2008 Kids

Starburst kidded on February 19th, 2008. She was due to kid on Friday the 22nd. My son went out to milk and there were two dried off newborn baby bucklings, walking around and nursing. Another uneventful birth!

Dani and Lightning were bred to the same buck, but did not settle.

We were expecting one of The Brooklings, Mocha, to kid on March 12th. She delivered on March 18th.

Lightning was rebred to our buck, end of December. If she settled this time, we expect kids from her end of May. She did not settle.

Lighting’s 3rd Kidding – 2006

DOB: 4/8/03
Age: 3 years
3rd Freshening: 151 days gestation, 1 buckling
Previous Freshenings:
1st Gestation 149 days; 1 buckling, 1 doeling
2nd Gestation 149 days; 2 doelings

I was away from home when Lightning went into labor. I had to run three errands on the way home, and my son asked me to stop by the store and get a few things, and I was supposed to go to the puppy training class, but since the wind was blowing so hard, the puppy training lady called and cancelled the class until next week. Thank goodness she cancelled!!!

I went out to check Lightning as soon as I got home and it was obvious to me that her bag of waters had broken (there were a couple of puddles of thick fluid on the ground, plus she had a long string hanging). I called my husband (called the home phone using my cell phone) and asked him to bring the towels and sheets out that I’d set aside for the birth. He came out, and our younger son came out with his camcorder. It took her a while (over 5 minutes of pushing), but finally she was able to get her single buckling kid out. Mom and kid are doing fine. WHEW.

Lightning is doing great… I still can’t believe she only had ONE kid in there. There is this “bumping” thing you can do, where you put your arms around their belly and bounce the dam’s belly up and down. You can only do it after they have had one kid since their belly muscles are relaxed. So I thought I would try it, after she had this one baby, because I was sure there were more inside. Nothing. Dh tried and he felt nothing either. She stopped having labor pains as soon as the kid was out. Nature demands if there is another kid in there (as long as the kid is positioned correctly, or not dead), that they will continue on with labor pains, because the uterus needs to shrink back down to normal size which is I would guess the size of a grapefruit, not big enough to hold kids. So, we felt pretty confident that she was done.

This little boy was born somewhat selenium-deficient. You can see his front legs are kind of bent funny. He was fine within a few days. I gave him a selenium-Vitamin E supplement that is given orally. Normally we use BOSE which is a prescription medication, and is given by shot SQ.

All in all, an uneventful birth.

Lightning’s 2nd Kidding – 2005

DOB: 4/8/03
Age: 1 year, 11 months
2nd Freshening Gestation 149 days; 2 doelings
Previous Freshenings:
1st Gestation 149 days; 1 buckling, 1 doeling

March 18, 2005 Day after Lightning gives birth.

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: 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]

I’m very proud to share our latest birth story with all of you.

I’ve been home from work this week, on birth watch for our two does. Dallas already kidded on Sunday, and we’ve been waiting for Lightning to kid.

Lightning seemed uncomfortable last night. Grinding her teeth, yawning, stretching. But there was only a little bit of discharge. No “copious” amounts. So we got the baby monitor set up and went to bed. I set my alarm for 2am, but didn’t sleep well, fretting about Lightning. I got up before the alarm went off, and went out to check on her. I had to go into work for a few hours and decided to go ahead and leave right away, thinking maybe she would wait until I arrived home several hours later. I felt she was going to kid soon, in spite of there still being little discharge.

I got 20 minutes away from home and my cell phone rings. My ds says, “Can you hear this?” He puts the phone by the baby monitor and I hear this god-awful screaming, grunting, growling, moaning, roaring. I know the sounds well! It was Miss Lightning pushing out a kid!!!!!! I found the nearest turnaround (I was on the highway) and dashed back home as quickly as I could. Speed limit in town is 35mph, I did a bit over that (shhhh! don’t tell!) and drove at 80 once on the highway again. About 8 minutes back toward home I got a call that she’d had one kid. I got home in about 15 minutes, parked outside the gate, let myself in and rushed into the house to get some warm water with molasses, the camera, a towel, newspaper — things I knew were not with the kidding kit.

I rushed out to the barn and found she had just pushed out the second kid. This second one has a beautiful white belt across her back and chest. Just gorgeous. Notice Lightning’s matching belt across her left side.

I stuck around a while and helped dry off kids, milked mom and tried to get the kids to take the bottle, no dice. They were screaming indignantly. We had already decided to let the dams raise their kids this year, but I wanted to get the babies to take a bottle first just in case we would need to give them a bottle.

We feel so blessed and thrilled to have these two little girls. With their genetics, they should make awesome milkers. Their granddam gives 2 gallons a day, the genetics on the dam side are heavy milkers with lots of stars.

AND it was an uneventful birth!!! We did not force Lightning to dry up; we continued to milk her until she dried off by herself naturally on her 121st day of pregnancy (gestation is 150 days).

Notice how Zoë’s standing on her back legs. She is not standing on them properly. Irene Ramsay said she should straighten out within a few days, and she did. Note in the picture dated 4-17-5 how straight she is standing on her legs.

July 25th, 2005. Lightning’s doelings are a bit skittish, so we have started working with them on the milking stand. Both doelings come out of the kid pen with the dam, while she is being milked. They are both doing well. I am also training them to allow me to lift their feet while on the stand, so I can do hoof trims more easily.

August 29th, 2005. Zoë’s udder started feeling thicker about 3 days ago. I wrote for opinions on Holistic Goats, and Irene Ramsay is the only one that responded. She said we may need to milk Zoë out, especially if her udder is swollen and tight. Well, it was not swollen and tight, but there was a pea-sized nodule at the top of her left teat, so I decided to see if there was anything in her udder. She has milk in there! Irene calls an unbred doe, a maiden milker. It was very difficult to milk her, I could not direct the milk into the can I was using at all. The tiniest streams of milk came out, and her teats are very small yet. They are maybe an inch long, and about as big around as a drinking straw. I decided to milk her out in the afternoon as well. Now she thinks she should live with the big girls, because she’s a milker. 😉

We decided to allow Lightning’s doelings to continue nursing until they are six months old. Irene says they need the milk in order to become good milkers. There are also a couple of books that make this recommendation.

November 12, 2005. Lightning and her eight month old doelings. We did allow the doelings to nurse until they were six months old, and then kept them from their dam for 6 weeks or so. We tried putting them back in with their dam at a couple of weeks, but they kept nursing and she let them. But now they are totally weaned and living with the adult does.

We have decided to not breed Lightning this year, but are going to see how she does “milking through”. It is very common (in the US) to breed one’s does every single year. But some believe (folks who live in other countries) it is hard on the doe to produce kids every single year, and some believe the doe produces as much or more milk (if she is capable of “milking through”; this will be dependent on her milking background) if she is not bred every single year. Some people find it more advantageous to breed their does every single year, especially if they are into showing and have very high quality purebred stock. When they can command $400 for a kid, it makes economical sense to produce many kids every year. Plus, having kids every year gives the chance to see if you can produce a champion.

However, we are not into showing, and our does are recorded grade. They are registered, but they are not purebred.

Lightning’s next kidding will not be until Spring, 2007.

UPDATE: We changed our minds; Lightning was bred to Bambi and her due date is April 26th, 2006. Read Lightning’s Kidding for 2006.

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.