Since the middle of last week sleep has become a rare commodity on the farm, as our 2014 kidding season has officially begun!
By late in her pregnancy Castle Rock Royalia was looking like she was going to burst.
Lia is the longest bodied doe in our herd, and until the last 3-4 weeks of her pregnancy she still looked quite trim compared to the other does. Her ultrasound in November showed she was carrying at least twins, but all of a sudden she seemed to be getting much rounder than one would expect for just twins. As such, I made a promise on our Facebook page that I’d eat a raw habañero pepper if Lia ONLY gave birth to two kids!
Sure enough, at day 144 of her pregnancy, on Friday February 28, Lia decided to kick off kidding season with a bang, and produced QUADRUPLETS sired by Camanna RZ White Zedoary.
I’m always thrilled when the first baby born is a doeling. This white doe, who looks almost exactly like her sire, was the first kid to be born on the farm this season.
Immediately after, a gorgeous gold and white buckling followed.
Then another doeling! This time a light colored buckskin, who looks a LOT like Lia. You can’t see it in this photo, but she has a near perfectly-shaped black heart right on the top of her head.
Last but not least Royalia had a buckskin buckling to round out the set. Two boys, two girls!
As a second freshener, Lia took the entire experience in stride, and quickly set to work cleaning up, drying off, and enjoying her new babies.
All the kids were a good weight, robust, and quickly nursing on mom.
An easy, smooth start to kidding season.
We had a break on Saturday, although we kept a close eye on Lotus and Minnie who were due to kid next. By Sunday morning it was clear that Minnie was close, and Lotus wasn’t going to be too far behind her. Although Minnie was displaying more obvious stage 1 labor signs in the morning, by lunchtime it was clear that Lotus was progressing more quickly. These two were clearly in a race to the finish!
Around 6:30 Lotus had clearly progressed to stage 2 labor. I was expecting an easy, uncomplicated kidding from her. She had done a great job as a yearling first freshener, producing triplets. One large buckling had a foreleg that needed extending slightly, but other than that kidding had been uneventful.
However, when Lotus started to push this time, it quickly became apparent that pushing was anything but productive. Clearly something wasn’t right. I gloved up, and examined Lotus to see what was going on. I could feel a kid, some distance back, and at first I thought I could feel the kid’s hocks, but as I extended my hand dorsally I didn’t feel what I thought should have been a rump. However, I also couldn’t find the head.
Regrouping, I guided my hand back down and tried following the ‘hock’ toward the fetlock, and then realized these were front legs, not rear legs. I then found the head, which was squarely down below the front legs. Of all the malpositions for a kid, heads down are my least favorite, as they can be the most difficult to correct quickly, but head down AND legs flexed is even more challenging.
Time was of the essence though, because based on ultrasound Lotus should have a second kid behind this one, so messing around getting the first kid out could jeopardize the survival of the second. I hoped this kid wasn’t too big, and set to doing what I could to get the kid out, or Lotus would be heading for an emergency C-section.
After a deep breath, and some repositioning of both Lotus and myself, I managed to lift the tip of the jaw of the kid upward, and extended the foreleg closest to my hand, and then pushed the foreleg away from me slightly so it was underneath the kid’s chin to help keep the head up. I didn’t even try to straighten out the other leg, as I was more concerned about not allowing the kid’s head to drop back down. Then I waited for Lotus to push again, and with a couple of good pushes, managed to successfully steer this baby toward the exit.
I don’t care how many times anyone has assisted in a difficult delivery. It’s an enormous relief to finally see a nose and hoof emerging. The kid still had one foreleg retained, and flexed back at the shoulder, but she was progressing forward with each push. Once her shoulders passed through, we could all breathe again, but then I realized just how long her body was, and once she was on the ground I could see she was HUGE. I’ve told everyone that’s asked that I was NOT planning to keep a Lotus daughter this year. Absolutely not. I already have a Lotus daughter. Well, I lied. This is Castle Rock Abraham Darby’s first daughter, and she’s gorgeous. She’s long, she’s level, and there’s no question…she’s staying!
