We’ve started kidding, and I had to help Lily’s first baby get here. In the last seven years of kidding, I’ve learned a lot. While I am always happy to share what I’ve learned, I’m not a vet. Please consult a vet if you have concerns with your animal. Also, I am not an artist. That’s my mother. I did try to do drawings that would at least give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
I. The Ideal Position.
With the technical stuff out of the way, here is the ideal for kid positioning for birth. Front feet are first, the legs are stretched completely out in a diver’s position, and the head is forward. In this position, it is likely the goat will not need help. Of course, if the kid is too big, it might be necessary to help. There was also one year that I swear Millie’s kid had a lead butt because it was like trying to pull him up from a cliff.
It’s also pretty normal for a kid to come out with back feet first, especially if there is more than one. Often the goat will be able to deliver a kid without problems.
III. Normal Twin Position
The position below is considered normal for twins. Some say this is the most often presentation for twins, but I’ve not had that experience. Maddie’s first babies were in this position, but she tried having them both at the same time. That was a vet assisted birth. It wasn’t pretty, and the first baby was born dead. Amazingly, he did finally start breathing and survived.
This is how I have experienced most of my twins being born. Both are with front feet first. Often, the goat will have them with no problems. Sometimes, however, both kids will try to come at the same time. If their individual bags are intact, you can gently push one back while the doe is between contractions. This should allow the other to continue moving forward. This will also work if one bag is broken and the other is not. If both bags are open it’s really difficult to tell what leg goes with what head. Again, you can try to move them back. I did that when Betty Lou had Helen and Mikey. I still couldn’t tell what leg went to which kid, but by the time the vet arrived, Mikey had been born. Just moving them back allowed her to start again with moving just one forward. Helen had to be the easiest pull the vet had ever done, but I wasn’t sure if they could untangle themselves.
V. Head Back
This is the only position that I’ve not been successful at correcting. I had called the vet because I couldn’t even tell how the baby was positioned. I couldn’t move the kid back because there were two more in there pushing forward. One of the other kids had finally moved over the top, and I got him out. I finally found feet and thought I felt a tail~if only they had braille labels on them. I pulled and finally got the baby out, but it was a huge wattle I felt. If you pull a kid with the head back, it’s likely to break the neck. The poor baby didn’t make it, but the other two kids and mom did live. This is a position I hope I never have to deal with again.
VI. Leg Bent Back.
If your goat doesn’t seem to be making progress, it’s not uncommon for the kid to have one or both feet back. If the leg is bent, you should be able to work gently to get it straightened out.
VII. Elbows Bent.
The position below is very close to the ideal position, but the legs are not fully stretched forward. It might be necessary to pull the feet forward to let the baby continue moving forward. This is why I had to help Lily’s first baby on Monday.
VIII. Other Weird Things
The goat’s uterus has two horns which provides two semi-separate places for kids, one on each side. Sometimes when a baby is moving forward, they might lose track of direction and try to turn to the other horn of the uterus. When you feel inside, you might feel the side of the kid. Luckily, when Lily’s first twins were born, the vet made it on time and he got the wonderful task of getting Rickie headed in the right direction. I’m glad because I couldn’t tell which way was up and which was down.
I did have to help Stormy’s birth. When I felt her, she seemed to be without a head. She had her head twisted around into the other horn of the uterus. As soon as I could get her head back on track, she came the rest of the way without problems.
If a goat doesn’t seem to have enough room for the baby’s head, you can use your finger to gently help stretch the cervix. If you pull on the kids’ feet, remember to pull down rather than straight out. Work with the shape of the doe’s body rather than against it.
I always wash and trim my nails first. I try to wear gloves. Any time you are reaching into the goat, you are increasing the risk of infection. This particular kid is the third I pulled out of Stormy when I was only expecting her to have one kid. I had already gotten rid of my gloves and run out of clean towels.
Usually an hour or so after having the last kid, the doe will pass the placenta. This might be a long slow process. If she eats the placenta, that’s perfectly normal, even though it’s gross. It helps her replace a lot of the iron she’s lost in the birth process. It’s almost unheard of for a goat to prolapse because their cervix closes very quickly after giving birth.
About a week after giving birth, its normal for them to have some bloody discharge. Don’t panic when that happens.
If in doubt, call the vet. It’s better to call too soon and not need them than to delay calling and have it be too late.
Linking to Farmgirl Friday.