Bird kidded on March 2nd, another beautiful Nose and Toes textbook delivery. Right down to perfect timing. Kids were born about an hour after morning milking. Birds delivery was so ordinary there is not much of a story to tell here! Just two beautiful black and tan doelings.
Kidding season is progressing along at a good clip. Most of the does have disregarded my calendar completely, kidding days before or after their "Due" dates. But all within the normal 10 day range.
Kenai kidded on March 1st, day 153. She had been fussing around most of the day before, but not being very serisous about it. I knew this was going to be an odd hour kidding. So, i left Joe on watch. I told him, "She will kid at 4am". And off to bed I went. He stayed up, he is normally a night owl. And i set my alarm for...4am. On barn check at 4, I found a freshly delivered very wet kid, with amniotic fluids still wrapped around him. I hopped in and started drying him off. Hoping there was another kid on the way. I know i said I'm not keeping any....but I REALLY did want a doe kid frim this breeding. There wasn't. Only one big buckling for Kenai, who...we had been sure had at least twins. She carries big...
Moira also kidded on the 1st. She waited until evening to present us with her single doeling. Another unassisted, unsupervised kidding. She kidded about an hour after milking time. Just before the next check. We check does frequently so we can catch any problems in time to assist. But there are times when does deliver so quickly, they only show us the minor signs of labor, and do not need an audience. That is okay. We check often, and observe doe for behavior at every check. Normally they will show you signs of progress. Sometimes they don't. In most cases does do not need assistance. They can deliver kids perfectly fine on their own. We do like to be there just in case. As an exmple, the breech kids from earlier in the week. They would have been difficult to deliver in that position. Leaving the doe to sort it out on her own could have been dangerous. With that said, we appreciate does that deliver kids with no fuss!
Catching up on kidding season updates. We left off with Dotty and her triplet does. On the same day, Shadow and Holly, our boer cross doe, also kidded.
Shadow's delivery at 6:30pm was a normal Nose and Toes delivery, with one exception, Shadow was not due until March 1st. Being a few days early is really no big deal, normal gestation can be anywhere from 145-155 days. We generally calculate "Due" dates as day 150. These kids were born on day 147. Perfectly reasonable. Only... Shadow had not been giving the usual signs of being ready to kid. She had a full udder, so we were keeping an eye on her but had not moved her into a kidding pen yet. I had walked out in the doe pen and notoced her proped against her Dam, Clone, and just starting to push. We moved h3r in and settled her down. And she got down to business. Delivering a spotted doe kid and a black and tan buck kid.
Throughout Shadow's delivery, Holly our boer doe had been very interested in the kids. Calling to them, and nesting in her own next door pen. Holly did a lot of nesting, but no stretching, no pushing, no positioning of kids. We watched her for hours. Waiting for the final step to begin. Finally. At 11pm. I intervened. Holly has a history of a previous kidding where she never pushed. And kids were delivered hours after they likely should have been. This labor like behavior had been going on for hours this day, and knowing her history, i gloved up just to check and see what was going on. I was greeted by a set of hooves and a little nose, just inside the birth canal. I was feeling around those hooves to see if i could get a grip. I managed to grasp the front hooves between the fingers of my hand. And just as I was about to apply gentle pressure....Holly walked away. She still never pushed, never hunched in response to her exam, but she did leave a baby behind in my hands! That kid came with very little effort on her part. I left her alone for 10 minutes or so while i dried the first kid, waiting for her to start laboring now that the first was out. Still, nothing. So I checked again. A second kid was presenting, Nose and Toes. And with a gentle amount of pressure, and still little effort from mom, another kid was born. The third kid, I discoved on further exam, was breech. Hocks first. I needed Joe to come out and hold her whileIi brought the legs around to a birthing position. After all that, 3 kids arrived, healthy, safe and sound. They are strapping kids, and already growibg well. 2 bucks and one spotted doe. Holly will be retiring this year.
