Proper Cleaning For Assisting with a Difficult Birth

March 2005

Veterinary doctor Michele Konnersman provided some guidelines on proper cleaning for the assisting the doe with a difficult kidding is necessary.

Items to have on hand for “going in”:

  • Betadyne scrub
  • Betadyne solution swabs or Betadyne solution
  • sterile gloves
  • sterile lubrication
  • LA200
  • 12cc syringe
  • sterile water (either in vials or you can make your own sterile water by boiling water for 20 minutes)
  • oxytocin [injectable]
  • Bio-Mycin or LA200 (Pen G is NOT recommended*)
  • roll of cotton or paper towels

Dr. Michele Konnersman:

“I was just thinking about how important it is to prepare the doe properly before putting a hand in to correct a kidding problem.

  1. 1. The area under the tail is full of fecal bacteria. During an assisted kidding this fecal bacteria is carried into the uterus. Your hand and arm are covered with Staph bacteria that also can be put into the uterus. These bacteria love the fluids in the uterus and grow very well in there.
  2. Before a hand goes into the doe, the rear has to be thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed. I usually scrub away all fecal material that I can see, and then follow that with 3 full betadyne scrubs, then 3 betadyne solution swabs. [Instead of swabs, you can use wetted cotton or paper towels using the Betadyne solution or scrub as needed.] Then you scrub your hand and arm in a similar way.
  3. Remember, you have bacteria under your fingernails. It is best after scrubbing the hand and arm to then put on a sterile glove. Then put on your arm a large amount of sterile lubrication.
  4. If at any time the doe defecates, stop and scrub that away from everywhere that it touched.
  5. When you get one kid out, if you work with it or touch anything outside the goat, you must rescrub and reglove before going back into the goat.

If you follow these procedures, severe infections can be avoided. After a difficult kidding, giving oxytocin when all of the kids are out will help the uterus contract and expel any infected fluids. I always put a treatment into the uterus before the oxytocin injection.

I used to use Sulfa-Urea boluses (one in each uterine horn) when I could get them, but now I just fill a 12cc syringe with LA200 and sterile water (if the doe weighs 160 lb., I would put 8cc of LA200 in the syringe, and fill up the rest of the syringe with sterile water. If the doe weighs 100 lb, I would put 5cc LA200 in the syringe and fill the rest with sterile water. [So you want to draw up 1cc per twenty pounds]) and carry it into the uterus.

I then usually give at least 3 days of biomycin or LA200 subQ. Another good reason to choose Tetracycline for after kidding is because the most likely bacteria in the uterus are fecal bacteria, which are not killed by Pen G.

How to make your own sterile water

“To make your own sterile water, just boil water for 20 minutes and then let it cool to room temp.”

I now have a “going in” kit which I keep with my “kidding kit (this link takes you to Fiasco Farm)”.

The contents of my “going in” kit:

  1. Rubber gloves
  2. Baby Wipes
  3. Betadine
  4. Anti-bacterial soap
  5. Thermometer
  6. Lubricant (such as KY-Jelly)
  7. Preparation H (to soothe the vulva if swollen and irritated after kidding)
  8. Vitamin E & Goldenseal
  9. Jug of Sterile Water
  10. Roll of Paper Towels

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.

Goat Kidding Links

Let the Kidding Begin
By Suzanne Gasparotto Onion Creek Ranch – Tennessee Meat Goats

Pre/post kidding preparations for dairy goat does and kids
Prepared by Dick & Anne Pigman

Fiasco Farm Birthing & Post Birth Information
Fiasco Farm

Approaching Kidding [from Internet Archives]
Capri-Herb Farm

Are You Prepared for Kidding Season?
AJ’S Udder Delight Dairy Goats

How Can I Tell When My Doe is About to Kid? Ligament Test
AJ’S Udder Delight Dairy Goats

Birthing Hints
Lotsa-Does-4A-Buck Farm
Scott and Katy Noffsinger

Signs of Labor in Boer Goat Does
Jack and Anita Mauldin Boer Goats

Brooklyn’s 1st Kids 2004

DOB: 5/2/02
Age: 2 years, 4 months
First Freshener

June 14. Eight days ago, Brooklyn became a first freshener.

