So here’s the final count–2 purebred Oberhasli doelings and 4 Alpine/Oberhasli cross doelings, all doing well. There are two schools of thought on raising dairy goat kids. One method is to take the kids away immediately upon birth and begin bottle feeding. The thought process behind this is the kids will bond with their human “mom” and therefore be much tamer and grow up to be easier to handle. This, of course, is very labor intensive, but a lot of people subscribe to this method and swear by it. The second way, and the way we do it, is to let the dams raise the kids. I prefer to raise my goats as naturally as possible, and I just don’t have time to bottle feed babies. I’ve found that it’s really the dam that determines how friendly the kids will be and not necessarily how they are raised. Cypress’s kids are always like puppies, they just want to be loved and handled, just like she does. Sage’s kids are very skittish, just as she is very aloof and not concerned with human attention. Fannie’s kids start out skittish but quickly overcome that by being handled daily, as Fannie is a very affectionate goat. We leave the kids with their moms 24/7 until they’re 2 weeks old, then they are separated at night into their own stall and have a “slumber party.” They have a little box we built for them inside their stall and they love to pile in there and sleep, then jump on top of it, etc. By this age they are nibbling grain and hay. In the morning I milk the moms, then the kids are let out with them all day. We’re sharing the milk this way and it has worked well for us. There really is no right or wrong way, it’s just what works for you. Tonight will be their first night of separation, and hopefully it won’t be too traumatic for them. They were disbudded earlier this week so it’s been a big week for them!
Cypress had her kids last night around 8 p.m. I suspected she was going to have them all afternoon and hoped she’d get it done before dark, but she decided to hold off until night time. When we checked on her at 8 she had just had them and was cleaning them up, but it was cold (28 degrees) and they were wet. Not a good combination. I toweled them off but the little things were so tiny and cold they were struggling. We put them inside our jackets to see if that would help, no luck. They tried to stand but were weak and didn’t have the energy to nurse. So, we brought them in the house. I milked Cypress and tried to get some colostrum down them and did get a little with a syringe as they just weren’t taking to the bottle. We also gave them a few syringes of a coffee and karo syrup mixture to help with their energy and that perked them up somewhat. As they got finally got warm and dry they became more active, but still not interested in taking a bottle. I tried again at 3 a.m. and it finally clicked for them and they sucked down 4 ounces each. They peed and pooped, and promptly went back to sleep in their wash tub. This morning they were doing fine and eagerly took their bottles. We made little jackets for them out of sweatshirt sleeves and put them out with mama, who was very happy to see them. I’ve checked on them hourly all day and they’re getting up and around pretty well, although still a little weak, and they’re nursing fine. Last year was my first year kidding and everything went perfectly. It was about month later than this year and much warmer. We’ve had way below temps lately, so dealing with little ones in the cold was a learning experience. Thank goodness it’s going to warm up back to normal now. I have two more does due any day.
Best part? They’re both GIRLS!!
So, today’s the day, or should be anyway. Cypress should be first to have her kids, followed by Sage tomorrow and Fannie on Wednesday. They’re all separated in their kidding pens, bedded down with a thick layer of straw, plenty of hay to eat, etc. Nobody seems imminent though at this point. My kidding kit is ready–towels, iodine, paper towels, vitamin B12, etc. I let the dams raise the kids so I don’t have to worry about bottle feeding and all that entails, but I’m prepared in case of an emergency to bottle feed. So now I just wait, and keep checking. Waiting is hard!