We are in the throws of baby season here on the farm. Baby season is always an exciting time. No matter if it is the first kid or the last kid, it is still lovely to experience the miracle of birth and enjoy the fleeting season of baby goats. We adore our goats and take strides to provide them with not only basic needs but creature comforts as well. I feel as though we make every effort to go above and beyond for all our animals. We view them as not just farm animals but an extension of our farm family. Unfortunately, not everything is sunshine and rainbows.
Friday, Brown-Brown, Jordan's Boer doe, gave birth to triplets. When The Bibbed Wonder did his routine two-hour barn check, she had delivered two and was in the process of delivering her third. The firstborn was big, healthy, and robust. Brown-Brown had him cleaned off, on his feet, and was nursing him. It appeared as if the second one she had just dropped and walked away. He was lying sprawled, still in the birth sack, and looking a bit weak. The Bibbed Wonder jumped in to clean him, dry him off, and try to get him on his feet. Sadly, the third born was again just dropped and left. Again, Eric swooped in, cleaned him, dried him off, and put both under a warming lamp.
The Bibbed Wonder readied a nursery stall for Brown-Brown. We have large stalls with a corner partitioned off and a heat lamp hanging on an adjustable chain. This design ensures a warm area for new babies and keeps the heat lamp safely away from a nervous or curious mama. When our girls deliver, they are given a power boost of minerals and vitamins, electrolytes, and a warm concoction of the equivalent of a healthy smoothie for goats. They are also given a large portion of sweet feed and as much hay as they desire. Overall, we try to provide them with as much TLC as possible and make the birthing process as stress-free as possible. However, Brown-Brown did not appreciate our efforts.
She fought to go into a stall and had to be strong-armed in by The Bibbed Wonder. Once in the stall, she showed no interest in her second and third-born kids. The firstborn was nuzzled, licked, and quietly murmured to with care. When Eric tried to hold the little ones up for her to sniff, she quickly head-butted them away. It was even worse when Eric tried to hold them to nurse. Brown-Brown was rejecting her second and third born babes. Eric was able to keep Brown-Brown still so the little ones could eat, but it was a struggle. When the babies were on their feet, Brown-Brown became aggressive and hit them with her head. She also tried to step on them and became increasingly more agitated.
We have never experienced a mother rejecting her kids until this year. Interestingly, both mothers who have rejected their kids are Boer goats. We cannot be sure if this is nature working its miracle or just lousy mothering. However, there appears to be nothing wrong with the two rejected kids. In little Merribelle's case, she was suffering from weak kid syndrome. We understood why she was rejected, and we were able to remedy the situation. In the case of the two abandoned kids, we are baffled. Brown-Brown is producing adequate milk to feed everyone. Rather than bottle feed the little ones, we go out every two hours, hold Brown-Brown in place, and allow Dinky Daryl and his brother, Merle, to nurse. We are not able to keep the babies in with Brown-Brown. If she is permitted to move about freely when they are in her presence, she is aggressive and mean. We are confident she would kill them.
It was a long weekend here at the farm. Baby goat duty is a real reminder of why at closer to 50 than not, I am not interested in another baby. I have fleeting episodes of desiring another baby girl, but The Bibbed Wonder is quick to shut that down. When I am on an every two-hour feeding schedule, I understand completely. Brown-Brown no longer has to be held to allow the little ones to eat. However, she is only permitted supervised visitation and shows no signs of mothering or acceptance. I fear it is going to be a long kidding season. We will have several weeks of scheduled feedings. I can't decide if it would be easier to bottle feed or have them nurse on their mama. Eric feels like they should nurse rather than bottle feed. I trust his judgment, but I must admit, bottle feeding gives me my baby fix.
As always, dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, know it's not acceptable to trample things smaller and helpless, even if you are a goat, and wash your hands.