Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Well, after posting incessantly here for more than a week while driving myself crazy trying to learn how to read ligaments and other pre-birth signs, our very first kids are HERE!!! A HUGE THANK YOU to Deborah and Julia for always responding to my frantic questions so quickly! Thank you as well to others who chimed in with help. What a valuable and encouraging resource we have here!!!

Video Link:

Maple's Triplets

Maple's Birth Story:

Exactly the stoic and pragmatic birthing mama I thought she would be, Maple went from "maybe" contracting to laying down and pushing in just a couple of hours. I had been feeling ligaments for days and days, trying to understand them, and sometime between 9:00 and 1:30 yesterday, they finally disappeared. At around 5:30, I was doing extended chores and observing Maple, and I thought I was seeing contractions. I posted a quick video here ("Maple Contractions? (And Other Early Labor Signs)", getting the usual quick and wise response from Deborah, and later Julia. :-) On Deborah's advise, we ate dinner in the house with our sometimes working baby monitor beside us (in a bitter twist of irony, our fancy Goat TV Cam had stopped working the day before). At 6:00, I checked on Maple, and she was making really deep nests in the straw and talking in little horse-like nickers, but I couldn't see regular contractions anymore, so I thought it was another "false alarm". At 6:30, while I was trying to be calm on the couch, Maple started vocalizing very differently. Regular, rhythmic calls. I ran out to the barn.

Maple was laying down and seemingly contracting harder, but no other sign was present. I hung out with her for a bit, and she was keeping right next to me, licking my face. I finally felt confident that I was seeing labor as her contractions came and went. After a few minutes, she was lying down in one of her deep nests while I stroked her and told her how amazing she was. Then suddenly, and without ceremony, SHE WAS PUSHING! A bubble and a foot appeared almost instantly, followed by a nose another foot. The amber-colored sack burst, and Maple shifted gears. She stopped pushing, got up, and started frantically licking the fluid off the pad. I waited a second to see if pushing would resume, but when the kid started moving and then stuck his tongue out with no further pushing from Maple, I decided to help a little. I wasn't sure if the airway had been partially cut off or what. I scrambled for my surgical scrub and my gloves, which seemed to take an eternity to manage, but once I got hold of the legs I was easily able to help the kid the rest of the way without really going "in". A buckling was born!

I worried over the little guy, but he was squeaking and trying to walk and nurse in no time. Maple stepped on him a bit once or twice because she was alternating between focusing on him and focusing on labor. There was clearly another one coming. She was down and pushing #2 out before I could turn around with more towels! A little doeling came second, and my husband (in his Scottish accent) said she was "arse first". I missed it all, it happened so fast. It occurred to me that bucklings and doelings look very different from each other even entering the world. I don't know why it felt that way, but I "saw" boy and girl differences before I even checked the necessary parts. :-)

We thought we were seeing placenta as Maple cleaned of her two, but the third came almost as quickly and we think arse first as well. She was the smallest, but we quickly got to watch her become the leader of the three, nursing the most and talking up a storm once she got going. Maple passed and ate most of the placenta within about an hour, and we popped the heat lamp on to help everybody dry (probably not necessary, but they were shivering and I wasn't sure if that was normal). It has been such a chilly May! I totally forgot what to do with the umbilical cords, so I left them alone for a bit, and mama worked on them some. I dipped cords and hooves in iodine, which may have been overkill, then I decided to cut the cords (probably WAY too short). Then I worried that I had killed them all by doing that (LOL). 

Maple eagerly drank 4 or 5 big thermos lids full of warm water, apple cider vinegar, and molasses + ate her grain. Then she tried to drink my tea brought to me by my sweet husband when I wouldn't leave the barn. Our 2 children (5-year-old son and 6-month-old daughter) were present for the entire event. We have never seen our son so amazed. He's been a farm kid for most of his life, but this was his first time witnessing birth. It was so precious to share this with him, and our daughter woke up a few times from her snuggled spot in the Boba carrier worn by my husband.

What an amazing time! Maple was a rock star, even though she got "confused" when the buckling was on his way out. Maybe she would have figured it out, and I just need more experience knowing when and why to step in and help. Now our biggest challenge is settling on names... so many are being debated!!

Cinco de Mayo theme, types of leaves (like Maple Leaf), decadent sweet things (like maple).... the list goes on!! Oh, and the first thing I said after all the kids were out was, "I don't think I can ever do this again!" Hahaha. I managed to be a worry wart through the whole last stage of pregnancy and drive myself crazy with false ligament readings and Goat TV obsession. I think it's fitting that all my electronic monitors went caput right before Maple got going. Maybe that helped me to let go a bit... or maybe not. :-D It's really the same for me as a mother, especially as a mother who just gave birth 6 months ago... There's always that, "I'm never doing this again!" moment. And then that moment is somehow, slowly forgotten.

