Winter Goat Diary - January 15 2014

Three of the four babies (two sets of twins) born the 1st & 2nd of this year. 
They were so easy, everything went so well, even through this cold snap, that today came as a surprise.  Although it shouldn't have.  It's not like we are new to this, and no birthing season ever goes completely smoothly...

3:15  - alarm goes off.  Wake up youngest son, who is helping cover the morning milking at the dairy barn next door while the owner recuperates from knee surgery.

3:30am - go back and wake son up AGAIN, make sure his feet actually hit the floor this time.

Go back to bed.  Next alarm goes off at 6.

7am - walk out across deck to survey the goat pasture, nearly fall on my butt.  It's much icier than it looks.  All looks fine - the 4 baby goats (two sets of twins) out in the front pasture are running around, they are almost two weeks  old now.   Notice that one goat is hanging back by the shelter, while the others are all out wandering around. Send a photo to husband at work, ask if she is one expected to have a baby soon..  she's not the one I thought would be next. Walk down to the pasture, find the gate has iced over and is frozen shut.  Not concerned enough to climb the fence, head around back to check on the twins born the night before, at midnight.  They look good - the one is very vocal, but has been since birth, so I don't think too much of it, she's even been hollering WHILE eating.  (Yeah, looking back, I should have saw that as a warning sign)
Ana, Standing in front of the shelter while all the others were off at the hay trough.  A sure sign that a baby is on the way..  but in this case, her baby was HERE, and another mom, also in labor,  had already taken over and was cleaning it up...

9am - Go into the goat pasture and find that the goat I watched hanging around the shelter gave birth awhile ago - and didn't finish cleaning the baby.  Another goat is now in labor, and she's cleaning up the baby that is not hers.   It is possible that the second nanny "took over" and the first one was not aggressive enough to take charge of her own baby.  I suspect this was her first birth, most of these goats are new to us this year, a bunch we bought last summer from a friend of ours who had to return to Greece and couldn't keep them all.

Move the 1 day old babies from the backyard pen to the front with the others, move the baby born this morning to the back yard pen with her mom...  Hoping that the mom will bond.  Hold the baby up so she can eat off her mom.  Mom isn't thrilled, but after a minute or two, cleans the baby up.

Note - I was supposed to be at BSF this morning, but Dan's wouldn't start and I thought he had taken mine.  Turns out he had taken the farm truck, but I'm glad I thought i couldn't go - I really needed to be around to keep and eye on things today.  Even if I did miss some things I should have caught quicker.
Ava with her brand new baby boy. 
 This is the mom that tried to steal Ana's baby this morning.

10:30am - Second Nanny gives birth, one baby boy.  She had been dramatically walking around, pawing the ground, laying down, all morning - mostly in the pasture.  I was relieved when she gave birth IN one of the shelters.  I think some of her walking around was her looking for the first baby, that was not hers, I think she really did believe it was hers.  Her baby is larger, much larger, than the baby born this morning.  He's up, walking around, eating within an hour of being born - healthy and doing well.

At this point, we're thinking if mom #1 doesn't take up interest in her baby, #2 might take her - both nannies only had one baby today.

But when I check on the mom and baby in the back yard, the baby is standing up, obviously has eaten, and the mom is laying contentedly beside her.  I leave them alone.

Yesterdays twins are sleeping in their barrel, all looks well.
Anna, with her newborn baby girl.  For a single baby, she is small.
This is actually the calf pen in our back yard, this is where i keep newborn calves that are bottle fed in the spring and summer, but in winter, its just a "problem" pen - where we can put anyone that is having trouble.  It's attached to the side of the garage, and behind the house, so almost all wind is blocked back here.  

Anna's baby (born this morning, in the back yard pen) has wiggled into the space between her barrel and the calf shelter.  I move her into the shelter with her mom, he belly seems full - but she is a little wet and cold.  (It's been raining off and on all day)

Liza's babies - yesterdays twins - are eating off their mom.

The new baby boy is doing great, his mom has him walking around outside the shelter with her already.

Ran Meg to her piano lesson, and while she was there I ran into the grocery store in town, they have great mark down items on Wednesday's when I am in.  I grabbed a couple of bunches of marked down bananas for the goats, the goats love bananas.  And for the kids, marked down subs.

1 day old - their mom, Liza, has mastitis ??  Not sure she does - we used the udder balm on her, but she is giving milk that is normal consistency, just not much of it, even though she has a very full bag.  We're massaging her with Udder Comfort.

Take the bananas to the goats.  Liza has been a little skittish, not nearly as friendly as Piper and Sandy, who gave birth almost two weeks ago.   Piper and Sandy are some of the friendliest goats on the farm.  I have a theory that friendly goats make some of the best moms..  they aren't high strung.

Liza takes the banana from my hand, and lets me pet her.  Her babies are in separate areas out in the grass, hunched.  I notice that Sandy's twins have stolen their barrel, so I put them both in thinking they just got a little chilled.  We have a heat lamp in that barrel, so I was confident they would warm up quick.

Anna's baby looks good - I haven't seen her eating, but she looks like she is being fed, and I'm trying not to interfere with their bonding.

New baby boy looks really fantastic.  No worries there.
Liza, with her babies around 10:30 am. 
 I am irritated with myself for not seeing the problem (mastitis??) sooner, but everything appeared fine.

Liza's babies are not doing well.  Weak.  The girl is floppy.  We put Liza on the stanchion and her milk bag is hard, and hot.  Even massaging it with hot compresses, we do not get much milk from her.  Meg and I fed the babies bottles - the boy perked right up and sucked his down, the girl ate in spurts, but started to hold her head up. We put them back under a heat lamp, and ran to the feed store for medicine.  A shot, and some balm for her bag.

