How the Does Do Grow

I thought I would give you another update before the kids are born. One Stripe and Copper both look great, the babies are active and the udders are filling nicely. In approximately six days, we should have kids on the ground. 

One Stripe is very consistent in kidding at 150 days after breeding. Since I have had her for six years now, my estimates of when she will give birth are usually fairly accurate. 

January 14th


All remaining pictures are February 3rd

Her udder will continue to fill until next week. It is still fairly soft.

Their hips are starting to hollow out as the kids move down and to the rear.

You can feel the progress of the hips beginning to spread over the last few weeks.

This will be Copper’s second set of kids. Last year she gave birth at 150 days just like her mother, One Stripe. If they both hold to this tradition, One Stripe will birth next Tuesday and Copper will birth on Wednesday. Here is how Copper looks now.
 

January 14th

The rest of the pictures are February 3rd

You can usually feel the kids kicking on the right side during the last two months of gestation.

In the last few weeks, the kids have moved back toward the rear and farther down on the side.

Between now and then we will give the barn a good cleaning, and go through our birthing tote to make sure we have everything in order. 

It’s a great time of year. Time for baby goats to start coming, time to plant seedlings for the cool weather crops, time to really start having spring fever. It’s interesting how the fall tends to slow us down a little. Then winter seems to be a less active time of year for a while. But with the coming of spring the blood tends to quicken a little in preparation for the more active time of year. Are you ready? I sure am.

Until next time – Fern
 

The Goat Stork Flies Again

In 24 days, on February 10th, One Stripe is due to provide us with some new baby goats. Then in 25 days, on February 11th, Copper is scheduled to do the same. If you’ve been unfortunate enough to have been reading here for very long, you already realize how much I love baby goats and FRESH MILK. We have been long without our own fresh milk and really, really look forward to the day that we no longer need to buy milk from the store.

I have been slowly increasing One Stripe and Copper’s feed ration during the last month of gestation when much of the kids’ growth occurs. This will be the first time we’ve had kids since we changed up the feed ration and removed the corn because of GMO. Now the feed contains oats, sweet feed (for the molasses), wheat bran, sunflower seeds and alfalfa pellets. We feed a loose goat mineral ration free choice and try to keep some out all the time, especially while the does are pregnant. They all appear to be healthy and doing very well. Their hips are starting to spread and their udders continue to slowly fill out. I have been watching One Stripe extra close since she aborted a few weeks early last year. Even though she lost her babies then, in the past she has been an excellent, attentive doe with big, strong babies. She was never in ill health, so the vet figured it was for mechanical reasons. She got butted hard in the side by another goat, or ran into something hard enough to cause her to go into labor. This year, so far, so good.

When I bring One Stripe and Copper in to eat on the milk stand, it gives me an opportunity to check them over and see how they are doing. That’s why I know their hips are spreading. I also check their udders to make sure there is no hardness or signs of mastitis. Copper has gone through some briars sometime recently, because she has some sore places on her udder. I have a salve I am treating her with to get everything healed up before the kids arrive. At this point in the gestation, I can feel the kids kicking. This always makes me laugh out loud and puts a big smile on my face, even though the dog is the only one to notice.

When the young does are about six weeks to a month from kidding, I will start bringing them in on the milk stand to eat as well. They won’t like it for a while, and will dance and complain. But they will get used to it, especially since there is some food there to distract them while I train them to be milkers. I have found this makes the actual milking go much smoother. There is not so many new things all at once. After they give birth they will already know how to get on the milk stand, that there is some food there waiting for them, and that they are safe and will not be hurt. They will still be very nervous first time mothers, but will be performing a normal routine behavior. When I changed to training them to the milk stand before giving birth instead of after, it made it easier for them and me.

Our three young does are now half way through their gestation. They were bred the beginning of November and are due the first week in April. They will all be first fresheners, or what we call first timers, having their first babies this year. All three of them were born here last spring, and are developing very nicely. Our three young does will be 13 months old when they give birth. We’ll see how they do.

