You know, we always say faith goes well with farming. We are one of those couples, who prays alot and farms alot. Today was one of those days. We usually do our evening chores around 5pm each eve feeding the livestock before we head in to dinner. Today however, we had a doctors appointment on the other side of town and then decided to go out to dinner. So, we didn’t get to the barn until 6:30pm when it was getting dark. We always pray that we are around when our goats are delivering their kids in order to assist. But, most farmers will tell you that kids and lambs are usually born when you are not around. This is why we pray, for healthy lambing and kidding in spite of the circumstances.
Tonight was an amazing night. First, it was nearly dark and I was able to use the solar lights that my husband had just installed on the barn several weeks ago with a big solar panel so I was able to see while feeding the livestock. Amazingly, I heard a goat bellowing in our doe stall where the does are who are nearing time to give birth. I immediately knew she was in labor. She was on the ground, pushing, with mucous hanging out. I had no idea how long she had been pushing as I had just arrived.
Usually when they start into that final phase of delivery if they have not pushed the baby out in ten to twenty minutes it is a huge problem. I hayed the horses and other livestock and monitored Nala and asked my husband to head to the house and bring down our four wheeler. He headed off and I observed Nala. She kept pushing and pushing and could not get the sack to push any further out than just a bit. I knew there was a problem. My husband arrived back with the ATV and I had him watch Nala and I rushed back to the house to get my birthing kit and camera. I needed my gloves, iodine, and the bulb you use to get mucous out of the baby’s nose and mouth.
Upon returning to the barn no new progress had been made in Nala’s pushing. I knew I had to go inside and assist with the delivery. I put on my medical gloves. I did not use lube as she was moist already with all the fluid from the delivery thus far. I could tell that the baby was breach. That means the butt is coming out first. I reached inside and could feel the hips but the front and back feet were all pointing towards the head. This was making it hard for Nala to push the baby out. At this point the sack broke as well so I needed to hurry. With no time to spare I grabbed the hips and pulled as hard as I could to get the baby out. If you do not do this it can kill the mom not just the baby.
Fortunately, the baby came out and Nala was okay and ready to immediately deliver two more. So, for most goat owners, it does not usually roll that way. Usually the goats deliver on their own and do fine. Nala has NEVER had an issue with delivery until tonight. And, thank God we happened to be there to assist with the delivery.
Here are the wonderful pictures – in order of what a mama goat does immediately during and after she is giving birth.
Once I got the baby out of Nala we removed the buckling from the sac and immediately cleaned it with a towel while I used the bulb to suck out mucous from the nose and mouth so it could breath. I immediately handed this first kid to Mike to continue to dry while Nala delivered the second kid. The second kid was a little doeling. She came out really quick and was healthy and solid black.
The brown and black buckling that came out first is in the middle. The little black doeling I am working on drying is in the left front of the photo above. You will notice the bubble of the third goat coming out in this picture directly under Nala’s tail. There was about one minute betweeen the first and second kid. There was about five minutes between the second and third kid. Nala is focused on the third now, pushing out the sac with the kid in it that you see directly under her tail.
So, the first thing Nala does after each kid is born is she immediately starts eating the sack the baby was in during its time in her belly. Goats do this as protection so that predators do not get on to the scent of the sack to kill the babies. She immediately licks the baby starting around the face to clear the passages and then clean the body. She does this quickly as well to get the baby clean and dry as soon as possible. We help her in this process because since Nala usually has triplets, she cant be tending to the baby and pushing out another at the same time. Our primary goal is to clear the air passageways and to help her get them clean and dry.
This picture above was taken about 15 minutes after they were born. You can see that Nala is trying to clean them all and it is about now that they start crying / talking to her and she talks back and they begin to use their legs.
I love the little doeling in the front! But, notice the black doeling directly under Nala’s front legs. She is already trying to nurse and is searching for her mama’s teet. Notice Nala is also cleaning her. You do not want to pull out the discharge from the mother’s tail end. That can tear her. You let that come out naturally. She will clean herself up naturally and there are great nutrients in all that as well.
I love when our animals give birth in the barn as all the other farm critters are watching and seem to know what is going on. There was seriously an entire barn of animals talking and watching the birthing tonight.
After the babies are dry and moving around and are active enough to try to nurse, Nala then tends to eating down their ambilical cord. She does this to once again remove the scent for predators. And, in the wild it also helps prevent infection since that cord is an open passageway into the little one that can get them sick. We will put iodine on the cord and tie it off but we first let her clean them up on her own as they do naturally.
This is a tight shot that shows you exactly what she does with the ambilical cord.
This photo was taken about 1 hour after all three kids were born. After all of the above is done, Nala finally lays down to rest. The three little kids – two doelings and one buckling – are now dry, clean and using their legs while they talk to each other and their mama.
Mike and I always love this part of farm life. There is truly nothing better than being part of new life on a farm. We are very fortunate that we have lost very few babies during delivery on our farm. Our farm is an organic operation and we work very hard to have everything very sanitary and also to have our livestock in peak health. We do believe that probably helps. But, we also pray for our flocks, which was the point of the beginning of this blog.
If we had not decided to go to dinner tonight and if Mike had not decided to get the solar panels up on the barn two weeks ago — my favorite doe would likely be dead right now, or later this eve.
But instead, the Lord gave us a really long doctors appointment that spanned three hours and really made us frustrated at the wait. That long appointment was the catalyst to go to dinner. That dinner was the reason we got to the barn late. Being to the barn late was the reason I could pull out the breach kid and likely save Nala’s life. And, without the solar panels working and new solar lights – I could never have executed that delivery assistance as light was imperative for me to see what was going on and to act accordingly.
So, yes – faith and farming go hand in and hand. And now we have three beautiful little kids I get to go play with in the morning!
God Bless! – L. Davis