Last night Curbstone Valley Mariposa Lily presented us with triplets! Two doelings, and a buckling, bringing us to a total of 6 does, and 6 bucks, for the season. A 50:50 buck to doe ratio? I’m happy with that!
Lily was bred to Castle Rock Abraham Darby back in October, and until about the last hour before she kidded, except for her impressive girth, you’d never know Lily was even pregnant. As a yearling, she remained remarkably bouncy throughout her pregnancy, which until last night was quite uneventful.
Saturday was day 145 of her pregnancy (and Lily’s birthday), and her ligaments were still taught that evening. By Sunday morning, day 146, there was significant softening of her ligaments, but they were still palpable, and her udder had filled a little more, but nothing overly significant. Maybe she wouldn’t go until Monday?
With as round as Lily was though, and with some very subtle shifts in potential pre-kidding signs, my instinct suggested I should keep Lily in the kidding stall yesterday. At one point, around 4PM I was the recipient of a full facial, as Lily decided to try to clean every square inch on my face. Minnie was the same just before she kidded, but Lily wasn’t showing any other overt signs of impending delivery.
Although I don’t leave the farm during active ‘kidding watch’, we do still have chores to get done. Sunday we were permanently setting up the new milking machine, and planned to try milking Lotus, Lia, and Minnie with the machine Sunday night for the first time.
Vacuum pressures, and pulsation rates were set, the equipment was all washed, and I’d just loaded a stainless steel bucket with pre-milking sanitizer, and hauled it, along with the milking bucket, hoses, and inflations, out to the milking area…a now repurposed area of our workshop.
Being on kidding watch, everywhere I go, the video camera monitor goes too. I set the monitor down on the stanchion for a second, and was about to plug in the milk machine to run the santizer through it, before going to the barn to get the first doe, when I heard a yell through the monitor. Not an ordinary goat bleat, but the sort of scream that only a doe who is actively pushing during hard labor usually makes.
I lept over the stanchion to see the monitor and saw Lily, who had been standing up and non-chalantly eating a few minutes before, was now prone, legs fully extended up against the stall wall, and she was pushing…hard! Ok, I guess I’ll milk the does later!
I’m not twenty-something anymore…I’m not even thirty-something anymore, but I ran down to the barn faster than I’ve probably run anywhere in two decades! Admittedly, it was downhill, so that definitely gave me an advantage.
At first glance everything seemed normal. Lily was on about her third or fourth push though, and something was suddenly very NOT normal. I could see TWO amniotic sacs, or ‘baby bubbles’, not just the typical one, and no immediate sign of hooves or noses in either one. Ooookaaaay. Time to glove up, and see what’s going on.
My biggest fear was that we’d have a presentation with two heads. That can be especially challenging as the kids can quickly strangle each other as there isn’t room for both of them to pass, and time works against you as their heads quickly become engorged due to the pressure.
I was relieved though when the first thing my hand touched was a single hind leg. I had the foot, and just beyond that I could feel the point of the hock, and then the rump. The next leg across though was a front leg, not a hind one, and then I found myself touching…teeth! So there was also a muzzle.
Clearly this was not a simple breech, or head down, this time I had two kids that thought playing a game of “Twister” on the way out would be MUCH MORE fun. GAH! I felt back over toward the first kid, just to verify the orientation of each kid before proceeding, as it’s imperative when two kids present together to NOT make the situation any worse, for the sake of the dam, if not for the sake of the kids.
Lily is only a yearling, but thankfully she’s a Lotus daughter, and for that I love her. She has her dam’s great hip width, and excellent body capacity, even though she’s only a petite 50 lb yearling doe.
If a kid needs help finding the exit, it’s always easier if it’s not the first kid being born, as things are quite crowded until the first kid is born. As such, I couldn’t repel either kid backwards very much, or that easily, so it was time to get creative. Did I mention Lily is only a 50 lb doe? There’s a reason I love Nigerian Dwarves. You can just pick them up when you need to.
