were going to lose her, so I decided to just grab onto a head and start pulling. Easier said than done. My hands aren’t tiny, but I could barely grip the head of the kid and pull with all my might before I lost my grip and had to start again. Finally, after five hard pulls, the head was at the birth canal, but I had to keep my grip on the head in order to get it out into the world. I was afraid the kid was stillborn, because his tongue was sticking out the side of his mouth, but then he opened his eyes!

I pulled him out gently, but quickly, scrubbed up and went back in for the next kid. There seemed to be a lot of blood, I was kind of worried.

Here is a picture of the newborn bucklings, not yet fully dried off.

We weighed them shortly after they were born, the first kid born weighed 10 pounds. The second kid weighed 9.5 pounds.

We decided to try raising our kids differently this time. We had weighed the pros and cons of bottle feeding vs. dam raising. Up to the birth of these bucklings we were still planning to bottle feed the kids ourselves. But because the dam had a difficult delivery, my goat mentor told me that sometimes the doe has a harder time expelling the placenta. The last kidding we had where the placenta was not expelled within the “allotted time” (ranging from four hours to twelve hours depending on the book you happen to be reading) we had a terrible experience, I won’t go into it here, you can read Brooklyn’s 2004 Kidding if you are interested. All I know is I didn’t want to experience this again. My goat mentor suggested we put a kid with the dam to get her licking the kid, which would hopefully stimulate her body to expel the placenta (the hormone oxytocin is released after birth with the licking, and when the teats are stimulated by nursing.)

Since our does tested negative for CAE, I started thinking maybe it would be easier on all concerned to allow the dam to raise her own kids. In addition, we were worried that our does would not allow us to milk them, if they had kids they were nursing.

I have to say that although we had come up with these fine and in some regards “politically correct” reasons, it was totally against our better judgment mainly due to the fact that I nursed my own children, and abhorred the thought of giving my children a bottle. I have also been learning in the past few months about the great benefits of raw milk. I already knew how much better human breastmilk, straight from the breast is for baby humans. But I have been learning more about raw goat and cow’s milk, and it just doesn’t seem right to pasteurize the baby goats milk and cook all the wonderful nutrients. To learn more about how very important real milk is for humans, please visit A Campaign for Real Milk and Dr. Mercola’s site, also Fiasco Farm’s Info on Raw Milk & Pasteurization for a quick summary.

So… I talked with my family about it… putting the kids with their dam and letting her raise them. My main goal was the expulsion of that placenta, but I also was thinking it would be easier on my family to not have to do bottle feeding. Plus, we are trying to limit our attachment to the kids as we cannot keep them all as pets.

So far, so good. Within an hour the placenta was expelled. Mommy was licking and nursing her kids, being a great mom in spite of having never even known she’d had kids before. It was such a great relief to see that she had expelled her placenta.

Now for the next step of worry. Using antibiotics prophylactically when needing to “go in” is quite the controversy. I have had personal experience with the overuse of antibiotics and hate using them unless they are absolutely necessary. One of my goat mentors takes her doe’s temperature twice daily for three days after kidding, and if the doe’s temperature goes up, she starts antibiotics. Another of my goat mentors uses antibiotics if she has to “go in” no matter what. Both people lean toward natural healing as a general rule. So it’s always a big source of worry for me, whether to use antibiotics or not. I don’t want to endanger the doe’s life with a case of metritis, nor do I want to endanger her life by giving her antibiotics prophylactically.

This time I choose to take her temperature. Another time, I might choose to use antibiotics. In the interim, I did learn from a goat list I’m on some information about how to be as clean as possible. It will make me feel more comfortable to use this process for future deliveries. I have written to the author to see if she would allow me to post her suggestions on my website. Permission granted, the page for Proper Cleaning for Assisting with Difficult Kidding is ready for viewing.

One side of Dallas’ udder is congested on day 2, so we are treating her with 5cc’s injectible Vitamin C daily (SQ), rubbing the udder with peppermint oil, teatree oil and olive oil. I am being careful to not get the oil on the teats because of the kids. She does not seem to have much milk, so I am giving the kids a supplemental feeding each day. Since I did bottle feed them right after birth, they seem to be able to nurse and use the bottle. I find that the “Genuine Pritchard Valve Nipple” is the easiest nipple to get kids started on. One of the kids is even starting to come running at me when he sees me, because he knows I’ve got enough milk to give him a nice full tummy.

I have to say that the difference between bottle raising kids, and dam raising is like night and day. When we separated the kids and dams in the past, we allowed the dam to lick our arms and hands, like she would her kids. This caused her to bond to us, we were told it would make it easier to milk the dam if she thought we were her kids. But it also caused the dams to yell constantly at us – their human kids – whenever they saw us step out of the house. They would look at those little goat looking things, and then yell at us. The kids would be screaming, too, looking toward our house, looking for their next bottle.

But this time, we let the dam lick us, and we let her lick and bond to her own kids. It is a world of difference, plus it just feels like the right thing to do. Also, because I am spending time with the kids, and giving a supplemental bottle to the kids, they are very people friendly, even though they are with their dam much of the time. Plus, it’s just more of the way nature intended things to be. We are much happier with this method. So far. We have yet to see how weaning goes, and if it is a problem. I did not come to this decision all on my own. I was first tempted by this when reading the Fiasco Farm site, where the owner describes the method she uses. If I remember correctly, she leaves the dam and kids together for two weeks, then separates the kids into a nursery area at night. In the morning she milks the does, and says the does learn to hold back enough milk for their kids. Read more about how Fiasco Farm raises kids.

We are also going to be disbudding our own kids this year. I have seen five kids disbudded, (two were our own) and I think we are ready to do our own.

I think that’s it for now.

August 2005. Dallas’ boys were banded on May 22nd. They were 7 weeks old.

Update on weaning. We began separating all the kids from their dams at two weeks of age. We milked the dams first thing in the morning, then allowed the kids in with their dams for the day. When the wethers were 8 weeks old, we just stopped letting them go in with their dam. Male kids are quite brutal when nursing. They bang and shove on the dam’s udder, and would nurse whether Dallas allowed them to, or not.

In comparison, Lightning’s doelings are very well trained. They appear to wait for her permission before nursing. If she does not want them to nurse, she backs up away from them, and they stand there, licking their little lips. They hang around her, waiting to nurse, and as if by some silent nod of approval she gives, the two doelings simultaneously dive under her. They also bang and shove, like the boys. Lightning’s back legs fly up into the air from the force of them nursing. Lightning just stands there, chewing cud. She always sniffs Zoë’s bottom when nursing the doelings. 🙂

Dallas did not seem to be very concerned about not having her boys nursing once we weaned them. The boys yelled for a couple of days, but Dallas did not seem to care, in fact, seemed to appreciate that they were not attacking her udder.

Dallas’ boys are skittish. We did work with them on having their feet touched, for hoof trims, but they do not like it when we go into their pen. They will run and hide in the barn.