Dotty kidded this afternoin with 3 beautiful blonde doelings(no pictures yet!). She had a very normal lead up to labor, but decided to have her first doeling while no one was watching! The first kid was born between checks, a little more than an hour after our last check. She did just fine with the first. Luckily we were able to assist with the last two as both came breech. It was neccesary to help Dotty by bringing the back hooves around so the kids could proceed into the world. This amount of manipulation can be hard on the doe. Its quite stressful to push back against hard contractions. Extracting the back hooves, you need to carefully tuck the hoof in a curve, I guard them with my hand, so that the hooves do not scrape against the doe.
if you look in the kidding diagram below you can see the usual normal positions, and the problem areas. These kids were not rump first, their hocks were first, with the legs bent. All is well now! Kids were delivered safely and we moved quickly to clear nose and mouth so they didn't inhale any fluids.
Kidding season is off at a dead run! After quite a bit of anxious waiting as does went past their due dates, our next 3 does have kidded without a hitch.
Star and Denali: Our second doe to kid this year was Star though she was "scheduled" to be 3rd, and we all know how well does follow any sort of plan. Star and Denali both started showing signs of moving into labor on Thursday evening. The girls had been sharing a pen overnight to get a little extra attention, premium sleeping spaces and extra alfalfa. When both started uddering up at about the same time we separated them into their own kidding pens. We spent all night up with both does, watching, checking. At every check, they would stand there and stare at us. Nothing. All night up with them just to be dead tired. We continued regular checks into the morning, with little progress beyond 2 very uncomfortable does. We checed Star at 9:30 and she was still pacing, and staring. At her next check, at 10:15, sh had delivered all 4 kids with no assistance! I quickly grabbed towels and started drying kids. 2 bucks, 2 does for Star.
Sprite: Sprite spent Sunday moving progressively along through early labor. We could see her belly dropped, and her raised tail head. But with ligaments still present and her udder not quite in yet we went ahead and let her out with the does for the day. A little exercise is always good. At evening milking, we brough Sprite into a kidding pen and kept watch on her for a few hours. Sprite went to work about 10pm and delivered her first kid, a blonde buck by 1030. She followed her first kid with a seond buck and then stopped. And got up to clean and care for her boys. I tried bumping her, to see if there was another kid coming, i could not quite decide. She is a big doe, with a lot of body and i could not quite feel what i thought for sure was another kid. 2 boys is okay, its not what we hope for, but it was okay, after about 15 minutes though, Sprite went back to work, and delivered a little blonde doeling! Yes! A girl in the mix, all is well! I started drying the doeling, sure that that was it, surely she is done now, but before I could get much of the doeling wiped off, Sprite went to work again delivering another doeling! Quads! And our second set this year. What a surprise. She definitely looked large enough to have triplets, quads was a surprise.
It's kidding season here on the farm, really. It is. Or it would be. If only a few of the four legged ladies would learn to read a calendar.
Today we are on the brink of the biggest influx of kids we have ever had in this short of a time frame. Over the next 8 day, 10 does are due. Normally, we have a wider span on due dates, this year, does cycled late and for my own sanity i need does kidded put before i return to wildlife surveys for the spring and summer. Denali is currently at day 152 and hanging on tight. We are anticipating days without sleep. Load after load of laundry and likely a sketchy meal schedule. Friends are forgiving this time of year, as we drop of the face of the planet and become totally absorbed in the life happening inside 4 metal wals.
With all of this coming, you might be thinking we are taking advantage of the lull before the storm, and resting up but that is not how it goes. When does approach kidding dates, they are watched like hawks. We are constantly checking, even if there is no sign of kidding soon. What we are looking for on every barn visit is changes. We are not looking for signs of labor, instead I am looking for signs that a does body is starting to adjust and move through all the steps neccesary to prepare her body and the kids for their entrance into this world. I am looking for loosened ligaments throughout her body, increased appetite as her body loosesns and allows the kids to move away from rumen and stomach and she has a little more room for feed. An increase in udder size as she prepares to feed her coming brood and with that an increase in water intake as she starts needing more fluids for milk producton. All of these things are signs that we are getting closer to time. As she moves through these progressive changes, eventually it will be time to move her into a private birthing stall, and sit with her through her stretches and contortions as she moves kids into position to begin their arrival. When stretching starts and ligaments are lost, I gather my kidding euipment near the birthihg stalls. This can sometimes mean hours of just sitting quietly, waiting. Talking to the doe softly, letting her do what she needs to do.