Unfortunately, Brooklyn sustained a headbutt to the stomach on day 135 which threw her body into labor — she was carrying triplets, two black bucklings and one black doeling. Our Nigerian Dwarf buck, Pepper was the sire. I will relate her kidding story for informational purposes.

I definitely learned from this unfortunate event. I learned to trust my instincts, to keep the birthing kit [I use this list from Fiasco Farm] ready at all times, and to keep all my notes on kidding with the kidding kit. There is an excellent page here that describes Problems with Delivery which I did not have on hand at this birth. I also like to have all the goat books with me, bookmarked to the kidding pages. In the future I plan to create a birthing booklet for my own use, which will contain printouts from all sites that I have found handy for kidding instructions, copies of the pages of the books, plus I will include my own birth experiences as detailed on this site.

Here is a page with links I’ve collected.

We went out to milk around 5:30am, and found Brooklyn with clear, sticky mucous stuck to her backside. It was obvious that she had built a nest for herself in the barn, in the hay near the manger. There were puddles of clear mucous in several places throughout the yard, including on the barn porch. I put my finger into the large wet puddle on the porch and brought it to my nose to see if there was an odor, as I suspected amniotic fluid but wanted to outrule urine. It had no odor, so I knew it was not urine, but birthing fluids. At this point, I had not recalled the headbutting the day before, because I had only seen it out of the corner of my eye and hadn’t thought much of it.

With hindsight, I would have cleaned her backside immediately, cleaned my hand and checked to see what was going on. This was only the second kidding I have attended, but I am attuned to the birthing process because I am my family’s doula and have attended 7 homebirths and one hospital birth for my sisters. Next time I will know to trust my instincts and when it seems that the doe is moving out a lot of fluid, it’s probably because she’s been pushing already and has a kid blocking the way.

There is also no way to know if the kids died soon after the headbutting incident, as a goat herder friend of mine told me what happens is the kids are separated from their placentas and die soon after. This is probably what happened, but it could be that the kids were still alive at 5:30am and I could have gotten them out had I only checked.

Okay, so remember I haven’t yet remembered the headbutting event, and just assumed she was in early labor. When I attended Lightning’s birth she labored from early in the morning until she began her first push in early afternoon, so it seemed Brooklyn was progressing in the same way. I stayed with her constantly once I got the kidding kit together and got out there. It was the hottest day of the year so far, I believe it reached 110°F that day. Not fun.

She kept standing up and arching her back, like she was trying to position the kids. I now know that this often means there is a problem. My goat mentor tells me she allows the doe three times of that back arching, then she goes in and checks to see what is going on. I sure wish I’d known that earlier, for again, we may have been able to save the kids, or maybe not.

She would then lie down and stretch out her legs. These movements all appeared to be stretches, not actual pushes. Finally around 12:30pm she pushed, this was different from the stretches. At this point, I was still thinking we had live kids in there, early labor had finally turned to active labor. She pushed rather half-heartedly every couple of minutes and after 25 minutes I couldn’t stand waiting any longer to see what was going on, plus an ear was trying to be born! Yes, an ear was protuding from the birth canal. I washed my hand carefully and inserted a finger. I was unsure what I was feeling, but it seemed very much like the top of a kid’s head where the hornbuds are. This is a problem position, so I washed my hand again, applied olive oil and got my hand inside. The kid’s head was down, it was extremely hard to find the front legs, I could only find one front leg. I recalled reading that although muzzle and one leg is a hard position to deliver, it can be done, and so I began pulling this first kid. I was afraid I killed him helping him to be born because his neck cracked as I pulled on his head. There was no time to start fretting and wringing my hands though, so I put him aside and covered him with a piece of newspaper.

