March 18, 2015

Subtle Signs of Kidding

My goat Firefly looked as though she was going to kid at any minute for weeks before her due date. It's just the way she is. Her large udder forms, so large that she rubs the hair off the sides of it as she walks. Her tail ligaments are "mushy" for several weeks. Two weeks before she kidded, her kids dropped into position and her flanks were hollowed out. I wondered how I'd know when she was actually going to go into labor.

Firefly at the hay feeder a few days before kidding.

I apologize for the lack of photos in this post; grabbing my camera wasn't the first thing on my mind when I decided to keep an eye on Firefly yesterday.

On Monday, three days before Firefly's due date, I was ready to go to town on an errand. I put my purse and keys in the truck, opened the front gate, and was ready to take off when I realized I didn't see Firefly with the herd. I went to check on her and found her standing alone in the goat shed.

My goats are usually very polite when someone is in labor. They leave the mom-to-be alone in the shed so she can have privacy. Since goats are usually social, finding Firefly alone meant I needed to watch for a few minutes.

I didn't see contractions, but every so often her tail would stretch upward for a few seconds. In the past I've also noticed goats tighten the muscles in her face, grimace or "smile", grind her teeth, and/or grunt. Some of my Nubians pin their long ears back when they have contractions. These are pretty subtle signs that would be easy to miss.

Firefly turned around and I could see that her udder, already large, was now so large that it hung below her knees. I felt her tailhead and even though I'd thought it was loose before, the difference was now striking. How could I have thought it was "ready" before now? Yes, things were obviously happening.

I postponed my errand and decided I'd sit in the pen with her for awhile and keep watch. I found a chair and gathered my kidding supplies and headed back to the shed, where I found Firefly lying down and pushing out the first kid, which was quickly followed by its twin. In spite of my thinking that I'd sit "for awhile and keep watch," in less than twenty minutes from when I first saw her she'd delivered twins.

Firefly after delivering twins last year.


It's important to know your doe so that you will notice behavior that's out of the ordinary. First fresheners are more challenging because you don't have a kidding history, but standing off by herself when normally she'd be in the middle of your herd is a good indication that you need to take a second look, whether she's pregnant or not.


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops
including Clever Chicks.


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8 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Kathi! That's the best way to have kids, quickly, with no problems. Knowing your does and their history makes a big difference when having kids. You have a good eye. Now we need some pictures!

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  2. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead10:57 AM

    Thank you, Fern. We were truly blessed this year to have no complications at all. Kidding season is over for me now; it's been a wild week! If and when it stops raining I'll get some pictures of the newborns.

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  3. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead10:57 AM

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  4. Your blog is so helpful, although I still have a year before I'll need all of this information. It's helping me prepare and I know this year will go by quickly. Thank you Kathi!

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  5. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead10:28 PM

    Thank you, Jennifer - I'm glad to hear that it was helpful. May all your goat deliveries be as easy as Firefly's.

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  6. Congrats on the new arrivals! Some does can be so stoic and other much less so, lol. It is amazing just how soft those tail ligaments get once they actually go! It certainly pays to know your does :)

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  7. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead3:35 PM

    You're right, Rheagan. Her ligaments were so mushy for so long that I worried I wouldn't be able to tell, but after 12 years of having goats I should have known that there would be a difference when it was time. :-)

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  8. So glad everything was easy. I agree 100%, know your critters behavior is important. Thanks you so much for sharing on the (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog Hop. I look forward to seeing what you share this week!

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