Pepper’s First Kidding

On the morning of Pepper‘s 148th day after her breeding to Atlas, we woke up to about 10 inches of snow and nasty winds. Pepper still had ligaments and hadn’t bagged up yet. I was relieved, but resolved to keep an eye on her because of the weather. For those who don’t know, most of my goats are outdoors year-round, with polydome shelters to get out of the elements. I find this allows them optimal fresh air and exercise. Polydomes were developed at the University of Minnesota, and (when using deep litter) often stay warmer than our barn. My small barn is used mainly for kids at night, with a few barrel warmers to keep them cozy. By and large, this approach has helped me avoid interstitial pneumonia in my herd, and greatly reduced the amount of time I spend mucking out stalls. Anyway, back to the kidding story. When I returned to the goats at lunchtime to feed this year’s bottle monster, I saw an udder that I did not recognize. Thankfully, it was attached to Pepper – her little pre-freshening udder had tripled in size! Her ligaments had completely disappeared, so I moved her into our indoor kidding stall. Also for those who don’t know, we have a funny little outbuilding with electric and rough plumbing, so I turned that into a milking room on one side and an acute care/kidding stall on the other. It’s a game-changer when taking care of goats in the colder months. Pepper is a placid doe with a very chill temperament, so she didn’t complain about being put in a foreign area. She settled in and began her labor, while I watched her on the monitor. After lots of up-and-down, and pawing at the bedding, I checked on her after supper and she was only about 1cm dilated. By 8:30, she had not made much more progress and frankly, I was getting sleepy and impatient. It had been a long day of farm chores in a foot of snow, and I knew I would be sleeping hard later. Since she was a first freshener and a former bottle-baby, I did not want to risk sleeping through the kidding, in case she did not know what to do with new babies.  I gave Pepper some Nutri-Drench for a little boost of sugar and calcium (along with some other helpful things). Although she had not dilated much, the first kid had been moved closer to the birth canal, and the cervix was easily reachable. I used my fingers to gently stretch her cervix while she pushed. With the extra help, she dilated quickly and easily. I could identify a nose behind her cervix, so I broke her water to locate a front hoof as well. The second leg was tucked firmly behind, and I could not bring it forward. Within a couple more contractions, I was able to cup the back of the kid’s head and help pull him out. Pepper’s first kid was a lively, hungry buckling who had actually been sucking on my fingers before he even made it out! Pepper was pretty stunned by the whole shebang, and while she was interested in him, she didn’t seem to know exactly what to do. Within a few minutes, a lovely (and just as hungry) doeling was born. Usually, the umbilical cords are skinny and tear off with little bleeding during the birth. This girl was different. She had an umbilical cord as thick as my pink finger, and when I cut it to remove her from her mother, it bled heavily. Umbilical cords contain two arteries and one vein, and this one spurted wildly. My helper quickly retrieved thread from my kidding kit and I tied it off. In 7 years, this is the first time I’ve had to do that. I almost removed my thread from the kit this year because I never thought I’d use it. I’m so glad I chose to leave it. Once the doeling was out, Pepper perked up and her instincts kicked in. She began cleaning the kids and let me get them latched on. The boy weighed in at 5lbs 6oz, and his sister is 5lbs 10oz. They are a great mix of both parents, and everyone is recovering well this morning!

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