Do you want to ensure you doe does NOT kid? Announce her labor on Facebook. Yup, for the first time, I made the prediction that we would be having babies that night, and she held them in for 2 more days.
Gwendolyn was our proverbial watched-pot this year. On her 147th day, Her udder started getting bigger and her ligaments were looser. I noticed she had separated herself from the herd (her classic labor sign), so I got really excited and put her in the kidding stall and announced our news on Facebook. Gwen is a favorite here; I had line for doelings from her, and even a couple people interested in buying her in-milk. It was my plan to retain a doe kid and sell Gwendolyn. Turns out, she had just separated herself because she found some fresh spring greenery to eat. She spent the evening in her kidding stall loudly complaining. I let her out in the morning, sure that some fresh air an exercise would kick-start her labor. Her udder was even bigger! Ligaments even looser!
No dice. Night number two in the kidding stall. I texted my vet that I believed Gwen would deliver through the night. She was increasingly uncomfortable and less interested in food. The next morning, there were still no kids. She looked miserable (not unhealthy, just “I’m-pregnant-with-triplets-and-over-it” miserable). I offered to let her back outside and she wanted no part of it. She munched on some alfalfa and drank water, so I wasn’t concerned about things like toxemia yet. She continued to moan and groan and get up and down throughout the day. I wasn’t seeing any kind of coordinated labor pattern and there was no discharge. That was strange for Gwen because her labors are usually pretty smooth. Around 5pm, I decided to check her to see what was going on. I encountered a mostly-closed cervix. Since I knew this doe usually has quick labors and I had been monitoring her labor for 2 days, I decided to attempt to manually dilate her. I wiggled my finger around until I could fit 2 fingers in and gently stretched her cervix to about 5cm. If a doe (especially one who has kidded before) is laboring without progress, there is generally a reason for it. Sometimes the cervix has scar tissue on it preventing dilation, but more commonly, the kid is not in a good position and is not applying pressure to the cervix. A properly presenting kid has one or two front hooves pressing against the cervix. Contractions cause the hooves to press against the cervix and it dilates, triggering more contractions. If the hooves aren’t there to press against the cervix, it doesn’t dilate and labor stalls. I was afraid this was the case with Gwen. I could not feel “hard” parts after stretching her cervix. I was also concerned that Gwen’s uterus was getting tired. The uterus is a big muscle, and when it has contracted for a long time, the doe can get calcium depleted, causing weak contractions. Luckily, there is a quick fix for this. Giving your doe a few TUMS can give her the calcium she needs to get her through her labor. I was out of TUMS, but I did have CMPK powder – an electrolyte supplement that contains calcium. I mixed some up in her water bucket (it looks and smells like blue Kool-Aid). She was not impressed with it so I used a drench gun to get some in her. I let her rest while it kicked in and got dinner going for the family.
It must have done the trick because just as I was finished eating, I noticed on the monitor that Gwendolyn was straining to push. I went out, ready to deliver. I decided to check positioning of the kid and sure enough, he was butt-first. I suspect that his back or side had been presenting during early labor and he had shifted to breech during the last phase. While I was checking Gwen, the water broke and it was apparent the kid had pooped during the labor. This can be a sign of stress and is common when the kid is positioned incorrectly. Gwen is a roomy doe and the kid wasn’t too far down the birth canal, so I was able to tuck each hind leg up and draw them out, putting the kid in a footling breech position. This made it easy to pull him out. I got him out and two more bucklings came out head/front feet first.
While I was disappointed to have even more black bucklings (that’s 9 now, for those who are keeping count), I was so relieved to be able to get Gwen delivered safely. I am not sad to be keeping her on for another year. She is a wonderful doe and a great mother.
The first buckling is the smallest and has some white splashes on him. For obvious reasons, I’m calling him “Cork”. The second buckling is almost all black with frosted ears and nose. The third buckling is pretty stunning. He is black with mahogany points and a full white belt. All three of these kids are available, so please contact us if you are interested!