If you have dairy goats and plan on getting milk, inevitably you have to deal with difficult kiddings. Most of the time, you walk in the barn and there’s mom and her kids staring at you, all dripping from birth slime. To be honest, that’s how I like it. All I have to do is dry the kids, tie off the umbilical cord, and dip it in iodine.
I suspected the next doe to give birth would be Delilah. Delilah is a small Alpine. I mean, really small. I got her free because she was undersized as a baby. She isn’t terribly big now, but she’s had a kid from Oreo before, so I figured it wasn’t a big deal.
My husband and I went down to the barn to plow out the horse’s corral when I went to check on the does and bottle feed Ragnar who is doing terrific. Delilah was lying down. I had her get up and saw a nose poking out her back end. The nose was still covered with the placenta, so I cleared it away and the baby goat coughed and snorted a bunch of fluid. At that, I pulled her inside the barn.
I knew something was wrong, so while I screamed for my husband to help me, I assessed the problem. The normal way for baby goats to be born is front feet first, followed by the head and the rest of the body. The only other way that works without an issue is if the back feet and then butt comes out first. The position is called the “diver” and “reverse diver” respectively.
I only saw a head and not the feet. Getting my left hand in there, I tried to feel around for legs. My husband rushed in to hold Delilah while I tried to sort out what I was feeling. Meantime, Delilah and the baby were screaming.
Feeling inside a goat is akin to feeling the most slippery substance and trying to hold onto it. The placental sack makes it darn near impossible to get hold of anything. To make matters worse, my hand could barely fit through the pelvic opening and her body was clamping down on my arm in pain. So, I’m in pain, the doe is in pain, and the baby is in pain. Not good.
I finally feel something slimy with an angle. I’m guessing by feel it’s a leg. So I pull and get one foot out. Great. That’s half the battle. So I start looking for the left foot. I get my arm up to my elbow and finally find the other leg. It is in the lower part of her belly. I try to push it upward with my right hand from outside of Delilah. No go.
Finally my hand is so numb and my arm feels like it’s going to explode, I pull out. It jars the kid loose enough and he starts sliding out. Almost by magic, the other leg appears and I grasp both legs and pull.
The kid pulls free as mom screams. I end up sitting on the floor, panting as my arm swells up. My husband goes to get towels to dry the baby off. Delilah starts cleaning the kid. It’s a buckling. He’s big, if skinny. My husband returns with towels, dental floss, and a knife so I can cut the umbilical cord properly. I have iodine ready to dip the end. He can barely stand and would rather sleep. His suckling reflex isn’t good.
Delilah’s a good mom and is very conscientious about her new buckling. He isn’t really sure about food, so I grab a milk bottle, squirt some of her colostrum in it, and get it in his mouth. He’s shivering even though the day is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. We dry him off as best we can and let mom and kid bond. He spends most of the day lying down and not moving much. His suckling reflex is still not strong. We give Delilah some sweet feed to get her energy up.
We decided to call Delilah’s kid Rollo after the figure depicted in the show, Vikings. So, we have Ragnar and Rollo, the Viking brothers. Rollo was still weak and with the temperature supposed to plunge into the 30s, we decided to move him into a crate into my office so he could recuperate. He mostly slept and the few times I tried to bottle feed him, he resisted. Oddly, Delilah didn’t seem too concerned about him when I brought him inside, so I got worried that perhaps she would ignore him when I brought him back.
I brought Rollo back to Delilah. She was unconcerned by his disappearance and ate the grain I gave her in the pen. At first, she seemed to ignore him, but then she started cleaning him again. Soon Rollo was nursing ravenously on her.
From the monitor, I was able to see Rollo jumping around next to Delilah. A good sign since he had barely had enough energy to stand up at first. We’ll keep them together for two weeks straight until he can hang out with Ragnar. From there, he’ll be with mom and the herd in the daytime and in the kid pen at night so we can milk his mom first thing before putting him back with his mom.
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