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Goat kidding has been rolling right along in the last week - we have only had 3 days since the 4th without babies.  We are currently at 31 born, 12 lost :(, so 19 remaining with 12 of those girls.  It's a girl-heavy year, which will work out well for us since I'm going to cull fairly heavily this fall.  Several of these first-time kidders aren't going to get a second chance, particularly #1416.  

She kidded on Sunday evening - I went to check the pasture at dinnertime, and there were 2 frail tiny boys on the ground, alone.  They were fairly clean, but at least 30 feet apart, with no apparent mother.  I identified her after a few minutes, and after supper we shut her in the house with the babies (discovering a third, dead sister in the process, again many feet away and probably 2 lbs at the most), and force-nursed the boys.  She would stand fine once we pinned her in the corner, while I held the babies up to nurse, but she wasn't showing much interest.  After repeating this at 10 pm, 2 am, and 6 am, they were going downhill so I just took them in the house and have been bottle-feeding them ever since.  They were pretty frail at first, unable to stand and not much over 3 lbs, but they are able to spend the day in the pasture as of Wednesday, after only 2 days of house-nursing.  I took them to the farmer's market on Tuesday, and they were a big hit :)  

Our other bottle baby, now named Koa courtesy of our former WWOOFer Dan  - it means warrior or fighter in Hawaiian - is doing fantastic.  She is living in the pasture day and night now, we just take bottles to her out there (and then she bawls at the fence every time we leave - so touching!), and she has to have doubled her weight in the past week.  She's so vigorous - and has her tongue issues all figured out - that the boys can give her the bottles, as long as they hold on for all they're worth!  She butts so hard that once, she punched the nipple loose, up into the bottle and dumped most of the milk!  

The time-consuming part of these 3 kids is that I'm milking twice a day now - which I've never wanted to do, even for myself!  I'm milking 1416, the bottle boys' mother - she's got a small udder, and the tiniest nipples I've ever worked with and she kicks sometimes - just awful to milk, takes at least 10 minutes - but she's filled up tight and hard every time I milk, so I can't not milk her.  Besides, I need the milk for the babies, so I'm also milking Cinnamon, who lost her 2 babies last week.  She isn't making a ton of milk either, but she has all of it to spare, and between the two of them I get about 1.5 qts a day, plenty for now for all three babies - although that will change soon enough as they grow exponentially!  I've already started cutting Koa's milk with cow's milk and milk replacer to stretch it some - she's eating 20-24 oz a day!

Yesterday we got to watch Sara have her 2 babies - and thank goodness, because the second was born en caul - completely encased in his membrane sac (which I believe means he's going to be a witch?).  We were far enough away that I couldn't see very clearly, but I noticed the lump on the ground wasn't moving.  After a minute I went over, realized the problem, and tore him out.  I made sure his mouth was clear(ish) - got a bunch of goop out - and then eventually he seemed to be fine.  I don't think he would have made it if I hadn't been there, though!  

Susan, Clara, Elvira, and Black Spots have all successfully kidded in the last few days.  I was especially pleased to see Elvira kid - I didn't actually watch her girls come out, but was there within minutes and just watched for a while.  She's a first-timer, and I wanted to see how she did.  I had high hopes for her, she's a beautiful dark brown and one of Agnes' daughters (Agnes is the one that died suddenly and we unsuccessfully C-sectioned) so I've been hoping she gets her mother's fertility (Agnes always had successful triplets) and good mothering instincts.  She was great - cleaned them well, talked the whole time, didn't move a muscle when they started rooting (sometimes new mamas just circle and circle, always cleaning but never letting the babies nurse), and she has stayed in her "nest" area for almost a day now - another "good mama" trait.  She's definitely a keeper, and she made 2 small but healthy and absolutely gorgeous black and brown girls.  

I charted the kidding facts this year, and it became immediately apparent that it is the first-time kidders that are having trouble.  The older does haven't lost a baby (except Gretchen, and that's looking like a trend for her), and their babies are all at least 5 pounds, including Gretchen's triplets.  The new mamas, to a one, have 3-4 pound babies, and have almost all the losses (again, Gretchen's are the only exception). Again, we are thinking it is mainly a nutrition issue, and that the younger girls, even though we hold them until 1.5 years old before we breed for this exact reason, are still building their own nutrition levels and have a hard time growing babies at the same time as they finish growing themselves, on poor feed.  I can't think of another good explanation for the difference between the age groups.  Based on this, any feeding regimen for the winter would pay for itself if it saves at least one kid for every $100 spent.  For example, feeding them (and I mean the whole herd of 30+ mamas) bagged feed for 4 months through the winter would cost between $300 and $500 - but, this year as an example, would theoretically have saved us at least 12 kids so far, at at least $100/kid sale value.  That's a no-brainer!  

By my paperwork (I haven't actually counted heads in the field) we have about 17 does left to kid, so I'll keep y'all updated.  Hopefully it'll be all or mostly good news from here out...

Addendum : I wrote this at about 9 am, and by 2 pm 1204, Leona, and 1407 had all had babies as well.  I was gone for lunch and found Leona with one live and one dead, I wish I knew why - last year we had to pull one of hers, maybe another bad presentation? - but the others are all doing great.  I'm especially relieved 1407 is done since she kept getting her head stuck in the fence, and I just knew she'd kid, stuck in the fence, in the wee small hours, and we'd just find the freakish tragedy in the morning!  Quite the opposite, actually, she bedded down in the hay pile, a great place to kid.  


new babies

Wish I could be there to see the boys feeding those babies--great report, hard, and good news. wishing for photos! (But sounds like your hands are too full to add a camera into the mix.

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