You might be thinking, is it really neccesary to be there for every single birth. After all, animals have been birthing for thousands of years without our help. Maybe, but those thousands of generatons were not my herd. They may not need ny help, they may not care if I am there at all. But these does are our charges, our responsibility and our friends. We care deeply about their welfare and kidding is among the most dangerous things a doe can do in her life. Seeing her safely through the delivery of her kids, year after year is my duty. Rarely, do we have situatons that we need to intervene. But we can not help, if we are not there.
Commonly does do benefit from a little assistance, it might be straightening a kids leg so that its passage into this world is a little smoother, or helping to wipe them down as the doe begins working on delivering siblings. She can do all of this on her own, but that small amount of assistance assures kids are less stressed and dry sooner, up on their feet and ready to nurse as soon as possible.
Breeding and kidding these spectacular animals is not a spectator sport. They are the heart and soul of our opperation, we have chosen to devote this time of year solely to their success.
Now if only the does would stick to the schedule.
Here is to kidding season, 2019 and may your kidding season bring you all you have hoped for, with easy births and many beautiful milkers.
I have been intending to relaunch the farm blog for a while now, what better time than the beginning of kidding season?
Our first kid for the year was born February 11th. A single buckling born to Cree Farm SS Caramels AI sired by Cree Farm AL Bolero. This is our very first AI breeding and the begining of a new chapter for us here at Running River Dairy Goats. This buckling will be offered for sale as we have to full siblings in our herd already.
Last spring we purchased our first AI tank and equipment from Cree Farm, along with all of their current tank inventory. While we still intend to focus on our main foundation line, this gives us the opportunity to branch out and bring in some outside bloodlines and strengthen some traits in our herd while still holding on to the core of strong production traits and lactation length.
Kidding season is right around the corner for us, with our first due date in just three days.
Most of our does are scheduled to kid between January 20th and January 29th this year, with a few stragglers bringing up the tail end in April. In preperation for kidding season the does have all been coming in nightly for a ration of grain, we are constantly checking for signs that someone is getting ready as we all know that does have a code of honor to uphold!
Today we gave everyone a tidy dairy clip, removing the fringes of hair on the sides of their tails, around their udders and the edges of their legs, leaving them a little cleaner for the kidding process. Now, this sounds simple. And it can be. If the does aren't feeling silly. They had a good long rest this year with a few extra months off, and seem to have forgotten what the milk stand is for. Heavens forbid a human should touch their udders! And with that chattering scary set of clippers! ahhhhh! Our two year old does actally stood patiently. Good girls. The jumpiest and silliest of them all of course were our boer goats. They just don't appreciate a good dairy clip!
The girls are all now tidied and we are now on standby waiting for the first doe to go into labor.
Sit back my friend, and let me tell you a story about how last evenings glorious events came to be.
To start this take we have to go back, back to the beginning, not too far back, just about 4 yeasr now. Back to when we haphazardly stumbled across two Nubian does for sale on Craigslist. All we knew about Nubians at the time was they had long ears, and high butterfat. We already had Fawn, and Holly, her Boer cross kid. So we at least knew about goats. We didn't know bloodlines, we didn't know conformation, or milk production, But we did know we wanted them both, because they should come in pairs when you can!
Friends, we stumbled on a treasure. Those first two does home were Pennyroyal Misty, and Pennyroyal Gypsy. We knew so little about what we had found, didn't even get their papers at first, we just wanted goats! That summer and fall we bred out two new does, and had some lovely kids, and even better milk! we back tracked and asked for papers! Lucky for us, we were able to get the paperwork, those does were too nice to lose track of.
