Last fall was a transition into the mating world of Nigerian Dwarf Goats. You can read
theory all you want, but until you do experience it. Words on paper are just a concept,
and truly theory. The experiences of males goats this last year, have been nothing
short of eye opening, entertaining, and full of major learning curves. In September of
2020, I got my girls, Holly, and Ivy, a boyfriend. A Nigerian Dwarf/Pygmy from a farm
outside of St Johns. We named him Beau Jigalow. What? This is essentially what he
was bought for. Hehehe.
Beau, was shy, but super cute. It took a couple days for the girls and new male to settle
in together. Yet, they quickly figured out the pecking order of their little herd.
Part of this figuring out business, for me, was learning how to spot when my girls go into
heat. Outside of working with my fitness clients and classes online, I spend a lot of time
with my goats. Living in a rural area, people are harder to come by, then when living in
busy Toronto. This made me very aware of the behaviour of my girls.
Female goats (aka Doe’s) almost like humans, become very flirty when they are at the
stages of procreation. They rub, become more touchy feely (instead of a lot of head
butting), wiggle their tales (A LOT) and show inviting behaviour to the buck. In
November within one week of each other, Holy and Ivy, showed the behaviour of going
into heat. The final act of a doe in heat, is when they stand still and the buck is able to
mount them. I happened to catch this act with Ivy and Beau. Beau mounted her and
the whole act only took like 10 seconds. And then the little fella, fell right off her. Yes,
groan. You can say it, POOR IVY. It definitely garnished some chuckles from
me. Then a question: Where my girls really pregnant now? Yet alas, a little research
turned up the answer. It’s not uncommon for new bucks to become overly excited during
the act and fall down after the mating event.
I wrote the dates down of when my girls where in heat and knew that both of them
would be due within 5 months of consummating their acts.
It felt like a long winter, as I had some human challenges going on. Yet my goats kept
me sane through those winter obstacles. However, spring was fast approaching. Along
with this, so was the anticipation of Holly, and Ivy’s due dates.
Lots of wondering was going on. Both my girls had put on A LOT of weight. I kept
wanting to know, if they would be having one or three kids. Again, it came down to
looking at theory to help predict the non stop guessing.
For first fresheners (first time goat Moms) it’s normally for them, to have only one
kid. However both of them seemed to have gained so much weight. It just did not
seem logical that they would have only one kid. According to their previous owner, my
girls mom, Pumpkin, had had, two goat kids, as a first freshener.
With this deductive reasoning in mind. I prepared psychologically to have two kids for
both Holly, and Ivy. Now, myself and my whole family where just praying they would be
does, and not bucks. To grow a herd, does are sorely needed.
March came around, and I began biting my nails, with anxious anticipation. According
to my calendar, my does would be due beginning mid April.
Again, I began the task of working on applying theory to practise. When a doe begins
going into labour, she begins acting different. Apparently the biggest sign is her tail
ligaments really soften up. By the middle of March, every moment between work, I
began checking on their ligaments. Nothing changed. And I realized that my
anxiousness was not going to help anything. So I brought my full focus back to the
warmth of inside the house, and work. However, the one morning, near the end of
March, my other half, came running into the house. He yelled “Holly’s giving birth!!” In a
fluster. I apologized to my client I was working with, as I unexpectedly had to sign off
I quickly rushed outside to see what was taking place. Holly was not obviously showing
the signs that she was in labour. Because she was outside and not in her pen. I got her
to get into her pen where she would be separate from the other goats, so I could
observe her behaviour with a lot more ease. She remained standing when she got in
the pend. Then within a few minutes she bean pushing, and quickly gave birth to a little
buck. Because it was still fairly cold, I only waited a couple minutes to see if she would
instinctually take to him. Does are supposed to lick off the mess of the amniotic sac, to
make sure their kids can breath. She didn’t do that. So it was up to me to mediate. I
got the kid wiped him off. I stimulated his torso, so he would cry. Then while I was
doing that, she gave birth to a smaller buck. This little guy was a lot harder to get
stimulated and cry. To insure that their respiratory system is in good health, making
sure they are crying is important.
Now, this next part of the male mania story, was a HUGE Hurdle in learning what
practice and application looks like. Goats, and most female animals, are supposed to
naturally take to their babies. Holly had not taken to her kids. She would not let them
suckle. Now for any new baby (animal or human) the first day and hours, is all about
getting Mom’s rich and nutritious colostrum milk. Colostrum is not thin milk. It’s a thick
substance. This substance gives a kid a healthy jump start to life. All the vital nutrients
for a kids immune system is packed into that thick milk.
Fully recognizing Holly wasn’t having any part of this natural mothering process, meant
it was up to me again. I began milking what I could have of her Colostrum. Then with
the advice of the vet from talking on the phone, I also supplemented with Molasses to
help the kids get energy to move and hopefully stand on their own. Its important for
them to bond with Mom. I did not want to have them too long away from Holly. This is
where I made a BIG mistake, and did not follow my own instincts. 20 yrs ago, after
dating my sons father, and experiencing what hell on earth feels like. I learned the
importance of following your gut. However, that is a story for another time.
