I have been slowly increasing One Stripe and Copper's feed ration during the last month of gestation when much of the kids' growth occurs. This will be the first time we've had kids since we changed up the feed ration and removed the corn because of GMO. Now the feed contains oats, sweet feed (for the molasses), wheat bran, sunflower seeds and alfalfa pellets. We feed a loose goat mineral ration free choice and try to keep some out all the time, especially while the does are pregnant. They all appear to be healthy and doing very well. Their hips are starting to spread and their udders continue to slowly fill out. I have been watching One Stripe extra close since she aborted a few weeks early last year. Even though she lost her babies then, in the past she has been an excellent, attentive doe with big, strong babies. She was never in ill health, so the vet figured it was for mechanical reasons. She got butted hard in the side by another goat, or ran into something hard enough to cause her to go into labor. This year, so far, so good.
When I bring One Stripe and Copper in to eat on the milk stand, it gives me an opportunity to check them over and see how they are doing. That's why I know their hips are spreading. I also check their udders to make sure there is no hardness or signs of mastitis. Copper has gone through some briars sometime recently, because she has some sore places on her udder. I have a salve I am treating her with to get everything healed up before the kids arrive. At this point in the gestation, I can feel the kids kicking. This always makes me laugh out loud and puts a big smile on my face, even though the dog is the only one to notice.
When the young does are about six weeks to a month from kidding, I will start bringing them in on the milk stand to eat as well. They won't like it for a while, and will dance and complain. But they will get used to it, especially since there is some food there to distract them while I train them to be milkers. I have found this makes the actual milking go much smoother. There is not so many new things all at once. After they give birth they will already know how to get on the milk stand, that there is some food there waiting for them, and that they are safe and will not be hurt. They will still be very nervous first time mothers, but will be performing a normal routine behavior. When I changed to training them to the milk stand before giving birth instead of after, it made it easier for them and me.
Our three young does are now half way through their gestation. They were bred the beginning of November and are due the first week in April. They will all be first fresheners, or what we call first timers, having their first babies this year. All three of them were born here last spring, and are developing very nicely. Our three young does will be 13 months old when they give birth. We'll see how they do.
One Stripe is our old lady goat. She will be seven in May. She is definitely in the waddling stage now. Her udder will be almost twice this big before she gives birth.
Copper is One Stripe's daughter, and this will be her second batch of kids. She was two in December. She has added a new twist to how she gets up on the milk stand. When I milked her last she would just kind of launch herself up from the side of the stand. Well, she still does that, but now she comes in the barn, twirls in a circle, then launches herself on the stand. It's kinda funny, really. She had a little mucous discharge this evening when we were feeding. It's not unusual for does to have some discharge off and on for a few weeks before giving birth. She also didn't finish all of her food tonight. That is not that unusual since the kids are taking up more and more room, but I will keep a close eye on her to make sure she is getting enough to eat.
Penny is Copper's daughter from last spring. She will have the same long body and slender legs her mother has. And she is a beautiful dark red color.
Cricket is filling out nicely. I'm already guessing she will have twins. She has a stockier build than Penny, and I think she will be the biggest young doe we have. We sold her mother Ivory back in the fall.
Lady Bug is Cricket's sister. She is about the same size as Penny, just not as long. For quite a while she was very shy and wouldn't have anything to do with us. Now I can pet her all over. She isn't as friendly as Penny, Copper and One Stripe, but I'm very glad she has tamed down. She is a beautiful fawn color.
I had a goat question today I would like to include here. How many days after birth should you start milking and how do you know when there is no more colostrum in the goats udder?
I start milking right after the kids are born. I do this for two reasons. One, I want to make sure the wax plug is removed from the end of the teat and the milk is flowing freely, making it easier for the newborns to suck. Two, when the kids are born, many times the doe's udder is engorged with milk making their teats full and tight. Sometimes the kids struggle to get the enlarged teat in their mouth.
|Helping a weak quadruplet 2012 kid get their first drink|
I also want the does to start producing a lot of milk, enough for the kids and for us. The first time I milk them is in the birthing pen into peanut butter jars. I don't take all of their milk, but I do take a lot of it. It also gives me some colostrum just in case I need it for any reason. The next day I will start bringing the does into the barn to feed and milk them on the milk stand. I keep all of what I call the colostrum milk for five days and feed it to the dog, cats and chickens. They all love it. Five days is considered to be the standard time frame for the colostrum to pass. Then I will start keeping it for us. That means on or about February 15th we will be drinking FRESH MILK! You can't tell I'm excited, right? I hope this answers your question.
The miracle of birth and life is always a fascinating thing to watch. I always hope to catch the does in labor so I can watch the whole process. It never gets old. I'll keep you posted.
Until next time - Fern