Tag Archives: breeding goats

Winter Babies

It has been COLD these last few months.  Not just the normal chilly weather we come to expect in December and January, but freezing!  

With temperatures so low, I tend to fret about the new babies, although with fur and feathers, they are much warmer than I am.

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First, our gringa (naked neck) chicken hatched a brood of 4.  

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Then Caramela the Sheep had a little lamb we named Christmas.  We think she was a little early because of her size, but Caramela had slipped off a rock and went into labor, so now Fuzzy, Oreo and Cookie have another little playmate.

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Next Caramela the Goat had a baby.  My husband was disappointed.  She was an only child, though her mother had been a twin, and she was white, no distinctive markings at all.  We named her Snowy.

 

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Then our gallina de pelea (fighting hen–the breed of chicken most often used in cockfights in our area) hatched a brood of 10 chicks.  Some are yellow, some are black and some look like little penguins.  This particular breed isn’t known for its nesting or mothering instincts, but she seems to be doing pretty well so far.  She picked a dense vegetative area up off the ground that gets full sun in the afternoon to have her chicks.  I told my husband he needs to make a ramp because, in a few days, the chicks will figure out how to get down, but won’t be able to get back up.  He said he’d work on that.

Then disaster struck.  Last week, La Blanca, our white goat seemed to be in labor.  After several hours, the labor stopped and we thought perhaps it was a false alarm or like Braxton Hicks contractions or something.  A few days later, I came home from work and my husband said that her water had broken several hours earlier.  This raised some red flags.  She ought to have given birth soon after.  She hadn’t.  She labored on and off throughout the night.  I didn’t hold out much hope for the baby by morning.

Once it was light enough to see, my husband gave her a check-up.  She hollered in pain when he touched her tailbone.  Further examination showed the baby’s head actually in the birth canal.  Extraordinary measures were taken, I won’t get into that, it was horrific. Neighbors were called in to advise.  Finally, the decision was made to end La Blanca’s suffering.  

The baby was removed and examined.  The uterus had detached and strangled the kid as well as preventing the mother from expelling it from her body.  We’ve had birth complications before, but nothing like this from the 100 or so kids, lambs, and foals born here.

My husband was despondent.  There was nothing that could have been done, but he feels responsible for the animals under his care.  It’s really set him against goats, although I’ve pointed out that over the years, we’ve had more problems with sheep births than goats. Then again, someone has a young female Boer goat for sale that he’s interested in taking a look at it, so you never can tell.

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Assassin goat

2016 was a low birth year for us on the Flores mini-ranch overall. We had no horses, puppies, kittens or chicks born. Our goat duplication was also minimal. Instead of everyone having twins, there were only singletons or none at all in the summer. Well, except for Queenie. She’s been a consistent twinner all along.

So in 2017, we weren’t surprised when Whitey was yet another singleton. He wasn’t too happy about being the only kid. There was no one to play with when the mommies went out to graze. He was very vocal in his displeasure. He also didn’t have anyone to huddle with under the trough. He took to waiting until everyone was settled down and then climbing on top of one of the goats, usually his mom, to sleep.

About a month later, the big white nanny goat, a recent acquisition and thus still nameless, decided it was high time to have her baby. She waited until the middle of the night to ensure privacy. I heard the wailing of an unhappy baby goat sometime around 2 am. As my husband was not home, I went out to check it out.

Sure enough, there was a little white kid expressing its dislike of its new condition. But where was the mother? Oh, there on the other side of the corral. It looked as if she wasn’t finished kidding yet as she was still pawing the ground. Whitey wasn’t pleased with this new addition and added his own bleats to that of the new baby.

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I waited outside for about 15 minutes, sure that any second she would give birth. As the minutes ticked by, I could see that she was having difficulty. She lay down yet again and stretched her legs into the air. I had never seen a goat in such distress. I decided that emergency measures needed to be taken.

I woke my son from a sound sleep and sent him up the road to my father-in-law. I was concerned that the nanny goat wasn’t going to make it. In the 10 minutes or so that it took for my son to return with my father-in-law (much more skilled in goat husbandry than myself) she popped out another baby goat. However, she was still carrying on.

It turned out that there was yet another baby goat. At this point, she was exhausted and the kid was presenting feet first, which was delaying things a bit. My father-in-law helped out a little, and voila, baby 3. Triplets! There were 2 boys and a girl which we tentatively christened Curly, Moe and Larry.

