Birth on a farm is amazing, whether it is a baby chick hatching under its mama, or a goat kid being born in the barn. On Tuesday, my friend Melody over at Solstice Sun Farm invited the girls and I over to watch her goat have babies, and we were happy to have the opportunity.
Amber, the mama goat, had been contracting all night the night before, but thankfully held off until about 10:00 a.m. before really progressing. At 10:14 Melody sent me a message to head out, so we grabbed our things and hopped into the car. Once we arrived, I could hear Amber vocalizing and knew she had to be close. I got to the stall just as Melody was giving a little tug on the babies feet. He had been in the birth canal for nearly 30 minutes at that point, so she felt like the mama could use a little assistance. The baby slid out and was dried off. I watched Melody take a little of the afterbirth and feed it to Amber. She explained that if you do this, you can sometimes get the mama to “adopt” you, which makes her more willing to share her milk with you. Amber did begin licking Melody, which is a good sign.
A few minutes later, the next baby came. It happened much quicker this time, and slid out with no assistance. The baby did need some vigorous rubbing to get her moving around, and some help removing the caul. One boy and one girl! Amber was only slightly interested in the babies, but more interested in eating the afterbirth. Once the babies were cleaned up, we both took a baby and headed to the house to warm them up.
On Melody’s farm, she likes to bottle feed the babies. It is said to make friendlier goats, and also helps with stand manners once they have their own babies. (I can attest to her goats being very people friendly and sweet!) In order to do this, the babies are removed from the mom so that they form an attachment to the person taking care of them. Instead of nursing, the caretaker milks the mama goat and feeds it back to the babies via a bottle nipple. It takes a lot of commitment from the caretaker. In the beginning, you need to feed the baby every few hours, even at night. The frequency of feedings decreases, but you still need to bottle feed them for 12 weeks.
We were so excited to be able to witness the birth! It was the first time any of my girls have gotten to see a mammal give birth (they have only seen baby chicks hatch), so it was extra cool for them to be there. The whole thing made me even more excited for our own goats to have babies. Aurora and Millie have both been bred, but we are not sure if either are pregnant yet. If so, they should be having babies in early and late April.