One Stripe is our old lady goat. She will be seven in May. She is definitely in the waddling stage now. Her udder will be almost twice this big before she gives birth.


Copper is One Stripe’s daughter, and this will be her second batch of kids. She was two in December. She has added a new twist to how she gets up on the milk stand. When I milked her last she would just kind of launch herself up from the side of the stand. Well, she still does that, but now she comes in the barn, twirls in a circle, then launches herself on the stand. It’s kinda funny, really. She had a little mucous discharge this evening when we were feeding. It’s not unusual for does to have some discharge off and on for a few weeks before giving birth. She also didn’t finish all of her food tonight. That is not that unusual since the kids are taking up more and more room, but I will keep a close eye on her to make sure she is getting enough to eat.


Penny is Copper’s daughter from last spring. She will have the same long body and slender legs her mother has. And she is a beautiful dark red color.


Cricket is filling out nicely. I’m already guessing she will have twins. She has a stockier build than Penny, and I think she will be the biggest young doe we have. We sold her mother Ivory back in the fall.

Lady Bug is Cricket’s sister. She is about the same size as Penny, just not as long. For quite a while she was very shy and wouldn’t have anything to do with us. Now I can pet her all over. She isn’t as friendly as Penny, Copper and One Stripe, but I’m very glad she has tamed down. She is a beautiful fawn color.


I had a goat question today I would like to include here. How many days after birth should you start milking and how do you know when there is no more colostrum in the goats udder?

I start milking right after the kids are born. I do this for two reasons. One, I want to make sure the wax plug is removed from the end of the teat and the milk is flowing freely, making it easier for the newborns to suck. Two, when the kids are born, many times the doe’s udder is engorged with milk making their teats full and tight. Sometimes the kids struggle to get the enlarged teat in their mouth. 
 

Helping a weak quadruplet 2012 kid get their first drink


I also want the does to start producing a lot of milk, enough for the kids and for us. The first time I milk them is in the birthing pen into peanut butter jars. I don’t take all of their milk, but I do take a lot of it. It also gives me some colostrum just in case I need it for any reason. The next day I will start bringing the does into the barn to feed and milk them on the milk stand. I keep all of what I call the colostrum milk for five days and feed it to the dog, cats and chickens. They all love it. Five days is considered to be the standard time frame for the colostrum to pass. Then I will start keeping it for us. That means on or about February 15th we will be drinking FRESH MILK! You can’t tell I’m excited, right? I hope this answers your question.

Soon!


The miracle of birth and life is always a fascinating thing to watch. I always hope to catch the does in labor so I can watch the whole process. It never gets old. I’ll keep you posted.

Until next time – Fern
 

Milk Goat Training & Other Lore

Copper is the only first freshener I have this year, so she is new to the milking routine. The great thing about training her to milk is that she is very, very tame. Compared to some of the other goats I have trained she has been a breeze. There are a few tricks I have learned along the way that I want to share with you.

Begin training early. Bring your first fresheners into the area where you will be milking when they are young or at least a few months before they are in milk. Use patience instead of force to get them up on the milk stand. 

In the past, I would take a goat by the collar and tail and force them up on the stand. That was a lot of work and frustration for both me and them. Now, I will take a bowl of feed and gradually coax them onto the stand a little at a time, trying to increase their comfort level each time. It doesn’t hurt to use their tail to help them make that final jump up onto the platform when they’re almost there but are still unsure. It will usually cause them to jump, then they find themselves on the stand right at the feed bowl. After they calm down a little and find out there is a reward of a meal for climbing on this platform thing, they don’t mind it so much. I talk to them a lot during this process as a means of reassurance. Scratching their shoulder blades doesn’t hurt any either, they really like that.