The goats want to know if I brought them more bananas, and enthusiastically jump up on me.  I am slipping and sliding in the mud.  Spring has never been my favorite season, and even less so when it comes in January, without the flowers.

Another bottle for the babies -- who look MUCH better. The girl even stands and eats on her own.  The boy was trying to eat off his mom while we were out there, I put the girl on her too.  They aren't getting much milk from her, but every drop helps, and I want them to stay bonded to their mom.

The brand new baby boy is out in the mud, and is soaking wet.  we lead him and his mom to a shelter and put him in a barrel.  He still seems healthy - but I would prefer he stay warm and dry.

Ana is standing, her baby eating, with no prodding or help from us.  Very good sign.

Liza's babies are standing in their barrel and walk out to us when they hear us.  I think we caught it in time!  They both ate well.  We massaged Udder Comfort into Liza's bag - she's already letting down a little more milk.

Ava's baby is in the shelter, but not in his barrel, I tucked him into the barrel.

Ana's baby was sleeping, with a full feeling belly.

Dan was getting ready to head into work, so I backed the car out of the garage for him and let it warm up, then brought our son's truck down and put it in the garage so it would be warmer when he gets up for the 3:30am morning milking next door.  When I walked up to his truck, I could hear
 water running..  one of our boys forgot to shut off the hose after watering the horses this afternoon.  As if it wasn't muddy enough, the entire area is completely flooded and likely to ice over over night...  UGH!  BUT, I'm really glad I walked up to move the truck, or that hose would have run all night long,


3am - Gave Liza's babies a bottle - everyone looked good.  Babies took the bottles enthusiastically.

7am - Liza's babies have no interest in another bottle.  Both have full bellies.  All babies look good.  Ana, out back, is doing a great job as a mom and should be able to rejoin the others soon.  Her baby is still much smaller than the others, so I will give her a couple more days if we do not need the pen for anyone else - just to be sure.

11am - We put Liza's babies with her, they ate well off of her and then had no interest in a bottle.

3pm - Liza's girl does not seem perky, but she's eating, just not enthusiastically.  I'm concerned.  The boy is doing very well.  We think Liza is giving more milk now, but we'll continue to offer bottles for the next 24 hours, just to be sure.

8pm - all is well.  Bellies seem full, no interest in bottles.

11:30 pm - Liza's girl is dead, in the barrel, under the heat lamp,  :-(

7am - Liza's boy is weak, and has trouble eating.  Fed him milk replacer using the long syringe like thing that is one step before intubation.

9am - at this point, I'm fairly certain he will not survive, so it's just about keeping him comfortable.  I hate this so much.  We feed all of our goats the same thing.  They all get supplements, they all have their shots.  All of the nannies are healthy.  The temperatures are mild this week - the babies born the first week of the year are thriving, and they survived the "polar vortex" here in the northeast with ease.  The other two babies born a day later than these twins are doing great (even the one I was afraid would not survive - she's so tiny, and her mom wasn't taking care of her..  but now her mom is doing a great job with her and the tiny little girl is out there running and jumping around...)

Liza, the nanny, has shown little maternal instinct.  She feeds the babies and cleans then when I take them to her,  or her to them, but the rest of the time she seems to forget they existed.  She does not ever sleep near them - at night I'd find her sleeping out by the hay trough (a favorite area for our goats) and her babies over in the shelter under the heat lamp where I had left them.  The nannies do not ALWAYS stay with their babies, but all of the others show more interest, and can be found with them regularly.  Sometimes the mommas won't spend time with babies they know aren't going to live - but I don't think that was the case here.  Her milk production was low, but she has milk.  I wonder if we had kept her and her babies in their own pen for another day or two if this could have been avoided.

To be honest, I knew when I started writing this post that babies would die.  I suspected Liza's girl would not make it from the start, and Ana's baby in the back yard, I was pretty certain she would not survive either - have I mentioned how tiny she is?  She however, has surprised me, and I'm pretty confident she will be fine.  Liza's little boy surprised me.  He went from running and jumping, warm with a fully belly, to lethargic in just a few hours time.

This is farm life.  I can't save them all - something I learned a few years back.  We've saved a LOT of them.  Two of the babies out there right now are born to a goat that was an orphan we bottle fed when we first started.  She's one of many success stories.  But we have just as many failures too.

Friday - 
 Around 11pm, last goat check of my night - I find this.  :-)  A brand new little girl.

Tuesday, January 21
  Another set of twins!  It's another super cold week - tomorrow our temps are not expected to be more than around 10 degrees.  As the high.  We moved Ana and her little baby to the front pen with the others, and put the new twins and their mom in the back yard.  Again, one was almost frozen before she could completely dry.  (This happened with Pipers babies too - it's so cold that their fur ices up before they are dry.  We put them under a heat lamp, and Pipers babies are big and healthy, almost a month old now, no problems)  

Wednesday January 22
I could hear the new babies crying this morning, but by the time I got to their pen they were both eating - both standing and tails wagging.  I'm nervous from Liza, so once it warms up a bit (it was 1 degree when I was out) I'm going to check her milk.

A week later with Liza, she still does not produce much milk when we milk her.  Her bag is still high and tight, but her milk is not clumpy and seems "normal".  We don't know what the problem is- it does not really seem to be mastitis.  It's so heart breaking to hear her crying for her babies.



  1. If you look close the picture of the new mom by the yellow shelter I think you can see the newborn goat.


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