Warning: If you don’t like goats and/or birth stories (sometimes with photos of goat rear ends), you may want to skip my goat dairy entries. I’m not a vet or even a goat expert, but I've owned goats since 2013 and weathered 2 kidding seasons.
One of my favorite times of the year on the homestead is kidding time! Maybe it is because a goat’s gestation is 5 months (which feels looooong). Or maybe it is because goats can have just one, twins, triplets, or quads – who knows until delivery! Perhaps it is wondering what colors our gorgeous Nubians are going to throw this year. Or could it be because goat kids are simply the cutest baby animals around? (In competition with mini schnauzer puppies, of course!) But likely it is simply the miracle of new life and the hope of delicious goat milk to come on the breakfast table.
As I type, we are in eager anticipation of our spring 2017 kids. I decided to attempt to journal about our kidding time this year to keep records for myself for future years, to provide a reference for other goat owners, and to give people without goats a peak into our somewhat crazy lives. These journal entries will either resonate with you because you’re a bit crazy like me or make you think I’m crazier than you already do! 😊
We have four does to due to kid this year. 3 – Nickel, Llama, & Emma – are bred to our own buck. We have approximate kidding dates for them. We simply “ran” our buck with the herd and watched closely for the deed. (For the benefit of those not familiar with goats, some people – like us – put a buck in with their does for several weeks and allow nature to take its course. Others choose to watch their does closely and only provide dates with the buck when she’s in heat. This gives the owner an exact kidding date – 150 days from the date. Since here at Russell Homestead, we struggle to catch our ladies in heat, we just “run” the buck with the herd.) Our 4th doe – Oakley – we purchased when she was already bred. Her breeder told us she, like us, just ran the buck with the herd, and Oakley could be due anytime from late February into late March.
So, Miss Oakley has been driving us a bit batty around here with guessing when she’s going to go into labor. We did blood test on all the gals for pregnancy in January; thereby easing the stress a bit so we at least know if there is babies in there or not. Our first “kidding” season we did not blood test our girls. We spent much time feeling for kids & grasping for any signs that they were expecting. Alas, they were not, and what a disappointment! Not to mention a financial loss after feeding & housing open (not bred) does all winter long! Anyway, back to Oakley…we know she’s bred because we did a blood test on her. And we know she’s bred to her former owner’s buck (not ours) because we drew the blood before she was ever housed with our buck. What we don’t know is when. So, we are watching her like a hawk.
Saturday morning I found this in the goat pen (remember the warning – not all these photos are pleasant!)
If you are unsure what you are seeing in the photo, it is a string of mucous coming out of Oakley's vulva, which is typically a sign that labor is coming. Immediately, I put her into our fresh, clean kidding stall and checked her religiously all day Saturday. She passed a white mucous drop about 2 inches long and some more bits of yellow mucous. We were sure it was her mucous plug & labor was just around the corner. The temperature Saturday night was forecasted to be 12 degrees Fahrenheit. So, both my husband and I were SURE she would choose that night to have her kids. Goats have a thing for snowstorms, low temperatures, vacations – anything to make things inconvenient.
After 2 excursions out to the barn on a very chilly Saturday night, Miss Oakley remained the same. We checked on her all day Sunday. Late Sunday evening she passed some blood-tinged mucous. We got all excited and again checked her during the night on Sunday. Alas, she’s still pregnant. If you could see my google search records from the weekend, you would know I’ve spent lots of time trying to figure out what is going on! In our previous two kidding seasons, once things were moving back there, we had babies within 24-48 hours or sooner! According to other experiences that I’ve read online, the only thing mucous says for sure is that she’s getting closer. Mucous can come hours or weeks before labor; how that’s for a good delivery window?
Other than the mucous, she's doing fine - eating, drinking, & acting fairly normal. She did seem a bit overly affectionate (which can be a sign of labor), but nothing really alarming. Her udder is filling as it has been since January 28, 2017 (about 5 weeks ago from now).
So, feel free to join me on the waiting journey. I’ve got to go check Oakley now. For the 12th time for today, but who’s counting?
Vanessa from Russell Homestead. Follower of the Lord Jesus, wife of my knight in shining armor, mother of 5 wonderful children, and joint-keeper of the Russell homestead. Thanks for stopping by!
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