Once your goat is used to the milk stand, you are ready for them to give birth. After the kids are born, start milking the doe within 24 hours. I find that my does will produce a very large amount of milk during the first 48 hours after freshening. I will milk them out almost completely about 12 hours after the babies are born. One, it makes them more comfortable, and two, it makes

it easier for the babies to nurse when the teats are not enlarged with so much milk. To do this, I bring the does to the milk stand. Some of them are a little anxious about leaving their babies in the birthing pen, but they are ready to have that extra milk removed. There have been occasions that a doe was just too anxious about leaving her babies. Then I bring the babies with her to the milk stand and work around them. It only takes a time or two, then the doe is comfortable with leaving the kids for a short time. I think this is a sign of a good mother, so it doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t keep this milk for human consumption since it is full of colostrum. This is kept in old peanut butter jars to be given to the dog, cats and chickens. Five days after kidding, I will begin keeping the milk for us.

The first time I brought Copper in after she had given birth I expected her to fuss and kick a little. She just stood there like I had been milking her for years. I was amazed. Then I thought, this is just the honeymoon period and she will put up a protest later on. She never did. She has been the easiest goat to milk I have ever trained. I attribute this to two things. One, she was very, very tame to begin with and I have been handling her a lot since she was born. And two, she was a single that had no other kids to play with for over a month when she was born, so she played with us. She has always been very trusting of us and very easy to handle.

One of the things I train the does to do, that makes it easier for me to milk, is to move their right leg out and back a little. It gives me more room for the bucket and makes it easier to reach both sides of the udder for cleaning and milking.

This is not the natural position they care to stand in, but it is not uncomfortable either. It is more of the stance they take when their kids are nursing. To get them to stand this way I used to take hold of their ankle area and move their foot to the desired position.

Then they would move it back, then I would move it again, then they would move it back, and so on. This got old and frustrating at times. Now I gently push against the leg just above the joint to get them to move the leg back.

They usually hold their leg up for a bit, then gradually let it down and it ends up where I want it instead of where they want it. After a while, I can just nudge them on the flank and they move the leg out of the way for me.


Many of the tricks learned during milking are specific to the animal. There are just small differences that come with each different personality. Basic techniques are used with all of my does, but they each have their own preferences as well. Take getting on the milk stand for instance. One Stripe will pause on the cement blocks and get her footing just right before she jumps on up, and she doesn’t like to be hurried through this process.

 

Copper, on the other hand, avoids the block steps altogether and just launches herself up from the side of the stand, usually after walking in a circle. 




Here Copper and Ivory are trading places. Each doe knows when it is their turn in line and will usually wait their turn. I always find that to be fascinating. When Ivory comes in, she will use the block steps and quickly jump right on the the stand. But if I don’t walk in right behind her fast enough for her liking, she will turn around and come right back down the steps, turn around and come right back up again. Each has their own way of approaching the stand, but once they are there, the behavior is very similar.

Once a doe is on the stand, I walk by pat them on the flank or side, and talk to them. As I sit down to milk, I pat them on the underside of their stomach and talk to them. Even if I am not keeping the milk and only milking into a peanut butter jar, I will massage the udder a bit

to them know I am going to start milking, otherwise they jump a little. The best thing I can do for successful milking is to keep a routine. I don’t always milk at the same time of day, which is a recommended practice. If I did, it would increase the does milk production. But I do usually perform the task of milking in a very routine manner, which seems to keep the does relaxed and agreeable.


I enjoy milking my goats and I think that adds to the atmosphere of this task. If I didn’t enjoy it, there are many little things that I would probably find very frustrating and annoying. But I don’t. Milking early in the morning is a very peaceful, relaxing chore for me. I get to spend time with my animals, observing their behavior to see if there are any needs we should address. I get to listen to the world wake up as the rooster starts to crow and the song birds sing to the morning. For many years I have considered the song of the birds to be a gift from God. He bathes us with these beautiful songs, telling us how much He loves us and gives us a gift of peace. Stop and enjoy them. Listen. Be still. You are blessed.

Until next time – Fern

Ivory’s Kids & More Goat Lore

Ivory had her babies the day after Copper. She is continuing in her mother’s footsteps of waiting until the 155th day after breeding before she kids. It is interesting to know some of the patterns of our animals. It makes our stewardship more effective and informed.

