Sarsaparilla and Serpent

We sent Fletcher out to check on the goats before going to bed. We didn’t think anyone was going, but during Kidding Season, we always check anyway.

Well, five minutes later, the call of “Babies!” went ringing through the house.

Everyone scrambled to make it out there, and we quickly discovered that there were two babies, a boy and a girl!

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Based on which one was slightly wetter than the other, we decided that the girl had been born first, and she got the name of Sarsaparilla, or Sass for short.

Jade suggested the name Serpent for the boy.

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We cleaned them up, got their collars on them, while Alexander and Angelica watched from their tote bucket.

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Welcome to the barn, Sarsaparilla and Serpent! To watch the live stream of their birth on Facebook, click here.

2017 #GMSKids Status:
2 Bucklings, 2 Doelings.
2 Does delivered, 81 remaining.

Alexander and Angelica

It was February 3rd and my family was feeling a little lost. We were expecting babies starting the end of January, and it had been a week or two of waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

Friday afternoon, I was getting ready to eat lunch when the long-awaited call finally came. “Babies in 20 minutes,” Mom called through the house.

I ran to the locker room and pulled on my muck boots and coveralls. I grabbed the camera from the schoolroom, where it’d been waiting, and ran out to the barn.

Emery, Greyden, and our barn guy Andrew were waiting with Angel when I made it out to the barn.

About two minutes after I made it out there, Mom arrived, and she was doing a Facebook Live stream! So, if you’re interested, there’s a live stream of this birth on our Facebook page.

A few minutes later, we had a baby! For some reason, the umbilical cord didn’t break, so Andrew ran to the tool room to get some scissors. After cutting the cord, we were able to put the baby down, and found out that it was a boy.

We threw some names around for him, but because Angel starts with a vowel, we can’t follow our usual naming system. So babies whose names start with a vowel are in alphabetical order, which means we need to know if there are any more before we can name them.

When another baby was born, we were excited to have a girl. We “bumped” Angel, which means wrapping our arms around her stomach and giving her a hug, trying to feel for any more babies, and didn’t feel anything, so we were able to throw some names around for the kids. After a few minutes, we decided on Alexander and Angelica. (We’re huge Hamilton fans, and were excited to get to name our first babies of the season after our new favorite musical!)

We brought the babies into the milk room and dried them off, put their collars on them,

trimmed their umbilical cords and sprayed them with iodine,

took some selfies with the first babies of the year,

took some regular pictures,

and got them their bottles.

We left them in a bucket in the milk room overnight, since it was still cold and there were only two of them.

The next day, we brought them out to their pen in the baby barn. Aren’t they adorable?

We’re so excited to have the first babies of the year on the ground! Follow us on social media for live updates, using #GMSKids on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

2017 #GMSKids Status:
1 Buckling, 1 Doeling.
1 Doe delivered, 83 remaining.

Gaston and Gepetto

We were never sure if Galaxy was even pregnant until the last week before she kidded. She stayed rather under the radar and was very active during her pregnancy. Notoriously, Galaxy is a strange goat. She is never hanging around a certain goat crowd, or sleeping next to her siblings, or really doing anything that is consistent with our other goats behaviors. It was great to see her start bagging up as her babies were wanting to come out.

Our two year old first fresheners had done so well up to this point and we had hardly any problems with their births. Galaxy, as usual, did not fit our pattern! She was tight. She didn’t want to push. She wouldn’t stay still. All things that make our job more difficult! We should have expected this from Galaxy. Gaston came out first after Emery coaxed her into pushing and helping him. He was very tangled up but Emery always does a good job at straightening out the babies before the births become too complicated and can put the momma does at risk.

Gepetto was second out and he was so tangled up and wrongly positioned that we pulled him out breech (backwards of normal position). Galaxy was extremely happy to have her babies out. This was a tough one, but her two boys were happy and healthy. Good job Galaxy!