The next day, mama goat was still exhausted, as were we. The triplets weren’t too fussed if she was out of sight, but move one of their siblings and they became hysterical. Mama goat needed a little extra time to recuperate, but soon enough was back on her feet.

As mama goat had only two teats, feeding time became quite a hassle. One of the triplets decided that he and Whitey would be brothers and hunkered down with his new family. This worked out until Whitey’s mom was sold. The first night she was gone, something happened to the adopted triplet. We found him dead in the morning.

The deaths didn’t stop there. Later that afternoon, Pinta birthed a stillborn kid. We ended up on the plus side by the end of the day, though. Bunnie gave birth to itty bitty Brownie. Just a few hours later, Venada had twins–a boy and a girl, twice the size of Brownie.

Venada's boy/girl twins are a day younger than little Brownie, but look at the size difference.

Venada’s boy/girl twins are a day younger than little Brownie but look at the size difference.

Brownie gave us quite a scare about 2 weeks later. We had left the goats unattended for about 30 minutes while we went in for lunch. When my husband came out to check on the goats, he gave a holler. Brownie was in the water bucket up to his neck in water and unmoving, although still alive.

My husband wrapped him in a towel and sat with him in the sun. As he still didn’t show any inclination to move about, he brought one of the triplets that had befriended Brownie to nudge him a bit. About 45 minutes later, Brownie tried to get up. Whew!

It was about 2 hours before he could wobble around any. Now that the danger had passed, we puzzled about how this could have happened.

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We think we have an assassin mama goat. The triplet that died, might have been killed. The stillbirth might have been caused by repeated stomach butting. Another triplet has a torn ear. And it just wasn’t possible that Brownie fell into the bucket. He would have fallen head first and that would have been the end of him. We think he was tossed through the air and landed in the bucket. And our probable suspect was Venada.

I’m all for ousting the murderer, but she does give healthy twins even though she goes overboard in her need for world domination. My husband agreed to keep an eye on her and since the bucket incident, there’ve been no new attempts on anyone’s life.

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Finally, a month after we thought all the kids for the season had been born, Vaquita presented us with Skunk. He’s long legged, long-eared and oh so cute. She too waited till dark to give birth and had a bit of difficulty. The kid was big and this was her first baby. She’s also pretty skittish compared to our other goats, so didn’t like anyone close enough to give assistance and once delivered, didn’t want anyone near her baby. Of course, the dark coloring make Skunk hard to see and has been causing no end of grief for his nervous nellie mom. My husband separated Vaquita and Skunk in hopes that the assassin goat doesn’t have an opportunity to strike again.

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When we did some additional paring down of the goats, Venada and her babies went up on the auction block.  We just couldn’t have murdering goats around, even if there was a good probability of twins every season.  Instead, my husband purchased Jirafa (Giraffe) and much to our delight, she presented us with twins.

Jirafa and one of the twin daughters. She takes after her dad I guess.

The other daughter–just like mom!

 

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Love is in the air

In the Spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love--Alfred Tennyson

No, it’s not our son that I’m referring too. Although being a foot taller than his classmates and sporting an impressive upper lip fuzz mustache has turned quite a few girls’ heads, he still is only 13 and not ready for dating yet. It is, however, definitely springtime in our barnyard critter neighborhood.

Our little chivitos (kids) have been jumping and leaping and growing devilish horns these past 2 months, which means that the moms have begun their first estrus cycle since giving birth. This hormonal change has turned Jason Boer into quite the Romeo.

Unfortunately, Romeo doesn’t sing very well. In fact, it’s an awful racket. And although his serenading is just as important for wooing the ladies as peeing on his face (yep), the noise is horrendous. As he likes to make his moves by moonlight, he has woken us up on several occasions. Groggy, it takes us several minutes to realize that no, an animal is not being tortured outside.

Much to our surprise, Junior, at the tender age of 2 months, has become a chorus boy in the love songs. The first time each of us heard his singing, we ran out to the corral in a panic, thinking one of the chivitos (kids) had become stuck and was dying. Nope. He’s just a Romeo in training.

None of the other little goats have the least interest in the fully grown mama goats, so we are astounded at Junior’s advanced development. Occasionally, father and son have been heard to sing duets. AHHHH!

My father-in-law’s macho goat sings in a lovely baritone. In fact, he sings so well, that on several occasions I went outside to see who was singing only to watch the herd pass by on their way up the hill. We should be so lucky.

Well, the good thing is that since all the kids were born within a 2 week period, the love fest concerts should also be finished within a 2 week period. Meanwhile, we’ll just cover our ears and endure.

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