Saturday, March 31, 2012

Miss Kitty's big surprise

If you're thinking that the title of this blog post looks familiar, you're right! We've had a lot of surprises this year. At last week's goat class, everyone was saying, "She's pregnant?" when they saw Miss Kitty. It's true, she didn't really look pregnant. But she had an udder, so I figured she was indeed pregnant. I was thinking she would have a single kid, which is not that uncommon for yearlings.

The first annoying thing about Kitty is that day 150 of her pregnancy came and went with no kids or sign of impending birth. I only recall two other births on this farm that happened after day 150, and both of them were Kitty's mom, so I told myself they just take a little longer to cook 'em before they're done. On the morning of day 151, which was Thursday, the baby monitor was acting up, so I figured I should personally check on her. Margaret was heading out to milk, so I walked out with her. When we walked into the kidding barn, Kitty was laying there as quiet as a mouse -- pushing! Margaret and I chatted for a minute or so, and then she headed to the next barn to milk the goats. I turned around, and Kitty gave a good push -- still completely quiet -- and a big blob of mucous came out. Obviously we were going to have kids sooner rather than later, so I went into the office and grabbed a stack of clean towels. When I got back, Kitty gave another big push, and there was a hoof. A couple more pushes, and there was a nose. And she was still as quiet as could be!

As soon as the head was out, I started cleaning off the nose, and -- whoosh! -- there was the whole kid. Kitty popped up, turned around and starting cleaning it up. I have never been so impressed with a first freshener. Most of them scream as if they're being tortured, and I don't think I've ever seen one pop up like she did and start cleaning up the kid. After I stick the kid in front of their face, they start licking it, but they don't usually realize they need to do anything about that huge thing that just exited their body. Talk about a natural mom!

It was a doeling, and she was quite the noisy one. She was big and strong and loud! After about fifteen minutes, Kitty plopped down and gave a push, but the doeling started crawling across the straw screaming, and Kitty jumped up again to follow her. I pulled the little doeling back towards her mama, so Kitty could concentrate on pushing out the second kid, which she did just as easily as the first. It was a buck, and as soon as I got him dried off, I put him under the heat lamp and decided to do the morning chores with the other goats in the kidding pen. Kitty didn't look like she even had twins in there, so I was pretty sure she was done. Plus there were a bunch of membranes and a bag of water hanging out of her back end, which you don't usually see unless you only have the placenta left.

I was adding clean straw to the other kidding pens and giving the does grain when I saw Kitty plop down and push out a bag of water about the size of a grapefruit. "No way!" I said as I rushed over to her. I picked up the bag of water, which looked like a pearly black water balloon and definitely contained a kid. I dug my fingernails into the membranes and broke them to find the tiniest little kid inside. I wiped off its nose and put it under the heat lamp. It sneezed and shook its head like most newborns. It seemed perfectly normal in spite of its small size.  Once I got over the shock of a third kid -- a tiny kid -- I checked the gender. It was another doe.

In the meantime, big sister is screaming non-stop unless she has a teat in her mouth. I try to hold her back so her brother can get a chance to nurse, which he figured out quickly. Margaret comes in when she's done milking, and when she sees the tiny doe, she knows what it means, even though we both try to avoid stating the obvious. Kids that size are usually house babies. I am not a fan of house babies because they get so attached to people. They make for very challenging adolescents because they don't usually like goats much and spend their life trying to figure out how to get back into the house.

I weigh the kids. Miss Piggy, as I've started calling the biggest one, weighs 2 pounds, 9 ounces. The buckling is 2 pounds. And the tiny one is 1 pound, 4 ounces.

A half hour after the tiny doe is born, she is still laying under the heat lamp where I placed her, and I notice that she's shivering. I put my finger in her mouth, and it's cold. Great! I know she's heading into hypothermia and will be dead soon if I do nothing. I wrap a towel around her and bring her into the house. I put her into a laundry basket with a heating pad and pull some colostrum out of the freezer to thaw. I put my finger into her mouth again to see if she has a sucking reflex because there is one thing I hate worse than house kids and that is having to tube feed. Thankfully, she starts sucking on my finger, which means she will be able to take a bottle!

After a few hours in the house, she is warm and fed -- although she can't consume more than about half an ounce at a time -- so Margaret decides to see how she will be with her siblings in the barn. Although she can stand now, she can't walk, so she never moves from the spot under the heat lamp. We bring her back into the house because it is simply easier. We have to feed her about every three hours until she is able to consume more than half an ounce at a time. And I am worried about her maintaining her body temperature in the barn overnight when the temperatures were predicted to get down into the 40s again.

She is two days old now and finally took an ounce this morning! And an hour later, she was sucking on Katherine's chin, which was the first time she had done that -- a classic sign that she wanted more milk. To our surprise, she drank another ounce! I was never terribly worried about her surviving after the first few minutes, but it will be interesting to see if she grows up to be a big, strong doe. Most tiny goats do. My first experience with a kid like this was seven years ago with Carmen, who was half the size of her two brothers when she was born, but she thrived in the house and grew up to become a master champion and earn milk stars in two registries. As much as house babies annoy me when they get older, you can't help but love 'em when they're so tiny!


Carolyn Renee said...

Oh my, I couldn't even imagine a goat so teeny-tiny! Glad she's seeming to be doing well.

SkippyMom said...

I can't tell you how happy I am for you and Miss Kitty. Truly amazing she had all those babies hidden away. I have never seen such a tiny goat and was trying to compare it to something here. Wow -that is small. Great job in knowing exactly what to do - you make it look so easy, although I know how tough it is.

They are gorgeous and if my count is right you are ahead with doelings this year, right? Which is better for you, I think? See, if I was to ever to do anything even remotely like you & your family my barns would have to be paper with notes and diagrams on how to and which end is up! Ah!

Have a wonderful weekend. Congratulations. :)

Charlotte said...

Wow! They are so beautiful. Your blog is so informative and since I have only had goat for 12 months, I need all the information I can get. I have 4 goats and I bottle fed 3 of them. I had the 6 month old buck out gardening with me and my husband, wanting some fresh spring air, had the outside door open. Well, dear hubby yelled a sentence that he thought he would never say "Charlotte get that goat out of the house." Yes, Billy walked right into the house. He thinks he belongs there. But they weren't raised in the house.

Tombstone Livestock said...


Stevie said...

How sweet! It is exhausting when you have to step in for mama, but it is so rewarding. I swear the kids we have helped never forget what we have done for them!

Nancy K. said...

Good Lord! What a tiny baby. She looks like a KITTEN!

It's certainly a good thing that you were there to keep her going. I have a feeling that she's going to become one, special goat!

RiverBend Farm said...

So glad I came across your blog..sounds exciting around your place! I'll have to read more as time allows.


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