Tuesday, March 11

Goat Birthing

Our First Goat Birth At The Farm:
We have 2 Saanen does and one Alpine buck to use for personal small scale milk production.  One of my Saanens, Miss Claudia Milkmouth was pregnant and nearly due so I was keeping a closer eye on her than normal.
Her udder had swollen in the last few days and she appeared thinner as her flanks had become sunken. Just as in humans, this happens due to the relaxation of the pelvic muscles in order to facilitate birth.

This morning was typical, with me making the normal rounds, doing the farm chores.  Usually the goats rush the door in anticipation of feeding times but this morning Claudia held back.  She seemed a little lethargic and did not attempt to eat.

I continued with the chores, periodically checking on Claudia and noticed a little while later her standing under a pine tree in a slightly squatting position.  I have had children, and distinctly remember the pressure and urge to push, which seemed to be what she was doing.

Pretty sure she was in labor; I called my husband Bill down to the barn to help me get her into a prepared birthing stall.
The birthing stall is a slightly smaller than normal stall, with deep clean straw and is free of drafts. New kids can easily get chilled or pneumonia in cooler months.  
Finished with chores, my daughter Alexis and I discussed what items we needed to round up for birthing.  During this time Claudia had a large contraction and let out a loud bleating crying noise.  
Swollen udders days before birth

The kid would be delivered soon, so we hurried to get our birthing kit:

  • A bottle of iodine to dip the newborn’s navel and a shot glass to hold the iodine to make dipping easier.
  • Sterilized sharp rounded edge scissors for trimming the umbilical cord prior to dipping.  I use the rounded edge scissors so as not to accidentally stab the newborn kid.
  • Dental floss or navel clamp in the event I have to tie off a bleeding umbilical cord.
  • A digital rectal thermometer.
  • A bulb syringe to suck mucus out of the kid’s nose if needed.
  • OB, surgical or rubber gloves.
  • Betadine or hand sanitizer scrub in case the doe needs assistance birthing.
  • 2 clean terry cloth towels for drying the baby and clean up.
  • Hot water and soap for hand cleaning and sterile wipes.
  • Lube or lubricant.
  • Warm water near by for the doe
  • Heating pad or blow dryer in case of a weak or chilled kid.
  • It’s also a good idea to have colostrum on hand from another doe.
  • The vet number and cell phone in case of problems.
  • Old clothes, you will get blood on you!

Alexis and I, thinking we had a little time, walked to the house to collect our needed birthing supply kit.  It wasn't but a minute or two and Bill was yelling I better get to the barn.  Friends were visiting and I just had time to notice their wide-eyed frightened expressions. 
As Alexis and I entered the barn the first thing we heard was total chaos!  If you told me what I’m going to tell you, I wouldn't believe you, seriously.
Everyone one of my animals were all screaming right along with Claudia.  It was total anarchy in the barn. 
The chickens were clucking
The turkeys were gobbling.
The cats were meowing.
The dogs were barking (one was howling)
The guineas were screeching (closest word to describe what guineas do)
And even the two other goats were on their back legs, staring into the birthing stall and bleating. 
My poor Miss Claudia Milkmouth was screaming and bleating in a sorrowful way.  
Amniotic sac emerging

She was lying against the stall wall, and what appeared to be a bubble was protruding.  This is the amniotic sac or water bag. 
I was concerned about the position of the kid in the birth canal.  The correct position is head and front feet first.  Anything else can spell trouble.
Head and front hooves 

As Claudia had more contractions, we could make out the nose and front hooves of the baby.  Perfect!
During this time and through out her contractions I spoke softly to Claudia, telling her what a good girl she is, how proud I am of her and stroking her face, neck and belly.  Was I goofy?  She’s just a goat, right?  But I can tell you this:  Claudia closed her eyes and relaxed between contractions, and she even leaned her head on me. 
The baby emerged even further, with the entire head and front hooves and legs puncturing the amniotic sac.  Immediately the baby shook its head and gasped! It’s was alive!
Checking breathing and cleaning away mucus

This is when tears formed in my eyes and Alexis’s too.  We also squealed with joy like two little girls. 
By this time our visiting friends, Chuck and Amy, my husband Bill, my son Daniel were all standing outside the stall watching.
The barn was still a madhouse, with all the animals making a huge racket.  I had the barn door open to move around freely in case we needed anything.  Because of this we were shooing out dogs, cats and even my daughter’s pet chicken, Prometheus.  At one point we had a semi-circle of small animals watching the birth right along with us, I kid you not. My daughter called it “the welcoming party”.
Poor Miss Claudia, what a farm family she belongs too.

Nearing the end of birthing and the baby half out, Claudia stood up to push a little better.  One more huge contraction and the baby was completely delivered.  A new little doeling.
Mommy and doeling
We dried her with soft towels and checked to make sure all parts were as they should be.  After Alexis cut the umbilical cord Claudia began the licking process.  She licked the new baby all over, all the while making small soft cooing noises to the baby and the baby responding back. 
Little Sofia Milkwhite

The licking and cooing is the way in which the mother and baby bond.  What was really touching is that at one point Claudia reached over and licked my face and nuggled my check with very soft touches. 
Did Miss Claudia Milkmouth and I also bond during this whole process?  Do goats bond with humans? 
I can tell you this:  I raised her from a little baby, I bottle fed her, I talk to her everyday.  I scratch her favorite spots and whenever she is in reach I stroke and pet her.  Now I have shared the birthing of her first baby goat (and ours).  She is my favorite.   The answer is yes.

New baby doeling

Me, Claudia and new baby Sofia

My assistant and daughter Alexis
Sofia standing up soon after birth
Placenta being delivered
Miss Claudia Milkmouth  and Sofia Milkwhite's  first day outside, two weeks after birth


Anonymous said...

Very wonderful and in many ways spiritual. Thanks for posting,

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

It was breathtaking, heart warming and made us cry. What a blessing it was!

Anonymous said...

Just love this post. A great story and full of birthing tips along with it.

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

I had quite a few goat and homesteading books to study before the birth.

Anonymous said...

So adorable!