Of the two does, the one that impacted my love of the Nubian breed and all the characteristics of a good dairy goat was Misty. Misty has the softest most supple udder I've ever seen in our herd. She milks out so well you would never believe just minutes before how much milk she can store! That classic empty glove look of a milked out doe. I could go on about Misty, but this story isn't about her. It's about her dam, Clone.
How does Clone fit into this story? I'm getting there. Clone was a part of the Pennyroyal herd from birth, they kept her along side of litter mate sisters Keepsake and Unagi. Keepsake is Gypsy's dam. Their fourth sister, Dorrit, lived with a friend not too far away. Clone was very closely bonded with her Dam, Zipporah. and the two lived quite happily in the Pennyroyal herd until the passing of Zipporah. After Zipporah passed, And Clone's kid from that year was sold, she became quite depressed. She no longer had a companion in the herd. About that time, Pennyroyal also decided it was time to sell some does, and make room for the younger does. And that is when I got an email that will nudge this story along. I was asked if I possibly wanted Clone? I loved Misty so much, did I want her dam? Yes I did! Did I care that she wasn't a star milker, and she had only ever had a single kid? 3 kids in 4 breeding seasons? No, we knew she had brought Misty into the world and that was all that mattered.
Clone came to our herd just a little less than two years ago, in the spring. We bred her in the fall but for whatever reason she did not settle. We were heartbroken. All of our hopes and dreams for another Misty weren't going to happen in 2014. But, we didn't give up. We tried again. This time, in the Fall of 2014, we bred Clone to close cousin DiMaggio. This time, we blood tested. Confirmed pregnancy, and planned for a single kid. Daring to hope that maybe she would have twins, and just maybe, we would get a doe kid out of this match. If it's a single kid, please please let it be a doe. Clone is going to 7 years old when she kids. We might not get many more chances.
So we waited, and we watched. 5 long months we waited. Longer still for having missed getting a kid from her last year. We would visit the doe herd and hope out loud for a daughter. And then, kidding season started. Clone's sister Dorrit, who joined our herd the summer of the year Clone did, presented us with twin buck. Well darn. Then Gypsy, their niece, gave us Buck/Doe twins, at least there is one doe! Then came Misty, with another set of Buck twins. Daughters from this family line are going to be scarce this year. Still we held out hope, maybe Clone will have a daughter. But we noticed something, and scare dared to believe our eyes. Clone was carrying a larger pregnancy than her daughter had. if there was only one kid in there it was going to be a big one. We dared to hold out hope for twins. Luckily for us, the wait from Misty kidding, to Clone kidding was only 7 days.
Last night, at milking time, I made a beeline for Clone to see how she was doing, and sure enough, she was streaming already. I moved her to her kidding stall and we just kept up a watch in her. We finished milking, and she wasn't laboring so we had dinner, and waited. Joe kept up a watch on her and came to get me just before midnight, "She had three girls", was the news I received from him. What! Really! 3 kids and All daughters? We would have never dared to hope for triplets from a doe with a track record of single kids, and all does. The daughter we had been hoping for, and two bonus sisters! And from a great breeding with a promise of milky does.
First born a 5.5 pound Gray Roan doe kid, already dubbed Carbon Copy. The second born a lovely 5/5 pound Golden doe kid jokingly called Goldie Hahn (Goldoe Hahn???!). and third a black and white doe kid, weighing in at 6 pounds. No knick name for her yet! Of course names are always being tried on. We'll see what sticks.
Two years was worth the wait!
Clone is now standing at 5 does and a buck in 6 years of kidding seasons, Only having kidded 4 times.
It's early morning. It's cold outside, you can just feel it. From the warmth and comfort of bed, you just know you are going out there. Because you don't have a barn camera. Because someday you are going to wire in cables to carry those pretty pictures to the house. Wireless is out of the question. The barn is too far away.
