Monday, January 16, 2012

Viola's big surprise

When Katherine was doing chores this morning, she said into the baby monitor, "Uh, I think Viola is going to give birth today. She's not herself exactly." She laughed. "I'll tell you more when I get inside." It's a one-way baby monitor, so I couldn't respond, but she certainly had my attention. When she came inside, she said that Viola completely ignored the hay instead of running up to the hay feeder as soon as it was filled. That's not funny unless you know Viola. She is incredibly pushy and is often the only goat at a hay feeder because she butts everyone else away. When Katherine put grain in there, she sniffed it and walked over to the corner of the pen and laid down. She also had all the signs that we look for in a goat that's going to give birth within a few hours -- her tail ligaments were soft, her udder was huge, and her belly was looking hollow towards the top. I told Katherine to put her into a kidding pen.

Every couple hours throughout the day I kept checking on her, even though we had the baby monitor on. She was definitely in her own little world. She was barely interested in food, only taking a bite here and there. She was laying down almost all the time, and she was having quite a bit of drainage -- not just mucous but dripping water, which you almost never see in a goat. Water sacs don't usually break until the goat is actively pushing. So, all day long I had this feeling that she might actually be ready to kick it into high gear and push out a kid at any minute.

Around 3:30, I decided to go outside and stay with her because the baby monitor was picking up some extremely annoying static. In addition to driving me crazy, I wasn't entirely sure I'd hear Viola if she started making a lot of noise. I took a magazine and the handouts from last week's conference. About an hour later, Viola got serious, and I saw a white hoof and a black nose with a little red tongue sticking out. In no time at all, we had a whole black baby goat!

He was an only child for about half an hour. Mike came through the barn and asked if I thought she had more. I gestured towards her big belly and said, "Oh, yeah, she's got another one in there. Look how big she still is!" It really didn't look like she'd given birth at all.

Viola and her buckling
Everyone came through the barn around the time that the second kid was born -- a black doeling! I was a little worried about her because her amniotic sac was full of poop. Although I've never seen a problem caused by this in goats, I spent too many years as a childbirth educator and doula with women to not be freaked out by it and worried about it getting into the baby's lungs. The head came out with the amniotic sac still intact, and I could see the brown water in there. I popped the sac and cleaned the kid's face and nose as good as possible -- and wished that I had my bulb syringe to suck out the nose just to be extra sure. But I didn't have it, and really it should have been fine because I had the face good and clean by the time the kid took its first breath.

The first doeling
As we were cooing and admiring the doeling, I happened to see Viola's back end when I looked at Mike, and I saw another pair of hooves! I gasped. "It's a hoof! I need more towels! She's having three! Get me more towels!" Because la manchas usually only have twins, I had only brought out three towels, and all three were now soaking wet. There were plenty more towels in the barn office, and Jonathan brought two more. When I looked more closely at the hooves, I realized they were upside down and started to panic, especially since there was no nose. In my mind, I was picturing a terrible malpresentation with a posterior kid that had its head twisted around over its back. Katherine happened to be walking through the barn at that moment, and she took one look at the situation and said very calmly, "Those are hind legs. It's breech." The legs were already sticking out a couple inches, so I ran my fingers up the legs and realized she was right when I felt the hocks. Breech goat kids are really not a big deal. We've had plenty of breech babies born with no problems, and breech is definitely better than what I had been picturing! Still, I was thinking about the poop-filled amniotic sac of the second kid, which means she was stressed, and I worried that this one might also be having a problem, so rather than letting go of the hind legs, I gently pulled, and in what seemed like a split second, she was born.

The second doeling
I heard Mike chuckle behind me. "I don't think Viola even noticed that one was born." Yeah, that's usually the case with a third or fourth kid. While I was drying her off, I made sure her head was lower than the rest of her body so the fluids would all run out of her nose and mouth. Unlike the last kid, which turned my towel brown as I was toweling her off, this one was completely clean -- or at least as clean as normal birth goo can be.

They are all a few hours old now and doing quite well. They've had their first meal of colostrum and have the whole nursing thing figured out. I am actually pretty excited that Viola had triplets for a couple of reasons. Last year she was making so much milk that we had to milk her even though she was nursing her kids 24 hours a day. We'd milk her every night and get a quart of milk, so these babies will be very well fed. Although Viola is a la mancha (which is why the ears are so tiny), daddy was a Nigerian dwarf, so these are mini manchas! I'll have to wait and see what Clare gives us before deciding which of these babies I'll be keeping for my mini mancha herd.

I'm pretty sure that Lizzie the Nigerian dwarf will be giving birth within the next day or two. She's only at day 146, but her udder is looking uncomfortably large, and her ligaments are so soft, they could be gone at any minute.


SkippyMom said...

Congratulations! What wonderful babies.

Lori said...

that was so exciting!!! :D

congratulations - they're beautiful!

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Great post Deborah! Wonderful pics of the birth process as so many folks have never seen that miracle up close. Looks like your kidding season if off to a great start and wheather not even too bad here is it? Good luck with the rest.

Carolyn Renee said...

Two doelings & a buckling! Great job Viola.....and you too!

kristi said...

Last year my Nigerian doe decided to take breeding into her own hoofs and produced my first mini-manchas. I have fallen in love with them! They have wonderful personalities! This year the same bred herself again and had triplets! I purposefully bred one of my LaManchas doe to my Nigerian dwarf buck and I can't wait to see those babies! Glad to hear all your kids are doing well:)


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