Early spring is quiet here. The soap business is not in full swing yet and inventory is good so there wasn’t a huge flurry of soap making. I used the time to rest and prepare for the kids to arrive. I repaired doors in the barn, went over my kidding kit and replaced items used up last year. Spruced up the pen the kids will reside in and made sure the kidding pen was ready. I also bought a new infrared camera for the kidding pen. In the past I kept a night light on so my regular camera could see the doe in the pen and the doe was always disturbed by that light. Now it is dark and private at night but I can see very clearly. I cleaned the window in the kid pen so the sun can shine in. The pen is a lovely whitewashed large straw filled playground complete with things to climb on and a dog house for the kids to cuddle up in if it is cold.
All in all these things did not amount to being overly busy. I knew the minute kidding started it would be crazy busy and it was. March 16th, Suri my Toggenburg/Saanen cross had a quick and easy labor and delivered a doeling and a buckling. Suri is pure white, her kids were perfectly marked Toggenburgs. Very dark brown, normal sized and very vigorous. This is where it gets busy. Dairies hand raise the babies so I had to milk the mother’s colostrum, heat treat it, then feed it back to the kids. There are bottles to prepare, kids to teach to drink from a bottle, mother to learn to go to the milking parlor and be milked with a machine. Suri had no problem and was fine with me raising her babies. She was more interested in hay and grain. She milked a lot from the first milking and her babies were more than satisfied with what she provided. So each morning I got up early and went to the barn and milked the new mother so that I had her milk heat treated in time to feed the kids. It takes an hour plus to heat treat the milk. Then I went back down and milked the other goats, fed them and put them outside for the day, then back out to feed the kids.
Two days later on March 18th it was the same story all over again. Tasha delivered a buckling and a doeling very easily. They were purebred Toggenburgs and were also very beautiful, equal sized and very healthy. They were identical to the first two except that each one had a floppy ear, which will right itself in a day or two. This mother wouldn’t let down her milk and it didn’t matter what I did she wouldn’t relax. I was able to get 4 ounces of colostrum so that each kid could get a little. The next time was a little better and then by the third milking she relaxed, chewed her cud and let it all go nicely. She is producing like a champ. Colostrum is only absorbed in the first twenty fours so getting as much as you can into the kids is critical to their future health and there are no substitutes other than frozen colostrum from past kiddings.
There is a lot to keep track of, a lot to do each day with three feedings and tempering milk (130 degrees for one hour). Soon the colostrum will be replaced with milk and then all I have to do is pasteurize which is much faster and easier. Each kid gets it’s own mothers milk and all she can produce in the first days. The mother’s seem comforted by being near their babies and seeing them get fed.
Well the kidding pen is clean and awaiting the next kidding in May. The kid pen will have to be thoroughly cleaned each week to keep the kids healthy. Eventually they will learn to drink from a nipple bucket so I won’t have to individually bottle feed each one and no kid will have to wait it’s turn to get a bottle. I can sit back for a few moments and watch the kids on the camera from the house playing in their pen.
Thank you to Michelle, Julie and Conleigh for helping with the kidding. Each spent a lot of time here and helped tremendously. Julie and Conleigh are pros who have delivered hundreds of kids and cared for them at their own dairy. Michelle would like her own milking goats and came to help and get a taste of what kidding was like. She brought her new Border Collie pup who slept through the whole thing. All in all it was a wonderful, joyful week even though it was a flurry of activity and continues to be for the next three months of bottle feeding. Next post I will try to get pictures.