Ivory, March 6th, 153 days

One Stripe typically has her babies 150 days after breeding, which is the average gestation for goats. This year when Copper, One Stripe’s daughter, had her first kids, she freshened at 150 days on the nose. Ivory’s mother, Katy, typically freshened at 155 days except for the year she had quadruplets, then she gave birth at 153 days. Now, Ivory has had her second set of kids and both years she freshened at 155 days. I find this to be very interesting, useful information.
 

Ivory’s mom, Katy, March 2013


Last year Ivory had twins, a buck and a doe, with no problems and was an excellent mom, so I wasn’t real worried about her performance this year. She lived up to my expectations, had her babies without any assistance or trouble, cleaned them up, talked to them constantly and made sure they were well fed. She is a very productive doe. Her only flaws are yelling at the top of her lungs when we walk in the barn and butting the other does on occasion. We have debated off and on about selling her.
 

March 8th

This year Ivory has given us two beautiful replacement does. This may make it easier to sell her come fall. We will use her milk, along with One Stripe’s and Copper’s to make our supply of cheese this summer. After we have all we need for the year, we may go ahead and sell Ivory around August. This will give us five does since we are keeping Copper’s doe, Penny, and Ivory’s girls, Cricket and Lady Bug. This will be plenty of breeding stock for us and more than enough milk production for next year.

Ivory, Lady Bug, Pearl and Cricket

Next year there will be three young does to to train to milk. This year Copper was the only doe that I needed to train and, thanks to how tame she was to begin with, this has not taken hardly any work at all. I will do another post on milking a newly trained goat before long. Over time, if you ever get this opportunity, you will learn little tricks that can make a big difference, kind of like the hints Frank has given about hatching and raising baby chicks. Experience really is the best teacher and I learn more everyday. I will never be through learning or know everything there is about anything. Take your comments, for instance. This is a new source of information that I have found to be very valuable.

Right after the baby goats are born, they will walk right up to you with no fear. When they approach about a four to five days old, they develop the instinct to be afraid of things that are bigger or above them and will flinch or try to get away from you. After they reach about ten days to two weeks old and are more steady on their feet and more confident in their ability to move around and get away, they become curious. It really helps to have tame, manageable does. This is the best way to have easy to handle kids. Velvet’s boys now run around us and try to jump up on our legs. They are very tame and easy to handle. Copper and Ivory’s kids are just now starting to come up and smell our legs or hands, but if we bend over too quickly to pet them, they are off and running. It won’t be long before they will be tame and easy to pet and work with as well.
 

One Stripe and one of her adopted boys


Pearl, our Great Pyrenees livestock guardian, is the greatest babysitter we have. She has the patience of Job when it comes to these baby goats. And they just love her. Her laid back, gentle nature also contributes to the overall calm atmosphere at the barn with our goats.

Time is the best teacher when it comes to raising livestock. We have researched and read for many, many years. Working with, raising, butchering and learning to cull according to our long term goals are all things that have come with time. When we first began raising goats, I didn’t know much about udders – which ones were good, which ones were bad, what is a good attachment and shape, which ones produces more milk or were easier to milk. There was so much to know and I could only learn so much from reading. The real learning came when I started milking every day and trying to train goats to be milked. I have made my fair share of mistakes,  and will make more in the future, but I have learned in the process. 

Stay tuned. There is more lore to explore. 

Until next time – Fern

Copper’s Babies & Other Goat Lore

Copper, January 2013

Our little girl Copper has now come full circle and has her own little ones. Copper was born here last January and needed to have her ear fixed. She, like her mother One Stripe, had her babies 150 days from breeding. I have learned over the years that I can just about set the calendar on One Stripe. If I have her breed date correctly recorded, she will kid 150 days later. It appears Copper may be the same way. Interesting. This is something you won’t know if you don’t have a recorded history on your animals or if they are new to your place.

