Raven, the buck who bred the girls this year, is a solid black Nigerian Dwarf with about an eighth of Pygmy in him. He is sweet natured as was his mother and very gentle. His sister and he were the last of her babies, for poor Weezie, my very first goat, passed away shortly after they were weaned. Although he was not a bottle baby, Raven did not start life very healthy and was handled a great deal, always checking to ensure he was on course for getting better and stronger. His babies are wonderful so far.
Tonight Daphne had her babes and so did Cocoa. Cocoa is also black and she had twins, a boy and a girl. Daphne had quads, three boys and girl and each of Daphne's babies is twice the size of one of Cocoa's kids. Cocoa is not a very big girl herself, but she is the lowest in the pecking order of the goat pen and is always last to feed. She is not underweight, but still had such tiny babies. The babies are crying and trying to nurse, though Cocoa keeps backing away to try to keep them in her line of sight. Shortly I will go out and feel their bellies to see if they are round and full and stick my finger in their mouths to see if they are warm. A cold mouth means no food in the tummy and is immediately cause for intervention. Those little ones are born without much reserve energy and must feed within a few hours. Mother's first milk is colostrum, and contains antibodies and is richer than her other milk will be. It provides a wonderful start in life, but the kids must drink. Once they are cold, they often lose the desire to suck and some have to be tube fed.
I did milk a bit of colostrum from Daphne in case I need it. With four babies, there is always a chance that one will be pushed away. The kids are very close in size, which is good, and seem equally strong, even the little girl. They have a better chance of getting enough milk. Daphne can provide enough milk for four babies if the babies cooperate and share the teats. I will keep a close eye out for hunched backs and quiet babies, which indicates they are not getting enough and must be supplemented by bottle.
If Cocoa's babies have not nursed, I will have to milk Cocoa and feed the babies the colostrum by bottle. Cocoa is not very cooperative at this time, or at least was not. I flipped her over and tried to offer a teat to the kid, but it is not natural and they would not suckle. I do have a tube to tube feed if worse comes to worse.
I took the babies and the moms to the goat barn and put a hay bale up as a partition between the moms and kids so they would keep their babies close. Kids have a tendency to wander a bit until they have been well fed and know where the mlk comes from.
I am grateful for the goats. They are sweet little creatures that do comical things. I have not mlked any of them, since they always have babies that need their milk more than I do. This year I do hope to milk at least one or two though. Once the babies are well established, they only need to be fed twice daily. That is when it is common to remove them from the moms and milk the moms in the morning then return the kids to the moms for the day. I think it is a plan and will work towards it, but not at the sake of weak kids. Daphne's last baby was born breach, that is bum first. Normally this is a very bad thing because the kids get amniotic fluid in their lungs. The birth was quick, since she was very loose from the first three babes, and the little one seems fine. My fingers are crossed, because she is the only doeling.
Daphne has had 11 kids in 4 years. Cocoa kidded one last year, her first and twins this year. Cocoa and her babies will be sold. She was selected to go before kidding and people wanted her, but it was too close to the due date for safe moving, in my opinion, so once the babies are strong and she is nursing them on her own, they can be sold with her. There are more people interested in goats this year than in the previous two. Last year, I could not have given kids away. Things do go in cycles it seems.
So, Daphne my queen and Cocoa, my shy one, are mommas tonight. Yay! I would like to go to sleep, but must go out and check on the kids and possibly intervene. zzzz. Some people bring sleeping bags to the barn. Not this farmer though. zzzzz. To the barn I go.