A watched pot never boils, and so it was with Jackie. At 145 days, her ligaments were still tight and udder development was underwhelming. However, at 146 days, we had a terrible cold front come in and drop our overnight temps to single digits. I made the decision at that point to start overnighting Jackie in the indoor kidding stall just in case she had a speedy labor. I also found her harder to read than most of my other goats, so I wasn’t confident about correctly guessing when her labor would start. Every night, I would wake every couple hours and check the monitor. Mostly, Jackie was laying down unremarkably. On the eve of her 152nd day of pregnancy, Jackie did not lay down at all. When I checked on her in the morning, her udder was very big and her ligaments were loose. She had “dropped”. She still looked pretty comfortable and had a good appetite, so I let her in with the other mama goats to get some exercise and fresh air – walking during labor is good for goats (just like us!).
By 12:30, she was starting to isolate herself so I moved her back to her kidding stall. Once she finished her snack, she was pretty vocal about being shut in by herself. She remained vocal throughout the rest of her labor, alternating between fussing at me and “talking” to her kids. Many goats will make soft bleats to their right sides (where the kids are housed) during labor. They will later use this same tone of voice on their kids after they are born. At about 3:55, her water broke and she started yawning. Some of you may notice your goats yawning as labor gets more intense. They aren’t bored or sleepy; the uterus is requiring so much oxygen to contract that it causes “air hunger”, which leads to yawning. Jackie commenced pushing within about 15 minutes. Her first kid, a girl, was born within about 30 minutes. She began pushing again, but appeared to be struggling. I checked her and the second kid was frank breech (butt-first), I worked the rear legs out and pulled out the next girl. Both girls are red with frosted ears like Jackie. The first one is a little lighter in color and smaller. Not too long after, Jackie began pushing again. Since she usually has triplets, I wasn’t too surprised. This time, we had a head-first boy. He is black and swiss marked (like a Rottweiler) with incredibly long ears. I breathed a sigh of relief. Three healthy kids, and two girls, to boot. But wait! Jackie started pushing AGAIN! Another frank breech kid presented, so I helped him out. He is a beautiful dark brown buckling with gray and darker brown moonspots, and he was the last. At this point, three of the kids were pretty vigorous and vocal, but the firstborn girl was not. A quick check of her temperature showed that she was only 97.2 (a goat should be at least 101.5 or they can’t digest food). I held her in front of the in-wall heater and rubbed her dry. She started fussing and struggling so I put her back with the others to try to eat. Since Jackie is a heavy milker with a history of having triplets, I’m not too concerned about her ability to feed all of them. However, she will be starting on milk production testing in a couple weeks which means the kids will have to be separated from her once a month so I can accurately weigh her milk output. Because of this, they will need to be trained to the bottle ASAP. Luckily, I have some saved colostrum to get them started and will be alternating them on bottles in the near future. These kids were definitely worth the wait! One boy and one girl are going to AZ, and the other two are up for grabs. Please contact us if you would like to add breed character, a deep fertile body and MILK to your herd.