Friday, March 6, 2009

What you do with baby goats

After I discovered Monique with her babies, I went into full gear with the routine we had decided on.

First, I needed to get them away from Monique. If I wasn't going to leave them on her for their entire childhood, I needed to get them away from her before they got the notion that she was where milk came from. And from thinking Monique was anything special.

(This practice of taking the babies away actually bothered me a lot. But it was considered to be necessary so that the babies would not hurt the udders. It was all well and good that in nature baby goats nursed off their moms, but that only lasted for a few months before the babies would be eating on their own, and we dairy people wanted to milk those udders for 10 months. And so on. So I went along and determined to remove the babies from their moms.)

So I went into the milkroom and scooped the two babies up and ran them to the house, one under each arm. They made baby goat noises, small meh-heh-hehs, and Monique called out to them. Soon I was safely inside. I carried them to the kitchen and put them down on the floor.

The next part of the routine was to check whether we had doelings or bucklings. We of course wanted does. What good is a little boy goat at a dairy? I checked and we had two does!

The third thing was to cover their navels with iodine, so infections couldn't work their way in. Even with a sheet of newspaper on the floor, that was a messy proposition. Baby goats are not prone to standing still, or lying quietly upside down in a lap. And these two were an hour or so old and were getting ready to run and hop.

Fourth, I needed to run back to the barn and milk Monique to get the precious colostrum from her and get it into the babies asap. Chances are they had gotten a little when they were with her, but we wanted them to have all she made. It would jumpstart their immune systems and had everything to do with their future health. And I needed to take a wash bucket with me, and the milk pail, and hot water for Monique: newly delivered does really love to drink hot water, maybe to warm them up after all the work they've just done.

And there wasn't a water bucket in the milkroom, so ...

I gathered up the three buckets, one big one full of hot water, one small one with Basic H and a rag for washing her udder and any other parts that needed attention after the birth (though they do well taking care of things themselves), and the milk pail. I also grabbed some newspaper so I could wrap the placenta in it, if she hadn't eaten it.

After milking out the colostrum, I then needed to bottle it and get it into the babies. We had soda bottles and black lamb nipples waiting, but we'd never used them.

By this time I had helpers home from school. We took turns trying to hold a baby, get the bottle into the mouth, get it to realize something good would happen if it sucked, and not waste colostrum.

The problem was, the nipple collapsed because no air could get into the bottle to replace the colostrum that had come out. We devised a trick of putting a rubber band into the bottle before putting on the nipple, which created enough space to let the air in.

The sixth thing was to clean up everything.

The kid-feeding process would need to be repeated several times a day. These were fully mature young kids, so they could probably go four hours between meals...

The kids grew sleepy after they ate, and we left them lying on the kitchen floor on some clean newspaper. In the normal course of events they would pass their mecomium, and it is a sticky, blackish-green nightmare, during their first day. We wanted that to happen before we put them in their nice clean pen.

Finally all the plumbing was working well, and we carried them to the basement, where they frolicked joyously, slept, ate, and generally fascinated the row of humans who sat watching them hours on end.

One birth down, four to go...


Eloise said...

Wow-- two does the first time? Monique sure knew what she was doing!

Peg Lewis said...

But she'd had several kids before this. She was about 6 at this point. We just got lucky to have two does.

Eloise said...

I meant YOUR first time!