Monday, April 7, 2014
The goats have been very considerate of my handicap lately and have all broken the Doe Code of Honor, which states that goats will always give birth at the worst possible time. The last four goats to give birth have all done so when Katherine was here on the weekend.
This morning Mike came into the house and said that Livi's udder was quite impressive and that her tail ligaments were nowhere to be found, so Abby moved her to a kidding pen. By the afternoon when Livi started to sound serious about giving birth, Katherine and I were the only two people home. Katherine kept saying that she needed to get back to Urbana, but the longer Livi was in labor, the more I worried and told Katherine that she really needed to stay here until Livi had given birth.
"Do I look like I could help a goat give birth in my condition?" I asked.
Katherine chuckled and agreed to stay until Livi's kids were born. At 2:15 when Katherine went to the barn to check on Livi, she decided to do an internal check because Livi had been pushing for more than an hour with no visible progress. She felt a hock, which is part of a goat's hind leg. It is not an ideal birthing position. She came back into the house, and we chatted about the situation. We agreed there was no way she could do anything to assist in getting the kids out by herself, and I would not be able to help. Mike was supposed to be home shortly after 3:00, so we decided to go out to the barn to wait, in case Livi got things sorted out on her own and actually gave birth.
About 2:45 Katherine went out to the barn, and I followed, although it took me about five times as long to get there. It was the first time I've been outside by myself in two weeks. I am quite sure that I have never walked so slowly across our yard ever before. When I finally reached the kidding barn, I sat on the milk stand right outside of Livi's pen. Livi seemed to be getting quite serious about pushing, but she also worried us because her back legs did not seem to be working quite right. She would get up, take a couple of steps, and her back end seemed to collapse.
It looked like one of the kids was pressing on a nerve, which was causing her back legs to not work quite right. Katherine had said the kid's hock felt quite small, which did not make much sense to me. It is usually extra large kids that cause problems by pressing on the nerves like that. As we discussed the situation, a bubble began to emerge. A few more pushes, and there was a hoof, then a nose. And then, the first kid was born!
Katherine couldn't believe the kid was born hoof and nose first because she was absolutely certain she had felt a hock. "I could wrap my finger around it," she said. My theory is that there had been two kids trying to come out at once, and she simply didn't feel the nose of the second kid. Luckily the head-first kid beat out the hock-first kid and was born first. That would also explain why Livi seemed to be having trouble with her back end collapsing. The kid was actually quite small. Even though Livi is a mini mancha, the kid was the size of a Nigerian, which is a smaller breed. But two of those kids squashed together trying to squeeze out together could have caused enough pressure on the nerves in her hips to cause her walking problems.
A few minutes later, a second kid was born, nose and hoof first. And about half an hour later -- after Mike arrived home -- a third kid was born. After the first two kids had blazed the trail, Livi didn't seem to be concerned at all about another being born. She was standing up, and as Katherine reached over to catch the kid, Livi started walking! So, in this next picture, Katherine had been holding the kid, but when Livi started walking, her hand slipped off the head and body, and at the moment I snapped this picture, everything had slipped out of her hand except the leg.
And in the next picture, you can see that Katherine had lunged forward and managed to get her hands on the baby before it fell to the ground.
Although I'm sure many goat babies throughout history have fallen to the ground safely as their mothers gave birth standing up, it just isn't something that we humans can watch without trying to help soften the kid's entrance in this world. When you see a baby falling, you just have to catch it.
Yes, all three kids had been born head first. Someone had done a flip in the last hour, probably the third kid since it took so long to be born after the second one.
Even though Livi is a mini mancha, all three of these doelings were born with Nigerian dwarf ears. The thing I love about la manchas is the tiny little ears, but of the six 1/4 la mancha, 3/4 ND kids we have had born so far this spring, five of them have had ND ears, even though the odds are 50/50 when an erect-eared goat is crossed with an elf-eared goat. What is truly amazing, though, is that six of the six crossbred goats have been does!
Katherine also made sure all of the doelings nursed before she left. Unfortunately, she won't be home again until Easter, and we have two more goats due to kid before then -- including Windy, the mini mancha that had meningeal worm last November. Between the disease and all of the drugs she was given, I am amazed that she is actually pregnant. Life could get interesting in the next couple of weeks.