This doeling weighed in at a healthy 4 lb 4 oz! After seeing the size of Royalia’s kids, the largest of which was only 3 lb 1 oz, this doeling looked like she was at least half a week older!
We weren’t done though. After palpating Lotus’ abdomen, I confirmed there was at least one more kid to come. I could feel a lot of baby mass, so I wasn’t sure if it might be two more, but we waited a few minutes so see how things progressed. The second came out on his own just fine, and was almost as big, and at least as long as his sister! Lotus had twins!
At this point I was relieved that Lotus had kidded right at day 145, and didn’t wait any longer, as I’m not sure I could have gotten that first doe out as easily if she was any bigger.
Although these aren’t the largest Nigerian Dwarf kids, they were both a good size, and Lotus’ two babies together weighed almost as much as all FOUR of Royalia’s put together!
By the time we got everything cleaned up, and gave Lotus some much deserved food and water, and made sure her twins were nursing, Minnie was getting MUCH more serious about having her own kids in the adjacent pen.
Minnie was a first freshener, and as our fiesty herd queen, who was especially aggressive toward Lotus’ kids last season, at a minimum I should be close by to ensure she behaved appropriately toward her own kids. About half an hour before Minnie started pushing in earnest, I went in to check on her and promptly received a soaking wet tongue bath from her. It was encouraging, as does are very fastidious when their kids are first born, so her instincts definitely seemed to be heading in the right direction. Now we just had to wait.
I exited her pen, and dried myself off, knowing we should have kids within the hour. Sure enough, Minnie finally started to stretch out and push. She was suddenly pushing much harder than I expected her too though. Going back in her pen for a quick check I could see the kid was emerging, so I tried feeling for the baby’s mouth, but instead I found a rump and tail. Her first kid was breech, with both hind legs retained, and I knew in that orientation, without help, Minnie would likely tear herself straining to get this kid out.
Breech presentations aren’t uncommon, and usually easier to correct than a head that’s down, unless the kid is particularly large. All I really needed to do was to retropulse this kid back far enough to get those hind legs extended out. That decreases the ‘girth’ of the kid enough so that it can pass, but Minnie was pushing so hard, and fast, my first two attempts to push the kid back went nowhere.
On the third try though, while Minnie caught her breath, I managed to quickly push the kid back, and simultaneously hook the right hock and straighten it out. I was just about to reach for the left hock, but Minnie pushed again, hard, and the kid quickly flew out!
A doeling, that looks so much like Minnie. She’s adorable, and thankfully, especially for Minnie, she was much closer to Lia’s kids in size, weighing in at 2lb 10oz. So glad she wasn’t any bigger.
Next up was a golden buckling, whose ears were initially folded down flat over the top of his head, but they quickly straightened out.
What I didn’t expect was that he was about to be followed in short succession by his brother, a buckskin buckling!
Minnie had triplets?! No wonder that poor buckling’s ears were folded. Minnie did not look that large before she kidded, so it was probably more than a little crowded in there!
It was so heartwarming to see Minnie immediately set to work to get her kids all cleaned up, and dried off. I don’t know why I had any doubt.
Of course, the next question will be how she’ll behave on the milk stand with the start of milking. That remains to be seen. In the meantime, here’s a little video of Lia and Minnie with their brand new babies.
Despite a couple of tense moments in the barn over the weekend, I’m happy to say the first round of kidding this season has gone very well. Nine bouncy, happy, healthy and distractingly-adorable babies so far, and healthy moms, too! It’s difficult to ask for more than that. The next doe due to kid is Mariposa Lily, around the 22nd of March. She’s already bigger than Minnie was before she kidded, and we know Lily is carrying at least triplets, so we’re not done yet! We’ll take some better pictures of all the kids in a few days, once the clouds part. Everyone has been barn-bound since Friday due to the rain, but we need the rain, so I’m not complaining! More soon!