Last Friday, we went out to the barn for the morning feeding to find a newborn goat. This was to be expected. Last fall, we bred our does with our new buck, Rico, so, we knew new goats were coming but it was also a surprise since it can be hard to tell when they are ready to kid (give birth). It being winter, we quickly got a heat lamp over a corner of the goats’ pen. Almost an hour later, a second kid was born from the same mother. Sadly, the mother was not doing well and though she licked her kids clean, she did not stand to nurse them. We took her to our vet who informed us that she would not survive.
Later that evening, a second doe kidded another set of twins. Twins are very common for goats. Two days later, we found a third doe had kidded twins but the kids were found dead, likely stillborn. On the third day, a fourth doe had kidded one big, healthy kid who’s fleece was white as snow.
Of the first litter, one died and the surviving orphan, Mac, needed to be bottle-fed. We started taking shifts going out to the cold barn before deciding to bring Mac into the house where we could better monitor his health and his appetite, feeding him when he wanted food rather than on our schedule.
We all enjoyed the company of the new kid in the house.
We often snuggled with him and let him out of the box to romp around the living room.
Iris, the toddler at the farm, especially enjoyed playing with him, trying to feed him a “baba” and saying “meh”.
Even Payback, the dog, helped to take care of him, cleaning and guarding him.
Meanwhile, we had a lactating doe with no kids to nurse in the barn. While milk replacer is nourishing, we wanted to transition Mac onto real milk, and maybe drink some raw goat milk ourselves. She was very relieved when we milked her. (Some of the moms out there may be familiar with the discomfort of going too long without nursing.) Eventually, we started bringing Mac out to the barn, hoping Mac might learn to nurse from her directly and that she would adopt him as her own. It took some persistence but that is exactly what happened. We may keep her as a milker so we can continue to enjoy fresh, creamy, raw goat’s milk.
Goats have been a learning experience for us. Last year, we lost most of our kids to parasites. The lone survivor, GG, still lives on the farm as a pet. Our does are Boers, a meat breed susceptible to parasites. For this year’s round of breeding, we acquired a Kiko buck increasing the resistance to parasites in the offspring. He is a strong, friendly buck whose strong sebaceous scent was well-received by our does. This year, we are optimistic that our kids will fare better. Thus far, the kids are alright.