150 days ago we put two of our does in with our bucks because none of our goats were in milk. Ginger is always a willing participant but we didn’t know about Paprika as she has never been bred. Nigerian Dwarf Goats come into heat roughly monthly. Sometimes it is painfully obvious when that is, other times it is a bit of a mystery. Paprika never really showed. Ginger…. well, ya know….. So to make sure one has the best chance of a pregnancy the bucks and does go together in breeding pens for 2 months, or until seen engaged. Paprika had a most diligent and dedicated buck (Tank), but it was never clear that she was willing…. kinda thought she was a Nun. Ginger…. well, it must have happened the day we put them together. Gestation is roughly 150 days. Yesterday was day 152. It also appears that Paprika is due as well, but as she is pretty petite, she isn’t showing as much as we have seen with previous does.
Ginger…. my god she was HUGE! About a month ago we started calling her Mother Waddles. Someone blew her up like a balloon! This past week we were very aware of the tell tale signs of impending birth. We don’t need to go into it all but she was set to pop!
Yesterday (Saturday thank goodness!) I was making breakfast for me and the human doe while she was out doing chores. I get a text from the barn, “She did it!!! 4!!!! OMG! Four babies. Twins and triplets are pretty common but 4! All I could think was, there are only two faucets on a momma, a couple of these are going to have to come in the house and be bottle fed. 10 weeks! Aaaaaggggghhhhh! We only keep females now as 2 bucks is almost 2 too many. So there was that to contend with. Evidently, Dozer (the buck) was a very good aim!!
So as one does in these farm-life circumstances, I threw on the overalls and muck shoes and off I went to see the happenings. Zina has come in the house a couple of times but I should have brought a cot with me for her. This is the first time she has been around for the immediate doings. In fact, when I got out there they were only minutes old and still being licked off by Ginger (She is an awesome momma).
So while we were observing all the doings of nature and watching momma do her thing and Zina help towel them off (It is winter after all), we came upon another wrinkle. What we thought was just the usual gooey birth stuff turned out to be another baby! QUINTS!!! Unfortnately, this little pup was still born. Good lord! Ginger only weighs about 60 pounds and she had 5!!!!!!!! Babies!!! No wonder she was Mother Waddles!! She was packed about as tight as a little momma goat could be. 5!!!!! She deserves a medal!!
In the photo above you can see Ginger, Zina the midwife, and the 4 that made it. Now here is some farm stuff. Nigerian Dwarf Goats are the sweetest things around, especially the does. Bucks? Well, they are sweet and the father of this litter is quite the gentleman and one of my favorites here on the farm, but when they are in the rut (Breeding season) they are doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They turn into absolute alien entities. If you have raised a teenage son, just amplify that by about 10X. It is the most ridiculous and stinky thing you can imagine. As they say, “Any port in a storm.” They get absolutely insane. So with that bit of background here is what we had: 5 total births, 1 still born (down to 4), 1 buck (no way we are having more bucks, so down to 3), 3 does (one full size, one a bit smaller, and one that almost looked a bit deformed – after all they were packed two to a bunk in there). So we were hopeful that two would make it and we didn’t hold out much hope for the little Chamois colored one. Yesterday was goat watch from dawn to past dusk. It is really important that the babies start nursing within about 6 hours. The first milk from the momma is called Colostrum. It has all sorts of goodies in it to help jump start immune systems, probiotics, vitamins, etc., to get the young-ns off to a good start.
Two of the babies are black with white spots. One is a bit larger, but both seem to be fine. The little Chamois baby couldn’t hold her head up and seemingly couldn’t figure out how to lay down. She spent several nap periods sleeping while standing up. I spent a few sessions trying to introduce her to the milk stations and it only worked if I helped her. She also wouldn’t take a bottle. As this was concerning, we had to decide whether or not to bring her indoors and start the whole bottle baby thing. We didn’t really want goats that weren’t productive and it seemed likely that she might have a tough life, so we decided to just let nature take it’s course. Off to bed and see what happens in the morning.
This morning, Zina went out to check on things. Low and behold, the little poop made it through the night and was actually nursing. She definitely has some issues, but it may go away as she unfolds a bit from such cramped quarters. She was up and nursing. The remarkable part to watch was goat motherhood. Ginger evidently knew her baby was having issues and was nuzzling her back to the milk shop. It will be a few days until we know if she is out of the woods, but this has been a very cool experience. Last night even the other two siblings were licking her and talking to her and helping her get through things. We could learn a lot from the critters just here on the farm. So now, in about a month, we expect Paprika to deliver as well….. hopefully not quints! It is doubtful as she just isn’t that robust! As we know when Cumin, Cinnamon and Clover come into heat, we will likely be breeding them around Valentine’s Day. For 2 weeks Dozer will get a Harem! Stay tuned.