You Must Be Kidding — My adventures as a goat midwife

Today, as in much of life, we have experienced both joy and sadness, exhilaration and anxiety. After being on birth watch for the better part of a week, we were overjoyed to discover Daisy in real labor. But the joy quickly turned to anxiety when it became clear that in spite of significant pushing, the kid was simply not presenting. At all.

I donned my glove and began to assist. I got baby’s limbs straightened out and very quickly we welcomed a little doeling. We cleaned the mucus off her face and she began to breathe. She was clearly as exhausted as her mother.

Single births are rare for goats, so it was no surprise when the pushing started again. Once more, all the effort was in vain. No presentation. Again, I helped straighten limbs. Another push, and a little buck appeared. Dead. Heartache. We let Daisy lick him a bit before taking him away to bury.

I was pretty sure she had another kid still, and I was not wrong. This one started coming out with only one hoof presenting. I reached in, in search of the other hoof. Finally found it and baby started coming. Then Daisy stopped pushing. After what seemed an eternity, she began again, but baby seemed to just not budge. I started pulling as Daisy pushed. It took all my strength, but finally another buckling arrived. He’d had his head turned the wrong way and had been stuck. Whew. He was vigorous from the get-go. Sweet relief.

James began digging a hole to bury the dead buckling, while I started assessing Daisy. Was there too much blood loss? Where is that placenta??

Why isn’t that little doeling up yet? She is just lying there. Is she too cold? Does she need nourishment? I assess and meet each possible need. Yet she still lies there. I bring her inside to warm her up.

Daisy still hasn’t passed the placenta. This is not my normal experience. How long can I safely wait? We milk her. Sometimes that helps a doe to pass the placenta. Nope. At least we have some colostrum for the kid who is too weak to get up.

I put out some calls to friends who have experience with goats. Is this normal? What would you do? I call the vet. Do I need oxytocin?

Finally, after alternate bouts of rest, feeding, and poking and prodding, the little doeling stands. We bring her back down to the goat barn so she can be with her mother. The vet returns my call. He advises me to wait through the night for the placenta, and if it still hasn’t passed, come to the office for oxytocin. That feeling I’ve had on holding my breath begins to subside. I have a solid plan.

A few more hours later, the placenta finally passes. We happened to actually see it, so we KNOW that it came. Closure of that particular issue.

The little doeling seems to have something wrong with her neck. She won’t lift her head up to eat. We have to assist her. Neither kid has figured out how to feed from their mother. Bye-bye to our plan to leave them on their mom to ease our milking burden. Oh well, I’ve always bottle fed kids to this point, so I guess we will continue. Daisy fights us about getting up on the milking stand. It’s been a year since she went through this drill. I guess she’s forgotten. And she’s exhausted from her birth. I give her a bowl of molasses water. She laps it up, and I can tell she feels nourished by it.

We say good night to the goats, praying they are OK for the night. Safe and warm, sheltered from the storm that blessedly gave us six hours of sunshine right when we needed it most.

Morning update: All goats are doing well. The little doeling is much improved after her night’s rest. We work with her to figure out her bottle. She eats, but not as well as her brother who gobbles greedily all the milk he can get.

I’m thankful that Daisy produces a LOT of milk. Plenty to nourish these babies and to share with us. I’m thankful that our little girl is improving. Thankful that I have so many helpful children who assist with milking and feeding chores. I’m thankful for life. Even more so when I experience it hand in hand with death, because I realize more fully that it is truly a blessing and I don’t so easily take it for granted.

All in a day’s work at the Hands-full Homestead.


Filed under Home, Odds and ends

2 Responses to You Must Be Kidding — My adventures as a goat midwife

  1. Pamela/Mom

    Glad everything turned out ok. What an experience.

    • Christina

      Yes. As it turned out, I’m thankful that our broken freezer kept me home from NAMM. This would have been a bit much for Naomi to handle on her own.

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