For any goat owner, the kidding season can come with its share of stresses. However, when it’s your first kidding season, it can be downright terrifying. Although most births go off without a hitch, the fear of the unknown can be rather scary.
On our farm, we find ourselves right in the center of the scary unknown. We only recently started into dairy goats with the hope of creating some amazing goat milk products. This entire endeavor depends solely upon a successful first kidding season. Our heard must grow, and healthy does and doelings are the key components to the growth.
We are trying to be as proactive as possible coming into this birthing season. With the first births beginning mid-February, I find myself scouring the internet and referencing my goat books for any missed details. I have watched so many goat birthing videos I should be having nightmares.
Ginger, our gorgeous Oberhasli doe, is the first due to give birth. Our veterinarian, Dr. Dean, came to check on her last week and update her CDT vaccine. He felt pretty confident that Ginger is only expecting one, maybe two, babies. He stated that this reduces the risk of potential problems dramatically, giving us a little peace of mind.
On the advice of the breeder, we bought Ginger from, we moved her to a private birthing pen in the garage this past weekend. We decided to use a 10-by-10-foot dog kennel we had laying around, giving her plenty of space to move about. We layered the floor with stall mats and clean dry straw to help keep her warm and comfy. All her buckets and food containers have been cleaned, sanitized, and filled.
Keeping Ginger in a heated garage during the unpredictable Ohio winter seems makes perfect sense — it also allows us to keep a closer eye on her as she comes closer to the finish line. If by chance we sadly miss the birth, we won’t have to be concerned that the babies will freeze to death.
So, what all do we need in order to be prepared? After a ton of research and with our vet’s advice, we prepared a go tote. I packed:
• clean towels
• rubber gloves
• KY Jelly
• nasal sucker
• baby bottle
Our doctor is officially on speed dial in case an emergency intervention is needed. Our hope is not to intervene at all, allowing Ginger to birth and mother unassisted. This is her third freshening, however her first time being given the opportunity to mother.
If her choice leaves us with a bottle baby, we are prepared for that scenario as well. We’ve purchased baby bottles and a play pen is on standby, while our children are ready to help take feeding shifts if necessary. We have been preparing mama as well by upping the protein level in her feed and adding extra alfalfa to her diet.
The whole farm is impatiently waiting to hear the first baby to bahhaa. Our Jersey steer, Fin, jumped the fence yesterday to find Ginger and check on her. That was a heck of a sight when we pulled up the drive. Who expects a cow to be waiting at the garage door? Not me!
Fin has never gotten loose or jumped the fence before, a first for everything I guess. Once we allowed him to see her, he effortlessly walked back to the barn and into his stall. The chickens have been clucking all about the big event for days, debating how many babies and the sexes. I believe they have a poll going. I wonder what the winner gets?
The other goats seem unsure whether or not they want to hear about the kidding experience, as they’re all first fresheners. As for Daisy, our Irish Dexter, she seems pretty content having all the hay in the feeder to herself for now.
My kids, hubby, and I can’t wait for the big event! We’ve been checking her ligaments and bag development daily for any signs. We are really hoping for a healthy happy mama and baby at the end of this journey. Stay tuned for Part 2, after Ginger has her babies.
Photos by Noah Miller
Carrie Miller runs Miller Micro Farm in Ohio, where she spends a lot of her time preserving the bounties through canning and freezing and repurposing daily items around the farm in new and creative ways. She is a photographer and blogger for Community Chickens. Connect with Carrie on Facebook.
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