Saturday, February 6, 2021

A Birth Story: Tabitha & Riker

Riker: 24 hours old.
Look at those waddles!
Because we knew Tabitha (Tabby/Tabs) was getting close to her time to go into labor, we were still on goat watch around the clock. For those keeping tabs, this means that 4 of the last 5 days involved setting an alarm for every 3 hours to check for signs of new kids being born. We might not be needed, but it is February and as I have written before, freezing cold nights can cause hypothermia and death in kids quickly. Also, if we *are* needed, we want to be there as quickly as possible to deal with a complication. Tabby went into labor between the 3 am and 6 am barn checks.

Riker was positioned 3rd down on left side.
We assisted the delivery.
At 6 am, there was a discharge and the promise of a hoof just peeking out. Out first thought is always relief when we see that hoof appear. It should be followed by a second hoof and a nose in a perfect presentation. By 6:20 or so, the nose appeared along with the original hoof. She was making slow, but steady progress. We were conscious that the second hoof needed to be coming along, too. If not, we would be looking at two complications which might need our assistance. (1) It could mean the other leg is folded forward and caught up under the kid's chest. In this case, we glove up and glob on lots of lubricant. Carefully inserting a hand with fingers closed together to find the other hoof and help pull it forward. This usually releases the bottle jam and allows the Mother to push the rest of the kid herself. (2) It could mean the other leg is laying flat along the body, in what we refer to as the Superman pose. (See 3rd image on left of diagram.) One leg forward, one leg back. This position causes the shoulder area to be thicker than otherwise is normal and can cause a hang up. In our experience, gentle but firm traction on the delivered leg and head of the kid while the Mother pushes usually is all that is needed to get the second shoulder delivered. Once freed, the Mother can deliver the rest of the kid normally in most cases. 

Riker's head and left front leg presenting.
And so it went with this delivery. Once the head and leg were visible and no other hoof appeared, it was clear we needed to attempt to help. Sean was already gloved and ready. {I had been in charge of taking pictures and videos, so I wasn't wearing gloves. Plus- Sean is stronger than me... like a lot. All things being equal, when required Sean does more of the exterior traction and because my hands are smaller, I do more internal pulling~ if it is necessary.} He held onto the back of the kid's head and it's leg and pulled out and down with each contraction. Within minutes, the kid was delivered to its torso. Sean stopped assisting and Tabby was able to deliver the rest of the kid in 10 minute more. I made sure the kid's mouth and nose were clear of amniotic fluids and encouraged Tabby with my words and hands.

Tabby was immediately attentive.
Between cleaning her offspring, she curled
her lip to check his scent.
Tabby presented us with a gorgeous, single, strapping bucking. He is a beast in size and attitude. Within 10 minutes of being born, he found his feet and began searching for milk. Because the temperature outside was in the 30's, we filled a couple empty soft drink bottles with warm water to provide a warm spot where Mom and kid could lay. Heaters in the barn are a fire hazard that we don't take. These work great to give some ambient warmth on cold days. 

Goats have a vomeronasal organ (Jacobson's organ)
in the roofs of their mouth. Curling their lip helps draw
new scents into it to help identify them.  
Checking on the pair through the day was a delight. I love healthy, precocious kids who nurse without interference and experienced mothers who clean and care for their young immediately. I'll always be ready to help when it is needed and since I am generally worried about something, its not out of the way to add a new family to my list of concerns and prayers. But, the feeling of contentment and relief that comes in the wake of a good kidding, is the best. When I have nothing to do but enjoy the new life before me, take pictures and videos to share with you all, and pray in thanksgiving. That is the best feeling.

Almost clean
This handsome guy reminds me of beloved Asher, except he has his mother's waddles- which means I love him already in memory of his grandfather. I can't wait to see his personality reveal itself in the coming months. Sean has tentatively named him Riker. Because I know that financially, we cannot keep every single animal who is born here, I understand the need to find good adoptive homes for some of the yearlings each year. We don't separate kids from their moms before they are weaned. And, we don't offer single kids for adoption.

Dry and warming by a water bottle.
Based on the name Sean bestowed, I asked him, "Are you sure we don't want to keep him to be a future herd sire?"

Sean grinned, "Nope. But, for now he is Riker. If we decide he must stay, we can change it."

I can live with that. 

Thanks for visiting with us today, Friends. We are very happy for your company. If you enjoyed this story or if you have any questions, please comment below. I write because I love to and it becomes a diary of the story of our farm. Still, your comments make me feel like I'm not alone here. :) I posted a short video below of Tabitha giving birth. There is a jump from when Riker's head was delivered and his body while I assisted Sean and Tabby, but if you want to see what it is like to help bring new life into the world, check it out.


Sean & Sonja

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