I try to keep good records of when the does have bred so I will have a decent idea of when to be prepared for kids. This doesn't always mean I catch them on the day they actually breed, though. It seems that every year, there is at least one doe that my 'guess-timate' is a few weeks off.
You can tell by the goat breeding schedule that the first solid breed date I had for One Stripe was July 19 which gives her a 150 day gestation on December 16. I'm not sure if she will go that long, but I have thought the same thing about her before. She is pretty consistent in the length of her gestation. The benefit of keeping a doe for a while is having a history of past pregnancies and births. We bought One Stripe in January of 2009. Here is some of her history.
- 1st kids - May 2010; twins - a buck and a doe; 153 days (after breeding).
- 2nd kids - March 2011; twins - 2 does; 150 days
- 3rd kids - March 2012; triplets - 2 bucks (one born breech with no problems) 1 doe; 149 days
- 4th kid - January 2013 (accidental breeding); 1 doe; days unknown; had to fix kid's ear since it stayed folded over
|This is Copper. She will be having her first kids in March.|
If you keep a doe for a number of years you get to know the patterns she follows during gestation and have a better idea when she will birth and how she will do. Past history of easy births is not a guarantee there will be no problems, but does lend to some peace of mind knowing a doe is experienced and has shown reliability.
One Stripe really does get 'big as a barn'. There have been two previous years that I just knew she could not go another three weeks (which is the time between heat cycles and breeding - usually), but she did.
Her udder tends to get large and very full before she gives birth. It started filling out a few weeks ago. It has a ways to go to be full and is still soft and pliable at this point.
|This is how I check their hips. This is Copper, not One Stripe.|
As One Stripe gets closer to kidding her hips will spread until there is no bony protrusions left to feel. You can push in all the way around her tailbone.
|Here is Copper again, modeling for us.|
One of the most fun things to check as the birth draws close is the activity of the kids. Sometimes, not always, I can feel the kids kicking when I place my hand on her right side, like this. If the kids aren't active I gently pat her side a few times and wait. Many times I can feel a gentle kick. This happened for the first time yesterday. According to Pat Coleby in Natural Goat Care this usually happens about two weeks before birth, so I shouldn't have to wait too much longer.
I am excited about new kids, they are so fun to watch and are a renewable source of milk and meat for our table. We are especially looking forward to more milk since the one doe we are milking, is not quite keeping us in enough milk right now. I bought a gallon of milk at the store today. But if we only have to supplement with store bought milk for a few weeks this year, we will have almost met our goal of being able to drink our own milk year round. For the past several years we have gone without our own milk for at least two months between the goats drying up and the new kids being born. So we're almost there.
|One Stripe and Copper|
It takes time, effort and a lot of trial and error to accomplish many goals, especially when that goal deals with a live product. What are the goals you have for your own self-sufficiency? Take the time and expend the energy to increase your skill and knowledge so that you will be closer to accomplishing your goals. The more you learn, either from trial or from error, the better off you will be in the long run, and the coming run will be a long one.
Until next time - Fern