Navigating a Frightful Goat Kidding Experience

Reader Contribution by Carrie Miller and Miller Micro Farm
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What are you to do when a doe has unexpected birthing complications? Before this year, we had only endured minor difficulties when it comes to kidding. A doe that needed a little extra help when pushing or a kid’s head needing realignment seems scary enough. But what do you do when a kid is genuinely stuck? We have a doe, Ginger, that has kidded twice for other owners, so we expected no complications; however, she turned our world upside down this season.

A Normal Goat Kid Birth?

After 10 hours of early labor, Ginger entered into active labor, and everything was going off without a hitch. The first sac arrived as she laid on her side while slightly pushing. As the second sac came that carries the baby inside, Ginger became more uncomfortable. Still lying on her side, she continued to advance till a single hoof was visible. After 20 minutes, the second hoof peeped with contractions then disappeared between them. This kept happening for another 30 minutes or so before we began to fret.

As I went in to check on the alignment, I noticed all the right parts were lined up. The little teeth of the baby slightly grazed my finger, leaving a small slice as I felt around.

Realizing the Goat Kid was Stuck

As it should be?

I then noticed the baby’s forehead wedged in the pelvis! I could not even fit a finger in between the pelvic bone and the head, and I have tiny hands and fingers. As I tried to pull downwards with the contractions, there was no give. My husband got her up from the laying position, and I tried again with no success.

I knew then we were in crisis; she now had two legs hanging out of her for over an hour, but no other progress. So I ran into the house and grabbed my phone to call the veterinarian for help. After calling three different numbers, I finally reached the vet’s emergency phone number, but I had to leave a message. As I ran back to the barn, I could hear Ginger crying out in pain.

My husband stayed with her the whole time; she collapsed to the ground and began to look notably weak. As my phone started buzzing, my husband began to pull the kid with all his strength trying to preserve Ginger’s life. We assumed the baby was deceased.

Phone Instruction from the Vet

Something just not right

The phone began to ring! I picked up the phone, and as the veterinarian began to talk, Ginger rolled to her back, and the baby mysteriously became dislodged. Ginger was so weak, and the baby was lifeless. Then it wasn’t — it blinked!

My husband all but threw me the baby and a towel and said, “You take the baby, I got Ginger.” With my phone and baby on my lap, the veterinarian kept talking and giving advice as I cleared the baby’s mouth and nose. I began to rub the baby vigorously, and then the best sound, it let out a cry.

Ginger ran to its attention and began to clean her new baby. We then hung up with the vet, hoping we were out of the woods. Now mind you, it was now 1:00 AM, and we were exhausted; however, we stayed up with her all night.

As dawn broke

His poor little legs he tried and tried

As dawn rolled around and first light hit the barn, we got a glimpse at the magnitude of the situation. Poor Ginger’s lady parts torn from one end to the other and massively swollen. The baby’s jaw was misaligned entirely, which explained how my finger happened to get sliced in the womb. He was unable to use his front legs, and yes, at this point, we realized it was a boy.

A quick phone call to our regular veterinarian eased our minds a bit. Ginger was put on steroids to reduce the swelling and pain along with an antibiotic to keep infection away. The baby, on the other hand, was a wait and see kind of circumstance. Within hours, his jaw began to realign by itself, entirely fixed by the next morning. However, he still had no use of his front legs. He army-crawled on his knees to and from his mom for feedings that entire first day.

By day two, the baby, now named Freddie, began to use one front leg, but the other would collapse beneath him. As day three rolled around, he was up and playing with the use of both his legs!

Healing Slowly 

Little Freddy

While on a tough road, they are both healing and getting stronger every day. Ginger is now medically retired; Therefore, she will never experience a traumatic kidding again. Now two weeks post-delivery, her lady parts are healing nicely. Freddie weighed in at nine pounds, which is a pretty standard-sized baby for the Oberhasli breed. Therefore, her pelvis is just too tiny to deliver more kids safely.

Freddie is growing and thriving every day. Ginger is a fantastic “helicopter mom,” never allowing him out of her sight. The moral of the story? Never give up! Do not assume death, and always have an emergency veterinarian on standby and on speed dial.

All is well that ends well!

Carrie Millerruns Miller Micro Farm in Ohio, where she spends much of her time canning and freezing and repurposing items around the farm in creative ways. She is a photographer and blogger forCommunity Chickens. Connect with heron Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Her writing has been featured in Grit Magazine, the Homestead Hustle Blog,Chickens Magazine, Hobby Farmsmagazine, and The New Pioneer magazine. Read all of Carrie’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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