It's 4:30 in the morning, who wakes up at 4:30? When you just get that sense, its time to go check the does, Misty lost her mucus plug last night, so you better go check. Again. The first call of the does, the call unheard, to go check on them. The call of instinct, instinct of a kidding season veteran.
You haul yourself upright, wander around in the house in the dark so as night to wake your sleeping partner. Even the herding dogs don't stir, ungrateful wretches. Grab your barn fleece and on second thought a second coat over that. You haven't felt the outside air on your face yet and you still know the morning is cold. Not blowing ice storm cold, but surely not the warm 60° of yesterday afternoon. Did I mention, it's February. Who ordered this weather anyway.
Out to the barn you go, met in the barn yard by the quadrant of quacking ducks, who don't mind cold, dark mornings. They follow you into the barn, hoping for a handout, and over their talking you hear the constant ringing in tiny brass bells. As if the does are up and moving a lot this morning. You head first to the main pen, the source of the ringing bells and see two yearling does having a good round of head butting. Sisters, Dotty and Denali. Last years twins.
Thick as thieves on any normal day, sparring before daylight, both starting to show their own kids on the way. Why are they awake? These does are always still in bed at milking time. You slip into the kidding pens, and see Misty up and awake watching for you. She calls to you as you come into the pens, as if to say "Where have you been?". The calling of a doe for a human friend. On looking over the gate where she and her coming yearling daughter, Star, have spent the night, they turn and walk away from you. You see that one sure sign that a kid is on the way. The bubble of the sack containing the kid. Action time.
Going with what you think you know, you think, "She won't want Star in here.". And so you put Star back out with the does and come back to Misty calling, soft and mournful. She wants her daughter back. The calling of a doe for her daughter.
You go back to get Star. Misty refuses to push if she has to do this alone. She has always loved company. A doe who has lived her whole life surrounded by family. Dam raised. Sold to us alongside of her first cousin. Gone to the breeding pen with her cousin, the two inseparable even for buck visits, even when both weren't to be bred. Reunited with Dam and another Aunt after 2 years and side by side with her daughter for the last 10 months. Star stays with her Dam, through the contractions, through the first kid, through the second.
Misty's labor is near text book, but not quite. She pushes once, twice, then paces. You let this go on for 20 minutes not sure when labor started, but the kid is not in distress. You head back to the house, trim your nails, all the while knowing you should have done this already. Grab some extra towels and another pair of pants, over the top. Snow pants for warmth. Back you go, all in under 5 minutes. You grab a tie chain and a bale of straw to keep her from turning away from you, and you check to see where the hold up is with this kid. Two feet. A nose. What's holding it back? She give a good push and you grab two feet. Only one comes easy. Do both feet belong to the same kid? You pull the kids head with gentle, gentle pressure, and both feet move forward. Yeah, it seems to all belong together. You give the second food another gentle tug with one of Misty's contractions and POP! the shoulder comes free and here comes a good sized blond kid into the world. Its a buck!
A little disappointed because you really want a doe kid from this doe, you bump her, lifting her belly a little to see if anyone is still in there. There is. so you sit on the straw bale, and you wait. It won't be long. she tends to her first kid, drying and cleaning him, you assist with some towels, wiping down the majority of the muck. This all goes on for a few minutes, maybe ten. Calling softly to her newborn son, the calling of a doe offering encouragement, love and comfort. All the while, Star watches from the back of the pen, wondering what all of this means, coming over once to sniff her new brother, never once chased away by Misty. Then Misty gets back to work, a few good strong pushes and a text book delivery, nose and toes, of a dark buckling. Dark, because he's wet. Is he Black, or Ebony? You will know when he dries. He looks black, with a tinge of red. Not the kidding you had hoped for. Another Doeling from Misty would have been grand. Now the wait begins to see if perhaps Misty's dam, Clone, will grace you with a daughter 8 days from now.
Star's future here is secure for another year, as you anxiously wait to see how another daughter of this line will perform. Star will kid in May, a long wait from today.
Welcome to the world boys.
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