Charity Houghton

Old Haunt Farm

Alstead, NH

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Great story, thanks for sharing! Sounds like a textbook birthing! The first kid probably would have come on out unassisted but you didn't hurt anything by helping. Now that you've seen each stage and what it looks like, it will be easier next time :) And trust me, once you do this once you will want to do it again! Those kids are addicting! Congratulations!

Many, many thanks, Julia!! I feel so encouraged... and I know this won't be my only kidding. I'll probably be ready to do it again by tomorrow morning! hahaha

Julia @Woody Glen Farm said:

Great story, thanks for sharing! Sounds like a textbook birthing! The first kid probably would have come on out unassisted but you didn't hurt anything by helping. Now that you've seen each stage and what it looks like, it will be easier next time :) And trust me, once you do this once you will want to do it again! Those kids are addicting! Congratulations!

OMG, triplets! I'm so happy all went well for you and Maple. I've been learning a lot from your experiences, so thanks for sharing them. 

Beautifully written story! Congratulations! I'm glad you found our forum helpful. It's so hard to figure out these things via messaging. 

It's totally normal for the mamas to want to clean up every little drop of anything that comes out, so she wasn't confused at all. She was doing her job. Because they're prey animals, and predators can smell birth fluids, the does do everything they can to get rid of anything that smells like birth. Newborns are quite tasty and can be caught much easier than other prey. This is also why they can run within an hour or two of birth.

There is nothing wrong with a kid's head sticking out, and it entirely normal for a doe to have several contractions with just a nose and/or hoof. As long as you see progress, even tiny progress, everything is fine. Even if the entire head is out, they are not breathing yet and don't need to be because the umbilical cord is still attached, so they're getting all they need through the cord. In our second year lambing, we had a ewe running around the pasture for 45 minutes with a lamb's head completely sticking out and bouncing around as she was running. As my children and I were running and trying to catch her, I repeatedly said, "This is the most absurd thing I've ever seen." I was shocked when we finally caught her and got the lamb out that it was alive. We named her Miracle, but I've since learned that it really wasn't any more of a miracle than most births. Lambs and kids are very resilient.

My ebook, Just Kidding, has 17 birth stories in it that are organized from normal to different to complicated to c-sections. I also have hundreds of birth stories on my blog, http://antiquityoaks.blogspot.com, so you can get a better idea of how different births can be.

On the color question of the little does -- they're gold. Keep an eye on that little one. Even though she's super spunky, with only two teats, it's possible that the others will knock her off the teat and she won't get enough. If you have a scale, it's always a good idea to weigh them at birth and then every few days for a couple of weeks to be sure she's getting her fair share. There's no reason she shouldn't catch up with them or at least keep pace with their weight gain if she's getting enough milk. 

Charity,

That is wonderful!

Congratulations to everyone, (and I agree with Deborah, wonderfully written!)

Thank you for sharing.

Thanks for all this great added information, Deborah! And for the compliment on the writing. 

Of course, my biggest regret is not trusting Maple more when she stopped pushing to clean up the fluid during the first delivery. It's funny... I had both my children at home with midwives because I believe the process of birth to be both natural and intuitive, rather than a clinical process unless a risk is detected. I really wanted to (and planned to be) a hands-off supporter of Maple, just observing and being ready for response to real risk or difficulty. I think in my deep down gut I believed Maple wasn't at all "confused" when she stopped pushing. But in my completely wound up brain (that had been reading way too much), I just kept thinking, what if the baby can't breathe! All of this makes me love and cherish my own midwives all the more, because they let me follow my instincts without intervention, and I got there in the end. Maple would have, too, and if she had been able to talk to me I know she would have said, "Just wait, hon. This is normal. Watch and learn." I'll be able to hear her better next time, and I'm comforted to know I'm not alone in my misinterpretation. I just wish I had listened to my mama voice instead of my worried newbie voice.

