So, remember last time, when I said we had some adventures with our two new goats? The goats we brought home thinking, “One day we might breed these goat with a buck?” The goats we thought were not … already pregnant?
Yeah, those goats!
Surprise! Adorable baby goats! OMG squeeeeee!
We now have four (four!!) more goats, taking us to a total of six, which I think anyone would call a herd of goats. How on earth did this happen? Let’s go back in time and re-live this little adventure, shall we?
Our goats arrived at the end of November, and took the whole of December to settle in. In mid-January, we look at Scarlet and think, “Does she have bloat? She looks a little … rotund”.
By late February, we suspect that Scarlet is either pregnant (wow!), or has some kind of a tumour (eep!), and decide to call out the vet.
The vet laughs, but promises to bring the ultrasound to have a look (apparently spotting goats in utero is a bit hit-and-miss).
The ultrasound shows at least one spine, and three dark patches. We could have up to three kids in there!
“Shut the front gate!”Our vet, upon seeing the ultrasound
But when is the due date?
Now we start guessing when we can expect to welcome some baby goats. The gestation period for goats is 145 to 155 days from mating, which had to be earlier than the day we picked up the girls (27 November).
If we add five months to that date, the latest we can expect kids is around 27th of April.
The penny drops that we’re going to be delivering baby goats pretty much any time in the following two months.
Now follows a period of frantic goat midwifery up-skilling, wherein we discover:
- Many ways goats will show they might be ready to give birth “soon”
- Many ways goats give birth normally (oh, wow, videos)
- Many ways goat births go wrong (gulp)
- What to put in a goat birthing box (towels, gloves, Betadine, dental floss, torches etc.)
- Many opinions about how to prepare for birthing, such as should you shave the doe or not? Should you keep the kids separate, or not? Keep the kids with the herd or not? and so on, endlessly.
- What makes a good birthing stall and how to build a safe pen for kids.
The kids are not yet here. How long now?
Scarlet starts to wallow (elegantly, because she’s a goat) and generally take it a bit easy.
We get pretty intimate with her udder, feeling her tummy and generally photographing things in an attempt to discover if maybe this is the week the magic happens.
Does Keira look a bit … football-shaped … around the middle? Do you think?
Well, hello super-sized udder. Looks like today’s the day! Clearly (and there’s really no mistaking it) Keira is going to give birth today.
Both our goats are pregnant. Both of them.
We get out the birthing box and watch for signs of labour.
It’s about lunchtime when I decide not to wait any longer, and to go get that Covid-19 test I booked in for, or I’ll be stuck in isolation if we have to call the vet. Keira is just fussing, and Scarlet is not really giving many signs of labour. I have time.
At 1 pm, I’m leaving Goulburn base hospital when I get a text from my husband. Scarlet is having contractions 1:15 apart.
I’m still twenty five minutes from home.
I tear into the driveway and leap out of the car. As I dash into the goat pen, my husband reaches in to help Scarlet with her last push. Out drops our first kid!
This next bit is a blur. We watch Scarlet start to lick her first baby clean, not wanting to interfere too much. Scarlet is tired from the birth, because she pushed for at least 15 minutes (which is a decent time, for a goat).
She rests, and licks. Keira fusses and wants to come in and look. She’s jealous.
Scarlet shows signs she is pushing again. The very next push, and we have our second kid! This time, I get it on video.
Baby number one is still not very clean, and Scarlet isn’t inclined to deal with the new kid yet, so we get in and swap them over. Once she’s licking him (it’s a boy!) we know we’re away chuckling. Scarlet is happy we’re here to help, so she licks us, too.
We spend a bunch of time towelling off the first baby (it’s a girl!) and generally helping them take a bit of milk, and our confidence grows.
Is there going to be another baby? Could be! We wait until Scarlet delivers her placenta, and then we decide we’ve all been amazingly clever.
Keira enters her birth stall about 2:45 pm in the afternoon. Scarlet’s babies are settling well, and we’ve seen a little bit of self-feeding happening, which is amazing.
By 4 o’clock, Keira decides to go back outside and dig a nest in the dirt. Scarlet eats her placenta. Yeah, that’s a thing.
By 6 o’clock, we figure it’s been a pretty darned exciting day, and we have to eat dinner, so one of us runs out for veggie burgers.
It time to check on Keira: it’s dark, and really quite cold: 4ºC.
The last stage of Keira’s labour happens before we know what hit us. One baby arrives (a boy) and about four minutes later, we have another (a girl).
We are right there to towel off the babies, because it can’t be fun to be all wet and sticky when it’s not much above zero, can it? And they came so fast!
Keira gets on with it like a pro. She’s decided we are her babies too: she licks our hands and her kids, and she licks and licks and licks.
After twenty minutes the kids are parcels of fluff, they are feeding, they are well. We did it!
Well, there you have it. Surprise goats. It’s been absolutely wild.