Katy’s babies were born exactly on her due date last Monday, and, boy, did we get a surprise! We thought she was having twins, but she had triplets: two girls and a boy! Part of their delivery was unexpected, too—the first baby was stuck.
The adventure began Sunday night, when Katy felt restless and Mom slept with her in the barn. Mom says that if she has an animal bred, it’s her duty to be there when the mama gives birth in case she needs help. Mom had been walking from the house to the barn to do night checks for a week. It was very cold, and she didn’t get much sleep. That wasn’t fun. She put down extra straw, spread out her sleeping bag pads, took a pillow and some blankets, and set herself up in a corner of Katy’s stall. Katy came over and slept with Mom—she thought camping was fun!
By the next day, Katy was being very affectionate. She’s always friendly, but she rubbed on Mom and cried when Mom went away. Personality changes are an early sign of kidding.
A few hours later Katy began digging in the straw. She’d dig and dig, then lie down, wait a minute, get up, and look around for kids. That’s called nesting. Labor had begun.
Finally, Katy got down to business. She’d lie down, have a contraction, get up and dig, then lie down again. After 30 minutes or so of that, whoosh! A gush of fluid came out of Katy’s vulva. Her water had broken.
Katy stayed down and started pushing hard. A bubble should have appeared with 2 feet and a nose inside of it, but nothing happened. Mom checked and all she could feel was a tail, a butt and two hocks! Katy’s kid was in a true breech position—a very hard one to correct. Dad held Katy while Mom tried to re-position the kid. She got one leg pulled back into a normal reverse-birth position, but she couldn’t push the kid back into Katy very far and the other leg wouldn’t come back. Finally, Katy pushed while Mom pulled, and out popped a cute black-and-white doeling. Pulling is painful for the doe and dangerous because it’s very easy to injure her, so it’s important not to be rough if you have to do it.
Mom and Katy set to work cleaning the little one, but not for long. Mom felt another kid when she pulled the first one. Everyone held their breath. Was it positioned correctly?
It was! Katy plopped back down and easily delivered another cute black-and-white doeling.
Mom used the sterile scissors in our birthing kit to trim the girls’ navels to 1½ inches long, then she dipped the stumps in 7-percent iodine solution. (Nowadays, you have to buy that from a vet.) We were all celebrating a successful kidding when Katy stopped licking her daughters and looked very weird. She whipped around the stall, squatted, and in a big gush of fluid, another kid flew across the stall. It was a big, healthy boy. Good thing he wasn’t the kid that was stuck!
After that, Katy began slowly passing her afterbirth. Mom brought Katy a big bucket of warm, molasses-laced water from the house while Katy lick, lick, licked her kids. Katy glugged the water down and asked for another bucket!
Mom hung around watching the little family bond until Katy’s afterbirth came out. Then she inverted a plastic bag over her hands, picked up the afterbirth and took it away to be burned. If it isn’t removed, goat and sheep moms often eat their afterbirth, and some people think they should. But our sheep, Baannie, tried eating hers a few years ago and choked. Mom had to give Baannie a sheepy Heimlich maneuver or she would have died, so now they don’t get a chance to eat it.
Then Katy got a big dose of dewormer because stress triggers a parasite hatch in new mothers. She also had to have a round of long-lasting penicillin injections to prevent infection because Mom had to reposition her first kid. Some veterinarians recommend inserting a uterine bolus (that’s a big, slow-release antibiotic pill) instead of shots; ask your vet which he thinks is better.
So I’m a dad again! My new kids’ names are Black Meg, Lulu Darling and Flash (who you can see being born in the video above). Want to see more pictures? Visit Katy’s Facebook page and take a look!