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Gaston and Gepetto

2015 kid count: 31 doelings, 32 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 28 does kidded, 5 left to go
2 set of quads, 8 sets of triplets, 13 set of twins, 5 singles

 

Signature Greyden

 

 

Tablet

Tempest is one of our most beautiful goats. Her udder filled up beautifully throughout her pregnancy and there is not a weak part about her buildup. Even her attitude is great.

Tempest had dropped so low that anyone who didn’t know goats would have thought she had 10 babies in her. We had been watching her closely out of pure excitement of what she might throw. We knew exactly when she would go into labor and we were correct. It was late at night and goat watches had just started. She had a difficult time learning how to push and figuring out what was going on. I really had to get in there and get the first baby straightened out so she could have as easy a birth as possible. Once I had everything lined up, Tempest realized I couldn’t do all the work myself and helped push the baby out. What a huge baby! It was an 11 pound boy. She seemed oddly relieved after pushing out Tablet.

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I went back in to check her and was disappointed to find that there was no other babies. Tempest had done a great job with this baby and we were very proud of her. We’re already excited for next year to see if she will throw any girls! She turned out to be one of our best milkers, along with one of our most beautiful goats. You rock Tempest.

2015 kid count: 31 doelings, 30 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 27 does kidded, 6 left to go
2 set of quads, 8 sets of triplets, 12 set of twins, 5 singles

Signature Emery

 

 

Haven and Hester

Goats don’t seem to care what we’re doing when they give birth. Whether its the middle of the super bowl, or the start of milking, when they are ready, they are ready! Halfway through the milking Hera had her pre-birth goo. That meant time to stop milking and time to take care of Hera. Greyden is the one who discovered that she was ready to get her babies out. The look on his face when he walked back into the milk room was priceless. It’s the look of “ok, stop what you’re doing, baby goats on the way”.

Haven and Hester came out with no problems at all. Healthy babies at 8 and 9 pounds.

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First fresheners are funny because they always seem so confused and uncomfortable. She circled the stall what seemed like 20 times before she finally parked herself in the corner and started pushing. When we bring the babies in our milk room to get them cleaned up and fed, one job that isn’t the most fun but is absolutely necessary is cleaning and drying them off. We typically use towels. On this birth, we decided to use a hair dryer. Genius idea. After removing the birthing goo, a hair dryer can clean a baby in roughly half the time that it takes with towels. We discovered this a little late in kidding season, but needless to say we continued this technique for the rest of kidding season. It always helps when we finder quicker, yet still efficient ways of doing our jobs!

2015 kid count: 31 doelings, 29 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 26 does kidded, 7 left to go
2 set of quads, 8 sets of triplets, 12 set of twins, 4 singles

Signature Emery

 

 

Hazard and Heidi

During kidding season, things are busy at Goat Milk Stuff. Very busy. Prioritizing is key. Taking care of the goats is busiest in late winter/early spring. The soap room work is busiest October through the holidays. Making sure people are where they need to be can be a daunting task. Being at every goat birth is a hard task, but it is one we handle very well at Goat Milk Stuff.

Happenstance hardly showed that she was pregnant at all. She didn’t have the usual signs, besides a slight filling up of her udder. February 19th was a very cold morning. My brothers and I were wearing down from roughly 20 days of goat births and bottle feeding. We were in the middle of the morning milking when Greyden went to check on the stall with our goats that were on high alert. Happenstance had recently given birth to her two babies. We rushed them in the milk room to warm them up and get them clean. They were doing ok, but were obviously cold. We warmed them up fast and they seemed to be doing well.

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We named the buckling Hazard and the doeling Heidi. Sorry we weren’t there Happenstance, but you did a great job without us!

2015 kid count: 29 doelings, 29 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 25 does kidded, 8 left to go
2 set of quads, 8 sets of triplets, 11 set of twins, 4 singles

Signature Emery

 

 

iGoat

Unlike Jericho (read about her birth story), Idina was clearly pregnant. She is a very active, very curious goat but throughout the last month of her pregnancy, she became more protective of herself and spent more time in the stalls than she usually does.

She’s usually one to be out in the woods, leading the herd on a wild adventure to the best greenery to browse on.  Her belly was also was dropping very low (that’s where the does keep their babies).