I let Brooklyn rest, and gave her some warm water with molasses after we got this one kid out. Finally after about 20 minutes she began pushing again, very weak pushes. She managed to get a big bubble to protude, then she just laid there not doing much at all. I waited another 15-20 minutes (need to get a watch or a clock in the barn!) then decided to check again. This time I found a kid trying to come out muzzle first, no feet. It was difficult again to find the front legs to go with this kid, but I finally got him into position and got him out, he was stillborn. At this point I decided that I was not willing to wait any longer to see if any more kids were inside, and put my arm in again and this time pulled out a stillborn doeling. I put my arm in one more time and felt around, to make sure there were no more kids. I could only feel mushy softness, and withdrew my hand.

We moved the kids away from us and the doe. Now I concentrated my concern on Brooklyn, who was planted solidly on the ground and not showing any signs of getting up. I was worried that she was too weak. She is a big doe, very heavy and it was going to take some effort on her part to get her onto her feet. I felt it was very important that she get onto her feet soon. We offered her some water with molasses again, which she drank some.

I had heard that old timer goat herders will give a doe who has had a rough birth her own milk. I milked her as she laid there, getting about a cup of colostrum. I squirted 3 squirts of Nutri-Drench in the colostrum, stirred it up and offered it to her. She sucked it down like it was the best thing she’d ever had. I told her she had 10 minutes to get onto her feet, or I was going to get her up myself. Ten minutes went by and I pulled forward on her collar so that she had no choice but to get her feet under herself and up she came. The whole time she’s “nanny talking”, looking around for her kids.

I had to keep reminding myself that we pull the kids for CAE prevention and she wouldn’t have had them anyway, but it was still sad to hear.

As she had had such weak urges to push during labor, I next began to worry about the afterbirth being expelled. I called some goat herder friends, and one told me that we had a four hour window, and if she hadn’t passed the placenta by 5:30pm that I’d better call a vet. (I’ve since learned that some feel comfortable waiting as long as 12 hours).

I called a friend who lives nearby and raises goat to see if she had a favorite vet that she would call on a Sunday afternoon. She was not home, but her granddaughter answered the phone and told me that she and her grandmother use Lutalyze on their does when they do not expel the placenta.

In the meantime we began doing some things to help the doe to expel her placenta. We took her on a walk around our property (oh my goodness, that was horrible it was so hot I think this is when I began getting heat exhaustion). We tried vulva massages, basically you clean your hand, insert two fingers inside and massage inside the doe to get her to push which should help her to expel the placenta. I milked her massaged her udder and teats. This was very effective with our doe, Lightning. The act of milking her, and rubbing on her udder and teats caused her to have contractions and expel her placenta. At this point I still hadn’t quite come to the realization that Brooklyn’s birth was unusual, the births premature, and that her body wasn’t really cooperating too well. We tried having her stand with her front legs higher than her back legs, so that gravity could help her expel the afterbirth.

None of these were working, so I decided to try the Lutalyze. Drove to the friend’s house, beginning to get a headache by now from the heat and dehydration as I had not been drinking properly. (I’m usually very good at managing the heat, but this was an unexpected “heat wave” and I’d forgotten one of my main ways to counter the heat was to soak my clothes, and I had just been too busy to drink water.) I was told to administer the Lutalyze SQ, (subcutaneously) but just now trying to find the correct spelling on the ‘net I see that it should be administered IM. Perhaps this is why it did nothing for her.

I began calling veterinarians. Finally one returned my call and as my luck would have it, my cell phone was not cooperating and I’m sitting there, holding it, waiting anxiously for a call back, and it goes, “Beep, boop-beep,” which means someone has called, the reception was poor, so the phone didn’t ring, but they left me a message.

I listened to the message. The vet told me the doe should NOT have had Lutalyze, she needed oxytocin! He told me he no longer comes out to this area, and that I would have to find the oxytocin from a vet supply. I could tell he realized as he said that, that it was Sunday afternoon, and he then said that I could try asking some of the dairies out in this area if they could supply me with some oxytocin. He told me she should have “20 units, not 20cc’s but 20 units.”

