Friday evening on May 11 we went into the barn to settle all the animals for the night and found one of our yearling does in labor. Surprise! We didn’t know she was pregnant. We hadn’t ever seen a birth because to date we’ve gone out into the barn in the morning and have found new babies there. That’s one of the nice things about Spanish goats. They’re pretty self sufficient and rarely need assistance.
As we watched her progress over the next couple of hours we began to suspect that this was not going to be as easy as some of the others. At about 9:30pm, I was in the barn again and Daisy was just laying. She didn’t seem to be progressing in her labor. I googled how long does goat labor last. Found a Goats for Dummies website that stated that once the amniotic sac shows it should be 15-30 minutes. That happened about 2 hours ago. OH NO! Now I think we need to try to pull this baby.
I called Mike out and we made the decision to see what we could do. I got on one of the plastic gloves I had purchased for just such incidences & tried to see what we were dealing with. I felt a foot and a head….missing a second foot. I could grab the foot I felt, and was able to pull it out, but wasn’t making a lot of progress. I have to admit I was scared of pulling the kid out too far but not being able to get it out all the way as I had read something that face with this situation you’re supposed to push it back in and reposition the kid, but darned if I could remember all those directions. I didn’t even know if I could find that web site again quickly enough. I knew I was being too tentative. Mike asked to take a try. He was more aggressive than I was, but made more progress. We looked at each other and I asked if we should call a vet. He said no. I grabbed Daisy around the waist and pulled back as Mike pulled on the kid. At this point we both expected the kid to be dead and it was more about saving the doe as she’s 62.5% Wood, and a beauty. We made slow progress and finally he pulled out a kid. It was alive!!! we quickly cleaned it off as much as we could. I called our daughter to come out. I ran into the house for more clean towels. We worked on cleaning off the kid but the doe was not very happy with our “intrusion” and the subsequent result and she turned her back on us focusing on eating hay and refusing to acknowledge the new kid, or even us.
The kid looked weak, like the birth had just taken every last ounce of strength from him. He didn’t even try to stand up or even lift up his head. HMMM, this one might not make it. Mike milked Daisy for the colostrum & we took a syringe and gave him as much as we thought he could take. Set up a heat lamp for him I said we’d see what the morning brought us.
The next morning we found an alive baby, but he was still laying on his side under the heat lamp just where we had left him. Worse was that Daisy was not interested in him. I picked him up. He wouldn’t stand but was giving it a valiant effort. I held him up near Daisy. She would not stand still for him to nurse or even seem like she cared that I was holding her baby, which is not normal for a new Spanish goat mama. But now I identified why this little one had such a hard birth. He has the longest legs I’ve ever seen on a newborn goat. His nose came up to Daisy’s back and he could hardly get down low enough to even find her udder. No wonder one of the front legs got tangled and stuck during birth. I worked with him for about 20 minutes while I waited for Mike to come back into the barn. He was trying to stand and find his balance and I tried to let him do more and more of the work until he finally figured out what he had to do to stand and walk. This whole scenario was just like the movie Bambi with crossing legs, wobbly to and fro followed by a head long plunge down and a quick scoop by me to stop the fall and then resetting his legs so he could feel where they needed to be in order to stand. He was working hard to figure this out. We milked Daisy again and decided that we had to make the effort to keep him alive since he was trying so hard.
We gave him a syringe full of food every hour, kept milking Daisy so he could get the important first nutrients from the colostrum. He gained strength throughout the day and wanted to nurse but darn her….she just wouldn’t let him. We found her sitting next to him, chattering to him and even grooming him, so we knew she had not totally rejected him, but she wouldn’t stand still for him. We held her still and bribed her with treats every few hours to let him nurse. After about 10 days of keeping them sequestered in the pen and making her nurse him we noticed that she was letting him nurse more and more. I can confidently say that she is now nursing him and seems to be taking care of him.