Idina did a great job giving birth. We were sure there was more than one baby, but we’ve also learned that you can never guess how many are inside a momma doe.

The first baby to come out was a buckling who had some difficulty coming on.  It was a normal presentation, but just a slow process.  We helped clean the baby and got him off to the side and Emery was checking for another one and we were shocked to find nothing else inside her.  Idina was huge, and we were positive there was more than one.  First fresheners typically have one or two babies, but its not unheard of to even have three.

We named the buckling iGoat!  What a funny name with there being an “i” everything in today’s world. Our surprise was quickly resolved when we weighed iGoat. He weighed a whopping 11 pounds and 7 ounces. Now it made sense why she only had one, but looked like she had 6! iGoat was a quick eater and a super strong buckling.

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We were very proud of Idina, and she was very proud of what she had done!

2015 kid count: 28 doelings, 28 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 24 does kidded, 9 left to go
2 set of quads, 8 sets of triplets, 10 set of twins, 4 singles

Signature Greyden

 

 

Jacinta

Sometimes there are goats who just don’t show that they’re pregnant. One day they will act like they are bred, and the next day they are running around like crazy and you’re almost positive that they aren’t. If they only have one baby, they can stay really small, and you’re not sure if they’re pregnant or just fat.

Jericho was definitely one of those goats. She just wasn’t showing that she was pregnant, and didn’t act like it most days. We were only sure that she was pregnant when she started going into labor.

She had a super easy birth for a first freshener and to our surprise, had a healthy, pretty big doeling. We named her Jacinta.

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What’s interesting about Jacinta is that she was a fantastic eater. We bottle raise all the kids, and usually after a week or so we can transition them to the lambar, where they eat with all the older bucklings and doelings. Jacinta was on the lambar at only 2 days old! She saw how the other kids were eating, and wanted to join them. When Greyden noticed it, he made us all come look because it was so unusual. It was very impressive.

2015 kid count: 28 doelings, 27 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 23 does kidded, 10 left to go
2 set of quads, 8 sets of triplets, 10 set of twins, 3 singles

Signature Emery

 

 

Zander, Zexy, and Zigar

We put the feed out at night and encourage the goats to eat after the evening milking. That also helps encourage births during the daytime.  Well, Zeyda didn’t seem to care about that.

During kidding season, we take shifts overnight to make sure if any momma does go into labor, that we are there to assist in healthy births for both the babies and the does.  My shift was ending at midnight, and Greyden was coming out to relieve me and watch until 3, but when my shift was done I knew Zeyda was very close to going so Greyden and I just watched her and waited until it was the proper time to start assisting.

Well, 12:45 rolled around and she was finally pushing!

Zeyda is what we call a “Z” baby. She is the great grandaughter of Zuzu who is the originator of the “Z” line. When our goats have kids, we keep the first letter from their mom’s name.  Not only do we have to use the first letter of “Z”, but the second letter, which has to be a vowel, has to be in the order of the babies birth. For instance, Zeyda had three babies this year. ZA is firstborn. ZE is the second one out. ZI is the third one out. This helps us keep them in order and keep track of them.

Zuzu has had so many girls that we’ve been able to breed over the years that we have quickly run out of normal “Z” names for their kids and have resorted to making up silly ones.  We named these three bucklings Zander, Zexy, and Zigar. Not very traditional names, but you can imagine the difficulty in starting names with a Z!

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We were very pleased to have triplets from Zeyda! All the does in our Z line are great milk producers. Well done Zeyda! (There may be a future post asking for help with Z names in early February next year!!)

2015 kid count: 27 doelings, 27 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 22 does kidded, 11 left to go
2 set of quads, 8 sets of triplets, 10 set of twins, 2 singles

Signature Emery

 

 

Bart and Bert

When our goats give birth, there are usually 5 or 6 people around to help with things like bringing towels, getting water, watching the other goats, and other odd jobs that need to be done when a goat is going into labor.

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With Bathsheba, there were about 12 people around. About 6 of these people had never seen a goat birth before. Our cousins were visiting for the day and around noon when they arrived, Bathsheba was ready to go.

