Dolly’s Drama

Yesterday afternoon when I went out to feed the goats, I noticed that Dolly was talking…a lot.  It was also her due date, so I figured she’d have her kids that evening.

Dolly with her maa, Lily, behind her

I was a bit surprised when she went to the Back Forty with the other goats after they finished their grain, but a couple of the other girls have come back from pasture early when they were going to kid.  I didn’t figure it was that big of a deal.

Dolly headed to the Back Forty

Still, after a little while, I went down to check on her.  She was highly agitated and talking even more.  Now when Dolly talks, it has a certain Nubian quality to it~loud.  On many occasions I have been in the house with the windows shut and heard the raucous call of a goat with its head stuck and being ripped off only to rush out and find Dolly calming calling her kids to come nurse.  Yep, it’s that loud and obnoxious.  I knew she wanted to go to the barnyard.  She’d take a few steps towards it, get a bite to eat, and then turn and rush back to her maa, Lily, and start yelling right in her ear, “Maa, come with me!  I need you to hold my hoof while I have my kids.”

It doesn’t matter how old a girl is, she’s never too old to want her maa when she’s nervous and about to give birth.  Lily ignored her.  I mean, she didn’t even flinch in pain with Dolly yelling right in her ear!  Finally, when Dolly was near frantic with wanting to go to the barnyard but not quite willing to leave her maa, I took pity on her.  I loudly called, “Come on girls!  Let’s show Dolly some goaty love and support!  It’s time to go to the barnyard!”  To my amazement, Lily started towards me with the very anxious Dolly.  Soon a couple more moved towards me and then the entire herd was coming.

I kept calling and encouraging them as we walked the goat train up the hill and along the fence back towards the barnyard.  We had almost reached the crest of the last hill before the lane when Lily stopped suddenly, looked around and turned back in the direction from which we had just come.

Dolly, screaming at the top of her lungs followed, and soon every goat had turned tail.  Finally, I caught up to Dolly and told her that even if her maa wasn’t going to come, I’d be there to hold her hoof.  Then I calmly led half drug her kicking and screaming back to the barnyard and immediately locked her in a pen so she couldn’t go looking for her maa again.

Then we waited.  and waited.

and waited some more.

“You can’t rush perfection.”

Of course it wasn’t a quiet wait.  She continued talking, although she did switch to her indoor voice, and snorting and looking very anxious.  I have to admit, this did worry me because Dolly isn’t usually a drama queen about having kids.  Still, we comforted and told her we were there to help and she finally got down to serious business.  Then the contractions kind of stalled out and I figured I should check what was going on.  She was really good for me to check, but was not thrilled with me trying to get those two legs pulled out and headed in the right direction.  Another contraction did nothing.  I went back in and tried to help stretch her out so the baby’s head would fit through.  No luck.  I tried pulling.  No luck.  That kid was wedged in there as tight as could be.  Of course, every time I tried pulling the kid out, she’d step back.  I can’t blame her because I’m sure it does hurt to have someone pulling on the kid wedged in your birth canal.  Still, we had to get it out.  My son wasn’t answering the phone to come hold her for me.  The vet was on her way, but by the time she could get there, it would probably be too late for the baby to make it.  Once they get that far into the birth canal with the bag broken, they don’t have a lot of time before they need to come out.  As a last ditch effort before I just stood around praying and waiting for the vet, I tied a leash to a pole in the barn and hooked her collar to it.  Then I pulled.  She kept backing up until she got to the end of the lead.  Then I pulled, and I pulled a bit harder, and then I pulled as hard as I could, and with a giant gasp, the kid came tumbling onto my lap as I fell to my butt and Dolly suddenly lurched forward.  He had arrived!

It was just a few more minutes before she gave birth to her little doe in her normal calm and capable manner.

The vet arrived and checked to make sure I hadn’t torn half of her insides out with the baby, but all was good, and the drama had ended.

Finally, her coward of a mother poked her head into the barn just to make sure that everyone was safe.

“But I can’t stand to see my baby in pain.”

Thanks Lily for all the help.

Linking to Alphabe-Thursday, Thankful Thursday, Rural Thursday, and Friday’s Fences.

Kid Positions for Birth

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.

II. Back Feet First.

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.

IV. Two at the Same Time

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.

pulling Harley

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.

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The information on this web site is supplied for general reference and educational purposes only. This information does not represent the management practices or thinking of other goat breeders or the veterinary community. I am not a veterinarian, and the information on this site is not intended to replace professional veterinary advice. This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your veterinarian. I disclaim all liability in connection with the use of this information.