So, if you’re anything like me, getting ready for kidding is almost as exciting and fun as having babies on the ground. I love the planning and dreaming about it all. I’m just going to add to this list as I think of it over the winter. Sure, there are obvious things you want to have and I’ll include those but I thought I should focus on what I do that’s unique to life here at Flannelberry.
The reality is that 99% of the time we’re prone to interfere when we don’t need to (a bit like human birth) so the first things in my toolbox are patience and a belief that if mama goats weren’t able to get babies out without my human they wouldn’t have continued to exist. Of course, I am also ready to intervene if I really need to and here are my ‘go to’ items:
First and foremost is just to have fresh bedding and no water buckets that a baby could be dropped into. Yes, it happens and I can’t even imagine how awful I’d feel if it happened here. Close to EDD, I use smaller buckets and just know I’ll be refreshing them more often. A pain but not nearly as much as finding a kid in a water trough.
Next is that I make sure I have good quality molasses on hand. After the birth, there’s nothing like a bit of molasses water for mama. I don’t measure, just add a dollop of organic, blackstrap molasses to a fresh pail of hot water. I might also add some unpasteurized, organic apple cider vinegar as well. I always use warm or hot water. Your water temp might be dependant on the weather, I guess. I have a friend who chooses to kid in August. I’m not sure I’d do hot hot water in August. I’m a spring lamber/kidder so for me, hot, hot, hot water is a must.
Third on my list are towels (old ones) and a fleece coat. In the event that the weather turns really cold, the mama is having a rough time, there is a really small baby or some other reason that isn’t just your excitement and wanting to get in there (we’ve all been there), running around to find a towel to dry off a freezing and wet baby isn’t fun. Better to just have them to hand and use them if you need them. I don’t use them unless mama really isn’t getting baby cleaned off. I know it seems counterintuitive but mama’s licking really does clean them and dry them so just let her do it unless she really can’t. And she doesn’t need to doit the very second they’re born. I’ve woken up to lambs in the coldest, freezingest weather and the mums got them cleaned off. So, hands off unless you really really have to get in there. You don’t want to do anything that interferes with bonding unless you want a bummer (sounds fun and is but tiresome quickly).
The fleece coat is for the same reason. When we had lambs we had the odd bummer (rejected one) or a small one of multiples that had a harder time keeping warm. Or, in the case of goats, the first girls came in May but we had a freak June snowstorm where Athena was not allowed to curl up with Rosebud and we woke up to a shivering, hunched baby. You can see the picture of her eating happily in my bathroom – it’s from that time. We warmed her up in the house, putting on her fleece coat, and then she went back out. It happened too with our boys, a recently weaned little fellow who came to our damp environment and was a bit chilled the first days. He needed a coat each night, even with a buddy to snuggle up to. Anyway, have one on hand. NO COTTON! Seriously. Synthetics (and I’m not a fan of synthetics) are better. Cotton, when it gets damp, takes heat from the body. It’s why it’s so great in the summer. So, you see those cute pics of lambs and kids with t-shirts on. Don’t do it (unless you need to cool them off). Get a piece of fleece, or better yet, something wool that you can turn into a little coat for the cold baby.
Don’t know what such a coat would look like. Here’s one but don’t use a tube sock! It’s cotton.
Here’s Percy modelling the coat he had custom felted for him (because that’s the way we roll):
I don’t have a belt on the coat. Some people do but I was worried about him getting tangled in it. I think I would put a button next time because I was CONSTANTLY putting it back on him, even with holes for all four legs. Anyway, Percy is the cutest goat EVER so we didn’t mind. He was really skittish when we got him but he is now sure that I=treats. Anyway, that’s not helping for kidding supplies. if it helps, I’m like this in real life too. Way too excited about goats (and sheep, and wool but I’ll stop now. Again. Ahem).
So where are we? We have bedding, coats, molasses, towels. Those are the biggies. So rarely will you need to do anything which is a much better state of mind to be in than “ready to jump in”. When we look for problems, we often find them 🙂
So, recording stuff. Not like video but however you record births. I use index cards. So I have index cards and pencils to hand. I use pen on the good copy but pencils write no matter what. And if the tip breaks, I have my knife to sharpen it. Part of recording is a tape measure and scale. I love the sling scale because I can weigh baby and mama can still see her/him. I don’t weigh immediately after the birth. I mean really, does it matter? What’s more important, recording the birth weight or letting the bonding happen?
I guess a pocket knife. No, not to cut the umbilical although I guess you could have to. I just always have one in my pocket and it comes in handy and the most odd times. Again, not something to want to be scrambling for should you need it. I once came across my ram tangled in bailing twine (my bad) and in a bad way. His horn and neck and everything had gotten wrapped. I think he was scratching against I tree and likely I’d tied something to it at some point. Anyway, I found him in rough shape, cut him free with my handy dandy knife and he sauntered off. He was fine after a drink but it was a good reminder. Also, credit to J who is all about the pocket knife and has drilled it into my head – he was right.
A headlamp is another must have. Nothing like going out when it’s light and realizing dark is coming and you don’t want to leave a ewe or doe who is doing poorly and you’re alone. I carry a headlamp in my pocket during baby season. J always has one but I find it too bulky. Check the batteries too. Make sure it’s working before you really need it.
Betadine. I love betadine. I use it for disinfection whenever something disinfecting is needed. No, I don’t use iodine. If you do, I suggest that the next time you have a cut or splinter or something, you put it on yourself and see how special that feels. Betadine or Chlorhexidine both work really well and neither of them sting. Chlorhexidine is what you wash yourself with before surgery – pretty reliable stuff. So, that’s for anything that needs disinfecting – navels, hands, mama’s bits, whatever.
You could have some lube handy. Consider coconut oil instead of the commercial stuff. I know there are lots of problems with harvesting coconut oil but I bet the commercial stuff is as bad. And, coconut oil has lots of benefits, not the least of which are the antibacterial ones (very important in situations where lube is indicated). In addition to lube, lots of people keep gloves on hand (haha). I don’t. I used to but truth be told, I like being able to really feel things – not have a layer of nitrile or whatever between what I need to feel and the sense organ doing the feeling. Also – if you do use gloves, please don’t use latex. It would be a really lame time to discover that you or your ewe/doe had an allergy.
This reminded me – trim your nails when you think kidding/lambing season will be upon you. Long, or even slightly long, nails have no place in lambing or kidding. YMMV but if you’re here, you’re subject to my opinion and there, you just had it.
Alright, milk replacer can be handy but I prefer to have a litre of goat milk frozen. If I need it, it can be defrosted quickly and I’m not worried about what I’m giving the baby. Of course, you will want bottles and such as well. Best to have tube feeding supplies on hand too.
A thermometer is handy too.
And of course, every list tells you to have the vet’s number on hand.
To be honest though, I’ve never needed any of the emergency supplies typically listed. I have needed milk and bottles, obviously the recording stuff is handy, and the headlamp but most of the time, if we don’t interfere, there is no reason to interfere. So, sit back at a respectful distance, and let mama get down to the business of having her babies. I hope when she does, you’ll stop by and post pictures.