I began calling dairies and finally located one about 25 miles away that answered the phone and was willing to supply us with oxytocin. I called the veterinarian again to find out how much 20 units was, and at this time he told me to give the doe 1cc of oxytocin and if she had not expelled the placenta within 30 minutes that we should give her another 1cc.

Finally we arrived back home and gave her 1cc oxytocin at 8:20pm. She didn’t seem to respond to the injection. 30 minutes went by, no reaction. We gave her the second dose and waited until 9:30pm. By this time, I was nauseated, I had a splitting headache, I couldn’t stand to be up another moment. I asked God to keep His hand on her and watch over her.

Tonight while researching the ‘net I found that the recommended dosage is 1.5cc oxytocin per 100 pounds. This doe weighed 200 pounds the day after giving birth, so we did not give her enough oxytocin.

Later I researched and found on the ‘net that it is okay to wait up to twelve hours for the doe to expel the placenta. I was reluctant to leave her and go into the house and go to bed, because then I would not know if she expelled everything.

The next morning I was reluctant to go out to milk, and had to take an antacid for my nausea. I was terrified that we’d find the worst, (that she would be dead) who knows what the side effects of the medications we’d given her could be. Finally I worked up my nerve and went out, to find that she was okay, and the cords were no longer hanging from her vulva. I did find the cords that were hanging, in the barn, they were dried up but wet and messy at one end, indicating that she more than likely ate the afterbirth, as is normal (usually we do not allow our does to eat the afterbirth). Still, it was frightening not knowing if she’d expelled everything, or if she still had clumps of afterbirth left inside her.

As a precaution we decided at the advice of my goat mentor to begin her on antibiotics. We gave her 3cc Bio-Mycin 200 once every 24 hours for five days. I also took her temperature day and night to be sure it remained steady. She had quite a high temperature, ranging from 103.6°F to 104.2°F but according to my goat books a healthy goat’s temperature can be from 101.5°F to 105°F so I guess we’re well within this range. I also learned that thermometers which contain mercury are difficult to use when the temperature outdoors is over 100°F! I thought the thermometer was broken, because it would not shake down. I finally drove to a feedstore and bought a new thermometer only to find this one was “broken” as well. As it turns out, when the temperature is hot, the only way to use the thermometer is to shake it down indoors where it is cool. Then immerse the thermometer in cool water until ready to be used. Once you take it out of the cool water, immediately insert it into the goat to take the temperature (takes 3 minutes).

We also gave her probios, vitamin C and snacks to get her appetite going again.

All of the does seemed affected by this kidding, our milker’s yield dropped in half and she refused to eat her grain for no apparent reason, except for the stress of the kidding. Finally today, 8 days later, all of the does seem to have their appetite’s back. We are milking Brooklyn daily, and her yield is up to over 7 pounds each day. She is two years old and a first freshener. Up to today, I had been milking her sitting on the barn floor because her hooves were in bad shape due to not trimming them for the last 6 weeks of her pregnancy. But I worked on her hooves this morning with cutters and a rasp, trying to get them back into shape so she would feel comfortable on the milking stand.

It is such a pleasure to milk a doe that stands still on the milking stand. I will be happy when Brooklyn learns this important part of her life. Currently we are having to lift her, and she is uncomfortable on the milking stand and leans heavily against me as I milk her. Lightning did this at first, but she weighs much less than Brooklyn, and it is quite a strain on my body to push against her as she is leaning against me. Luckily, Brooklyn’s teats are nice and long, and I can actually use all four fingers to milk her, although it is such a habit to use only three for Lightning that I am having to learn a whole new way to milk.