May 6th

A warning here. If you don’t want to see some of the birthing process, close your eyes as you read. Otherwise, you may see some ick and goo. We penned Ivory and Copper up the evening of 149 days for Copper. Ivory was already at 154 days, which is her MO (mode of operation). I will tell Ivory’s story later.

May 7th

Since Copper was my only first freshener, or first timer, she is the one I watched the closest. She started giving definite signs of labor on the morning of her 150th day. Her tailbone became very pronounced. Her hips were wide open. She kept looking at her stomach and tail like she was asking, “What’s going on back there?”

She also wanted a lot of petting, scratching and reassurance. I came and went from the barn, staying for a while and pulling up a chair.

The last time I came up, this is what I found. And with each contraction, Copper would yell in protest. Quite loudly. I have had some goats that don’t make a sound as they give birth, some that groan a little and some that really yell. Copper fit into the latter category.

Well, I let her be for a while. She got up and moved around some which lessened her pain because she quit hollering with each

Two little feet

contraction. But after a bit she laid back down and commenced yelling again. I only watched that for a short time. Then I went in and gently pulled on the protruding feet as Copper had a few more contractions. Out popped the head of her first born, with the rest of the body following quickly afterward. At first Copper visibly relaxed with a huge sigh, but didn’t turn around to begin cleaning up her baby. So I handed him up to her so she could easily reach him and, thankfully, she began to clean him up right away. In very short order with one or two more pushes, out pops another kid with little effort. The first kid was larger than the second. The length of time it took for the second one to be born makes me wonder if they weren’t competing for first place in the birthing process, thus causing Copper so much pain.

But she took to them, cleaned them and mothered them very well. All signs of a good, productive mother. Thank you. When you have a new animal or one having their first babies, there is always a question about how they will perform. It’s disappointing when the results are not favorable, especially after waiting months to find out. It’s great when they meet or exceed your expectations.


One of the things we do as soon after birth as possible is trim, if needed the babies umbilical cords. One to one and a half inches is a good length. Then we totally coat the cord with strong 7% Iodine. This strong solution will close off, basically cauterize, the umbilical cord and thus, the opening to the body, removing an avenue for bacterial infections which can be lethal.


I was very excited to learn that Copper’s second kid is a doe. I was hoping she would have one that we could keep. This means she had to meet our color requirements. Our original herd had more color

Spunk 2009

patterns and our original buck had a lot of spots. We have gradually been able to almost eliminate the spots from our herd. In the previous post on radios Frank mentioned the gray man who is nondescript and doesn’t draw attention to himself. This is the kind of goat herd we want as well. We found that the spotted goats just drew too much attention. The “Wow-wee, look at that!” kind of attention that we didn’t want. Our goal with the goats is to have milk and meat. Having milk also gives us the opportunity to make butter, cheese, yogurt and kefir. This is the purpose of our goats, not to draw attention to our attempts at self-reliance and ability to survive.

Copper’s little girl was born with copper rings around her eyes, just like her mother. When I mentioned this to our friend, CB, she asked us if Copper now had her little Penny, and the name has stuck. And if you don’t mind me saying so, Penny is a beautiful little girl.

Penny, one day old

Before you ask what her brother’s name is you should know that we ban the boys so they become wethers, just like a bull becomes a steer. The boys are our meat on the hoof. Meat that doesn’t require refrigeration or freezer space. Kind of like insurance. If the grid goes down or a long

Penny’s brother

term collapse occurs, we want to have meat we can deal with on a small scale, thus the wethers. So, most boys born here, like Velvet’s, get the names of Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner, or at least that is our standing joke. But seriously, these boys are part of our food storage. Meat on the hoof. So, I don’t give them cute names or get attached to them. I think Velvet’s boys are just beautiful, but I don’t spend much time talking to them or petting them. I want them to be tame so we can handle them as needed and they won’t run away anytime we are around. But, other than that, I view them as food. The girls, on the other hand, are a whole different story. I already adore Penny. 
 

