Today’s post comes to you from Grand Rapids at the annual conference of the American Dairy Goat Association.
I’m not kidding — I’m talking about goat birthing! Today I attended two sessions on goat birthing. Both talked a lot about what can go wrong, even though the vast majority of births go just fine with no help from us humans. But there isn’t much to discuss about births that go just fine, whereas we could probably have talked for another two hours about all the odd things that can wrong — sometimes once in a lifetime! One of the slides showed a lamb with two bodies grown onto a single head! And amazingly enough, the vet was able to get it out vaginally. Of course, it was not alive, but the really amazing thing is that there was a live lamb born before and after the deformed lamb(s). Now, get that picture out of your head because you and I will probably never see a situation like that.
So, what can I tell you about the two sessions? Well, I don’t want to get into too much detail in a blog post because I don’t want to give you just enough information to help you really mess things up. I’m a very big believer in having a live mentor to help you through a difficult situation as it is occurring. Every situation is different, and it’s tough to know what to do when you’ve never encountered something in the past. However, I am going to share a few tidbits that everyone can use.
1. Have a baby monitor connecting your barn and house during kidding season. When people ask me what they need to buy for kidding, this is always number one on my list! This is really the most important thing you can have that will save kids’ lives, especially if it is cold outside or you have a first-time mom that might not realize quickly enough that she needs to clean that mucous off the kid’s nose so it can breathe. Although I didn’t technically learn anything new here, “baby monitor” was on the kidding kit list, and I wanted to share it with you because I do believe it is really important to have one.
2. You can use newspaper to clean off kids when they’re first born. I never thought of this! It seems most of us use old towels, but if you use towels, you know they get really icky. Robyn Wixom, LVT, said she uses newspaper for the initial cleaning so that her towels don’t get so gross.
3. Don’t use shavings in the kidding pen or for kids’ bedding because kids can ingest them, and they can cause an intestinal blockage. I never used shavings after the first year because I didn’t like the fact that they were getting into the kids’ mouths, but I didn’t know that shavings could result in a kid’s death.
4. You should not have kittens in your goat barn or really anywhere near your does. Older cats are usually immune to toxoplasmosis (because they had it when they were young), but kittens and young cats can have this disease, which can cause abortions and stillbirths in your herd. Robyn told us about the year when she had two barn cats with kittens and all 15 of her does had stillborns. Very sad!
5. Make sure your hay or straw supplier doesn’t have cats in the storage barn because you can bring in toxoplasmosis in your hay or straw!
Tomorrow I will be spending the whole morning in sessions learning more about goat nutrition, which I’ll share with you tomorrow night.
And tomorrow afternoon, I will be on Martha Stewart radio (Sirius XM) at 3 p.m. eastern time!