We will not be able to use the milk for human consumption for 12 to 18 days after the antibiotics are finished, so in the meantime the dogs, cats and chickens are getting a lot of milk to drink. Also, I am going to try making soap with some of this milk. If the kids had survived, they would have been getting the milk for quite some time, and we usually don’t drink the milk for the first 2-3 weeks anyway as it doesn’t taste good yet. Her milk is very creamy and white though, can’t wait to try it.

Lightning’s First Kids 2004

DOB: 4/8/03
Age: 11 months
First Freshening

March 15, 2004 Day after Lightning gives birth.

Sire: Pepper is an unregistered blue-eyed silver and black Nigerian Dwarf

Dam: Lightning is a 50% recorded grade doe
DD: U-Say Ranch Dallas [DS: AZ Apache Valley Joseph DD: AZ Apache Vales Thelma]
DS: Jacobs Pride Peanut [DS: Six M Galaxy Milanis Pistachio DD: Six M Galaxy Aisha 5*M]

The 14th, Sunday, was Lightning’s official due date. Gestation is 150 days, with a week before and after being “normal”.

I went out to check on Lightning at 6am and discovered that she had yellow mucous — having been on “high alert” for kids for the past 10 days (another of our other does — Dallas — was due 5 days earlier, but ended up not being pregnant) I knew from the books that yellow mucous means business. I felt for her tendons, and they were gone, and her udder was bagging up, so I felt she would kid soon. I thought within an hour or two at most.

I got the birthing kit and brought it out with me, along with my knitting, the goat books, some ice water and a lawn chair to relax in. Our only other birth (last year) was uneventful, and all the books say that 95 out of 100 births will be uneventful, so just sit back and enjoy nature. I love birth, and have since I was a young child. I was always present while our dog and cat had their yearly batch of puppies and kittens. I am also my family’s doula, and have been present at 6 homebirths, and one hospital birth for three of my sisters. I was disappointed last year when I missed the kidding, and I wasn’t about to miss out on this one.

It was nice out, but a little on the warm side so I felt drowsy but didn’t want to sleep. Basically Lightning just kept standing in one position, then she would paw the ground, lie down for 30-75 seconds and be back up again. She would arch her back, and stretch. I offered her water, but she would have nothing to do with it. She was interested in eating unsalted peanuts in the shell so I offered her some of those every once in a while.

I went inside every couple hours to take a little break, and I was starting to feel a little worried by noon when Lightning hadn’t drank any water or eaten any food so I did a little bit of research on the ‘net to see if that was normal. I read that it isn’t necessarily a good thing, as the amount of amniotic fluid would lessen if she wasn’t getting enough fluids. I quelled my fears and just kept hoping that soon she would begin hard labor.

Finally just after 2pm she hunched over real hard while standing, this was different than anything she’d done earlier, so I figured we were finally about to have kids. David was already outside with me, and Kevin wanted to be present so I called him (used my cell to call the home phone) and he came out. David and Kevin attended Dallas’ birth last year, and as I said earlier, it was uneventful. But they were both ready with clean birthing rags and spreading out newspaper.

I had been reading over the goat books about birth during the hours of waiting, and I knew that Lightning should expel the first kid within 20-30 minutes of pushing. The books said that if the kids weren’t born by then, there could be a problem, and you should go “in” and see if there was a problem.

There are pictures of normal and abnormal presentations, normal being the two front hooves with the nose resting on the front legs. Lightning had a bubble, and David and Kevin explained once you see the bubble, it breaks and then the kid is born. Well, there was a bubble, but after two or three pushes, Lightning laid down and broke it.

She jumped up right away, and fluid came pouring out. I’m assuming amniotic fluid.

Lots and lots of fluid gushed out, and Lightning was trying to lick it up. I figured since goats eat their placenta, and she was possibly dehydrated at this point, it wouldn’t be a problem. Soon she had another bubble, and this one burst, too. By now 40 minutes had passed by and I put my finger just inside her vulva and I could feel a kid’s mouth. Then I started seeing bubbles — it seemed like the baby was trying to breathe in there. I don’t know for sure, but one of the books said the biggest problem with a breech birth is that the baby can suffocate if the sack is broken and they aren’t born soon enough.