On the reading front, I actually purchased and went through Just Kidding in less than a day at some point last week. It was so helpful, as were all the other posts and books I've gone through. Trouble is, I essentially forgot about half of what I read in that fevered moment when things were getting real. Reading is important, and being an academic and a writer, I'll always read. But I think muscle memory is more useful in these situations. I had actually brought books out to the barn in case I had to remind myself of certain things, but I never touched them. I just got swept away in the forward movement of the moment and the little alien beings that were suddenly THERE. :-)

Anywho, I'll be sitting with these waves of processing and hindsight for awhile. Mama and babies are doing well. Nursing seems equal as of now, but none of them stay on for long. I'm wondering if this is normal. I keep thinking the buckling I pulled is more subdued than the others, and that this is all my fault and he's sure to die. He's the biggest, and he was the quickest to rise and go in search of milk. Then he got stepped on a bit by a mama who was probably wondering how he got out of her while she was busy cleaning up fluids (sorry, mama & baby). The plucky little "girl" in the foreground of the video is actually a buckling as well. Apparently by the 3rd kid, this newbie was too tired to look for testicles. :-D He's still the spunky one, and he has no trouble asserting his position at the udder. He's the friendliest as well. 

I've got replacement milk on-hand, and I'll likely be taking a video of the nursing for the sake of more advice, I'm sure.

So much gratitude and respect to you, Deborah!

Cheers,

Charity


Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

Beautifully written story! Congratulations! I'm glad you found our forum helpful. It's so hard to figure out these things via messaging. 

It's totally normal for the mamas to want to clean up every little drop of anything that comes out, so she wasn't confused at all. She was doing her job. Because they're prey animals, and predators can smell birth fluids, the does do everything they can to get rid of anything that smells like birth. Newborns are quite tasty and can be caught much easier than other prey. This is also why they can run within an hour or two of birth.

There is nothing wrong with a kid's head sticking out, and it entirely normal for a doe to have several contractions with just a nose and/or hoof. As long as you see progress, even tiny progress, everything is fine. Even if the entire head is out, they are not breathing yet and don't need to be because the umbilical cord is still attached, so they're getting all they need through the cord. In our second year lambing, we had a ewe running around the pasture for 45 minutes with a lamb's head completely sticking out and bouncing around as she was running. As my children and I were running and trying to catch her, I repeatedly said, "This is the most absurd thing I've ever seen." I was shocked when we finally caught her and got the lamb out that it was alive. We named her Miracle, but I've since learned that it really wasn't any more of a miracle than most births. Lambs and kids are very resilient.

My ebook, Just Kidding, has 17 birth stories in it that are organized from normal to different to complicated to c-sections. I also have hundreds of birth stories on my blog, http://antiquityoaks.blogspot.com, so you can get a better idea of how different births can be.

On the color question of the little does -- they're gold. Keep an eye on that little one. Even though she's super spunky, with only two teats, it's possible that the others will knock her off the teat and she won't get enough. If you have a scale, it's always a good idea to weigh them at birth and then every few days for a couple of weeks to be sure she's getting her fair share. There's no reason she shouldn't catch up with them or at least keep pace with their weight gain if she's getting enough milk. 

Thank you so much, Michael! I so appreciate the compliment and the congratulations! It's so fun to celebrate here!

Cheers,

Charity

Michael Garwood said:

Charity,

That is wonderful!

Congratulations to everyone, (and I agree with Deborah, wonderfully written!)

Thank you for sharing.

UPDATE: Names have been decided!! We went with decadent dessert names, as maple is considered to be in the category of decadence here in New England. :-) 

Buckling 1 - A buckskin with salty white points - Salted Caramel ("Salty" for short)... Although I am obligated to call him "Goaty McGoatface" when our friends from New Jersey are here, because they won a contest I implemented while trying to keep myself calm during the question mark phase of labor, which gave them the honor (?) of naming the firstborn. Note to Self: Never let your friends name your goats. Haha

Doeling - A gold with white points - Hazelnut Cream ("Hazel" for short)

Buckling 2 - YES, this boy was a girl for about 24 hours until I did a full newborn check and found testicles. He was the 3rd out, and a bit of a surprise. One quick glance at the backside was all I had the energy for, and he looked so dainty and feminine. Yet another newbie moment (or day) of confusion. He's a gold as well with a bit of white. Anyway, his name is Marzipan ("Pan" for short)

Thank you SO MUCH, Julieanne! I've been learning a lot from sharing here. SO appreciate the advice and support!

Julieanne Cook said:

OMG, triplets! I'm so happy all went well for you and Maple. I've been learning a lot from your experiences, so thanks for sharing them. 

Love the babies' names, but they're making me hungry. ;-)

Hahaha, ME TOO! I have such a sweet tooth. Should've known better. ;-)

Julieanne Cook said:

Love the babies' names, but they're making me hungry. ;-)

Awesome. Thanks for sharing, and for posting the videos.

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