Velvet’s boys


I know some people say they just can’t eat an animal they raise, but to me, it is all in the way you approach the situation. If you raise animals for a particular purpose, then you keep that mind frame. Take Velvet for instance. She is for sale. She was born here, we named her, worked with

her, trained her to milk and have had two sets of her babies. She is One Stripe’s daughter and Copper’s sister, but we can’t keep them all or we would quickly be overrun with too many animals and be overwhelmed and give up. Believe me. We have been there and done that. Our first herd was Suffolk sheep, nine ewes and a ram, which quickly turned into 27 animals once all of the babies were born on our 5 acres. We were totally overwhelmed and instead of selling some and keeping the best, we sold them all. Not the best decision we have made. But we kept trying with other flocks and eventually switched over to goats.

And another thing we learned in the last two years, grandmothers tend to nurse their grand’kids’. Last year, Ivory’s mother, Katy, did just that. She ‘took over’ Ivory’s daughter leaving Ivory her son to

Katy with Ivory to her left

nurse. I thought that was very interesting, but I figured it was because someone came and bought two of Katy’s triplets when they were three days old, leaving her tons of milk and only one kid to nurse. But this year, One Stripe lost her babies in January and I have been milking her ever since. The other day I caught her nursing Velvet’s boys and looking just pleased as punch. One Stripe has always been an excellent mother and loves her babies. This now makes it easy to sell Velvet when her boys are two weeks old instead of waiting until they are weaned at eight weeks. Interesting. We never quit learning more about goats. They are always teaching us something.

Ivory in waiting


I’ll fill you in on Ivory next. I really thought she would have her babies before Copper, but that was not the case. Ivory’s babies are beautiful though and arrived without a hitch. And the baby chicks are hatching and the garden is just about ready to plant. Ahhh….spring! The time of life and renewal. Take advantage of it as quick as you can. I pray things in the world don’t boil over this summer. That will give us more time to learn and prepare.


Until next time – Fern

Velvet’s Baby Goats

We’ve got kids! Today was Velvet’s big day. But before her kids arrived, we were doing some standard Saturday stuff. Making our traditional Saturday morning biscuits and as a bonus, we had gravy today, making sourdough bread (I set out the sponge last night), making yogurt and trying to clean up the kitchen while I continued to mess it up. You know, a normal day.

When I went up to the barn to milk, I noticed Velvet’s hips and tailbone were very visible, so I knew her babies had dropped.
 

The hip bone to the left is very prominent.

Right along here, her tailbone is very visible. It’s much harder to see in a picture.

A comparison of how hollow Velvet’s hips and tail look. She is on the left.

Velvet on the left, Ivory on the right

Over the past few days her udder had filled up nicely and she was not cleaning up her feed, she just didn’t have much room with the size of the babies.

Yesterday. Velvet on the left and her sister, Copper, on the right.

Yesterday afternoon

I finished off the milking and took the milk back to the house. Instead of chilling it after we strained it, I just heated it up and made yogurt. Then we added water to the incubator. The eggs have been going for a week now, only two more weeks until we have baby chicks.

 

 


Then I mixed up the bread and set it aside to rise. Since I used a half cup of butter in the bread, I set out more cream to make butter.


I also used up the honey we had ready to use. So, I got out the gallon jar of honey we are using. It has gone to sugar so I put it in jars to heat and rejuvenate it. Which made more messes, by the way.

Then it was back to the barn to check on Velvet. The goats were a little ways out in the pasture. Velvet was slow to make it to the barn and she was definitely in labor.


 


So, I fixed up the nursery…..


And penned up her mother, One Stripe, beside her for comfort. Here is the peanut gallery where I pull up a chair.

 


After a while it didn’t look like anything was was going to happen soon, so I went back to the house to bake the buns and have some lunch. The buns didn’t turn out right, they were kind of hollow. I am still getting used to using sourdough instead of regular yeast bread. Maybe some experienced sourdough folks can give me some pointers.
 