I was really starting to worry about the kids. It seemed like maybe both sacks had broken. Plus, Lightning was going to get tired and worn out from trying. I scanned all three books again, to see if it was considered a problem for the kid to present face first. None of the books indicated this was a good or bad thing! I decided to wash my hands and arms with antibacterial hand soap, dried with paper towels and put olive oil on my index finger and I could feel the baby in there, but no hooves were coming at the same time.

I had David hold Lightning for me, and began inserting my hand inside of her. It wasn’t too difficult, until I got to the knuckles on my fingers. I can barely insert my hand into the small mouth of a Best Foods mayonnaise jar… some days I can tell I am retaining fluids because I cannot. But that is exactly how it felt putting my hand into Lightning’s birth canal. The baby’s head was right there, and poor Lightning was screaming really loud and her uterus was contracting and pushing, trying to get the baby out, while my hand was in there.

The first thing I had to do was sort out what was what in there. That is so difficult to do. I started praying out loud immediately, begging God to help me figure this out. I had my hand on the right side of the baby’s head, and I felt down the neck, and then I found the left leg. It was curled up right by his chest. I felt and felt and felt directly over with my fingers, and I could find legs, but none seemed to be his other front leg. So I took my hand and carefully, slowly — while Lightning is screaming and bearing down — up and over the buckling’s head to the right side of his body, then followed down his neck and finally found his right leg. It was folded back straight alongside his body. I gently pulled it forward, and then tried to find the left leg again, but I couldn’t locate it with my hand in that position. So I had to pull that leg out straight, then move my hand back up around his head to the left side. I managed to hook the two front feet together in my fingers this time, at least I was hoping and praying I had his two front legs! When my hand was on the right side of his body, I also discovered the doeling’s head was right there, at his neck, trying to present at the same time.

I got the two front legs positioned in the birth canal, with the head on top of the two feet. Then we all let go of Lightning for a couple of minutes, to let her rest. Soon she tried again, and she got the boy’s left hoof out, then his nose and right hoof. She seemed to be having a hard time pushing him out, so I gently grasped his two hooves and pulled downward just so slightly all the while, hearing Kevin saying, “Don’t pull, don’t pull, mom!” But I knew it was probably the right thing to do, and right away the boy slid out of Lightning. We quickly started wiping him off, drying him and wiping the glop off of his little mouth and nose. Within a minute or so, Lightning was pushing again. I washed my arm real quick again, just in case, and this time the kid was presenting with the left hoof and face, but the right hoof folded back on the chest. This was a lot easier, I just put my fingers in, got hold of the curled leg and brought it forward. As soon as the girl was in position, she took slid out.

As you can see in the photo, Lightning was looking at her babies. David and Kevin were much better at whisking the Dallas’ kids from her right away, so she never bonded to her kids. Lightning did… and it is hard to hear her crying for her kids.

Being that I am a firm believer in breastfeeding, and a member of La Leche League in the past when my children were young, it was very difficult for me to make the decision that we will bottle feed our goat kids.

There are several reasons, the most important one to prevent CAE (Caprine Arthritis Encephilitis) a disease that is passed on to goats primarily by the kids nursing from infected dams. We have not been able to test our small herd, although I had hoped to get that done this year it hasn’t happened. It entails taking blood from each of our goats, and sending the blood to a lab to have it tested. It is easier to find new homes for kids if you sell them as bottle babies, I have heard, that is another reason. We have goats for their milk, so we want to get the dam used to being milked by humans, not by kids. And finally, of the reasons that come to mind immediately, it’s easier to wean the kids and separate them at weaning time. I have heard people tell stories of how the kids and the dams are screaming bloody murder because they want to be with each other. It’s really one of the saddest parts of having goats — that, and not being able to keep them all. 🙁

But on with my story. So we got the babies into their own area, and we didn’t even know what we had until probably an hour after they were born, it was just too hectic. But as you know already, we had a doeling and a buckling.

