Cooper

Our 100th post!  Who knew we talked so much?

I blogged recently about the change of direction we are taking with our goats.  Having sold the meat breed goats, we still needed to get our dairy does bred and explored many options.  Not keen on getting another buck – they are stinky and frankly, our last one was a lovable butthead.  (Pronunciation guide: The first three syllables of “lovable butthead” are silent.)  We looked into artificial insemination (AI) but technicians are few and the ridiculously brief period of receptivity( 6-12 hours) ensures that even if you detect the heat, it will be finished before the AI tech can arrive.

I investigated learning how to do the AI myself, but courses are expensive and halfway across the country.  Then would be the challenge of keeping semen onsite ready to be thawed for that narrow window of opportunity – which could occur while we were sleeping!

My does are Oberhasli – a Swiss breed that we have since learned are somewhat rare in this country.  I have two friends each with registered Nubian does – another dairy breed – who were also without bucks.  You see where this is going…. a shared problem becomes a shared venture.  So, we agreed look for a registered, purebred Nubian with good conformation.  After looking for some time, we found the perfect candidate, named “4RS Minima Cooper”, but we instead purchased the large dalmatian dog seen below.

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And just in case you don’t think he looks tall in a picture by himself, here he is beside one of the Oberhasli does.

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So far he has been a perfect gentleman – gentle with the goats and respectful of people.

Kilo and Karina’s response to the new animal in the herd they guard was interesting and, ultimately satisfying.  Both initially barked and growled at the large, unfamiliar intruder.  Kilo, who is older, bigger, and calmer, rather quickly accepted my assurances that this animal was now one of their own and the two of them experimented a bit to see which of them would yield way to the other, but were amicable soon enough.  Karina, on the other hand, frankly didn’t agree with me; she barked at him intermittently for a couple of days, before grudgingly accepting that he belongs.  Now they both watch and protect him just as they do the other goats and sheep.

We are excited to see the kids born out of this combination!  Per the partnership agreement, Cooper will live at each farm approximately four months each year, servicing 2-3 does at each farm.  He is a lucky buck!

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Our Goat Herd Doubled Last Night

Our perpetually pregnant goat is….pregnant no more.  Last night she delivered – apparently without difficulty – a set of twins.  Is there anything cuter than a newborn lamb or kid?  If there is, I don’t know what.

We have been on kid watch for weeks now with the doe giving me several “false” signs of early labor.  More than once she exhibited with mucus dribbling out of her vulva and I thought “here we go”, only to have it dry up and for life to go on as usual.  Meanwhile the goat has grown steadily bigger and her udder became impossibly huge.  By the end the poor thing was practically waddling due to the effort of moving her back legs around the basketball between them.  Here she was a few days ago:

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And this was her udder last night:

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As you can see above, she had mucus again last night but like the boy who cried wolf, I was less inclined to think of that as a sign of imminent delivery.  A better sign to look for in goats is softening of the tail ligaments.  For several weeks I have been feeling daily for signs that the ligaments were softening in preparation for birth.  Last night I thought they did feel a little mushier than before but they were definitely still palpatable.

But as the night wore on they apparently softened altogether and by this morning I was greeted by this:

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Mom is Savannah and Dad is a Boer.  The kids have the coloration of Boers though interestingly they are both dark brown while Dad is light brown.  Mom is still recovering from birth so I didn’t want to stress her further by trying to pick the kids up and examine them but after getting a quick glimpse at each rear end I am cautiously hopeful that they are both bucklings.

Kidding

It was Charles Dickens who wrote in A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.  That is what I am feeling today as our one and only goat doe prepares for her first kidding.  On the one hand, we are excited to finally have a kid (or kids) after the trials of raising goats for the last 18 months.  On the other hand, the weather forecast for this weekend uses words like “arctic”, “ice”, “snow” and “wintry mix.  And, the overnight lows on both days of this weekend are forecast to be around 7F (-14C).  In other words, lousy conditions to bring babies into the world.

Because our doe and buck are together all the time, I did not see a mating occur, so had no idea of due dates.  Two months or so ago, I noticed that the doe was looking rounder, but wasn’t sure how much to attribute to pregnancy and how much to putting on some winter weight.  However around Thanksgiving she started to develop an udder, which was the first clue that she was closer to delivery than we had hoped.  The udder development can begin up to six weeks before birth, so over the last few weeks we have been keeping a close eye on her, but other than slowly growing larger, she wasn’t giving away too many more clues.

Then, two days ago her udder suddenly swelled to dairy goat proportions and we realized that delivery was close at hand.  Here is how she looked that morning:

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And this morning it was obvious that she had lost her “plug”.  As birth typically occurs within about 12 hours of losing the plug, we are on high alert today, checking every hour for any sign that active labor has begun.  So far though, she has spent her day much like any other: wandering out to graze with the sheep, calmly munching on hay from the hay walls, and snoozing.  However the discharge continues, and she has also “dropped”, indicating that things are moving slowly forward.