 

Then it was back to the barn. This is what I found when I arrived. Twin bucks. Nice big healthy boys. My concern with this birth was Velvet. Last year she had a big single doe, but she was kind of in shock for hours afterward. She wouldn’t clean up the baby, nurse it or talk to it. She just stood there. Thankfully, this was not the case today. She is a very attentive mother and patiently stood for her boys to nurse. I am very grateful. It’s hard to get newborn baby goats to pose for the camera, but here they are.

Velvet is the first of three does to kid this almost spring. Ivory is due next Sunday.

 

Copper is due the following Friday on March 7th. Then we will be swimming in milk again.

I’ll be giving you updates on how everyone is doing. For now, at the end of a very busy, productive day I thank God for His many blessings, two healthy little boys and a healthy mom. Now it’s back to the barn to check on the babies.

Until next time – Fern

 

The Goat Stork Cometh

One Stripe will be having her kids soon. There are subtle signs to watch for when a doe is within a few weeks of giving birth. Not all goats present the same signs or symptoms, so sometimes it’s more of a guessing game than not.

I try to keep good records of when the does have bred so I will have a decent idea of when to be prepared for kids. This doesn’t always mean I catch them on the day they actually breed, though. It seems that every year, there is at least one doe that my ‘guess-timate’ is a few weeks off. 

You can tell by the goat breeding schedule that the first solid breed date I had for One Stripe was July 19 which gives her a 150 day gestation on December 16. I’m not sure if she will go that long, but I have thought the same thing about her before. She is pretty consistent in the length of her gestation. The benefit of keeping a doe for a while is having a history of past pregnancies and births. We bought One Stripe in January of 2009. Here is some of her history.

  • 1st kids – May 2010; twins – a buck and a doe; 153 days (after breeding).
  • 2nd kids – March 2011; twins – 2 does; 150 days
  • 3rd kids – March 2012; triplets – 2 bucks (one born breech with no problems) 1 doe; 149 days
  • 4th kid – January 2013 (accidental breeding); 1 doe; days unknown; had to fix kid’s ear since it stayed folded over

This is Copper. She will be having her first kids in March.

If you keep a doe for a number of years you get to know the patterns she follows during gestation and have a better idea when she will birth and how she will do. Past history of easy births is not a guarantee there will be no problems, but does lend to some peace of mind knowing a doe is experienced and has shown reliability. 

One Stripe really does get ‘big as a barn’. There have been two previous years that I just knew she could not go another three weeks (which is the time between heat cycles and breeding – usually), but she did.

October

Early November

Her udder tends to get large and very full before she gives birth. It started filling out a few weeks ago. It has a ways to go to be full and is still soft and pliable at this point.

Mid November

This is how I check their hips. This is Copper, not One Stripe.

As One Stripe gets closer to kidding her hips will spread until there is no bony protrusions left to feel. You can push in all the way around her tailbone. 

Here is Copper again, modeling for us.

One of the most fun things to check as the birth draws close is the activity of the kids. Sometimes, not always, I can feel the kids kicking when I place my hand on her right side, like this. If the kids aren’t active I gently pat her side a few times and wait. Many times I can feel a gentle kick. This happened for the first time yesterday. According to Pat Coleby in Natural Goat Care this usually happens about two weeks before birth, so I shouldn’t have to wait too much longer.


I am excited about new kids, they are so fun to watch and are a renewable source of milk and meat for our table. We are especially looking forward to more milk since the one doe we are milking, is not quite keeping us in enough milk right now. I bought a gallon of milk at the store today. But if we only have to supplement with store bought milk for a few weeks this year, we will have almost met our goal of being able to drink our own milk year round. For the past several years we have gone without our own milk for at least two months between the goats drying up and the new kids being born. So we’re almost there.

One Stripe and Copper


It takes time, effort and a lot of trial and error to accomplish many goals, especially when that goal deals with a live product. What are the goals you have for your own self-sufficiency? Take the time and expend the energy to increase your skill and knowledge so that you will be closer to accomplishing your goals. The more you learn, either from trial or from error, the better off you will be in the long run, and the coming run will be a long one.

Until next time – Fern