The little doeling looks very much like her sire, and it looks like she has his blue eyes and Nigerian ears, plus she inherited his waddles. The little buckling is so beautiful, and has gray eyes which will turn brown like a Nubian’s should be. Some people breed Nigerians to Nubians to get what they call Mini-Nubians.

We weren’t done by any means… we still had to milk Lightning, whose teeny, tiny teats are so tiny that I can barely grasp to milk her. We had to get the colostrum, and heat treat it, hopefully not curdling it this time, like I did with Dallas’ colostrum. Well, you guessed it. It got curdled again. I had bought a bag of powdered colostrum for this very reason, just in case. With Dallas, we not only curdled the colostrum, but she was not giving us enough milk to feed her two kids.

Thankfully, Lightning drank the warm molasses water that we gave her, and then proceeded to drink and drink and drink water. I was relieved about that.

I was also very concerned because I had had to go in, there was a possibility that Lightning could end up with an infection. Some people as a matter of fact give antibiotics if they have to go in, but I hate administering antibiotics unless they are really necessary. So I got some advice from some online friends who have goats, and decided to go with the advice to take her temperature twice daily to make sure she doesn’t start running a temp, and if she does, then start giving her an antibiotic. So I went to the feedstore today, bought a thermometer (because we could not find ours and besides this was a good one for using on livestock, only $6.90) and the antibiotics, [Bio-Mycin 200] just in case.

I took Lightning’s temperature today, and at first it read 105°F! I was alarmed because that would mean a fever for a goat. But then I realized that I had not shook down the thermometer (that is the very thing I did the first time I ever took my little newborn baby Matthew’s temperature when he was very hot). Then after I shook down the thermometer and read it again, it said 102°F which is about normal.

Poor Lightning… today she is screaming and crying for her babies… but I don’t know if it’s really for the goat babies, as she licked and licked all three of us, and she probably thinks we’re her babies. At least that is how it was explained to me, the idea is you take the kids, then let the mom lick the birthing fluids off you, then she thinks *you* are her baby, and then she’s more inclined to let you milk her!

Needless to say, it was a very busy day. Earlier, around 9am, I found out that a neighbor of ours, who I had only connected with briefly, had passed away. She was only 31 years old, with heart failure, and she leaves behind a 12 year old son who does not have his father in his life. That was very sad to hear, and affected me emotionally. Then having to put my arm into Lightning, while she’s screaming and screaming, and I’m praying and trying to sort out legs… I was *messed* up last night. I ended up crying on the phone with my sister, then with my mom for a couple of hours. I was just so upset about it all. I was second guessing my decision to help the kids be born, because I do not know for sure that face only presentation is a problem, since the books don’t say one way or the other. But I’m fairly sure that I saved their lives, and Lightning’s life. If she had labored any longer without being able to get them out, she would surely have become exhausted and dehydrated and unable to push them out.

So I guess we now have 94 uneventful births to look forward to… since one was uneventful, and the second one was EVENTFUL. 🙂

June 13, 2004

Milking notes: It took nearly one full month to teach Lightning to use the milk stand for milking. At first we lifted her twice daily, and even erected a ramp for her to walk up on since it was suggested as a possibility to me that her skeletal calcium was low, and she literally could not get up on the milk stand because it was too painful for her bones.

Also, it took quite some time of milking her with only two fingers before her teats enlarged enough to use three fingers. I still milk with my index finger curled up above the teat, resting against her udder. She is now a pleasure to milk, and has delicious tasting milk. Here are some udder shots before evening milking on day 84 of her lactation:

Here is a shot after her udder is emptied.

She gave us 3# this milking. She peaked at Day 40 of her lactation with 8.1# for the day total (2x daily milkings).

Lightning was bred October 16, 2004 to our buck Bambi. She is due to kid March 16, 2005. Gestation is 150 days.