From the early morning hours on we had known she was getting super close. Bathsheba is one of those rather shy, skiddish types of goats that we haven’t completely figured out yet. She has a reputation around here for being a little strange compared to some of our other lovable, hug-able goats. On this morning though, she was being loving and wanted attention. Besides the usual goat symptoms of going into labor, her being loving and wanting attention was a sign that she was ready to go.

With all of the visitors, and the fact that Bathsheba is a 2 year old and didn’t kid last year, we weren’t sure what to expect from her first delivery.

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She did a great job pushing out two big healthy bucklings! We named them Bart and Bert. They ate right away (the boys usually eat a little faster than the girls), and were standing up and active very quickly also. I guess at their size they were ready to get out and have fun!

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2015 kid count: 27 doelings, 24 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 21 does kidded, 12 left to go
2 set of quads, 7 sets of triplets, 10 set of twins, 2 singles

Signature Greyden

 

 

Paprika and Pepper

A few hours had passed since Pandora had given birth and we were finally catching up on everything that was delayed from the earlier birth and cleaning up the “due at any moment” stall that we have set up at this point in the season.

Usually, Pemberly isn’t one of the friendliest or most outgoing goats, but she was being very loving and would lick our hands when we were checking her. So as the day progressed and she became more and more restless, and had all the signs of being ready to give birth, we knew it was time!

After bringing her into one of the birthing stalls, even Pemberly knew it was time. Pemberly is a two year old but she never freshened before this and she definitely seemed new to the whole process. She was very tight and didn’t want to stand still at all.

After we calmed her down and figured out that the first baby was properly presented, Pemberly decided she was ready to help get the baby out. It took a long time, but Paprika came out healthy. The fact that she was huge might have been the reason things were a little slow!

After Paprika was out, I found another baby inside who wasn’t properly lined up at all. It took a lot time lining up the second baby who also seemed rather large at the time. After lining everything up and motivating Pemberly, Pepper was born! He wasn’t as big as his older sister, but almost. The two of them together were an awful lot of baby for a first freshener to carry!

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Pemberly seemed very relieved that it was over and recovered very quickly. Warm molasses water seems to always do the trick!

2015 kid count: 27 doelings, 22 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 20 does kidded, 13 left to go
2 set of quads, 7 sets of triplets, 9 set of twins, 2 singles

 

Signature Emery

 

 

Parsley and Pecan

Everyone was working around the barn when we heard Greyden yell out “BABIES!!!!” We all sprinted to gather towels and all the necessary stuff for helping Pandora.

Parsley was already on the ground and being taken care of by her mom when we got there. She was small, but she was healthy and doing well.

I helped get Pecan out a few minutes later. She was such a cute, super tiny baby!

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We all loved Pecan instantly! Any time there’s a super tiny one, they instantly become a favorite. And Pecan was special – when she was little, she made a grunting noise that made her sound more like a little duck than a little goat. It was adorable!

2015 kid count: 26 doelings, 21 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 19 does kidded, 14 left to go
2 set of quads, 7 sets of triplets, 8 set of twins, 2 singles

Signature Emery

 

 

Zacchaeus and Zest

Over the last two days we knew that Zaphire was very close to going.

Tesla just finished giving birth, we were busy feeding her babies, and getting the stalls ready when Zaphire was looking like she was ready to get her kids out.

How did we know she was ready to get her kids out? Because she would not stop staring at us with the look of “HELP”!

She had a healthy pregnancy and we had some ideas of what to expect in the birthing process because she had thrown healthy kids in the past.

Zacchaeus was the first to come out. He weighed 8.8 pounds and besides being even wetter than babies usually are, he was very healthy and cute. Jade was covered in birthing goo after cleaning him off! That was funny and it grossed her out a little bit. Zest was literally right behind him and we were excited to find out she was a healthy 9 pound doeling.

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both babies were healthy, with normal presentations, and fast. Great job Zaphire!

