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Stephanie Morris
Scenic Valley Boer Goats
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The Birthing Miracle

A Photo Essay by
Stephanie Morris

This is the story of a registered nubian "Doty" giving birth to percentage Boer quads. Through these photos you will learn some of the basics of "assisting" a mother who is busy keeping you busy. Doty is a great mother and an easy kidder but when there are four of those little critters coming one right after the other you need to give nature a little bit of a hand.
This was a few days before Doty kidded. You've seen the "before and after" photos for some of those weight loss products? This photo of Doty is definitely not the "after" photo.

Moms-to-be usually get nervous just before the kids are born. They'll walk around, paw the ground, lay down, stand up, lay down, talk to their stomachs, and then start the whole routine over again. During one of the shifts from standing to laying down, or vice-versa, she'll strain really hard and present a small bubble of reddish brown fluid - anywhere from 1 inch diameter to 3-4 inches in diameter. This is normal.

Don't worry about the red color of the hay shown in the lower right corner - that's just a heat lamp reflecting off of the hay. You'll see it in several more of the photos, too.
Each transition from standing to laying will be followed by ever increasing labor signs; straining, moaning, crying, screaming (in goat language she'll calling the buck some very not nice names).
Soon another bubble of fluid will appear but this time, if you look close, you will see a pair of hooves inside the bubble. The mom will strain some more and the legs will come out further and a nose will appear, laying chin down, on top of the legs. This is the point at which she'll probably start having a harder time of it - the head is next and it's quite a bit larger than those little legs and nose. The head is laying on top of the legs and getting it out is a real job for the laboring doe.
Once the head is delivered the rest is relatively easy for the doe and the kid. In this photo the kid is head-down with only the back showing.
It really doesn't matter if the doe is standing up or laying down. Standing up makes it easier for the umbilical cord to break naturally when the kid falls - The mom who delivers laying down will usually stand up soon afterward and the cord will break then.
When the kid hits the ground you should make sure that the birth sack is broken and not covering the mouth and nose. It's fairly easy to remove and leaving it in place is not an option unless the mom is quick on the draw and removes it herself. If the umbilical cord is intact you need to snip it off about 3 inches from the kid's belly. You'll shorten it later. The reason for keeping it 3 inches long now is so that you can tie it off if there is excessive bleeding through the cord - usually not the case when the cord breaks on it's own.
The kid is still covered with afterbirth but mom is busy having the next kid. This gives us the opportunity to do a little goat husbandry work. We trim the umbilical to about 1 inch long and dip it in strong (7%) iodine using an empty 35mm film canister. There are commercial naval and teat dip cups available but the plastic film canisters work just as well. Dip the navel all the way to the belly. If mom is too busy delivering the next kid we help by cleaning off the first one (with a dry towel so we don't wash the scent off of it). We also inspect to make sure all the parts are there and learn if the parts are male or female.
Now mom is attending to the first one and getting ready to deliver number 3. The second kid is recovering from the birth process and we repeat the clean/dip/inspection routine on this one.
The third one was born breech and pretty much shot out so fast we were unable to get a picture of the actual birth. Notice how close mom's rear end is to the stall wall - A few more inches and we'd have to make her get up and move - It's really hard to deliver kids when a wall or other obstruction is in the way.
The fourth kid was born breech also. Mom was very tired and we had to do most of the clean up of the last one. All the kids were born between 7 and 9.5 lbs. She drank over a gallon and a half of warm molasses water afterwards.
These are the babies just hours old and in the makeshift incubator. It's a plastic drum with a 1' square hole in the lid top. We put a hooded light inside and passed the cord through the hole then wrapped the cord around a 2 foot piece of 2x4 and taped it down to the outside top of the lid. We used a low watt bulb and it kept the kids warm and toasty as this was in November and pretty chilly outside. The hole in the drum must be cut large and low enough for the kids to jump in and out on their own pretty easily.
Copyright Stephanie Morris, Valley Springs, California, USA
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