I crouched down in the kidding stall and braced myself against the wall, and Mr. Curbstone helped me get Lily up on her feet (most does prefer to kid laying on their side). With Lily standing both kids actually retracted slightly, which was encouraging, but not enough to free either one of them. Using gravity to my advantage though, and not having a ramp handy, I hoisted Lily’s rear end up, and set her rear legs across my crouched knees, so we could elevate her rear end up, and that did the trick perfectly. Thanks to Lily’s excellent body capacity, even though she was carrying 20% of her bodyweight in kids, I was quickly able to repel the kid that was face forward. It’s often much more efficient to pull the kid presenting its hind feet, first. So then I quickly reached under the kid that was coming out backwards to find its other leg. Cupping both hind feet in my hand, on the next push, that first doeling then just slid right out.
When kids are tangled together on the way out though, it’s usually prudent not to wait too long before retrieving the other kid, so as soon as the first kid’s airways were clear, and Lily was actively tending to her new baby, I went back in for number two. That kid was already back in position and gunning it for the door, left foreleg and muzzle en route, but still with a retained right foreleg at the shoulder.
This doe was smaller than the first though, Lily was pushing, and this doe was progressing forward, so with some gentle downward traction we were able to get her second doeling out without too much fuss. She probably would have done just fine on her own without my help.
Lily ultrasounded with triplets though, so I expected at least one more kid. I gave Lily a break for a few minutes, so we could both catch our breath, and to give her time to bond with her two doelings, and then palpated her abdomen to verify there was at least one more to come. At this point Lily was diligently cleaning off her kids, so I watched and waited to see how things would progress now that the exit was no longer blocked by the ‘Twister Twins’. In just a couple of minutes, Lily started to push again.
Does often scream when they give birth, much like us humans do, but experienced goat owners can usually discern the difference between the ‘don’t mind me…I’m just having a baby‘ scream from the ‘HELP ME GET THIS ALIEN OUT OF ME…NOW…PULLEEEZE!!!‘ scream. You guessed right didn’t you? Yep, Lily was bellowing out PULLEEEZE at the top of her lungs!
In all the tangled confusion, her last kid didn’t quite have time to get oriented toward the exit correctly. He almost had it, but not quite. One hind limb was nicely extended, and I quickly found a foot…a hock…a rump and tail. Ah, there’s the other hock…flexed, and firmly wedged in Lily’s pelvis. Fabulous. This kid wasn’t going anywhere on his own. Poor Lily Bug.
Fortunately, with the two doelings out, there was now LOTS of room to maneuver. I apologized to Lily, once again, and after pushing him back in slightly, but not so far as to lose hold of the first leg, I fished around for the other foot, then guarding it with my hand, slowly extended the other leg alongside the first. I thought at that point that I was home free. As Lily pushed, I gently applied traction to this kid. By the time he was half way out though it became obvious that, just like his sire, this kid was as long as a freight train, and he was also bigger than either of his sisters. Lily had clearly had enough and was getting tired. With the kid half way out Lily stopped pushing for a minute, but mustering up one last burst of determination, she pushed, I pulled, and together we got this big handsome guy out.
Lily got everyone cleaned up, we cleaned Lily up, and then helped her to her feet for some much deserved warm water, hay, and grain.
She was tired, but doing well considering, and the kids were all nursing, but Lily was clearly in some discomfort, and was obviously hesitant to lay back down.
To make Lily more comfortable, as she needed to rest, she got a dose of Banamine last night for the pain, and to help with inflammation, and some antibiotics to help prevent infection due to the extent of the manipulation to get her kids out. It was good to see her finally settle down for a much deserved sleep. This morning she looks much happier, and both Lily, and the kids, are doing great.
So there you have it. Just another day on the farm. It seems it’s been a challenging kidding season for a number of breeders this year, so I’m just relieved that all of our does are healthy, and all the kids this year have been robust and healthy, too.
We’ve had a very successful kidding season, and each doe presented us with at least one doeling, so we’ll likely be retaining a few gorgeous kids as additions to our herd this year. Now before we know it, it’ll be show season again! Good grief, how is it already the end of March?!