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.