Monday, 7 May 2018

Kidding Countdown

Its been a busy year so far as time has flown by and it seems only yesterday that Luxor the stud goat came to Stay. But now there’s only 5 days to go before Saffies kids are due and just enough time to start my kidding countdown.
As ever Saffies benign and stoic nature means that I am much more anxious and excited at the prospect of her kidding than she is. Although she is still taking her daily excursion into the pasture to browse and trotting back home for her tea, as the big day draws closer the burden of her enormous tummy is taking its toll on her tiny legs and making her a little tired and subdued.

Saffies little legs are getting tired

Pygmy goats gestate for between 150 to 155 days so the week before kidding is spent watching for signs that her babies are on their way. As Saffie is likely to be carrying twins there is a chance that they may come early so to cover all bases I have been busy preparing the kidding shed with a fresh communal bed just in case she catches me out and separate kidding pen which is kept clean ready for the big day.

Keeping the birthing pen clean until kidding reduces

 the chances of joint ill.

Goats are sensitive, social animals who form strong and lasting bonds and Saffie and her sons are no exception. As a result, they are all kept together until Saffie goes into labour when she will be moved into the kidding pen to ensure that the babies don’t absorb bacteria from dirty bedding through their navel. 

An over the door feeder is a safe and convenient 

place to keep kidding meds

Applying iodine to the navels of new born sheep and lambs also prevents this absorption and dries the navel quickly. So a bottle of iodine forms part of my kidding meds along with hand steriliser, gloves, lubricant, anti-biotic and pain relief just in case I need to assist.

The cctv camera has been set up a few days in advance so that I can keep an eye on her and spot the onset of pregnancy.  Cameras offer a great way to observe the goats natural behaviours without the disruption of continually popping in and out to check on progress.

 Saffie loves being brushed and in the last week of pregnancy, brushing and stroking is a great way to build up a bond with your doe prior to kidding as well as relaxing her and creating an opportunity to check for signs of impending birth. So I use this time to check on the development of her udders and feel for any movement in her tummy. Although Saffies tummy looks equally rounded on both sides, only one side, the right holds the babies. The bulge on the left side is her rumen. 
Around 24 hours prior to kidding the does rump changes profile from its usual soft, rounded shape to a more triangular one as the ligaments relax and appear to drop away in anticipation of delivery.    As the contractions begin the nest building behaviour starts and signs of discomfort and agitation are apparent. Brushing can be really appreciated at this stage along with a few soothing words. 

Goats often make a sound in late pregnancy known as humming and in the absence of a reply from their unborn kids, well-handled goats can appreciate a response from their keeper in the form of a few gentle words of kindness or encouragement.   

Over feeding in the second half of pregnancy can lead to the development of kids that are too large to deliver. So Saffie remains on her usual ration until the kids are born.  

As labour advances the cervical plug dissolves and a sting of mucus appears as an indication that birth is imminent. The pressure on the cervix gradually causes it to dilate as the contractions increase in frequency and intensity. During this time does show signs of pain and agitation by pacing around the pen, pawing the ground, lying down briefly, straining and getting up again. 

This behaviour can start several hours before delivery, but once the sack of fluid appears then the babies are arriving. I like to allow my livestock the chance to have their babies in as calm and natural way as possible by keeping a watching brief from a comfortable distance and the comfort of a camping chair. Only stepping in the pen to assist the pregnancy if I feel they are struggling. 
Saffie has kidded once before as a first timer and successfully delivered twins so I am not anticipating any problems for her this time. I have kept her feed ration consistent to avoid overly large kids and have used the same billy for the same reason. I expect her to deliver twins this time too which makes the babies smaller and easier to deliver. Unless they both present at the same time!

Despite all my plans and preparations however, things can occasionally go wrong. So the phone number of my vet is programmed in to my mobile phone and clean towels and a kettle of hot water will be on standby in the shed. Hopefully the vet wont be required but the kettle will come in handy for the most essential kidding tool of all….the cup of tea.    

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