Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Birth of a Goat - Part 1

We're on baby goat watch today. Dharma has been showing all the early signs of labor today. Typically goat births are uncomplicated, but it's always best to be on hand. Even if everything goes smoothly, you can assist by helping to clean off the baby, ensuring less clean up time and more bonding time for mom and kid(s). Also, making sure the kid(s) successfully nurse within the first hour is very important. All that aside, it also means that humans are part of the kid(s)' very first experience in this world.

Don't know much about goats? Well, the doe (female goat) has a five month gestation, with typically a five day variance from the day of conception for when she'll typically birth. Unfotunately, Dharma had been living with a buck several months prior to her coming to live with us, so we didn't know her exact date of conception, and have had to rely on her general condition (and girth) to indicate when she was due. All the signs pointed to the end of June, and we've been preparing since the middle of the month.

As each doe and birth is different, she could show all, some or none of the signs. Thank goodness for us we are getting some warning. This morning we had several indicators that suggest that she'll give birth today. Her tail ligaments are softening, resulting in a limp tail, though that has since disappeared since this morning. Her udder, which has been developing for the last several weeks, now has colostrum which I was able to squeeze out this morning, a very strong signal that birth is imminent. She also had some amber colored goo oozing from her vulva, which is amniotic fluid. They can leak a whitish fluid for several weeks prior to birth, but amber is another imminent signal.

Knowing the wait could be many hours, we set up a comfortable station where we can sit adjacent to the pen, and turned the other goats into the nearby pasture. She mews if either of us leaves the area. I'm sitting here with laptop, camera and knitting, being a constant presence. We go in the pen periodically to take a closer look or just provide comfort during this strange time.

We had one contraction at 2:00pm, and some more goo (sorry Sharon), but we're still waiting. Did I mention Dharma's a first timer? We could be here a while. At least it's a condusive situation for knitting.

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