Short end of it, our gut instincts are there for a reason. To help you minimize making
major mistakes. Without realizing it, in the moment. This was going to be one of those
Consulting with the vet on the phone, she suggested to put them back out with
Mom. This was the same night the last major snow storm occurred. So it was much
colder than it normally would be.
After putting the kids out with Mom, I tried to settle down to sleep. Sleep was not
happening. Finally, I could not take my anxiousness over having the baby kids outside
in their pen. 2am in the morning, I opened up their pen. Holly was way in a corner, not
even close to her kids. I had put bulked blankets out for them. The second born kid
was eerily still under the blanket, the first born kid was belting out loudly to find and
snuggle with Mom.
I was like “OH NO NO NO NO NO”. My heart sank drastically. I quickly tucked the two
little kids into the chest of my jacket, and ran into the house. Rubbing them, turning up
the plugin heater, and doing my best to revive the non responsive kid. My mother (aka
Lola) woke up and asked what happened. We both worked on reviving the heat back
into the littlest guy. Finally after an hour of slight tears, and serious looks of worry. We
called it. He had died. I hadn’t felt guilt like that, in ions!
The older kid was holding on strong. This is where my other half nicked named him
Champ. Even if they are close to the call of death, Champions, are strong, and never
let anything kick them down. For the next two weeks, awaiting Ivy’s due date. I
nurtured that little guy inside the house. I was petrified something would happen to
him. Goat kids are so FREAKING CUTE. The thought of anything happening to him,
felt like it would crush me. So, Champ, now officially named, Rock the Champ. Had the
love of the women in my family helping him. My Mom would help play, and feed him,
while I would coach clients, and classes. My cousin Shelly provided old clothes to make
little goat kid jackets, and a used playpen. Champ could then stay safe and warn from
the jaws of our dog Ghandi.
Finally two weeks later, Ivy gave birth to, two, (sigh) BUCKS! Alas, it is what it is. Two
bucks where born. The experience with Ivy, was WAY different, then with Holly. I could
tell right away that Ivy was beginning labour stages. She got quiet, and still in her
behaviour. Ivy is normally curious, and at times vocal. This quiet behaviour, lasted for
an hour. During labour with Ivy, it was the late afternoon and evening. I felt the
Universe was smiling down on me on this one. I wasn’t working. I was fully ready. I
had all the goats supplies: Suction, vaginal lube, towels, molasses, scissors, and blow
dryer. And everything else for this birth!
After the fist hour of labour, her behaviour changed again. She became sucky with
me. Wanted me to pet her, and rub her stomach. She’s an independent girl, and
normally tolerates a little petting from me, but never asks for it. At this point, she began
contracting. After about 10 mins of pretty consistent contractions, out popped a HUGE
Healthy Buck. Ivy was immediately attentive to him. Quickly making nurturing Mom
noises. Than getting all the birthing gunk off him. About 5 mins later, she began
contracting again. Out popped an all white, smaller buck. He looked like a little
sheep. So cute. Ivy looked after them equally well. I dried them off fully, with towels,
and the blow dryer. It was still cold outside. Cold and wet, will drop their temperature
drastically. I cleaned up their pen. Then made sure they bonding and where suckling
with Mom. Once it was my bedtime. I brought them inside the house, with Champ. I
was not risking anymore chances of hypothermia with goat kids. This routine with Ivy,
and her kids went on for a few days. Then the outside temperature warmed up a few
degrees. The kids where strong, and doing well with Mom. Ok. Awesome. I thought to
myself. The kids are safe to be with Mom full time. So, around the 4th to 5th night after
they where born. Their little homemade kid jackets on. Out they went to their pens for
the night. Now. Excuse my french. BUT FUCK. My heart did just about break with
what happened next. When I opened the pen the next morning, nothing prepared me
for this. The littlest one. Who could barely jump when in the house. Had jumped into
Ivy’s half filled water bucket, got caught there, and drowned.
Well needless to say. For the first time breeding my girls. I definitely felt the 1, 2 punch
with the death of two kids. My family, friends, and clients where amazing at consoling
my grief. Grief can sound cheesy for some when it comes to animals. However, it’s
damn true. Feelings are feelings. You can’t deny them. They definitely tell you
things. Needless to say, Ivy’s oldest survivor, came into the house the next 4
weeks. My father was not so tickled pink over this. He comes from the old school farm
thought process. Which is totally understandable with a big farm. Nature can only be
helped so much. But in the situation of my goats. I was determined to keep the two
surviving kids, alive and healthy until the weather was WAY MORE
STABLE. Fortunately, thats what happened. The weather turned into late spring, and
summer. My two surviving bucks, are now 6months, and thriving.
Now. The question remains for this fall. Will little Beau Jigalow, be able to perform
again. BUT, this time, Give Us Does?!
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