Managing More Babies Than Expected During Goat-Kidding Season


40 goatlings twins

One set of twins. Photo by Keba M. Hitzeman

Somehow, birthing season sneaks up on me every year. I know it’s coming, I know what I need to do to be ready for it, and inevitably, I think I have “just one more week” to get things prepared before goatlings or lambs start arriving. That phrase is the cue for labor to begin.

This year, I was slightly more ahead of the game than usual. I had converted an unused area in the barn into a large “maternity ward” where I would put all of the pregnant animals when it looked like they were close to birthing. I previously wrote about my intent to build lambing jugs that could be set up as needed in that area. The new lambing jugs didn’t happen due to several reasons — time to build them being the biggest one. I had panels and gates that I could set up in a nearby pen, and decided that would be fine for this year. It wasn’t ideal, but it would suffice.

There were some signs that the four goat does were getting close to birthing, so I moved them over to the maternity ward. And waited. And kept their hay and water filled. And kept waiting. For a month. So much for the signs of impending birth being accurate. Finally, I heard the sound of goatlings when I went to the barn for morning chores – twins! My herd matron, Athena, had a healthy baby girl and baby boy on February 9. Into the lambing jug they went, and over the next week, the other three does birthed a set of twins and two sets of triplets. I’m pretty sure they decided that 10 babies would be a wonderful Valentine’s present for me! That’s goat math for you, where 4 equals 10.

Only one of the mamas was not immediately a good mother, but a night of being separated from her babies convinced her that letting them nurse was a much better idea than being milked twice a day for me to bottle feed them. I do have one bottle baby, but his mama is a first freshener and wasn’t sure what to do with triplets. He is the smallest of the three and just wasn’t strong enough to push his way through his siblings to nurse. He is doing well though, and is still in with his siblings and mama. I’ve found that if the bottle babies stay with the family, they do much better than if I need to separate them completely.

40 goatling

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