2015 kid count: 24 doelings, 21 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 18 does kidded, 15 left to go
2 set of quads, 7 sets of triplets, 7 set of twins, 2 singles

Signature Emery

Breeding for Cold Weather Baby Goats

People often question why we breed our goats so that they kid in the middle of the winter when it is usually very cold.  We do it mostly because we find it is better for the goats.

We raise Alpine goats, which are seasonal breeders.  That means the female goats come into heat and the males come into rut during the late summer/early fall, when evening temperatures start to drop.

While some of our goats might be able to be bred in August, September is a more reliable time, so we usually plan to start breeding September 1st.  Because a goat’s getstation is 150 days (plus or minus 5 days), this puts the first kids due February 1st.

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There have been years that we have decided not to start breeding in September (and delay it to October).  But that is rare.  In general, we prefer to kid during February and March because we’ve found that while it is harder on us to kid in the cold, it is better for  our goats for these reasons:

Fewer Parasites. Because parasites (e.g. coccidia or worms) can stunt the growth of baby goats, it is important not to let the parasite burden get out of control.  We do this through cleanliness, pasture rotation, and wormers.  But we have found that when the kids are born in the colder weather, parasites are less of an issue for more of their young lives.

No Flies.  Flies are one of the peskiest aspects IMO to owning goats.  We work all fly season long trying to keep things as clean as possible and use Fly Predators, but flies are a fact of life on the farm.  For the goats, flies can really bother the moms when they’re giving birth, but they can also transmit diseases such as pink eye among the goats.  We prefer to have all the baby goats born while there are still no flies.

Colder Temperatures.  Obviously for us the temperatures are colder in February and March than they are in April and May.  This is a benefit to the moms who are heavily pregnant.  As a female who personally had 8 pregnancies, I can guarantee that it is easier to be heavily pregnant when it is cold out than when it is hot.  While the goats don’t personally tell me this is true, I believe it is a lot easier on them to be pregnant during the colder temps.

Breeding for winter baby goats is not for everyone.  Adequate shelter and supervision are more important than when temperatures are more forgiving.  Without the right set up and systems, it can result in lost kids and/or does.

Since our herd, “Aquila Acres”, is located right here on the Goat Milk Stuff property, we don’t have to commute to our jobs; so we’re here all the time during kidding season.  Our goats have a sturdy barn where they are contained when somebody isn’t watching them (this means they can’t go and have their kids out in the freezing woods without anybody being aware of the situation).  And we make sure that each and every baby goat is thoroughly dried off and has a tummy full of warm colostrum or milk.  As long as baby goats are sheltered, dry and full, they can handle the cold very well.

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Every goat owner’s individual set of circumstances is unique and can vary depending on schedules, climate, and owner abilities.  But I like the kind of hardy goats that our breeding program produces.

Those are some of the reasons that we choose to kid during February and March.  It works well for us and it seems to work well for our goats.  And this way, we get to wrap up kidding season and are able to play outside and in the garden when the warm weather arrives!

PJ

 

Tapestry, Tetris, and Tipsy

The first two weeks of kidding season are tough, but very exciting. The overnight shifts and lack of sleep start catching up once the adrenaline of delivering baby goats wears off, but we were off to a great start when Tesla was ready to go.

She is one of our quieter, “under-rated” goats and wasn’t on our radar too much as far as her health or her possible complications.  Telsa’s belly was dropping really, really low so we were hoping for three healthy babies.  Tesla is a great milker and very well behaved so the more doelings we could get from her the better.

It wasn’t a very difficult birth although Tesla doesn’t enjoy kidding season as much as we do.  First out was Tapestry. He was a big, good-looking buck. When I say big, I mean 10.5 pounds! At first we thought she might only have 2 large babies since he was so big. Tetris, a doeling, was right behind him, also ready to get out and meet us. After drying these babies off, Tesla was clearly still pushing and after a short rest, she pushed out another doeling that we named Tipsy.

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They were happy to get out of the obviously crowded belly of Tesla and they were super-friendly, happy baby goats.

2015 kid count: 23 doelings, 20 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 17 does kidded, 16 left to go
2 set of quads, 7 sets of triplets, 6 set of twins, 2 singles

Signature Emery